Earlier this season, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed and Tigers Tracks has been a proud member since September. Following the season, the BBA announced season ending awards, which were voted on in the same manner as the BBWAA. The BBA is committed to growth and our hope is to foster a good working relationship with each other and with the BBWAA and Major League Baseball and its players. While the BBA does not have an official vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame, we are casting our ballots anyway, the results of which will be released by the BBA on their website. If nothing else, hopefully this post will start a good conversation.
Of the 27 players on the 2009 ballot, I have decided to cast my vote for just six. The Hall of Fame should be reserved for only the truly great. As such, some very good players were left off of my list, and I will welcome any discourse you would like to offer if you disagree with any of my choices, or omissions for that matter. Without further ado, here’s my ballot.
Bert Blyleven- Career record of 287-250 over 22 big league seasons. Blyleven had perhaps the most devastating curveball by any pitcher ever, and he used that to compile an astonishing 3701 career strikeouts. Blyleven spent the majority of his career on mediocre teams, and won 20 games in a season only once, but the total body of work says the numbers are there, and he passed the eye test as far as I’m concerned. His most impressive season came in 1984, when Blyleven won 19 games for an Indians team that won 75 times total.
Jack Morris- 254-186 career record over 18 seasons. Morris was the ace of three world championship teams. The five time all-star lead the American League in victories twice (1981, 1992) and had more wins in the 1980 than any other pitcher. His career ERA of 3.90 would be the highest in the Hall, but there wasn’t another pitcher you would want on the mound in a must-win game. Certainly, Morris benefited from run support that some other pitcher might not have gotten, but I don’t feel like he should be penalized for playing on good teams any more than I think Blyleven should be for playing on bad ones.
Alan Trammell- The damn shame isn’t that Trammell has yet to be elected as much as it is that his long-time partner, Lou Whitaker, didn’t make it past the first ballot. On his own, however, Trammell is hall-worthy. In 20 seasons, he amassed 2365 hits and was one of the pioneers in bringing offense to the traditionally defense-first shortstop position. His career .285 average and .767 OPS would rank tenth and 11th among the 21 enshrined shortstops and his 1003 RBI would be tenth as well. Only four HOF shortstops had more than his 185 career home runs. Trammell was the 1984 world series MVP and finished second in the 1987 AL MVP vote. Trammell also brought steady defense, winning four gold gloves.
Tim Raines- Raines was perhaps the second greatest lead-off hitter in MLB history, behind only Rickey Henderson. In 23 seasons, he recorded over 2600 hits and stole 808 bags while being caught just 146 times (85% success). Rock was a game changer with his speed and his power, reaching double digits in homers seven times and holding a career OPS of .810. The 1986 NL batting champ also lead the league in OBP that season and has a career average of .294 to go along with his .385 OBP.
Barry Larkin- He played 19 seasons and battled injuries for many of them, but during the time he was on the field, there wasn’t a better all-around player in baseball. Larkin won the 1995 NL MVP and easily could have won again in ’96. His career numbers actually compare favorably to most of the Hall of Fame shortstops (and Trammell for that matter), though he played 140 games or more in a season just seven times over the course of his career. A .295 average, .815 OPS and 198 career home runs are coupled with379 stolen bases and the fact that he walked more than he struck out (939 to 817) shows the force he was at the plate. His three gold gloves would have been more if not for Ozzie Smith playing at the same time.
Roberto Alomar- A ten-time gold glove winner and 12-time all-star, Alomar’s career fizzled out early. In total, he played 17 seasons, but the final two showed a severe decline. For the first 15 years, there wasn’t a better second baseman in either league. A career .300 hitter, Alomar posted four season with at least 19 home runs and five years with at least 89 RBI. His 504 career doubles and 210 homers helped to boost his career OPS to .814. The only blemish on Alomar’s resume would be the unfortunate spitting incident of 1996, when he disputed a call with umpire John Hirshbeck and subsequently spat in the umpire’s face. From that moment on, I genuinely disliked Alomar. But his act of foolishness cannot darken his career in my mind. One of the greats for sure.