If I had my way and a vote, the dais at Cooperstown come July 24 would overflow with new inductees into baseball's Hall of Fame.
Ten guys, I'd pick. Ten! I want to pick more, but BBWAA rules say voters can only select up to 10 of these men. Still, 10 would be chaos, wouldn't it? The acceptance speech portion of the induction ceremony would take all freakin' day. Maybe two days. Yes, authorities might be forced to continue the ceremony to July 25, depending on the length of some speeches.
I pick 10, and want to go to 11, not simply to be a Cooperstown anarchist — though, wouldn't it be great publicity for the Hall and the town if an entire squadron of ballplayers and their fans invaded upstate New York? Just what it needs, too.
No, I pick 10 because the Hall is at least that many ballplayers light. Ron Santo's not getting in in, either, which isn't the fault (any more) of the BBWAA — otherwise we'd be talking up to 12 new plaques.
So who comprises My Gang of 10 (plus one)?
• Jeff Bagwell: I put him first for emphasis and to irritate those who astonishingly saddle him with all of the responsibility for the steroid era. Bagwell is 39th all-time in extra-base hits, 55th in times on base, 37th in adjusted OPS, and 34th in home runs.
• Mark McGwire: He's 12th all-time in adjusted OPS, 10th in home runs, eighth in slugging, 36th in offensive win percentage and 24th in win probability added.
• Rafael Palmeiro: 10th in total bases, 24th in hits, 12th in homers, sixth in extra-base hits, 18th in times on base. The fingers of voters should point him toward Cooperstown but won't.
(In case you haven't picked up on a theme yet, I don't care about steroids. Not only are they irrelevant to me, I'm not sure how relevant PEDs are, period. Possibly the most overblown issue of our time as it relates to baseball. We don't really know who did what, when they did it and how much it helped or hurt their career. Not only that, I just don't care. Back to the list.)
• Roberto Alomar: 55th in total hits, 78th in total bases (stupendous for a middle infielder), 60th in times on base, 64th in offensive WAR, 10 Gold Gloves.
• Barry Larkin: Like Alomar, but a shortstop.
• Alan Trammell: As a middle infielder, better offensive WAR than about 80 guys in the Hall already. Eighty! And his fielding doesn't hurt him. He and Lou Whitaker both should be in. Never gonna happen, probably.
• Bert Blyleven: You've heard all of the arguments, smelled all of the toots.
• Tim Raines: 43rd all time in times on base, 55th in runs created, fifth in stolen bases. Diet Rickey Henderson.
• Edgar Martinez: 43rd in adjusted OPS, 22nd in on-base percentage, 44th in win probability added. Like Paul Molitor, but Puerto Rican.
• Larry Walker: Three-time batting champ, 57th in on-base, 14th in slugging, 16th in OPS, 72nd in adjusted OPS, 28th in offensive win percentage, eighth in total zone runs as a right fielder.
• The 11th man is ... Kevin Brown: This is a good argument for him
Fred McGriff, I love you. Lee Smith, you were a hellcat. Jack Morris, that was one heck of a mustache. But no Hall for you.
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