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.