Let me begin by saying, I am nowhere near having the credentials for casting a vote for the Hall of Fame. With that said though, being an avid baseball fan, I do enjoy looking into the ballot and seeing who I would vote for. For those that don’t know, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America votes for the Hall of Fame class each year. The BBWAA voters can vote for up to 10 players. Some voters already have shared they submitted their ballot without a single player on it. I can see that. In recent years, I would have been extremely upset. However, there is no sure thing on this year’s ballot. Part of the reason behind that is that, to me, this is by far the weakest 1st year players on the ballot in recent years. Truthbetold, I’m okay with not voting for any of them. Would I? You’ll have to wait and see below.
How do I go about determining who to put on my ballot? I am one who does not believe you should have the full 10 players. Here’s how I look at the ballot. Who was great during their time? Were they the top of their position during the height of their career? Were they a multi-time all star? How many “elite” years did they have? Also, hate me for this if you must, but I consider PED players. Whether they have an asterisk next to their name or not, I believe you cannot discount what they did on the field. One controversial topic for voters is the vague “character clause”. Voters can use this and choose not to vote for a player who was less than stellar off the field. My main attention focuses on the play on the field.
Without further ado, my 2021 Hall of Fame ballot (in alphabetical order):
Barry Bonds – One of the most controversial figures in baseball due to his link to steroids. However, to me, he is one of the greatest players to play the game. Most home runs in a season, most home runs in a career, 7 time MVP, 14 time All Star, highest career WAR for a position player not named Babe Ruth.
Roger Clemens – The other most controversial names on the ballot, again, due to his link to steroids. Clemens is by far the best pitcher not in the Hall of Fame. Simple as that. 7 Cy Youngs and one of the few pitchers to have won an MVP. He belongs in.
Manny Ramirez – Manny being Manny. That had been his mantra. He is an interesting case as he had tested positive for PEDs not once, but twice. The second time, he chose to retire instead of serving the suspension. All that said though, he’s 15th all time in home runs and 19th in RBIs. He is also tied for the 13th most RBIs in a single season with 165. He is a 2 time World Series Champ (I’m still bitter about 2004 as I had Game 5 tickets, but I digress), including a World Series MVP 12 time All Star, 9 Silver Sluggers, and a batting title. He really could do it all with the bat. Put him in the Hall.
Scott Rolen – Third base is vastly underrepresented in the Hall. Rolen is arguably the best defensive 3B in the history of the game, although there are a few active guys that could take the away. Rolen was Rookie of the Year with the Phillies, a 7 time all star for Phillies, Cardinals, & Reds, a World Series Champion, 8 time gold glover, and finished in the top 5 of the MVP vote one.
Curt Schilling – Schilling the past few years have been one of the most controversial players on the ballot. It’s not for what he did on the field, it’s how he has handled himself off the field. He has been very outspoken about his political viewpoints among other things that he has tweeted, which caused him to get fired from ESPN. However, I am not taking any of that under consideration. While he had a lackluster first half of his career, he really took off once he turned 30. Those 11 seasons could be considered some of the best. He led the league twice in wins, as well as strikeouts. One possible downfall for electing Schilling would be he would be in the bottom third of elected starting pitchers based on wins.
Gary Sheffield – Sheffield has one of the best batting stances of all time. That bat wiggle he didn’t always have. I bet he’s glad he started it. 9 time All Star, has a World Series ring. He was a feared, middle of the order hitter, especially the last half of his career. You could argue he doesn’t deserve it and I’d be okay with that. He makes the cut for me though.
Sammy Sosa – Sosa got my final vote. I had gone back and forth. His first few years on the ballot, I never voted for him. Then I started thinking more about him last year. He would have been the only Hall of Fame eligible player that has more than 600 home runs not in the Hall. The way his voting stats have gone in recent years, it looks like he won’t get in.
Billy Wagner – Closers are starting to get the call of late. Hoffman and Rivera (Rivera being the only unanimous player) have both been elected in recent years. Wagner is 6th all time in saves with 422. Wagner was one of the most electric closers of his era. He actually owns a lower ERA, and has more strikeouts than Hoffman. When I think of the top closers during the 90s and 2000s, after Rivera and Hoffman, Wagner is the next one I think of.
If you’ve been counting, that’s 8 guys. Since I started creating my own ballot back in 2014, this is my first year voting for less than 10 players. As I mentioned, if you include the character clause and don’t vote for steroid guys, I could definitely see an argument where you would cast a blank ballot. Do I agree with voters doing that, no, but that is their right. How do you think I did? Who would you vote for?