-Numbers in parentheses are years on the ballot; players without years are first-timers
-AS = All-Star
-GG = Gold Glove
-SS = Silver Slugger
-Top-5 MVP = top-5 finishes in MVP voting
-CYA = Cy Young Award
-WS = World Series champ
-WAR comes from Baseball-Reference
-Relevant BBR Similarity Scores: I tried to pick illustrative scores whose values were reasonably high enough
The shoo-ins: These guys get my vote, no questions asked, but I justify 'em anyway.
Craig Biggio (3rd year)
Relevant counting stats: 20 seasons, .281/.363/.433, 291 HR, 414 SB, 3060 H
Career WAR: 65.1
Accolades/achievements: 7x AS, 4x GG, 2x top-5 MVP
Relevant BBR Similarity score(s): Robin Yount, Derek Jeter
The final word: I can't believe this is Biggio's 3rd ballot--how is this guy not in?! 3000 hits, a 20-year Astro that was part of their best seasons, all those hit-by-pitches. Get this man a plaque!
Mike Piazza (3rd year)
Relevant counting stats: 16 seasons, .308/.377/.505, 427 HR,
Career WAR: 59.4
Accolades/achievements: 1993 ROY, 12x AS, 10x SS, 4x top-5 MVP, most career HR by C
Relevant BBR Similarity score(s): Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra
The final word: Piazza was the best hitting catcher of his generation, and a slugger to boot. He arouses suspicion having played during the PED era, of course, but regardless he passes the eye test.
Relevant counting stats: 22 seasons, 303-166 W/L, 3.29 ERA, 100 CG, 37 SHO, 4875 K, 10.6 K/9, 3-0 with 1.04 ERA in 2001 WS
Career WAR: 102.7(!)
Accolades/achievements: 300 wins, 2nd on all-time strikeout list with 4875(!), 2001 WS MVP, 5x CYA including 4 straight and 4 other top-3 finishes, 10x AS, all-time leader in K/9, 4x ERA titles, 1x win title, 9x K titles, and even more I won't bother to list
Relevant BBR Similarity score(s): Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine, Tom Seaver
The final word: Anybody that doesn't give the Big Unit a vote deserves one of his fastballs to the face. LOOK AT THOSE NUMBERS.
Relevant counting stats: 18 seasons, 219-100 W/L, 2.93 ERA, 3154 K, 10.0 K/9
Career WAR: 84.0
Accolades/achievements: 3x CYA with 4 other top-4 finishes, 8x AS, 2x top-5 MVP, 2004 WS, 5x ERA titles, 1x win title, 3x K titles
Relevant BBR Similarity score(s): Whitey Ford, Juan Marichal
The final word: His 1999 AL pitching triple crown was a thing of beauty (23-4, 2.07, 313 K) and his follow up to that was special too: 18-6, 1.74, 284. Simply one of the most dominant pitchers of the late 90s to mid aughts.
Jeff Bagwell (5th year)
Relevant counting stats: 15 seasons, .297/.408/.540, 449 HR, 1529 RBI, 202 SB
Career WAR: 79.6
Accolades/achievements: 1991 ROY, 1994 MVP, 2x top-5 MVP, 4x AS, 2x member of 30-30 club, 3x GG
Relevant BBR Similarity score(s): Frank Thomas, Albert Pujols
The final word: He "only" played 15 years but was a feared slugger for all but his final season, and all of those were for the Astros, when he paired with Biggio to give the team its best seasons. For a while there he was the NL's answer to Frank Thomas, and I can't believe he's lasted this long without getting in.
Tim Raines (8th year)
Relevant counting stats: 23 seasons, .294/.385/.425, 2605 H, 808 SB, 1571 R. From 1981-1992 OBP was .387 with an average of 60 SB and 90 R per year
Career WAR: 69.1
Accolades/achievements: 7x AS, 1x top-5 MVP, 1x batting champ, 5th all-time in SB
Relevant BBR Similarity score(s): Lou Brock
The final word: Raines toiled in relative obscurity in Montreal, in the shadow of Dawson and Carter, and was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson, but still made his own legacy.
Alan Trammell (14th year)
Relevant counting stats: 20 seasons, .285/.352/.415, 185 HR, 236 SB
Career WAR: 70.4
Accolades/achievements: 1984 WS MVP, should-be 1987 MVP, 6x AS, 4x GG, half of longest-tenured double-play combo in history
Relevant BBR Similarity score(s): Barry Larkin, Lou Whitaker, Ryne Sandberg
The final word: Tram doesn't automatically deserve entry because Larkin's in; he deserves it of his own merit. He was a career Tiger for all 20 of his seasons and a huge part of the team's success in '84 and '87. If Ripken's never born kids country-wide are still wearing Trammell jerseys today.
Mike Mussina (2nd year)
Relevant counting stats: 18 seasons, 270-153 W/L, 57 CG, 3.68 ERA, 2813 K
Career WAR: 83.0
Accolades/achievements: 5x AS, 6x top-5 CYA, 6x GG
Relevant BBR Similarity score(s): Juan Marichal, Jim Palmer
The final word: It took Moose until 2007, his final year, to get over the hump and win 20 games, but he won at least 15 11 times. While he doesn't have a Cy Young or World Series title to his name, he was an excellent pitcher for almost two decades, and he went out on a high note when he probably could have dragged things out to get to 300 wins.
Larry Walker (5th year)
Relevant counting stats: 17 seasons, .313/.400/.565, 383 HR, 230 SB
Career WAR: 72.6
Accolades/achievements: 1997 MVP, 5x AS, 7x GG, 3x batting titles
Relevant BBR Similarity score(s): Miguel Cabrera, Duke Snider
The final word: Walker was a pretty good player in Montreal but really took off with the Rockies. Yes, Coors Field inflated his stats some, but he absolutely mashed from the mid to late 90s and was actually a pretty good all-around player for much of his career, as the steals and Gold Gloves prove.
Relevant counting stats: 21 seasons, 213-155 W/L, 3.33 ERA, 154 SV, 3084 K
Career WAR: 69.5
Accolades/achievements: 1992 NLCS MVP, 1995 WS, 1996 CYA, 2x top-5 CYA, 8x AS, 144 SV from 2002-2004, 2x win titles, 2x K titles
Relevant BBR Similarity score(s): Jim Bunning, Catfish Hunter
The final word: Smoltz was part of one of the greatest pitching trios in history with Maddux and Glavine. He had somewhat of an Eck-like career in closing for three-plus seasons and succeeded at that just as much as he did as a starter. You have to wonder what his stats would have looked like if he could have started from 2001-2004. This one's an easy decision for me.
The I suppose but no rushes: Yeah, sure, go nuts, whatever...
Roger Clemens (3rd year)
He's got the numbers, but the PED allegations hurt a lot, as do his personality and the 2000 World Series bat toss thing. PEDs make decisions like this tougher, but since we'll never identify everyone I suppose you may as well not penalize specific players for them, guilty or not. I wouldn't mind it if he had to twist in the wind until the Veterans Committee put him in, though.
Barry Bonds (3rd year)
Ditto Clemens, minus the bat thing, pretty much. He obviously had the credentials before the PED stuff, so there's that.
The mehs: I wouldn't bother voting these three guys in ever
Curt Schilling (3rd year)
Schilling probably should get in but I just couldn't vote for him. His Arizona and Boston years were great, but his time in Philly wasn't the stuff of legends. You can have him, but I wouldn't.
Jeff Kent (2nd year)
Kent put up some nice numbers as a 2B during the PED era but overall doesn't pass the eye test as far as I'm concerned.
Mark McGwire (9th year)
This isn't about the PED issues as much as the fact that McGwire really wasn't valuable for anything besides HR and walks, especially the intentional variety. He made the game more exciting with his power, no doubt, but when I look past that there's not much else that interests me. I don't feel like his induction would tarnish the hall, but I wouldn't be one of the ones voting for him.
Edgar Martinez (6th year)
Martinez was a hell of a hitter, and maybe I could be persuaded otherwise, but it's hard to get over the fact that he was mainly a DH. Considering hitting was his full-time job he did a fantastic job of being as valuable as he could, especially as an OBP king, but without any MVP or World Series contributions I just don't see it.
The Hall of Very Good: Thanks for your great careers, guys!
Lee Smith (13th year)
Fred McGriff (6th year)
Don Mattingly (15th year)
Sammy Sosa (3rd year)
Therefore my ballot is the 10 players in the first two sections.
I realize how much debate this can spur but that's cool, and I'm actually interested in hearing what you guys think about my picks and/or your own preferences, so have at it!