Who’s going to be the next class of players to be enshrined in Cooperstown?
Well, we’re about to find out.
Later today the 2016 class of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced, the 74th group of player(s) to be inducted.
Starting in 1936 with the induction of Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, among others, the Baseball Writers Association of America have gathered to determine what players deserve to have their names forever remembered in baseball history.
With this big day in baseball history upon us, I want to take this opportunity to cast my ballot for the 2016 class of the MLB HOF.
As a disclaimer, I want to point out that voters from the BWAA can use up to 10 votes on their ballots, however, they don’t have to use all 10 votes and most do not.
But without further ado, here is my 2016 ballot, in order of most to least deserving of being inducted.
- Ken Griffey Jr., OF
In all honesty, do I really need to make an argument for Ken Griffey, Jr.?
He’s one of the most exciting players to watch ever, one of the best power hitters of all time, an outstanding fielder, and undoubtedly had the sweetest swing the game has ever seen.
And if that isn’t good enough, the fact that Griffey knocked 630 balls over the fences in 44 different major league ballparks should only further cement his legacy among the greats.
Throughout his career, Griffey won 10 straight Gold Glove and a total of 7 Silver Slugger awards. Thirteen times he was voted an All-Star, and he was voted the 1997 AL MVP.
Griffey also put together a string of five-straight seasons from 1996-2000 where he hit 40+ HRs and 115+ RBI.
The biggest question surrounding Griffey is whether or not he will break Tom Seaver’s record for highest percentage of votes received. That record is 98.84 percent.
- Mike Piazza, C
Simply put Mike Piazza is one of the best hitting catchers of all time.
Piazza ranks in the top 10 among catchers in numerous hitting categories, including hits (sixth), runs (seventh), batting average (ninth), runs batted in (fourth), and OPS (second).
He also hit the most home runs out of any catcher with 427, and had the highest slugging percentage of any player at his position at .545.
Piazza is a rare breed of player; a catcher that was much better standing beside the plate than squatting behind it. But that’s why he was special.
Accolades wise, he was 1993 Rookie of the Year, a 12-time All-Star and a 10-time Silver Slugger Award recipient.
I don’t buy the steroid speculation that has surrounded Piazza since his playing days. When your best evidence is he was a big guy with back acne, I would like to submit a large portion of the American population as to why that’s a bad argument.
There is no hard evidence he used performance-enhancing drugs – it’s all speculation.
Let him in, voters!
- Mike Mussina, SP
It completely baffles me that Mike Mussina received just 24.6 percent of votes last year. I simply don’t get it.
Mussina pitched 18 years in the big leagues, while pitching every single one of those years in the then-best division in baseball, the AL East. Ten years he pitched in Baltimore, while the final eight years of his career he toed the rubber in Yankee Stadium.
And while pitching in the best division in baseball, Mussina pitched with a consistency that is not talked about nearly enough.
Mussina’s 270 career wins are more than HOFers Bob Feller, Carl Hubbell and Bob Gibson to name a few. His win-loss percentage is also better than Hubbell and Feller’s, and even better than the great Juan Marichal.
He also surrendered 32 fewer walks than Sandy Koufax, who played six fewer seasons than Mussina did.
In 11 of his 20 seasons, Mussina won 15 or more decisions, and other than his rookie season, never won fewer than 11 decisions.
The knock against Mussina is that he never won a CY Young Award. However, six times he finished in the top five of the voting.
Only four players that have more wins than him are not in Cooperstown, and one of them is Roger Clemens, who is also up for induction.
Mussina deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
- Trevor Hoffman, RP
Until Mariano Rivera came along, there was no better pure closer in baseball than all-time Padre great Trevor Hoffman.
Hoffman finished with career numbers that are similar to Rivera’s and better than Rollie Fingers.
His 601 saves are second all time, and no Hall of Fame relief pitcher gave up less hits.
The question with Hoffman is whether or not he deserves to go in on the first ballot. I think he does, however, it would not surprise me if he just misses out, and has to wait until next year to get in.
- Curt Schilling, SP
Being at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Museum a few summers ago, I can tell you that a good portion of Curt Schilling’s dirty (bloody) laundry is already in Cooperstown, so we might as well go ahead and put the rest of him in there, right?
But in all seriousness, I think Schilling is a Hall of Famer.
With a win-loss percentage that is higher than Bob Gibson’s and John Smoltz’s, number of wins that is higher than Smoltz’s, and an ERA that is better than Tom Glavine’s, how can he not be HOF worthy?
Three times Schilling won more than 20 decisions. Two of those times was when he was pitching for the Diamondbacks along side Randy Johnson, in what is one of the best pitching tandems ever assembled in the big leagues.
The other time was in 2004, during one of the most historic runs in MLB history. Schilling was at the center of the rotation that ended the Red Sox 86-year streak of not winning a World Series.
One thing that a lot of the players on the ballot lack is a signature moment. Well, Schilling has two. 2001 and 2004.
- Jeff Bagwell, 1B
Find me a better first basemen of the 1990’s that was clean than Jeff Bagwell. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Rivaled only by Fred McGriff amongst clean first basemen of the 90’s, Bagwell is still superior.
The Astros first baseman has higher career totals in runs, doubles, triples, stolen bases, walks, average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS, all while playing four fewer seasons than McGriff, and also while playing a majority of his career in the very specious/pitcher-friendly Astrodome.
Bagwell has the 6th highest WAR amongst all first basemen to ever play the game, and he scored more runs than recent inductee Frank Thomas.
Comparing him to non-clean first basemen for his era is doable as well.
Bagwell scored more runs and had more hits, doubles, RBI, and walks than Mark McGwire, while also hitting for a much better average and OBP.
After seeing his percentage of votes drop slightly last year, his sixth year on the ballot, I believe he’ll see that percentage rise this year. It was inevitable, at least to me, that his teammate Craig Biggio would get inducted before him.
Biggio was enshrined this past year, it’s Bagwell’s time to rejoin his teammate in Cooperstown.
- Gary Sheffield, OF
Was there ever a more memorable stance at the plate that, when done either by that player or imitated by anyone else, didn’t immediately let you know who was at the plate? I would find it hard to believe any Little Leaguer that played during the 90’s or 2000’s that didn’t at least once stand at the plate and pretend to be Gary Sheffield.
Despite only standing at 5’11” tall, Sheffield seemed a lot more menacing while waving his club at the pitcher like he wanted to rip the pitcher’s head off.
A nine-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, Sheffield was a pure hitter no matter which of the eight different teams he was playing for that day.
Sheffield is the only player to represent five different teams in an All-Star game. He is also the first player in MLB history to hit at least 25 home runs for six different teams. And Sheffield is joined by Fred McGriff as the only players to hit 30 or more home runs in a season for five different teams.
And of the 24 players in MLB history that hit more than Sheffield’s 509 career home runs, only six are not currently in the Hall of Fame. (2 of those players – Griffey and Sosa – are on this year’s ballot, 2 others – Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez – have not been retired long enough to be inducted, and the last 2 are still active players– A-Rod and Albert Pujols.)
Sheffield may be most comparable to Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.
In his career, Sheffield accounted for more runs, hits, doubles, and walks, hit for a better AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS+, all while striking out fewer than half as many times as Jackson did.
It’s going to be an uphill battle for Sheffield to make it to Cooperstown, considering he received just 11.7 percent of votes last year. But, as JP in the movie Angles in the Outfield liked to say, “It could happen.”
8. Jim Edmonds, OF
Full disclosure, do I think Jim Edmonds deserves to be a first-ballot HOFer? No! Do I think he deserves to be a second-, third-, or fourth-ballot HOFer? Probably not, but he deserves to stay on the ballot.
Me voting for Jim Edmonds is more so because I want to keep him on the ballot. Kind of the opposite think as to why five people didn’t vote for Tom Seaver in 1992, they knew he was a lock to be inducted, so they wanted to use their vote on someone else.
Do I agree with that strategy? Not necessarily. But it happens.
Edmonds had a solid career that I don’t think is acknowledged as much as it should be, simply because he played on one of the most historic franchises in all of sports, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Edmonds has better numbers than Tim Raines when it comes to home runs, runs batted in and slugging percentage. He is also very close to Raines in categories such as average and on base percentage even though Edmonds played six-fewer seasons.
The official announcement will air on MLB Network at 6 p.m. tonight.