The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
My 2024 Hall of Fame ballot finally counts -- sorta!

I’ve been writing this blog since 2013, and every year since then I have cast a “mythical” ballot for the annual Baseball Hall of Fame election. It was mythical because my ballot didn’t go anywhere, except to my readers. Only official members of the official Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) are eligible to vote for the Hall. Anyway, it was a fun exercise for me to go through the process of pretending to vote for the Hall-worthy players.

I joined the Internet Baseball Writers’ Association of America (IBWAA) this year. It’s a collegial organization of baseball writers and content creators who strive to increase the visibility of their work and networking opportunities for its members. Although it looks similar, it has no relationship with BBWAA. It does have a partnership with SABR (Society for American Baseball Research).

One of the activities of the IBWAA is to conduct its own election process for voting for players to the Hall of Fame. Members were asked to submit up to 12 names. (I’m not sure why 12, when the official BBWA balloting allows for up to 10 players.) 700+ members’ votes will be compiled and published at the same time the official BBWAA results are announced on January 23.

So here are the players I submitted in the IBWAA voting process.

Let’s deal with the big elephant in the room first--players who used or were suspected of using PEDs. I didn’t take a hard line on omitting these players from my selections in the past. My rationale was that I was in no position to be judge and jury over which players did or didn’t use, or when or how often they might have used PEDs. Thus, I voted for Bonds and Clemens because I thought they were among the best players in baseball history. Obviously, I was in the minority regarding their HOF worthiness, since both players never got voted in during their 10 years on the ballot.

There was also another element of my position on PEDs. Consider the following cases. Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax received cortisone shots in his elbow before many of his games in the 1960s. He would not have been as superior as he was, without those shots. All-Stars Dave Parker and Keith Hernandez and many other players reportedly took amphetamines in the 1980s. The drugs allowed them to suit up for practically every game, despite the wear and tear of the long season on their bodies. While it was may be frowned upon from a moral character standpoint, no one ever declared them ineligible for the Hall of Fame. If steroids and HGH keep players from Hall of Fame consideration, then why aren’t players who used cortisone shots and amphetamines put in the same category?

So, my first three votes are cast for Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Gary Sheffield, all dominant players in their eras. This is Sheffield’s last year on the ballot, and except for the perception that he was a PED user (he never tested positive), he would have been selected a lot sooner. He’s a player with 500+ home runs, 60.5 WAR and 140 OPS+. You can’t ever persuade me that Hall of Famer Harold Baines was better than Sheffield.

Todd Helton and Billy Wagner are next on my list. I also voted for them last year. Helton slashed .316/.414/.539 and recorded a 61.8 WAR and 133 OPS+. He has Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards as part of his credentials. Billy Wagner is currently sixth (422) on the all-time list for saves. His career stats include an impressive 2.31 ERA and .998 WHIP. His ERA+ was 187. Wagner didn’t get as much ink during his career as contemporary relievers Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, but he’s in the same class as them. Aside from Scott Rolen, who was elected in 2023, Helton (72.2%) and Wagner (68.1%) were the next closest to getting the required minimum of 75% of the votes.

Two outfielders I voted for last year and am including in this year’s selection are Carlos Beltran and Andruw Jones. Beltran was AL Rookie of the Year in 1999 and went to collect nine All-Star appearances with the Mets, Cardinals, and Yankees. His WAR is 70.1, and he received MVP votes in seven seasons. He was a valuable post-season contributor, with a slash line of .307/.412/.609, 16 HRs and 42 RBI. My selection of Andrew Jones is primarily influenced by his defensive excellence. He was a Gold Glove centerfielder for 10 straight seasons with the Braves. But he wasn’t a liability for his teams on the offensive side, as he hit 434 career HRs and 1,289 RBIs.

Omar Vizquel is another position player I included for his defensive prowess. Like Jones, he was a perennial Gold Glove winner at shortstop for 11 seasons during 1993 and 2006. He was a career .272 hitter over his 24-year career, collecting 2,877 hits. But he displayed little power. (Pittsburgh second baseman Bill Mazeroski was voted into the Hall with the same defensive and offensive profile in 2001.) Vizquel appeared to be on track for Hall election, when he achieved 52.6% of the votes in 2020 (his third year on the ballot), but a domestic abuse accusation that surfaced in late 2020 has negatively affected his chances. He received only 19.5% in 2023.

Adrian Beltre is the only new player on the ballot this year that I voted for. He collected 3,166 hits, 477 HRs and 1,707 RBIs and was a five-time Gold Glove winner at third base. He received MVP votes in eight seasons, including seven after the age of 30. (If Beltre had done this back in the PED era, would he have been suspected of using.)

Even though the IBWAA allowed for 12 votes, I only submitted nine. There were a total of 26 players on the ballot this year, including 12 new players. Additional new players that I considered, but ultimately decided against, were Matt Holliday, Joe Mauer, and Chase Utley. I liked Holliday when he played. He was a gamer, but I just never thought of him as being of Hall of Famer-caliber. Maurer and Utley had periods of greatness, but I didn’t feel like theirs was long enough to warrant Hall of Fame election.

I'll give you a report on the IBWAA tally in late January. 

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