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My filled-out Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Bob Allison, a football and baseball standout for Kansas University, earned American League Rookie of the Year honors in 1959 with the Washington Senators when he produced nine triples and 30 home runs, 83 runs and 85 RBI. He didn’t have a Baseball Hall of Fame career, but he did deserve to be on the Hall of Fame ballot. It doesn’t take much. Ray Durham, Jacque and Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Richie Sexon and Mike Timlin.

Allison, a three-time All-Star, finished in the top 10 in the AL on-base plus slugging percentage five times and in the top 10 in home runs eight times in walks seven times and stolen bases twice.

This year’s Hall of Fame voting results will be released at 1 p.m. today. Ballots are tougher than ever to fill out, thanks to the guessing game involving steroids. The ballot’s not a court of law, so the standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt does not apply. Voters use their own standards, which is appropriate since each ballot is one voter’s opinion.

Ken Gurnick, who covers the Dodgers for MLB.com, said he will not vote for any players who played in what has become known as the steroid era, even Greg Maddux, never suspected of taking performance enhancing drugs. Others disregard the doping factor entirely. I disagree with both stances.

Here’s how I handle steroids: When covering baseball, I used to have off-the-record chats with players I knew best about steroids and asked them which players they thought were juicing, which they thought were clean.

“They don’t all look like Mark McGwire, you know,” one player told me. “It changes every body in a different way.”

Asked for an example of a player who didn’t look like Michelin Man that he thought was juicing, he named Rafael Palmeiro, citing his sudden increase in power and other factors. I had no doubt Palmeiro was lying when he told Congress he had never done steroids, period. You couldn’t write anything concrete about a player doing ‘roids without proof, so I at times would use euphemisms such as “modern muscles,” an inconclusive term from which the reader could infer whatever he or she chose. Not an ideal approach, but better than ignoring the corruption of baseball statistics.

Writers who cover a baseball team on a daily basis, home and away, also are good sources to tap when seeking information to make a more educated guess on a player.

If I have a strong belief that a player juiced, I deflate his numbers accordingly, but don’t remove him from contention. If I think, but am not convinced a player cheated, I deflate the numbers to a lesser degree.

Is it a perfect system? No. Perfection is impossible in this case. But it’s better than completely turning a blind eye to the whole thing and better than going the high-and-mighty route and stoning all the sinners during an era when more than half the hitters and a number of pitchers were cheating.

Voters are allowed to check anywhere from zero to 10 names. For the first time in my 19 years as a voter, I checked 10 names. My ballot:

Rather than simply trashing my choices — or after trashing mine — I'd like to hear what names you would have checked.

Comments

Len Shaffer 9 months, 3 weeks ago

"Allison, a three-time All-Star, finished in the top 10 in the AL on-base plus slugging percentage five times and in the top 10 in home runs eight times in walks seven times and stolen bases twice."

Mr. Keegan, let me introduce you to a punctuation mark known as the comma ...

Snarky comment aside, I can see your arguments about how to make your decision, but I don't think I could vote for anyone like Bonds or Clemens who so clearly did steroids. On the other hand, I think it's incredibly unfair that someone would punish Greg Maddux. If anything, what Maddux did is even more impressive, given that he had to go against so many steroid users.

I would have voted for Maddux, Glavine, Biggio, Raines and Thomas. I'm still on the fence about Jack Morris, as I thought he was somewhat overrated but he did an amazing job in the '91 World Series.

Tom Keegan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Totally agree with your comment on Maddux's job being even tougher because he had to go against juicers. Knowing Maddux, he found a way to work it to his advantage, baiting hitters to swing from their tails, then taking a little off the pitch. I forgot who wrote it, but I think the line was in SI: "Everybody should be required to wear a tuxedo when Greg Maddux starts." Morris had most wins in AL in the '80s and, as you noted, he was a bulldodg in the posteason.

Bruce Bertsch 9 months, 3 weeks ago

McGuire rather than Piazza. The PED era should have nothing to do with the selections.

Tom Keegan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Bruce, Why do you feel that way? Thanks. -- Tom

Steve Jacob 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I still consider Jeff Bagwell a better player then Frank Thomas. Frank Thomas has more home runs because he DH'ed at the end. Bagwell also stole 202 bases, ans has a Gold Glove.

Aaron Paisley 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Bagwell's power numbers would be significantly better if he didn't play 2/3 of his career in the Astrodome. His degenerative shoulder also significantly diminished his ability the last few seasons of his career. I'm based because I grew up in Houston during the Killer B's era of the Astros and I think Bagwell was the best all around 1st basemen of the 90's.

Robert Brown 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Tom Thanks for sharing your criteria. I have to admit, the steroid era made this much more complicated.

In Houston, it is all about Biggio and Bagwell. Biggio will obviously get in. Do you have an opinion on Bagwell? Did he just not make the cut since you could only vote for ten players?

I assume by your criteria, you are saying the Clemens and Bonds were accomplished enough before steroid allegations to warrant your vote.

I am interested in your comments.

Tom Keegan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Robert, When we were driving to Norman, Nick Krug asked me who I thought would make it. I said Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, maybe Biggio. Biggio came close. Three guys who made it never suspected of P.E.D. I go back and forth on Biggo and Bagwell every year. Both are tough calls. Biggio, seven-time All-Star stood out at three different positions. Bagwell, four-time All-Star, actually was a better teammate, according to a guy I knew who covered him daily, and to players I talked to through the years. Bagwell never had stats on his mind, just winning the game. Great base runner. Biggio was suspected at times of stopping at second when pursuing doubles records. Both guys have come under cloud of suspicion. Biggio even better defensive player than Bagwell. Find it hard to believe Bonds and Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

Robert Brown 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks for your insight. I think your assessment of both is spot on. I will tell you that both were part of a ten year golden age of Astros baseball. The team has certainly gone downhill since. I have heard that Bagwell was a great clubhouse leader.

Arthur Clifford 9 months, 3 weeks ago

First off I am surprised that the hall of fame ballot is so cheesy looking. I imagined it to be something completely different.

I view the juicing era much the same way as you do Tom. Players like Clemens and Bonds in my opinion still deserve to be in because what they accomplished prior to juicing. Now we don't know when they started but based on numbers we can logically deduct when it most likely started. My belief with Clemens is that he used it to prolong his career after he had already put up historic numbers.

To be a Hall of Famer you either need to be the best of the best or the best at your position. I don't think of Craig Biggio as the best of the best but his numbers for a second basemen ranks him there at that position.

I would vote for Glavine, Maddux, Clemens, Bonds, Thomas, Biggio

Tom Keegan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Arthur, M@ T8 and Nick Krug said same thing on our ride to Norman about ballot. They have to keep it very simple for old guys like me. I am surprised they haven't gone to electronic ballot like Heisman Trophy. I never have trouble with that and if I can figure it out anybody can.

Dante Colombo 9 months, 3 weeks ago

This is the best HoF ballot I've seen this year, and I've seen most of the national baseball columnists' selections. People forget that Clemens and Bonds were absolutely dominant in a PED-dominated era. The Hall is a joke without them.

Kent Richardson 9 months, 3 weeks ago

If I remember right, Allison was a big shoulder and arms guy. His name was synonymous with power. I would have walked him a lot too because I wouldn't want to dodge his bb's back up the middle.

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