Aug 21, 2012; Mt. Crested Butte, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants former player Barry Bonds in attendance during stage 2 of the USA Pro Challenge from Montrose to Mt. Crested Butte. Mandatory Credit: Ford McClave-USA TODAY Sports
The election to the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame induction is tomorrow and here at Marlin Maniac we would like to ring in the occasion by partaking in the festivities. I asked my favorite editors and writers to fill out a 10 man maximum ballot based on all of the players eligible for election to the hall in 2014.
Although it is admittedly a very small sample size I still think it is representative of how the wider baseball fandom feels about the current crop of eligible players. I found some significant trends in how my colleagues and I chose to vote for the hall of fame. First, people are still largely skeptical of the most prominent alleged and confirmed users of steroids, the avatars of what has been called the “steroid era.”
Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens, none of the players named reached the 75% threshold to merit election. Palmeiro and Sosa merited the most skepticism while McGwire came the closest to reaching election.
Second, our Marlin Maniac voters are still largely either unprepared or unwilling to enshrine pitchers from the “steroid” era not named Greg Maddux, who was unanimously selected in our poll. Besides Maddux no other pitcher was able to attain the minimum, namely Mussina, Glavine, Schilling, Clemens.
The BBWAA meanwhile is a lot more willing to give Glavine the go ahead for induction. Third, Marlin Maniac voters are much more willing to give Biggio, Bagwell and Piazza the nod, a lot of writers have made Biggio, Bagwell and Piazza guilty by association with Bonds, Sosa and company. The Killer Bs and Piazza both received enough votes in our poll to merit induction into the Hall of Fame Placido Estevez said the steroid era was
"“conundrum for me. I know that it changed the game I grew up loving in the 70’s and 80’s into something else I did not enjoy quite as much, but I cannot deny the greatness of many of the players involved. I don’t know who did or did not take PED’s, but for now I’d rather not see those players most heavily linked to them in the HOF. “"
In short this view allows for the induction of Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza et al but still is very skeptical of allowing Bonds et al into the hall.
What else is very shocking is how little support Frank Thomas received in the Marlin Maniac poll, only 2 votes, well short of the minimum. Frank Thomas during the 1990s was one of the best players in the game and has accumulated some of the most impressive stats in the history of baseball. As Placido again says “Frank Thomas is a multiple time MVP and for about 5 years he was the best hitter on the planet. In the early 90’s, he was what Miguel Cabrera is today.”
Thomas’ career .301/.419/.555 triple slash line,156 OPS+ and 73.6 career WAR make it clearly obvious that he should be in the Hall of Fame. The reticence surrounding Thomas might be twofold, first unwillingness to make him a first ballot Hall of Famer and second the uncertainty surrounding Thomas and steroids.
Marlin Maniac voters are much more excited about two players that don’t garner lots of talk simply because of their Marlin connections, Tim Raines and Moises Alou. Alou was a very good player for a very good time but he doesn’t deserve induction into Cooperstown but Raines deserves a deeper look.
To begin with Raines compiled a .294/.385/.425 slash line averaged 52 stolen bases a year over a 23 year career, while averaging 4.3 WAR a year from 1982-1995. In offensive categories such as getting on base, run creation and actually racking up plate appearances Raines was one of the best players of the 1980s and early 1990s, much like the quickly dismissed Kenny Lofton. Marlins fan might have some sentimentality surrounding both Raines and Alou, but it is clear that at least Raines deserves to go into the Hall.
Finally, although it is a very small sample size and not a very scientific survey this poll shows a way forward in future elections to the Hall of Fame. Marlin Maniac writers gave Greg Maddux, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Tim Raines enough votes for induction. The Marlin Maniac 2014 class will probably look different from the official BBWAA one but at least it has the right idea by electing three of the most dominant players of the past generation, Maddux, Piazza and Bagwell to the Hall of Fame.