CINCINNATI -- Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Trevor Hoffman, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez, Curt Schilling, Larry Walker.
That’s my baseball Hall of Fame ballot. The final vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America will be announced at 6 p.m. Wednesday on MLB Network and mlb.com.
Do you disagree? I completely understand if you do. Last year, I would have disagreed with it myself.
I finally gave in and voted for Bonds and Clemens. They are clearly the most deserving players on the ballot based on numbers, and it’s not even close. Bonds has a 162.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), Clemens has a 140.3. Mussina has the next highest at 83.0.
But I, like all right-thinking people, believe that Bonds and Clemens inflated those gaudy numbers by using performance-enhancing drugs. That’s why I didn’t vote for them in past years.
Why the change of mind?
The biggest reason was that Bud Selig’s hasty election to the Hall seemed hypocritical to me. It said: We’ll honor the man who presided over the "Steroid Era," but not honor players who used steroids. In my mind, Selig colluded in the "Steroid Era."
The other reason is Mike Piazza’s election showed that suspected steroid users are going to get in. Piazza has long been suspected, though there’s not the preponderance of evidence against him that there is against Bonds and Clemens.
I was holding off on voting for Bonds and Clemens until they admitted PED use and apologized. But I relented. Tough choice? I filled out my ballot four days ago. It sat on the my kitchen table with Bonds and Clemens unchecked, while I pondered my decision.
I didn’t vote for Manny Ramirez. He’s the second-best hitter on the list, behind Bonds. Ramirez was suspended for using PEDs. Bonds and Clemens weren't.
Splitting hairs, I know. I don’t know if there’s a right answer as far as cheaters. I abstained from voting one year.
Here’s why I voted for the players I did:
- Bagwell: He’s fifth among the eligible players in WAR. I saw him a lot because the Reds played the Astros so often. He was a great combination of a tough out and power.
- Bonds: He was a Hall of Famer before he took any PED. Just an unbelievable hitter.
- Clemens: 354 wins, 3.12 ERA in the "Steroid Era."
- Hoffman: Lowest WAR by far of anyone for anyone whom I voted. But 601 saves won me over.
- Martinez: Some won’t vote for him because he was designated hitter. I don’t buy that. It’s part of the game. His WAR was 10th of anyone on the ballot and that factors in defense. .312/.411/.565 slash line.
- Raines: Great leadoff man -- .385 on-base, 808 steals. The cocaine scandal turns off some voters. I don’t see that as cheating, I see it as performance-hampering drug, so it doesn’t affect my vote.
- Rodriguez: Defense puts him on my list, but he could hit, too.
- Schilling: Fourth in WAR among eligible players. Postseason puts him over the top. It was tough to check his name because I don't agree with some of the things he says on regular basis.
- Walker: He was the best player in the game for a four- or five-year span. That goes a long way with me. He did everything well.
I used all 10 of my allotted spots. Gary Sheffield and Vladimir Guerrero are close in my mind. I didn’t keep Sammy Sosa off because of PEDs. He was 13th WAR among the eligible candidates. He played 18 years and was a mediocre player nine of them.
John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org