The results for this year's Baseball Hall of Fame balloting will be released on Wednesday, at which time we'll find out how many of the numerous deserving candidates the BBWAA has elected. Let's Go Tribe held its own voting in December, with only three players receiving the 75% of the vote needed for induction (and three others coming very, very close).
Our balloting allowed readers to vote for as many players as I liked, and 43% of respondents voted for 11 or more. The actual BBWAA ballot limits voters to no more than 10 players though, and while in most years that wouldn't be an issue, the voting body's refusal to elect anyone with even tenuous PED connections has created the most massive backlog of candidates since the first couple years of the HOF's existence.
Many voters will find more than 10 players they'd like to vote for but be forced to leave some of them off. You could attempt to vote for those you believe have the best chance of actually being inducted, or those you fear might not receive much support from others, in order to try and keep them on the ballot (poor Kenny Lofton was squeezed a year ago, received just 3.2% of the vote, and won't be an official candidate again for at least another 15 years). I understand the logic behind either of those approaches, but if I had a ballot, I'd just list the 10 players I believe were the best of those eligible, regardless of where they might fall within the results. Here are the ten I'd vote for this year (in alphabetical order), if given the opportunity:
.298/.444/.607, 182 OPS+, 762 HR, 2935 H, 2227 R, 1996 RBI, 2558 BB, 514 SB, 162.5 bWAR
A 7-time MVP and the only player in history with 500+ home runs and 500+ stolen bases, he's one of three or four players in history with a legitimate case as the best ever. He's certainly the best I've seen, and I think less of a Hall of Fame that doesn't include him.
.297/.408/.540, 149 OPS+, 449 HR, 2314 H, 1517 R, 1529 RBI, 1401 BB, 202 SB, 79.5 bWAR
In addition to being a tremendous hitter, he was a very good defensive first baseman and one of the best base runners ever to play the position. That he was inducted in any of his first three years on the ballot is evidence of either a PED witch hunt (though Bagwell failed no tests and his name has been on none of the lists) or gross stupidity on the part of voters.
354-184, 3.12 ERA, 143 ERA+, 1.17 WHIP, 4916.2 IP, 4672 K, 140.3 bWAR
A 7-time Cy Young winner whose first and last awards came an unbelievable 18 years apart. He had 11 qualified seasons with an ERA+ of at least 140, 8 at 160 or better. There's a case to be made for him as the best pitcher ever.
305-203, 3.54 ERA, 118 ERA+, 1.31 WHIP, 4413.1 IP, 2607 K, 81.4 bWAR
1991 and 1998 NL Cy Young winner, with 9 seasons with 210+ IP and an ERA+ of 125 or better, also won 14 postseason games, with an ERA, WHIP, and K-rate that were all better than his strong regular season numbers.
355-227, 3.16 ERA, 132 ERA+, 1.14 WHIP, 5008.1 IP, 3371 K, 106.8 bWAR
4-time Cy Young winner, he had 21-straight seasons with 194 IP or more, and a peak as good as that of anyone in history, with 8 seasons with 200+ innings and an ERA+ of 150 or better, including back-to-back seasons at 271 and 260 in 1994 and 1995. He's also got a stat named after him.
270-153, 3.68 ERA, 123 ERA+, 1.19 WHIP, 3562.2 IP, 2813 K, 83.0 bWAR
7 seasons with 200+ IP and an ERA+ of 130 or better, he never won a Cy Young, but finished in the top 6 in the voting 9 times. He has a very similar overall case as Glavine, but will likely receive far less support, due to his being on the wrong side of the magical 300-win line.
.308/.377/.545, 143 OPS+, 427 HR, 2127 H, 1048 R, 1335 RBI, 59.2 bWAR
The best-hitting catcher in MLB history. What else do you need?
.294/.385/.425, 123 OPS+, 2605 H, 1571 R, 113 3B, 808 SB, 69.1 bWAR
One of the greatest leadoff hitters in history, he's overlooked because he played at the same time as Rickey Henderson, who did the same things even better than Raines. Raines got on base at basically the same rate as Tony Gwynn, but used more walks and fewer hits to do it. Raines' 84.7% success rate is the highest among the 76 players with 400+ career attempts.
216-146, 3.46 ERA, 127 ERA+, 1.14 WHIP, 3261.0 IP, 3116 K, 79.9 bWAR
Had only one great season before the age of 29, before becoming one of the greatest 30-something pitchers in baseball history. He also has one of the greatest postseason resumes of any player ever.
.301/.419/.555, 156 OPS+, 521 HR, 2468 H, 1494 R, 1704 RBI, 1667 BB, 73.6 bWAR
The best American League hitter of the last 50 years, he seems overlooked to me, for reasons I don't fully grasp. (He's also my most-hated player ever! ...but that's a different story.)
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