Originally published on WFUVsports.org on January 3, 2016.
*Every year, WFUV Sports travels to Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Induction Weekend. This year, as part of a larger series, we bring you staff picks as to who would be on our ballots.*
1. Barry Bonds, LF, Pirates/Giants
.298/.444/.607, 2935 hits, 762 HR (Record), 1996 RBI, 514 SB
Barry Bonds was the greatest player to ever step on the diamond, period. And his status as such was most likely cemented even before his trip down steroid lane. But here is where I’ll make my point: Steroids were a part of the game, just as amphetamines were back in the day. We can’t just choose to erase some parts of history. He has the 4th highest WAR of all time, along with holding the records for both walks and intentional walks. He won 7 MVP awards, and in the 2004 season had almost 3 times as many intentional walks as strikeouts (In that season, he was also on base more than his official at-bats (376 to 373) Courtesy of @theaceofspaeder on Twitter). This was a man of insane stat lines. It’s time to put the Home Run King in the Hall of Fame, where he belongs.
2. Roger Clemens, P, Red Sox/Blue Jays/Yankees/Astros
354-184, 3.12 ERA, 4672 K, 1580 BB, 1.173 WHIP
Right there with Bonds is the other true great of the Steroid Era, Roger Clemens. He was a man amongst boys for 24 years, racking up 7 Cy Young Awards along with an MVP in just his third season in 1986. The Rocket was a menace to anyone who stepped into the box, and all he ever wanted to do was blow batters away. His career 140.3 WAR is good for 8th all-time, and 3rd amongst pitchers, and his strikeouts put him at 3rd as well. Clemens, like Bonds, was transcendently dominant, and deserves a spot.
3. Ken Griffey Jr., CF, Mariners/Reds/White Sox
.284/.370./.538, 2781 hits, 630 HR, 1836 RBI, 184 SB
Junior made baseball cool again for a whole new generation of baseball fans, with his pure joy playing the game, his backwards hat, and his smooth, explosive swing. I won’t lie; my memories of Griffey are more of whispers about how great this banged up outfielder for the Reds used to be. Griffey won his only MVP award the year I was born in 1997. And looking back now, it’s hard not to think about what could have been. Griffey was never really healthy from 2001 to 2004, but still managed to hit 63 homers in 315 games. And when he finally surmounted those injuries, he was able to hit his age in homers (35). He’s 6th all time in homers, and played an unbelievable centerfield (He won 10 Gold Gloves). Griffey is what Mike Trout can be, and should belong to an upper-echelon of no-doubt Hall of Famers of late like Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson.
4. Tim Raines, LF, Expos/White Sox/Yankees/Athletics/Orioles/Marlins
.294/.385/.425, 2605 hits, 170 HR, 980 RBI, 808 SB
I’d be lying if I said two years ago that I knew who Tim “Rock” Raines was. But ever since Grantland’s (RIP) resident Canadian and baseball writer Jonah Keri took up the Raines mantle, I’ve gone all in. Here’s one reason: there are five players in the history of baseball with 800 or more steals. Raines is the only one of them not in the Hall. One of the main sticking points with voters is that Raines doesn’t have the magical 3000 hits. However, he does have 1330 walks, and, as Keri points out in his book “Up, Up, and Away!”, “replace 600 of Raines’ 1330 career walks with 400 bunt singles and 200 strikeouts. You’re left with an inferior player who’d have been enshrined in Cooperstown years ago”. In other words, its biases against straight up getting on base are keeping Raines out of the Hall. The reasons why Raines should be in the Hall are available for all who want to look. That he might not at all (he only has this year and next year left and was at just 55% last year) is unjust.
5. Mike Piazza, C, Dodgers/Marlins/Mets/Padres/Athletics
.308/.377/.545, 2127 hits, 427 HR, 1335 RBI, 17 SB
Piazza is the best hitting catcher of all-time, with his 427 homers being more than any other in the history of the position. The next closest is Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, who has 389. He has a “Hall of Fame” moment in the homer he hit in the first New York sporting event after 9/11. So what’s holding him back? Acne on his back, a supposed side effect of taking steroids. This is despite Piazza never having been linked to any sort of PED use other than speculation about him “not profiling as a power hitter” and being a 62nd round pick. However, he always profiled as a power hitter and went so low because he was essentially positionless (and his time as a catcher wasn’t always smooth sailing defensively). But the dude could mash, and hit his way to Hall of Fame status.
6. Trevor Hoffman, RP, Marlins/Padres/Brewers
601 saves, 2.87 ERA, 1133 K, 307 BB, 1.058 WHIP
Before Mariano, there was Hoffman. Of course, there were Fingers, Gossage, and Eckersley (and Lee Smith, but his Hall of Fame candidacy hasn’t gone well), but Hoffman passed them all. Hoffman was the first to break the 500 mark in saves. Then he was the first to break 600 as well. Hoffman was about as sure a thing as there was, and his emergence really put the emphasis on having a stellar closer to finish your games, more so than ever before. As the man who set the bar only one other player could surmount, he deserves his spot.
7. Edgar Martinez, DH/3B, Mariners
.312/.418/.515, 2247 hits, 309 HR, 1261 BB, 49 SB
At the end of the year, the best designated hitter receives the Edgar Martinez Award. If the MLB is going to name its award for the best player at a position after a player, than you know that player did enough to get into the Hall. But somehow, he catches flak that guys like Frank Thomas and Paul Molitor, who would not have the numbers they do without extended time as DHs, never had to deal with. Here’s some stats collected by @theaceofspaeder: Martinez had 2 seasons in which he hit for 25 HR, 50 2B and 110 BB. That’s happened only 2 other times in the history of the MLB. Just like Raines, Martinez’s Hall of Fame stats are abundant, and he deserves his spot.
8. Jeff Bagwell, 1B, Astros
.297/.408/.540, 2314 hits, 449 HR, 1529 RBI, 202 SB
With Craig Biggio getting inducted last year, it seems right that the other half of the Astros’ “Killer B’s” should get inducted. That being said, the storyline isn’t the only reason why Bagwell should get in. Bagwell was a model of offensive efficiency, and an overwhelming one at that. For the first 14 years of his career, his batting average didn’t dip below .266 (which came in the 14th season). In his 15th, he succumbed to a shoulder injury, played 39 games, and then retired. Bagwell was a consistent offensive behemoth, always able to be counted upon in a crisis to mash his way out of any deficit.
9. Curt Schilling, P, Orioles/Astros/Phillies/Diamondbacks/Red Sox
216-146, 3.46 ERA, 3116 K, 711 BB, 1.137 WHIP
Schilling’s regular season stats are not a huge boon in terms of his Hall of Fame candidacy. He does have the best K/BB ratio of all time with 4.38 (at least of pitchers born before 1900, according to Mike Axisa of cbssports.com). And his peak happened to coincide right with his battery-mate and first ballot Hall of Famer Randy Johnson’s, leading to him coming in second in the Cy Young voting two seasons in a row. However, the Schilling story is his unparalleled postseason performance. He went 11-2 over his career and a 0.968 WHIP. Additionally, he won 3 World Series, was a co-MVP of the Diamondbacks 2003 win, and was a major contributor in the Red Sox breaking the Curse of the Great Gambino in 2004. He performed at his best on the brightest stage, and being the best at the most important time is worth a Hall spot.
10. Mike Mussina, P, Orioles/Yankees
270-153, 3.68 ERA, 2813 Ks, 785 BB, 1.192 WHIP
Mussina’s numbers are those that most need to be adjusted for his time. The Moose’s entire career was spent in the AL in the heyday of what I’ll call “Enhanced Offense”. So his seasonal ERA, despite having a less than stellar 3.68 career ERA, was actually better than the league average in 15 of 18 seasons. The Moose was consistently among the best pitchers in the league, a major feat considering the time. He has a career WAR of 83, while the average Hall of Fame pitcher has a WAR of 73.4. As a model of consistency in an era of Enhanced Offense, he deserves a spot.
All stats are courtesy of baseball-reference.com, except where otherwise noted.