The 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame class will be finalized on Monday, when the BBWAA ballot results will be announced. Those appearing on 75% or more of the returned ballots will join Joe Gordon in Cooperstown this July.
Here's the eligible players for the 2009 vote. Once on the ballot, a player will remain until:
(1) He appears on 75% of the returned ballots
(2) He does not appear on 5% of the returned ballots
(3) He fails to appear on 75% of the returned ballots 15 times
Here's the 23 players on this year's ballot.
Here's my voting principles:
(1) Once I vote for a player, he remains on my ballot, barring extraordinary circumstances. A player can't get worse by not playing.
(2) I won't leave a player off my ballot because of things he did away from the sphere of baseball. A great player may not always be a great person, and while personality flaws may diminish how you perceive him, it shouldn't take away from his performance between the lines.
(3) I will leave a player off my ballot if he has violated a cardinal rule of baseball. I'm obviously referring to taking illegal (according to MLB) substances, as well as gambling on the game while playing. These allegations must be proven.
(4) I generally prefer players with great peaks over players who have longer careers, all things being equal.
So Mark McGwire, even though most signs point to him taking PEDs, is on my ballot because those he supposedly took were not illegal at the time, and he never failed a drug test.
With all that being said, here's my mythical 2009 Hall of Fame ballot:
Returning from Last Season
(1) Alan Trammell. Played shortstop for almost all of his 20-year career, won four Gold Gloves, and finished with a 110 OPS+. Finished his career with .285/.352/.412 line, and placed in the top 10 in MVP voting three times (he finished 2nd in 1987). Four seasons with a WARP3 over 10, and a total WARP3 of 117.6.
(2) Bert Blyleven. Pitched for a long time, but didn't get as much recognition because he pitched for some pretty bad teams. His career record (287-250) scares off a lot of voters, but his longevity and his consistency should make up for it. Career WARP3 of 138.6. 3701 career strikeouts. Career ERA+ of 118. He certainly isn't an inner-circle Hall of Famer, but he should be in.
(3) Mark McGwire. Obviously the most controversial of any on my ballot. There actually is a case to be made that he doesn't belong based soley on his playing career: he was a one-dimensional player throughout much of his career, and wasn't much of a defender at first base. But his offensive peak was awesome; between 1995 and 2000 he posted OPS+s of 200, 203, 182, 217, 178, and 205. That's a dominant force for a period of six years, and if he had no steroid controversy associated with him, he'd probably have a good shot of getting elected. Time and perspective have both been unkind to McGwire; other first baseman like Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas had much better careers, and don't have any baggage to carry with their candidacies.
He's a borderline candidate, but I'm voting for him. If the steroid allegations are proven true, he'll come off my ballot. And there will be plenty of time to wait, because I don't think he's getting elected anytime soon.
(4) Tim Raines. Had an outstanding 10-year run with Montreal at the start of his career, and was a productive player until Age 41. Career .385 OBP (10,359 PA), 808 stolen bases with an 82% success rate. Career OPS+ of 123 (higher than current HOF shoo-in Ichiro).
New on the 2009 Ballot
(5) Rickey Henderson. About as no-brainer a selection as you can get. All-time leader in stolen bases (1406), 3000 hits, career .401 OBP (13,346 PA), won an MVP and finished in the top 3 two other times, was a productive player well past his prime, and is probably the best lead-off hitter ever. One of the highlights of 2009 will be Rickey's induction speech this July.
Close but not quite: Lee Smith, Dale Murphy, Andre Dawson, Tommy John
A case can be made: David Cone, Jim Rice, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, Dave Parker, Mark Grace, Matt Williams, Harold Baines
Not close: Jay Bell, Ron Gant, Jesse Orosco, Dan Plesac, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn
Feel free to post your mythical ballot below. I'll count up the LGT community ballots late Sunday night and post the results before the official announcement Monday afternoon.