Earlier today, I revealed the ballot I submitted in each of the three mock 2012 Hall of Fame votes I participated in this year. But in the spirit of transparent balloting and because the discussion seems incomplete otherwise, it isn’t enough for a voter to explain why the players he or she selected should be enshrined in Cooperstown—there’s also the matter of why the other candidates shouldn’t.
I hit the maximum of 10 players on my ballot, so I couldn’t have voted for any of the 17 other candidates even if I’d wanted to. But I truly felt that only the players I voted for were worthy of enshrinement.
For starters, not every player on the ballot seemed like a serious candidate. Vinny Castilla, and Jeromy Burnitz‘ peaks were too short and not quite good enough to merit real consideration. Same goes for Tim Salmon and Ruben Sierra. One great year does not a Hall of Famer make, which eliminates Javy Lopez and Phil Nevin; nor do 20 years of at-times mediocre pitching equal a worthwhile candidate, thus disqualifying Terry Mulholland. As someone who moonlights as a Red Sox fan I might have cast a throwaway vote for Bill Mueller since this will almost certainly be his only year on the ballot, but he’s nowhere close to worthy. And I’m not fuly sure why Eric Young and Tony Womack are on the ballot at all.
That leaves seven plausible candidates who I snubbed. The most noteworthy name missing from my ballot is Jack Morris. His case has been dissected ad nauseum already and I don’t think I could add anything new to the discussion. Now that Bert Blyleven is finally in, it wouldn’t be a travesty if he were elected. But I’m reluctant to vote for a pitcher who never had an ERA under 3.00 and ended his career with a 105 ERA+, a 1.78 K/BB ratio, and fewer rWAR than Javier Vazquez.
While he ultimately fell far short in my eyes, there’s another pitcher who at least deserves some consideration: Brad Radke. His 148-139 record and 4.22 ERA don’t scream Hall of Famer, but Radke had five seasons of 5.0 fWAR or greater in the midst of the Steroid Era. A better career ERA+ than Nolan Ryan and more rWAR than Addie Joss? He’s an easy pass, but he at least deserves a couple minutes’ thought.
Like Morris, Don Mattingly’s case has been rehashed countless times and he’s a pretty polarizing candidate. Ultimately, to me, his peak was too short and his decline too drastic, and while he was great in his prime he wasn’t dominant enough at his best to make up for his career’s rapid downturn. I can certainly respect the opinion that he should be in—his problems were largely injury-related, and he wouldn’t be the worst player in the Hall—but even so he’s only the fourth- or fifth-best first baseman on the ballot.
Finally, we have the outfielders. Dale Murphy is a lot like Mattingly—great peak, but he dropped off too quickly and drastically. Bernie Williams has the opposite problem: he was good for a long time, but he posted more than 5.5 fWAR only once. Not to mention his defense was incredibly overrated and he got the boost from being part of the late 1990’s Yankees dynasty.
That leaves two more players who I wanted to vote for but ultimately couldn’t justify. The first is Juan Gonzalez. I would have love to vote for Juan Gone—boy was he fun to watch in 2011—but I couldn’t find any reason to do so. His 434 home runs were impressive, but as a corner outfielder who spent most of his career in an extreme hitters park and played in the Steroid Era, that just doesn’t cut it. His only real asset was his power, and that wasn’t enough to separate him from the pack.
I was strongly tempted to vote for the last candidate remaining: Brian Jordan. In an era when corner outfielders were supposed to mash the ball he was largely overshadowed—he ended his career with a 105 wRC+—but he was an absolute wizard in the field. With 162 runs saved, Total Zone has Jordan as the sixth-best defensive outfielder in MLB history, and 13th on the all-time list at any position. Granted, he did it mostly as a right fielder (a relatively easy position) and it isn’t enough to overcome his offensive shortcomings. But given that he probably won’t get the five percent necessary to stay on the ballot, if I’d had a vote to spare I’d have used it to throw a bone to Jordan.