This is one of the first years when I got the chance to watch players on the Hall of Fame ballot. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to really watch players like Pedro Martinez or Greg Maddux, except in the very twilight of their careers.
This year is different, the ballot is packed with players that I got to see in at least parts of their primes.
With that being said, here is my ballot, in no particular order, for the 2020 Hall of Fame class – no, I don’t have a vote.
This one seems obvious to me. Bonds changed the game, period. Yes, he likely took steroids or some form of performance enhancing drugs, but he was never suspended for it. He did it while it wasn’t tested for. Did he cheat? Sure, but so did everyone else. At that point, cheating became the new normal.
He has 24 Major League records, according to baseball-reference. He holds the record for most home runs in a season, 73, and a career, 762. He won the MVP seven times. He walked the most in a season, 232, and a career, 2,558.
He got 59.1% of the vote last season, and he has just three years of eligibility left. Get this man in the Hall, now.
Clemens is of the very same vein as Bonds is; he is arguably the greatest pitcher of all time. He pitched for 24 years and won seven Cy Young awards, and an MVP. He finished his career with a 139.2 bWAR, eighth all-time and third all-time for a pitcher.
Steroids obviously helped his career numbers, as he took a massive jump after his age-34 season, but he was still a fantastic player beforehand. He won three Cy Young awards before he left the Boston Red Sox for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997, which is enough to elect him to the Hall. Everyone with three or more, who is not actively playing, has a plaque.
Helton has a very interesting, but not sure-fire, case. He is not an obvious choice, however, I think he deserves a nod.
He never won an MVP award, but he should have in 2000 with the Colorado Rockies, the only organization he ever played for. The “Toddfather” slashed .372/.463/.698 with 42 bombs and 147 RBIs. Oh, he also had 59 doubles and his first of five straight All-Star appearances. His 8.9 bWAR that season led the National League, and he somehow was only fifth in voting.
Despite the Coors Field effect, he was a great road player too. He was the quintessential Rockie and he should be their first player elected to the Hall.
The only reason Schilling isn’t already in the Hall is for reasons outside of his playing career. He’s not the nicest guy with the most widely accepted political viewpoint, but that shouldn’t take away from his induction into the Hall of Fame.
He pitched for 20 years in the big leagues, is a member of the 3,000-strikeout club, had a season with 15 complete games and won three World Series. He is the definition of a workhorse, and he rarely walked people.
Get him a plaque, because it’s time for his body of work to be recognized, even if he’s not the best character there is. If Ty Cobb can be in the Hall of Fame, Curt Schilling should be too.
Larry Walker could flat out rake. He has been on the cusp of voting for a while now. However, this is his last year and he was about 20% of the vote short last year. Edgar Martinez was only able to jump 15% in his last year of eligibility in last year’s voting, but he was in a better spot anyways.
He may fall off the ballot this year, but only for the Coors Field effect. He should be in, he was incredible in his prime years. He had seven season of a 1.000-plus OPS and just one year his entire career with an OPS+ of lower than 100, which was his first year in the bigs where he played just 20 games.
The fiery left-hander was one of the greatest closers ever. He is sixth all-time in total saves with 422, and he is one spot ahead of Dennis Eckersley, a Hall of Famer.
He finished his career striking out nearly 12 batters per nine innings, a 2.31 ERA, five seasons of a sub-2.00 ERA and a .998 WHIP.
The Captain is a hard one; some think he is going to be unanimous, but I am not so sure. He won five World Series, but he also had some fantastic teammates. His WAR numbers reflect a Hall of Famer, but not a sure-fire one. He was also just simply not a good defender; he was flashy and made some good plays, but he was limited. He averaged an error every 10.5 games.
However, he should still be voted in because he’s one of the best to ever do it. He’s a member of the 3,000-hit club and is sixth all-time with 3,465. He also played the least amount of years for anyone in the top 10 hits ranking.
While I am not totally sold, he still gets the nod.
Notables left off:
He would be in the “Hall of Very Good” for me. I nearly placed him on the list, but that would just be because I liked him, not because he had the statistics to back it up.
He just didn’t pitch enough for me to think he’s worth the nod. He finished his career with a 43.5 WAR. If he had played a couple more years, I think he would get in.
He was one of the best defenders of all time but couldn’t hit enough to get in. He had a career .688 OPS, that just doesn’t cut it.