The most contentious day in an offseason full of them has arrived. The 2018 National Baseball Hall of Fame votes are in, and we’ll know the results in just a few hours. The results will be announced during an MLB Network special that begins at 6 p.m. ET.
Ballot trackers and prognosticators have made it much easier to know which players truly stand a chance at making it to Cooperstown this year. We know Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome are locks. We know Trevor Hoffman and Edgar Martinez could join them. We know some controversial players are inching closer to enshrinement. And we know some former stars aren’t getting the support they need.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen our fair share of ballots, and you probably have too. But what you haven’t seen are our hypothetical ballots. You know, if we had votes.
We asked the crew at Big League Stew to submit their ballots for “The Yahoo Sports Totally Fake 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot.” They don’t count toward anything official since none of us have an actual vote in Hall of Fame matters. But like everybody else, we have opinions on who deserves to be a part of the 2018 Hall of Fame class.
I don’t envy those who have to vote now. I used this fake ballot as a learning exercise, mostly. A way to gauge where I stood on the process. Turns out, I’m fine with suspected steroid users, but drew a line with Manny Ramirez. Perhaps he would make it if I had more than 10 spots. Walker doesn’t get nearly as much support as he deserves, and hopefully Rolen gets more if he can stay on the ballot. My toughest choice was Hoffman, but I’m not going to hold his usage against him. In an era where one-inning closers were the norm, you could argue Hoffman was second-best behind Mariano Rivera, and you know Rivera is getting in on the first ballot.
Hey, look it’s me – the only person who fake-voted for Curt Schilling. My Hall of Fame philosophy is give me the best players, warts and all, which also makes me a Big Hall person. So I’ll take Bonds, Clemens, Schilling and people who helped define their positions like Martinez and Hoffman. I don’t care that Vlad, Mussina and Walker didn’t hit the traditional Hall of Fame benchmarks like 3,000 hits or 500 homers. Manny Ramirez is on the fence for me — I’d definitely consider him once the bogged-down ballot is freed up by letting in some of these long-overdue players. If I were more strategic — and I thought about doing this — I’d vote for Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen just to ensure they get more time on the ballot. I don’t know that either is a Hall of Famer in my eyes, but I’m at least in favor of giving them time on a less-crowded ballot.
Even though this is a fake ballot, I felt the need to vote for ten candidates. I believe in a big Hall, and even though I’m only passionate about a handful of the players I voted for, I feel like baseball is better with more players in the Hall of Fame. All of these guys are deserving for various reasons. Of all the players on my ballot, I feel like the only one that requires justification is Scott Rolen. I don’t believe he’s ever going to make it into the Hall, but he deserves to. And since he won’t make it into the Hall, he at least deserves to be on the ballot for the full ten years. He is a shockingly underrated player. He was Rookie of the Year in 1996, he won eight Gold Gloves and was an All-Star seven times. He had some ups and downs over his 17-year career, but he was remarkably consistent. My fake vote for Scott Rolen might be the most meaningless of all my fake Hall of Fame votes, but that’s the one that actually means something to me. Plus, it’s the fake Hall of Fame. I can do what I want!
To me, Bonds and Clemens are all-time greats, regardless of the controversy that surrounds them, so it’s easy checking their names off. I still can’t do the same though for Manny Ramirez, mainly because his PED usage yielded failed tests and seemed pretty excessive. It’s also easy checking off Jones, Guerrero and Thome based on their excellence. As for Mussina, his selection required a lot of analysis that I wasn’t always willing to consider because I’d long thought the Hall should be an easy yes or you’re out. That’s clearly not true. With the said, I’ve not yet come around enough on Edgar Martinez or Trevor Hoffman to give them a vote, but I feel the six I’ve selected are clearly worthy.
I’m Team PEDs when it comes to Hall of Fame consideration, so of course the best hitter and pitcher of my generation — Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens — should be in Cooperstown in my eyes. Newcomers Chipper Jones and Vladimir Guerrero, two of the most consistent players at their respective positions, are no-brainers. And if Trevor Hoffman played on the East Coast instead of sleepy San Diego, he would have been elected by now.
As for notable omissions, both Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina would be first-ballot selections for the “Hall of Very Good” if that idea were to ever get off the ground. Edgar Martinez is the one borderline player who is likely to get in either this year or next that I have the biggest issue with. It has nothing to do with the fact that he was a designated hitter, but Martinez was producing good numbers during a time in baseball when great, eye-popping stats were the norm.
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