My 2017 IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

As a card carrying member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA), one of the great honors each year is the opportunity to vote for our inductions into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I generally lean toward more honorees than less, as the town of Cooperstown desperately counts on induction weekend as a major part of their economy; plus no one is ultimately hurt by a fringe candidate earning their way into this museum.

Considering the backlog of qualified candidates, I would have a full ballot of 10 players and would select several others if that number was extended.  However, within the 10 player limit, these are my choices for my 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. {Editor’s Note: The BBWAA only allows 10 selection per ballot, the IBWAA allows 15.}

Jeff Bagwell

My favorite player as a child and my vote for the most underrated player in recent baseball history. Bagwell finished his 15-year career with a .297/.408/.540 with 449 home runs, 202 stolen bases, and 80.7 WAR – that’s a Hall of Famer!

Barry Bonds

Perhaps the best offensive player in my lifetime, Bonds’ induction will 100% come down to how the voters feel about “steroids”, as his .298/.444/.607 batting line and 164.4 WAR make him a top-5 player in baseball history.

Roger Clemens

Probably a top-5 pitcher in baseball history, Clemens won an astonishing 354 games and produced 170 more wins than losses over his 24-year career. I understand the steroid “issues” but how can there legitimately be a Hall of Fame without Roger Clemens? I am curious which team cap his plaque would have if he achieves enshrinement, as Boston, Toronto and New York each has a claim.

Vladimir Guerrero

Perhaps the franchise player for the Montreal Expos organization, Guerrero is one of the most exciting and dynamic players in baseball history.  There was nothing he could not do, as he was an elite defensive right fielder, an asset on the bases and a legitimate cleanup hitter.  Over his 16-year career, Guerrero hit .318/.379/.553 with 449 home runs, 1,496 runs batted in and 181 stolen bases.  A 9-time All-Star, Guerrero struggled with injuries in his 30s which hindered his total numbers and caused him to retire at 36.  Nonetheless, this first-time eligible candidate should earn induction to Cooperstown on his debut appearance on the ballot.

Edgar Martinez

If Mr. Griffey had the sweetest swing in his generation, then Martinez is my vote for the 2nd purest swing and the best right-handed swing I have ever seen. Spending the majority of his career as a designated hitter and in a small media market hinder his candidacy, but any hitter with a career .312/.418/.515 batting line and 823 extra base hits should be in the Hall of Fame.

Mike Mussina

Growing up an Orioles’ fan as a kid, Mussina was my favorite pitcher and co-favorite player as a child. That bias stated, Mussina is criminally underrated, as his 270-153 career record reflects. Even more impressive to me, Mussina has a higher winning percentage for the Orioles (.645%) than for the Yankees (.631%) as he pitched for some poor teams in Baltimore. Mussina never won a Cy Young award and “only” made five All-Star appearances in his 18-year career, but if Jack Morris is a Hall of Famer, Mussina should also be enshrined. It might take several years, but “Moose” should one day join teammate Cal Ripken Jr. in Cooperstown.

Tim Raines

Likely the second greatest leadoff hitter ever in baseball, Raines has become one of the most discussed candidates of all-time for the Hall of Fame. His detractors say he was only a superstar for a short time and compiled his impressive statistics due to playing for 23-years. First I think it is impressive to play for 23 years as an outfielder and I believe if he played in a larger media market during his prime, he would already be in Cooperstown.

Manny Ramirez

Lost among his eccentric personality, Ramirez was a 12-time All-Star over his 19-year career and is one of the best right-handed hitters in the past 50 years.  For his career, Ramirez hit .312/.411/.585 with 555 home runs and 1,831 runs batted in.  Sure his defense was suspect in the outfield but few have ever possessed the balance and skill at the plate Manny Ramirez did.  He’s a no-doubt selection for me.

Ivan Rodriguez

One of the best catchers in baseball history, Rodriguez made 14 All-Star appearances and earned 13 gold glove awards during his 21-year career.  In addition to being one of the elite defensive backstops in history, Rodriguez was also an impact hitter, batting .296/.334/.464 with 311 home runs and 127 stolen bases.

Also, I had the pleasure to watch for two seasons in Washington and the impact his leadership, moxie and smarts had on several key members of the organization.  Rodriguez is one of the best 10 catchers in baseball history and without a doubt, a Hall of Famer.

Curt Schilling

Certainly his win total feels a little light for Cooperstown, but it should be noted that Schilling was 70 games over .500 for his career (216-146). That said, his career 3.46 ERA, 79.7 WAR and key role in leading three separate teams to the World Series gives him more than enough credentials for enshrinement.

3 thoughts on “My 2017 IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

  1. Out of curiosity what made you pick Schilling on your ballot over Sammy Sosa? Steroids don’t appear to be a concern for you as you have Bonds, Clemens and Ramirez in. Was it more of a numbers game of only having 10 votes with 11-13 deserving candidates?

    • Hey man, thanks for reading/commenting,

      As for Schilling over Sosa, steroids is not my issue with him, although it’s part of it. My thing with the other steroid guys is I think they were HOFers before using them, whereas I feel like Sosa was a Hall of Very Good before juicing and hitting 60 HRs four straight years. Totally personal opinion and contradictory, but I don’t think he’s a HOFer without the juice. Truthfully, I’d have Larry Walker in before Sosa, but as you alluded to, if I had more votes, I’d probably pick Sosa eventually also.

      Schilling is a pick more for his influence with Arizona and Boston, especially with the bloody sock. Those years, plus his strong combination of strikeouts and years of performance, make him a HOFer for me. I also think pitchers are under-represented in the Hall because of the changes to the game in the past 30 years, which is why Mussina, Schilling and the like are easy picks for me.

      Ryan

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