By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
December 31 2014, 5:00 PM EDT.
An argument is floating around, supported by several prominent baseball scribes, that the way to ease the backlog of talent on today's Hall of Fame ballot is to vote more players into Cooperstown.
To me, that's an extremely flawed concept.
Yes, the ballot is stacked with about a dozen or so players deserving of sincere consideration, but the Hall of Fame was built to be exclusive so I'm not too keen on watering down the process to allow for easier enshrinement. I'd be lying if I said the voting system currently in place isn't broken, but electing more players into the Hall to alleviate an issue of too much talent is a reactionary fix to a system in need of a drastic overhaul.
Recognizing the perceived numbers crunch, the Hall of Fame made a change to the balloting process in July, reducing a player’s eligibility from 15 years to 10. The BBWAA responded, seeking to have the maximum number of votes on each ballot be increased from 10 to 12, but the recommendation has yet to receive approval from the Hall of Fame.
I have some ideas on how to fix the balloting process, but I'll save them for another day. For now, I'll provide some insight into how my ballot looks.
Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson are locks for the Hall of Fame, so I'm not going to waste time justifying why those two are on my ballot.
John Smoltz succeeded as a starter and a reliever, plus put together an impressive postseason resume. He falls short in comparison to other Hall of Famers if you look at WAR, but he also was the first pitcher to win 200 games while also recording 150 saves. He belongs in Cooperstown.
Edgar Martinez is arguably the greatest designated hitter ever to play the game. He ranks in the top 100 all-time in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, walks, doubles, extra-base hits and offensive WAR. Unfortunately, he played a controversial position throughout the majority of his 18-year career and is caught in the crossfire of arguments for and against the designated hitter. The tide may be changing though as Frank Thomas was elected to the Hall of Fame last year having spent 56-percent of his career in the designated hitter position. Martinez spent 68-percent of his career as a designated hitter, but he deserves in.
Alan Trammell was a fantastic fielder and knew how to handle the bat. He ranks 11th all-time among shortstops in WAR, trailing seven current Hall of Famers and Derek Jeter. In my opinion, Trammell was better than Barry Larkin and since Larkin is enshrined it's fair to also welcome Trammell.
Mike Mussina is one of the most underrated hurlers of the past 20 years. He never won a Cy Young Award or a World Series, but he put together an incredible string of 18 seasons in the rough-and-tumble American League East. He pitched through the majority of the PED-era and finished his career with a 123 ERA+ to go along with a 3.58 strikeout-to-walk ratio that's topped by only Curt Schilling when looking at pitchers with 3,000 innings of work dating back to 1893.
As for Schilling, his regular season statistics may not seem overly impressive, but his postseason numbers are legendary - 19 starts with an 11-2 record to go along with a 2.23 ERA. He also sits 15th on baseball's all-time strikeout list.
As for the PED-era, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens put together stellar careers before ballooning into caricatures of themselves. Neither player has adequately addressed their connection to performance enhancing drugs and until they do I can't see a place for them in Cooperstown.
The Hall instructs voters to consider character, integrity and sportsmanship when voting, so that's why Bonds and Clemens are off my ballot.
My ballot for the IBWWA: Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling.
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