The BBWAA will announce tomorrow who they have elected to the Hall of Fame for 2014. If you've been following the Baseball Think Factory Ballot-Collecting Gizmo, you'll see that it looks like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and Craig Biggio will be inducted, with possibly Mike Piazza joining that group.
Bagwell, Biggio, Glavine, Maddux, Morris, Smith, Trammell
Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux are no-brainers. Anyone that didn't vote for them either did so for strategic reasons, or should have their head examined.
Craig Biggio is a guy that I'm guessing hasn't been in yet because "he isn't a first ballot guy." Whatever, I think that's silly, but it looks like he's getting in this year.
Kudos to Dick for putting in Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell hasn't gotten in even though he's easily one of the top ten first basemen of all time, because some think he might have done PEDs because he went from being a contact hitter in the minors to a power hitter in the big leagues (don't ask those writers to look at the minor and major league career totals of Kirby Puckett). Kaegel tosses that aside and writes:
Bagwell was terrific all-around, a slugger who could get on base, run, field and lead
Kudos to Dick for putting in Alan Trammell. Trammell is probably one of the top ten shortstops ever to play the game, but got overshadowed by the flashy Ozzie Smith, the physical freak Cal Ripken, and later in his career, great shortstops like Barry Larkin and Derek Jeter. But Trammell was a solid defender, a terrific hitter for a shortstop, should have the 1987 MVP under his belt, and was the best player one one of the most dominant World Champions ever. Kaegel correctly writes:
Trammell was a superb, dominating performer at the difficult position of shortstop for 20 seasons.
Then, Dick's ballot goes off the rails.
Much has been written about how Jack Morris' candidacy is far short of Hall of Fame-worthy. Kaegel writes:
Morris was a big-game pitcher and a horse with 254 victories and 175 complete games
Morris also had a 3.90 ERA, which is higher than anyone currently in the Hall of Fame. He also pitched in an era that was highly favorable to pitchers, so his 3.90 ERA is just slightly better than league average, good for a 105 ERA+.
Morris was a good big game pitcher - in 1984 and 1991. He wasn't so good in 1987 or 1992. He has seven wins in thirteen career postseason starts with a 3.80 ERA. Compare that to a guy like say, Curt Schilling, who was 11-2 in nineteen career starts with a 2.23 ERA. And he had an iconic bloody sock game! Schilling also has a better raw ERA than Morris (3.64), and pitched in the era of steroids and silly ball home run totals. His ERA+ is 127 for his career. Sure, Morris pitched more innings in his career (Schilling didn't really get going til age 25), but should those 600 innings mean Morris is a Hall of Famer and Schilling isn't?
Oh, but its WINS. Morris won 254 games. As opposed to that schlub Mike Mussina, won only won 270. With a 3.68 ERA that was a 123 ERA+.
Smith was a huge, menacing and hard-to-beat closer for most of two decades
Lee Smith, I kinda get if you're big into saves. His 478 saves are still third all-time, and no on active looks to pass that any time soon. Smith did make seven All-Star teams, and at least he almost won a Cy Young Award once (1991). But we know how overrated saves are, and Smith was one of the first "one-inning" closers, unlike Hall of Famers Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers, and Rich Gossage. Smith's 3.03 ERA is pretty unimpressive for a closer, and its only 13th out of the 25 relievers in the "300 saves" club.
Smith did last a long time, and was a pretty scary dude, so I'll give Dick that.
Now, you are allowed to put up to ten names on your ballot. Kaegel put seven.
It really is inexcusable not to put ten names on your ballot. Even if you wanted to exclude all suspected PED users, there are more than ten players eligible on this year's ballot that are clearly Hall of Fame worthy, and I'm not even counting Jack Morris and Lee Smith.
How do you leave off Curt Schilling (216 wins, 4 Top 5 Cy Young finishes, 15th all-time in strikeouts, the Bloody Sock Game)?
Mike Mussina (270 wins, 6 Top 5 Cy Young finishes)?
Mike Piazza (best OPS ever for a catcher, 12 All-Star Games, 10 Silver Sluggers)?
Frank Thomas (two-time MVP, 521 home runs, 156 career OPS+, top ten first baseman of all-time)?
Kaegel has watched a lot of baseball over the years, and I respect his writing, but a ballot like this really make you question his judgment.