For some reason, I don’t get a vote, but if I did, here’s how it would go, with explanations. I’m a big Hall guy, and am more worried about the 11th and 12th guys I left off than selecting ten. Players are in order of how I selected them:
Bert Blyleven: Duh. If I didn’t support Blyleven, I’d lose my baseball blogger license.
Jeff Bagwell: The only explanation of why some writers are apparently anti-Bagwell, or want to “wait and see”, is that they’re suspicious of PED revelations. He was one of the five best first basemen of all-time.
Barry Larkin: Why Larkin didn’t get in in his first year of eligibility would seem to be more explicable, that steroid/A-Rod era offensive standards for the position are confusing the writers. He’s an obvious Hall of Famer, the best defensive and offensive shortstop of his time, winner of an MVP award and key member of a World Champion.
Roberto Alomar: Another obvious Hall of Famer, though I would pick Larkin ahead of him. Their career OBP/SLG are almost identical (.371 OBP for both, Larkin up in SLG .444 to .443) but Barry was a shortstop, and a better shortstop than Robby was a second baseman. Alomar had the longer career, though. Got 73.7 percent of the vote in his first year, probably would have gotten in first-ballot except for the spitting incident.
Dave Parker: Not to take the if-one-then argument, but Parker is so obviously more qualified than Jim Rice that the only explanation for Rice getting in while Parker sits at fifteen percent of the vote is media bias. Parker won an MVP the same year as Rice, was as good of a hitter as his best and a better defender, and has better career numbers.
Fred McGriff: Suffers, like Larkin, from steroid-era offensive standards. His prime years, 1988-1994, don’t look that impressive by the standards of the years immediately after. I’ve written about him, too.
Alan Trammell: Most-similar hitter to Larkin. Larkin was a better defender and baserunner, and his offensive numbers are a bit better, but offensive levels were higher during his career. Then again, Trammell played in Tiger Stadium. I’d take Larkin if I could only choose one, but both are manifestly qualified.
Edgar Martinez: Argument against is basically that he was a DH almost all of his career, and it’s hard to take a player with zero defensive value. On the other hand, he was a hell of a hitter. .418 career OBP, ranks 22nd all-time, led the league three times, second three others in the most important offensive stat.
Tim Raines: I know why Raines isn’t in the Hall of Fame. He was a leadoff man, and leadoff men aren’t particularly popular with the BBWAA for some reason, and he admitted to using cocaine. As to the former, it’s dumb, and as to the latter, once you put Paul Molitor in, how can you hold cocaine use against Raines? He probably is also punished because he wasn’t the player he was in his thirties that he was in his twenties, but since he played in Chicago and New York people saw a lot more of that than they did of him in his prime, in Montreal. Raines was the best leadoff man in the history of the National League. (I accidentally left Raines off initially; he would go about fifth if I had it to do over.)
Lee Smith: I have to go by the standards, and the standard for Hall of Fame relievers is Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, and Goose Gossage. Smith matches up well with this group, and was probably a better pitcher than Fingers or Sutter. Retired the career leader in saves; argument against is that he was never the dominant reliever in any given season, but led the league in saves four times, made seven All-Star teams, and in 1991 was second to Tom Glavine in the Cy Young voting, also had fourth- and fifth-place finishes.