Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Hall of Fame's 2014 Expansion Era ballot review -- part 2, the manager & executive candidates

The rest of the present Expansion Era ballot candidates.

The managers (4): Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Billy Martin, Joe Torre. Only Martin has been here before.

The executives (2): Marvin Miller, George Steinbrenner. Repeating candidates both.

The managers.

7. Bobby Cox (managing career | playing career)

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA voting:
never stood as a player candidate, did not have enough seasons.
VC voting: ballot rookie. 

Seasons: 29 (28 full time, 1 partial) -- Atlanta Braves 1978-81 & 1990-2010, Toronto Blue Jays 1982-85. 

Career W-L record: 2504-2001 (.556).

Best season: (by season record) 1998 Braves, 106-56 (.654), first place by +18 games, NL East champion; (by postseason success) 1995 Braves, 90-54 (.625), first place by +21 games, NL East champion, NL champion, World Series champion.

Worst season: 1979 Braves, 66-94 (.413), 6th place (of 6) by -23.5 games. 

Finishes: first place fifteen times (1985, 1991-93, 1995-2005; since MLB ignores 1994 for place finished streaks, that gives Cox 14 consecutive division championships), second place three times, third place three times. 

Postseason appearances: sixteen (1985, 1991-93, 1995-2005, 2010).

Postseason W-L record: 67-69 (.493).

Postseason series record: 11-16.

Championships: one, 1995 Atlanta Braves.

Great players managed

Hall Of Famers: Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry. Very likely to be a bunch more in the years ahead, including Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Chipper Jones. Perhaps others.

Award winners: 1991 NL MVP Terry Pendleton, 1999 NL MVP Chipper Jones, 1991 & '98 NL CYA Tom Glavine, 1993-95 NL CYA Greg Maddux, 1996 NL CYA & 2002 NL Rolaids Reliever John Smoltz, 1978 NL ROY Bob Horner, 1990 NL ROY Dave Justice, 2000 NL ROY Rafael Furcal. Gave 2011 NL ROY Craig Kimbrel his major league debut in 2010. Broke in Andruw Jones at the age of 18.

Honors: Four time winner of the Manager Of The Year Award (1985 AL, 1991, 2004-05 NL). The Braves have retired Cox's #6 jersey.

Baseball bonus points: Cox was a player for two seasons (1968-69) for the New York Yankees. He played third base, was not very good at hitting, and was not all that at fielding either. His most common spot in the batting order was 8th, which in those pre-designated hitter years meant that he was the worst non-pitcher in the lineup. So this part of his baseball career does nothing to polish his Hall candidacy, not that he needs it. Cox also served as general manager of the Braves from 1986-90, so he was a key builder of the 1990s dynasty teams.

Bobby Cox's career managing the Braves was undoubtedly Hall-class performance. Sure he had massive talent on the roster, but he still had to use it, and he did so brilliantly. Granted there was only one trophy for the Braves' epic run of division titles, but the postseason can be slippery that way. Five trips to the World Series as the NL representative team is impressive by itself (pennants used to be held in higher regard). Cox had a brilliant career, and deserves the plaque. I'm pleased to support him, not that he needs it.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

8. Tony LaRussa  (managing career | playing career)

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA voting:
never stood as a player candidate, did not have enough seasons.
VC voting: ballot rookie.

Seasons: 33 (32 full time/majority, one of which was split between teams, 1 partial) -- Chicago White Sox 1979-86, Oakland Athletics 1986-95, St. Louis Cardinals 1996-2011.

Career W-L record: 2728-2365 (.536).

Best season: 2004 Cardinals, 105-57 (.648), first place by +13 games, NL Central champion, NL pennant. LaRussa has three World Series champions, but none of them were as strong as this team. The best of them was the 1989 Athletics.

Worst season: 1993 Athletics, 68-94 (.420), 7th place (of 7) by -26 games. 

Finishes: first place twelve times (1983, 1988-90, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004-06, 2009), second place four times, third place seven and one-half times. 

Postseason appearances: fourteen (1983, 1988-90, 1992, 1996, 2000-02, 2004-06, 2009, 2011).

Postseason W-L record: 70-58 (.547).

Postseason series record: 15-12.

Championships: three -- 1989 Oakland Athletics, 2006 & 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.

Great players managed

Hall Of Famers: Carlton Fisk, Tom Seaver, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Henderson, Goose Gossage, Ozzie Smith.

Award winners: 1983 AL CYA LaMarr Hoyt, 1983 AL ROY Ron Kittle, 1985 AL ROY Ozzie Guillen, 1986 AL ROY & 1988 AL MVP Jose Canseco, 1990 AL MVP Rickey Henderson, 1992 AL MVP & CYA Dennis Eckersley (also won the 1988 & 1992 AL Rolaids Reliever Awards), 1990 AL CYA Bob Welch, 1987 AL ROY Mark McGwire, 1988 AL ROY Walt Weiss, 2001 NL ROY & 2005 & '08-09 NL MVP Albert Pujols, 2005 NL CYA Chris Carpenter.

Honors: A four-time winner of the Manager Of The Year Award (AL 1983, '88, '92; NL 2002). The Cardinals have retired LaRussa's #10 jersey.

Baseball bonus points: LaRussa was a player for six seasons (1963, 1968-71, 1973) for the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves, and Chicago Cubs. He mainly played second base. Couldn't hit. But like Cox, this hardly matters to his baseball credentials or his Hall testimony.

LaRussa, similar to Cox, is ridiculously overqualified for the honor of the Hall. One of the best managers (or most infuriating, if you were rooting for the opposing team) of the past half-century, LaRussa fostered success, got the most out of his players (that's sixteen major awards listed above, earned by his players), and knew how to use everyone to get the most of their abilities. He changed how the bullpen is used -- no longer mop-up guys, while in Oakland he structured the 'pen so middle relievers would get the game to the ninth, where Eck would come in and nail the win shut -- it was all about getting the game to the closer. Some people despise this approach, but it has become the standard, and LaRussa deserves credit for that. He also was not afraid to try experiments when the season was in the drink -- in 1993, he tried using his starting pitchers in three to four inning roles, to see if opposing teams would be unable to adjust to different styles throughout the game. The experiment was unpopular with his own team and ended in less than two weeks -- but LaRussa had the tenacity to give it a try.

This man belongs on a plaque. I don't doubt that. However, this one time, I will not support his candidacy, and here is why:

The BBWAA voters have been callously mistreating player candidates who have been tarnished with even the merest whiff of allegation of involvement with steroids. Some we know were users -- Canseco, McGwire. Others are accused with nothing more than "lookit his arms" (Bagwell). The Hall has set no policy (officially), so the voters are free to do as they wish, and they are, to my eyes, being indefensibly petty. Prior to 2004, no rules were being broken, and given how enjoyable the baseball was in the moment, I'm willing to let any and all infractions, real or (more commonly) imagined, go and disappear into the winds of history. But I'm not a voter, so it is easy to project that the maltreatment of worthy candidates will continue.

LaRussa and his teams benefited from steroids and the men who used them. I don't really care who did or did not. But, as long as the player candidates are being so abused, being denied due votes, I think LaRussa deserves the same. He has claimed ignorance, but c'mon -- LaRussa is long noted for his keen mind and sharp intellect, and he was trained as a lawyer before entering baseball management. "I didn't see anything" is a weak shield here; even lacking knowledge, he must have suspected funny things were ongoing in his locker rooms in Oakland and St. Louis.

With the players being denied, I think, this one time, to make a (likely meaningless) point, LaRussa should as well.

If he's still on the Expansion Era ballot in the 2017 voting cycle, he'll have my support. This time, for the reason given, he does not.

Chipmaker's vote: No. But if he doesn't make it, mission accomplished, and I will support him next time, because he is extremely deserving.

9. Billy Martin  (managing career | playing career | reviewed on 2011 Expansion Era ballot)

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA voting:
as a player candidate, 1 ballot, 0.3%.
VC voting: 2003 -- 27.8% (22 of 79 votes), 2007 -- 14.8% (12/81), 2008 -- ≤12.5% (less than 3/16), 2010 -- ≤12.5% (less than 3/16), 2011 -- ≤43.8% (less than 8/16).

Managerial career
Seasons: 16 (15 full time/majority, 1 partial) -- Minnesota Twins 1969, Detroit Tigers 1971-73, Texas Rangers 1973-75, New York Yankees 1975-78, '79, '83, '85, '88, Oakland Athletics 1980-82. 

Career W-L record: 1253-1013 (.553). 

Best season: 1977 Yankees, 100-62 (.617), first place by +2.5 games, AL East champion, AL pennant, World Series championship. 

Worst season: 1982 Athletics, 68-94 (.420), 5th place (of 7) by -25 games. 

Finishes: first place five and one-half times (1969, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981), second place four and one-half times, third place three times. 

Postseason appearances: five (1969, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1981), and managed the 1978 Yankees about 60% into the season. 

Postseason W-L record: 15-19 (.441).

Postseason series record: 4-4.

Championships: one, 1977 New York Yankees. Managed the 1978 Yankees for more than the first half of the season but was not with the team when they hoisted the trophy.

Great players managed

Hall Of Famers: Rod Carew, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Ferguson Jenkins, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry, Dave Winfield.

Award winners: 1969 AL MVP Killebrew, 1974 AL MVP Jeff Burroughs, 1974 AL ROY Mike Hargrove, 1976 AL MVP Thurman Munson, 1977 AL CYA Sparky Lyle, 1978 AL CYA Ron Guidry, 1985 AL MVP Don Mattingly.

Honors: The Yankees have retired Martin's #1 jersey.

Baseball bonus points: Martin was a player for 11 seasons (1950-53, '55-61) for the New York Yankees, Kansas City Athletics, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Braves, and Minnesota Twins. A member of four Yankees championship teams, MVP of the 1953 World Series. One All-Star selection.

Geez, Martin again? He must have some old drinking buddies on the selection committee, because while Martin was an interesting side show during his career, and was a good enough manager -- he did get teams into the postseason -- he had no staying power. He was a short-term fixer, and his fixes did not last, he burned bridges, and he wore out his welcomes speedily. Come on already, Hall of Fame grand poobahs, enact some relegation mechanism that keeps such obvious deadwood -- no matter how popular he might be in certain insider circles -- from getting back on the ballot every single time and clogging the way for better, or at least fresher, candidates.

Martin's career does not have sufficient historical weight, and his name needs to be placed in the back of the bottom drawer for a decade at least. Didn't support him before and won't this time, and the notion of actively campaigning against him is sounding appealing.

Chipmaker's vote: No.

10. Joe Torre  (managing career | playing career)

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA voting:
as a player candidate, 15 ballots, peaking at 22.2% on his final ballot (never broke 15% prior).
VC voting: ballot rookie as a manager. As a player: 2003 -- 35.8% (29 of 81 votes), 2005 -- 45.0% (36/80), 2007 -- 31.7% (26/84), 2009 -- 29.7% (19/64).

Seasons: 29 (26 full time, 3 partial) -- New York Mets 1977-81, Atlanta Braves 1982-84, St. Louis Cardinals 1990-95, New York Yankees 1996-2007, Los Angeles Dodgers 2008-10.

Career W-L record: 2326-1997 (.538). 

Best season: 1998 Yankees, 114-48 (.704), first place by +22 games, AL East champion, AL pennant, World Series championship. 

Worst season: 1979 Mets, 63-99 (.389), 6th place (of 6) by -35 games. 

Finishes: first place thirteen times (1982, 1996, 1998-2006, 2008-09), second place four times, third place four times. 

Postseason appearances: fifteen (1982, 1996-2009). 

Postseason W-L record: 84-58 (.592).

Postseason series record: 19-11.

Championships: four -- 1996 & 1998-2000 Yankees, the first three-consecutive titles since the 1972-74 Athletics.

Great players managed

Hall Of Famers: Tom Seaver (for about two weeks, before he was traded), Phil Niekro, Ozzie Smith, Wade Boggs. There will be more in time, particularly Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

Award winners: 1982-83 NL MVP Dale Murphy, 1991-92 Rolaids Reliever Lee Smith, 1995 Rolaids Reliever Tom Henke, 1996 AL ROY Derek Jeter, 1996 Rolaids Reliever John Wetteland, 1999, 2001, 2004-05 Rolaids Reliever Mariano Rivera, 2005 & '07 AL MVP Alex Rodriguez, 2001 AL CYA Roger Clemens.

Honors: 1996 & 1998 AL Manager Of The Year Award.

Baseball bonus points: Torre was a player for 18 seasons (1960-77) for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, and New York Mets. Won the 1971 NL MVP along with the batting title thanks to 230 hits. Nine All-Star selections, including six starts (four at catcher, two at third base). One Gold Glove at catcher. Was the second-to-last player-manager, serving as such for less than a month with the 1977 Mets before hanging up his bat and glove. Has held various positions with MLB's home office since leaving the Dodgers, futzing around with player relations or field conditions or the next instant replay proposal -- he just won't leave.

Torre was a very good player but not quite Hall measure. His managerial career doesn't need any help, but his playing and managing combined push him way beyond the Hall's thresholds. This is not important, as Torre's years managing, particularly his Yankees tenure, gives him all the testimony he needs. Four championships? No one who wins four trophies is kept out without good reason, and there's no good reasons to keep Torre out. He's in, it just hasn't been announced yet.

Sure, he was blessed with great talent on his teams -- the 1998 Yankees were a juggernaut -- but he's the one who put the guys on the field. Give him due credit, and the Hall plaque.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

The executives.

11. Marvin Miller (reviewed on 2011 Expansion Era ballot)

Previous Hall considerationVC voting: 2003 -- 44.3% (35 of 79 votes), 2007 -- 63.0% (51/81), 2008 -- 25.0% (3/12), 2010 58.3% (7/12), 2011 -- 68.8% (11/16).

Claims to fame: executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 to 1983. Successfully negotiated increasingly more beneficial Collective Bargaining Agreements with MLB. Planned for and accomplished overturn of the reserve clause, granting the players free agency rights.

Marvin Miller is the most deserving honoree not yet in the Hall. He brought about profound and lasting change, for the better, to how baseball conducts its business. There are few across the long reach of the game's history who have made a contribution even close to the monumental scale of what Miller accomplished. Free agency is the best known part of his legacy, but he had other achievements as well.

He deserves the plaque. He is now deceased, sadly, and if the Hall's or Major League Baseball's powers-that-be feared a ranting diatribe and indictment from a Miller acceptance speech, that is no longer an operative concern, at least not from the man himself. Ah well.

Chipmaker's vote: as always, YES!

12. George Steinbrenner (reviewed on the 2011 Expansion Era ballot)

Previous Hall consideration: 2011 -- ≤43.8% (less than 8/16).

Claims to fame: principal owner of the New York Yankees, from purchase in 1973 through his death in 2010. Kept an active hand involved with team operations for most of that time. One of the first owners to engage free agents, signing Catfish Hunter in 1974 and Reggie Jackson in 1976. Oversaw Yankees teams to 19 postseason appearances, eleven American League pennants, and seven World Series championships (1977, '78, '96, '98, '99, 2000, '09).

I supported The Boss last time, but uncomfortably. If I limit myself to no more than four votes, as the actual electors are constrained, then Steinbrenner would be my fifth, and I toss him overboard easily. I haven't given a lot of thought to reconsidering him as a candidate, but it does not trouble me at all to change my standing to No. The man owned the Yankees, brought about titles, and so forth -- but really, the best things he did was (a) spend money and (b) get out of the way of the smart baseball people. When he did put his hand in, mainly during the first half of his ownership (but after his "nervous rookie" phase, when he was hands-off), he messed things up. He knew business, but he didn't well know baseball. I don't think he belongs in the Hall.

Chipmaker's vote: No.

Summing up the managers and executives: I support Cox, Torre, and Miller. Combined with Simmons, that makes four votes, the maximum. Sorry, other candidates; LaRussa, if you're still here in three years, I've got your back.

Good luck, men.

The Hall of Fame's 2014 Expansion Era ballot review -- part 1, the player candidates

Where has the time gone? Oh, I know where most of the year went for me -- down a spiritual drain -- but I'm thinking more about how the Expansion Era ballot (one of several successors to the Veterans Committee, though only the name has really changed) is going to be announced tomorrow, December 9th. So I best get a move on.

To save time, and because to do otherwise serves little purpose, I'm only going to do long reviews on new candidates. Fortunately (for this cause), the 2014 EE ballot has a lot of retreads, and since there's essentially nothing new to say about them and, after brief but fair consideration, no reason to give their baseball careers a thorough re-scrutinization or, indeed, any reason to change my previous support stances, I'll be doing rather short recaps on the repeat candidates. So let's go.

The players (6): Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Dave Parker, Dan Quisenberry, and Ted Simmons.

The managers (4): Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Billy Martin, Joe Torre.

The executives (2): Marvin Miller, George Steinbrenner.

On with the players.

1. Dave Concepcion (career | reviewed on 2011 Expansion Era ballot)

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA voting:
15 ballots, peaking at 16.9%.
VC voting: 2011 -- 50% (8 of 16 votes).

Primary position: shortstop.

Playing career: 19 seasons, 1970-88 -- all with the Cincinnati Reds.

Standout season: 1978 -- 170 hits, 6 HR, 33 doubles (career high), .301/.357/.405, 114 OPS+, 3.7 WAR.

Other noteworthy seasons: 1974, 1976, 1981. Hitting was never Concepcion's forte, however.

Career WAR: 40.0.

Honoraria and statistical crowns: nine All-Star selections (five starts), 1982 All-Star Game MVP, five NL Gold Gloves for Shortstop, two NL Silver Sluggers for Shortstop, member (and a valuable one) of the legendary 1970s Big Red Machine, which won two World Series championships (1975-76), two other NL pennants (1970, '72), and two other NL West titles (1973, when Concepcíon was injured, and the final blaze of glory in 1979). Jersey #13 retired by the Reds.

Good with the glove, but not great. High profile due to being a worthy part of the Big Red Machine teams, but that doesn't make him a better player than he was. Defense-dominant candidates usually need a touch of field-built legend to drive their stories, and Concepcion does not have it, or at least not nearly enough of it. There was plenty of video in his years, so if there were some sterling plays to hold forth as his testimony, we'd have them available to review. Never measured up before, won't now.

Chipmaker's vote: No.

2. Steve Garvey (career | reviewed on 2011 Expansion Era ballot)

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA voting:
15 ballots, peaking at 42.6%.
VC voting: 2011 -- ≤43.8% (less than 8 of 16 votes).

Primary position: first baseman. 

Playing career: 19 seasons, 1969-87 -- Los Angeles Dodgers 1969-82, San Diego Padres 1983-87.

Standout season: 1978 -- all 162 games played, 89 runs, 202 hits, 36 doubles, 9 triples (his career high), 21 HR, 113 RBI, 40 walks, 10 stolen bases, .316/.353/.499, 137 OPS+, 4.6 WAR.

Other noteworthy seasons: 1974, 1975, 1976, 1979. 

Career WAR: 37.6. 

Honoraria and statistical crowns: 1974 NL MVP, ten All-Star selections (nine starts), 1974 & '78 All-Star Game MVP, 1978 & '84 NLCS MVP, four NL Gold Gloves for First Base. Led NL in games played six times and hits two times. Six 200+ hit seasons. Member of five postseason teams, all of which went to the World Series, including the 1981 champion Dodgers. Jersey #6 retired by the Padres.

Garvey worked hard to make himself look good. And he was good -- but he was not great. He did step up in his postseason appearances, which is noteworthy. That's not enough, however.

Chipmaker's vote: No.

3. Tommy John (career | reviewed on 2011 Expansion Era ballot)

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA voting:
15 ballots, peaking at 31.7% on his final ballot.
VC voting: 2011 -- ≤43.8% (less than 8 of 16 votes).

Primary position: left-handed starting pitcher.

Playing career: 26 seasons, 1963-74 & '76-89 -- Cleveland Indians 1963-64, Chicago White Sox 1965-71, Los Angeles Dodgers 1972-74 & '76-78, New York Yankees 1979-82 & '86-89, California Angels 1982-85, Oakland Athletics 1985.

Standout season: 1968 -- 10-5 (.667), 1.98 ERA, 25 starts, 5 complete games, 1 shutout, 177.1 innings pitched, 117 K, 1.038 WHIP, 161 ERA+, 5.6 WAR.

Other noteworthy seasons: 1969, 1974, 1977, 1979, 1981. But his most important season was 1976, as no one ever expected him to pitch at all.

Career WAR: 21.9.

Honoraria and statistical crowns: four All-Star selections, three coming after 1975. Led the AL in shutouts three times, and the NL in winning percentage twice.

John had three 20+ win seasons, all coming soon after his landmark surgery. John was the first baseball player to undergo ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery, a procedure which now informally bears his name: Tommy John surgery. His historic impact is the 1975 season, which he missed completely while recovering and rehabbing. Other than that, while he was a good pitcher, he was not a great one (though he bumped against the underside of greatness a few seasons). He holds a special distinction in baseball history, but that doesn't make him Hall measure.

I do think it is past time the Hall allowed his surgeon, Dr. Frank Jobe, the man who pioneered the ulnar collateral ligament repair technique, to stand as a Hall candidate. His impact has been enormous, restoring player health and playing careers. C'mon, Hall solons, think about it and do it.

Chipmaker's vote: No.

4. Dave Parker (career | reviewed on 2011 BBWAA ballot)

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA voting: 15 ballots, peaking at 24.5% on his second ballot.
VC voting: ballot rookie.

Primary position: right field, finished as a designated hitter.

Playing career: 19 seasons, 1973-91 -- Pittsburgh Pirates 1973-83, Cincinnati Reds 1984-87, Oakland Athletics 1988-89, Milwaukee Brewers 1990, California Angels 1991, Toronto Blue Jays 1991.

Standout season: 1978 -- 194 hits, 32 doubles, 12 triples, 30 HR, 117 RBI, 102 runs scored, 20 stolen bases, .334/.394/.585, 166 OPS+, 7.1 WAR.

Other noteworthy seasons: 1975, 1977, 1979, 1985.

Career WAR: 37.8. 

Honoraria and statistical crowns: Seven All-Star selections (four starts), 1978 NL MVP, 1979 All-Star MVP, three NL Gold Gloves for OF, three Silver Sluggers (two NL for OF, one AL for DH). Led league in batting twice, slugging twice, hits once, RBI once. Member of two World Series champions, the 1979 Pirates and the 1989 Athletics.

Good grief, Parker just finished his entire tenure on the BBWAA ballot, and here he is again, on the ballot his first time eligible. The Hall needs a better constraint mechanism, because if 15 years of the BBWAA clearly saying No to Parker does nothing to dissuade the Expansion Era selection committee from giving him another chance this soon, there needs to be a longer mandatory delay.

Parker had a great peak going, and then blew it due to a bad pharmaceutical habit. By the time he kicked that, he had lost several prime seasons. He recovered a bit, but the magic was gone, and then it was just a long, slow career tail. Parker truly was great for a too-short span, and then became a "coulda been". Oh well. Stay off drugs, youngsters.

Chipmaker's vote: No.

5. Dan Quisenberry (career) 

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA voting:
1 ballot, receiving a mere 3.8%, and relegated. This was brutally unfair.
VC voting: ballot rookie.

Primary position: right-handed relief pitcher. A classic submariner. 

Playing career: 12 seasons, 1979-90 -- Kansas City Royals 1979-88, St. Louis Cardinals 1988-89, San Francisco Giants 1990. 

Standout season: 1983 -- 5-3 (.625), 1.94 ERA, 69 games, 62 games finished, 45 saves, 139.0 innings pitched, 48 K, 0.928 WHIP, 210 ERA+, 5.5 WAR. 

Other noteworthy seasons: 1982, 1984, 1985.

Career WAR: 24.9.

Honoraria and statistical crowns: three All-Star selections. Led the AL in saves five times. Five AL Rolaids Relief awards. Member of the 1985 World Series champion and the 1980 AL champion Royals teams. Finished in the top five in AL Cy Young Award voting five times, twice as high as second place, which is rare for a reliever. His 45 saves in 1983 set the major league record (which lasted only until 1986, but for a brief time it was his).

At last, new blood on the ballot!

Quisenberry isn't a Hall of Fame level player, but he definitely deserved better than the BBWAA gave him in his one measly time on their ballot. Sure, relief pitchers are considered second-class baseball citizens -- moreso in 1996 when he stood as a candidate than today -- but this was the Quiz! His brilliant peak was evident! How did they miss so badly? Grrr.

Well, he did fall off a cliff after 1985. Partly this was due to the Royals collapsing after the championship season (which was flukish anyway, but they did it), so the save opportunities weren't there in large amounts. Partly Quiz got old -- 1986 was his age 33 season, and he'd been piling up plenty of innings. The CYA votes stopped being cast, though with good reason. He had a short, albeit very good career, and a short (four seasons, with two more preceding almost as noteworthy) peak, albeit a brilliant one.

I am delighted to see a new player name on this ballot, and I'm delighted to see it be Quisenberry, and I am delighted to see him get another chance. I will be thrilled if he gains the plaque -- but I doubt he will. Much as I liked him, and as good as he was, his career (even for an ace closer in the era he played during) is not Hall class, and I cannot support his candidacy.

Chipmaker's vote: No.

6. Ted Simmons (career | reviewed on 2011 Expansion Era ballot)

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA voting:
one ballot, finishing with 3.7%.
VC voting: 2011 -- ≤43.8% (less than 8 of 16 votes).

Primary position: catcher.

Playing career: 21 seasons, 1968-88 -- St. Louis Cardinals 1968-80, Milwaukee Brewers 1981-85, Atlanta Braves 1986-88.

Standout season: 1975 -- 80 runs, 193 hits, 32 doubles, 18 HR, 100 RBI, 63 walks, .332/.396/.491, 142 OPS+, 4.9 WAR.

Other noteworthy seasons: 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980.

Career WAR: 50.2.

Honoraria and statistical crowns: eight All-Star selections (two starts), one NL Silver Slugger for Catcher. Twice led NL in runners caught stealing. Member of the first two Brewers postseason teams, including the 1982 American League champions.

Simmons was a switch-hitting catcher, and a good one, who never led the league in any popular offensive category (he did lead twice in intentional walks), but had a bunch of top five or top ten standings pretty much every year during his peak, as well as among career numbers for catchers. It is Simmons' hard fortune to have been playing the same position in the same league at the same time as all-time great and Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, so Simba never looked to be better than second-best at anything, particularly among catchers. Being second-best to Bench is no cause for shame, though, and this man more than held his own on the diamond. A better player than most realized, and well deserving of the bronze plaque. I supported him before and I'm proud to do so again.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

Summary of the player candidates: I support Simmons.

Coming later tonight: the managers and executives. A few repeat candidates, of course.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


This past Saturday was my 49th birthday. Yep, nearly half a century, still doing okay, drawing breath and so forth. It was, overall, a good day.

I haven't written much lately, not for publication, because my life went down a black hole last year. Don't ask; those of you whom I want to know specifics, already know (read enough between the lines that follow and you'll get the gist). No one is dead or sickly. Life goes on. But this was my first birthday since those dark times (which, admittedly, are not over, but they've progressed to a dark gray at least), and it worked out okay.

I really haven't cared much about my birthdays in years. I enjoyed rolling the tens digit at 30 and at 40, and I have appreciated what little fuss was made each year, but it is a day, it comes and it goes, and that's enough for me. But this was my first b-day since I started circling the drain, and I wasn't sure how it would go.... and really, I didn't care much, because this day had a far greater import. The daughter of a real-life friend, Alanna, was graduating college -- with a 4.0, summa cum laude! -- and I wanted this to be her day as much as I could make that happen. So I made arrangements for me and the kids to travel to the Dallas area in order to participate in the Alanna-fete.

Preparatory to the road trip, I made a post on a popular social media site -- yeah, that one, I'm not gonna name it -- thanking birthday well-wishers in advance, but I would be traveling. The wishes rolled in like usual, nearly one hundred eventually. I also got one HB by text, and while once upon a time this one salutation would have made my day, this year it was empty and meaningless. I ignored it.

I woke very early Saturday -- my sleep cycles are slowly normalizing, but I'm well used to how they go now -- and when the hour struck, headed out to take care of some errands. Car fueled, votes cast, a moderate amount of donuts procured for the sleeping offspring. Home again, one awoke, I continued doing things around the house, inflated the tires and so forth. Second one awoke, donuts were consumed, packing eventually got organized (one overnight is not difficult). And in here, somewhere, the dear kids gifted me a few birthday tokens -- handmade flavored fettuccine, a tiny stylized moose, a shadowboxed butterfly, some Pokemon cards, and roasted pecans. More than I expected (possibly more than I deserved), but all welcome -- my children as so wonderful. Finally I showered and threw our meager luggage into the car. We finally hit the road nearly an hour later than I'd wanted, but it was mostly my fault. One stop at Target, and we got underway with earnest continuity.

The miles clicked by, we made a brief stop in Temple for lunch, then continued northward. Anne called to check on our progress -- the afterparty had begun, were we near? Delays had added about 75 minutes to my estimate, but we would be there! ...Right after disconnecting, the highway turned into a parking lot, immediately after the I-35 East/West split. Dammit. After the crawl proceeded enough, I followed suit of other indignant drivers and made an illegal (but obviously popular) U-turn onto the oncoming side, followed immediately by taking I-35 West toward Fort Worth. More distance, more time, but at least we were moving!

I pulled over after a bit to fire up the GPS -- I hadn't planned on using it until almost to McKinney as I know the route by heart (but not the restaurant), but now I did need it; and with a splitter jack, I didn't have to sacrifice the Sirius-XM as well. We pushed on.

The kids, experienced lifelong travelers, we doing great. Carson played his Nintendo 3DS or scoured through his binder of Pokemon cards, while Amalie continued rocking out or writing on her iPad Mini. This level of technology is standard for them, and they thrive.

Finally the Dallas skyline appeared, and while traffic predictably got thick, it kept moving other than one bottleneck. Through that, and up the Distressway, and finally McKinney was on the radar. We got there, meals long since eaten, plates cleared, coffee being sipped -- but these wonderful people stayed, enjoying the event, and waiting for us. Waiting for me!

Almost as soon as we stepped in, Anne coaxed the well-coached crowd into serenading me with the traditional birthday song. I truly was touched; I hadn't even thought about my birthday since Austin.

Steve, Anne, Alanna, Leon, Ray, Barbara, and others unrecognized here -- thank you dearly. I love you so.

Rather than be introduced further, and the kids already seated and reviewing the menu, it was my turn to toast the guest of honor, Alanna. There is no recording (at least I hope not), but it went something like this.

"I've known Steve since our time at Rensselaer. In January 1983, I was sitting in a math class, waiting for it to begin, when a fellow student entered the room. I had seen him a few times around campus, we had run into each other once or twice down at WRPI, but this day elevated him to memorable for how he entered the classroom. He was festively dressed in a faux tuxedo tee shirt, suspenders -- and roller skates. Yes, he skated into the room and sat next to me. We hit it off.

"He graduated in December 1985 -- I stayed on, had unfinished business -- and moved to Nyack, where he lived downstairs from Barbara. And it turned out, Barbara had a daughter, Anne. The birds and the bees being what they are, they saw something in each other.

"Jump ahead to August 1986. The four of us -- me, Steve, Anne, and Barbara -- had a very nice dinner in Saratoga. Afterwards we walked the peaceful streets on a lovely evening. It turns out, and I don't think the term even existed then, I was Steve's wingman. I paired up with Barbara, we had pleasant conversation, but about fifty feet behind us, Steve and Anne were sparking something. And it's worked out well for them.

"In early 1990, Steve helped me move out of Connecticut, in a blizzard, for Austin. And in April that year, I proudly stood as his best man. I gave a poor toast that day, and hope today to do better.

"In 1991, a few weeks after Alanna was born, I headed up to the Dallas area to watch the Red Sox lose to the Rangers. Steve and Anne were always good about putting me up on these trips, and of course I wanted to see the baby. I rang the doorbell that night, and Steve opened the door with a tiny bundle asleep on his shoulder and the proudest smile I have ever seen upon the face of man. Now that I have children of my own, I better understand the feeling.

"Later that weekend, Alanna spat up on my shirt. I have never forgotten the spit towel since.

"And since that time, I have watched that baby grow into this accomplished young woman. I took her to baseball games, which was an enormous leap of faith for Anne, letting her little one out of her sight, and in my company no less! Alas, my nefarious plan to corrupt her into baseball fandom failed, and she has turned out utterly normal in that respect.

"Alanna is not my child, but she is part of my family, one that has welcomed me and mine for so long.

"Alanna, I have in small amounts watched you grow and do things so amazingly well, and I am so delighted that you invited me to be here today. You are the pride and joy of a loving family, one that is not bound only by blood.

"Alanna -- congratulations."

 That got me a round of applause, but I had one more sentiment to express:

"And if you don't cure cancer, it will be because you found an even cooler and more challenging world to conquer."

Cake was served -- there were three, it was quite the celebration -- and having ordered a late platter, I ate up, Amalie joining in. There were pictures to take and small conversations to have, but eventually the party broke up. The kids and I booked a hotel room and took a brief rest, but then it was back to S&A's home for the after-after-party.

It was a pleasant hang-out. I hadn't spent time at the house in too many years, and was awestruck by how the neighborhood trees had grown. I walked the kids to the nearby playscape -- it was rather undersized for them, but they exercised and drained some rambunctiousness, always a good thing. Back at the house -- the sun was setting at last -- I opened Steve's commemorative book of Wacky Packages artwork, parody product stickers I had grown up with. They're hilarious, several genuine gutbusters, and Amalie was gasping with laughter. Meanwhile, Steve was introducing Carson to Cosmic Wimpout, so his nefarious plan to corrupt my children was an immediate success.

Cosmic Wimpout is a fast-paced dice game -- there's a board but it's not necessary -- which can be learned in about two minutes. Points can accumulate quickly, but also evaporate in the tumble of a die. It is part of the game, it happens. Carson was trucking along with Steve, then I joined in, then Amalie sat as well. The gamer population ebbed and flowed, but we got in several games before darkness drove everyone else indoors (to keep on playing). I stayed to enjoy the gloaming and sip a beer. Others joined me, the conversation bubbled along, topics changing rapidly -- a joyous welter of words and interest. At last we all wandered in, where Amalie had just rolled an extremely rare supernova (five of a kind in one roll) and won the latest game. The party lingered and dwindled, and finally I packed out my tiny troupe and bivouaced at the Best Western. I was exhausted -- long day, long drive, birthday adrenaline finally waning. I set up the kids with the MacBook and a movie of their choice, opened a book, and passed out, arising around four in the morning. Gotta love a birthday weekend!

I showered and took a nap, woke yet again, and headed to the lobby for breakfast. The BW set a pretty good table -- the tiny cheese omelets were particularly good -- and I tucked in, satisfying myself for the drive ahead. Back at the room, the kids slowly revived, and I got them organized enough to also have breakfast. It was not very organized, but they both got things to eat, and somehow the lobby television got tuned to the latest Ice Age film, so we sat longer than we should have to enjoy it. I bailed out first, back to the room to take care of the packing (didn't take long), making sure we did not miss anything. I set the kids up with the obligatory Mother's Day call, and it was back on the road south at last.

As we approached Dallas proper, we all decided that a trip up Reunion Tower would be a good time, so we got off the highway, navigated, parked, and hiked (not far) to the foot of the Tower -- and learned that the observation deck had been closed for years. Who knew? So, a trick Steve larned me years ago, we popped into the neighboring Hyatt and rode the elevators to the top floor. The cool upshot to this is that they pass through the top of the atrium, and suddenly passengers are overlooking western Dallas. It was so cool that Carson requested, and received, a second go-around (it is pretty cool). Then we rode the lobby escalators, tossed some coins into a fountain for whatever luck might come, and wrapped up this last little adventure. Back to the trusty Honda, back on the highway, and on our way.

We had to refuel, and the GPS found us a Subway for lunch, at which time we called my mom (aka Grandma) as well. Then, more miles southward. Carson drifted off, Amalie continued to type. Just south of Waco, I pulled off for truckstop coffee and general stretching. Carson arose, and we all availed ourselves of the facilities. Traffic on I-35 got weird in places, compression nodes brought on by nothing obvious other than long stretches of ongoing construction (idle on a Sunday, nothing actually obstructive, just human reaction to confounding circumstances). We finally put that behind us, but delays added about half an hour to our ETA. We finally got to the northern outskirts of Austin, and amazingly traffic wasn't too bad; we reached the driveway just after 4:30 pm, ready to be out of the car.

We kicked back for an hour, finally arranged the Sunday exchange, and after I waved my departure to the progeny, my birthday weekend -- far better than I ever expected -- was at its end. Hello, 49. Bring it on. I can take it. (Gotta be better than 48 was.)

And, last bit -- one more congratulations to Alanna. Interstellar!

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Hall's 2013 BBWAA ballot

The Hall of Fame main ballot, entrusted to members of the BBWAA as electors, will have its results announced Wednesday, January 9, 2013.

This year's ballot has a whopping 37 candidates, of which 13 are returning candidates and 24 are rookies. I've lost interest this year for doing the long reviews, despite the wealth of intriguing new names, so this one is going to be rather short.

Of the returning candidates, I supported nine last year, and so they get an automatic placement on my 2013 slate of players I would vote for if I had a vote (I do not). This includes Bagwell, Martinez, McGriff, McGwire, Murphy, Raines, Smith, Walker, and Bernie Williams. Returnees I do not support: Mattingly, Morris, Palmeiro, and Trammell.

Turning to the new candidates, we find Sandy Alomar, Jr., Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Jeff Cirillo, Royce Clayton, Roger Clemens, Jeff Conine, Steve Finley, Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Klesko, Kenny Lofton, Jose Mesa, Mike Piazza, Reggie Sanders, Curt Schilling, Aaron Sele, Sammy Sosa, Mike Stanton, Todd Walker, David Wells, Rondell White, and Woody Williams. I'm not going to check career stats for these men; not even WAR. I'm just gonna pick the ones I think are Hall worthy, combine that set with the returning candidates I previously supported, and winnow that group down to ten, which is the ballot limit the Hall imposes upon actual electors. Perhaps some other time I will do a more thorough review, but not today.

My selections from the rookie class: Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Piazza. That makes for 13 candidates, so three have to go. I will stand by my four new selections, so the returnees must be culled.

I easily toss Bernie Williams overboard. I was never a staunch supporter, and he's one of the few Yankees I really didn't like.

Dale Murphy, despite my supporting him since his first ballot, never mustered much support, and is clearly a goner. He deserved better, but his window is closed.

Finally, Larry Walker, while a very good player, is fighting the Coors Field Effect, and I doubt the writers will ever get behind him.

That leaves me with ten: Bagwell, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Martinez, McGriff, McGwire, Piazza, Raines, and Smith.

And that's a ballot I can live with. I don't expect to see more than three of them elected, probably only two, with Biggio being the easiest choice.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Hall's 2013 Pre-Integration Ballot -- the results

The Baseball Hall of Fame has three new members -- longtime umpire (and player, and manager) Hank O'Day, Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, and ancient player Deacon White. Congratulations to the memories of these fine men, and to any living descendents.

The ballot results (16 ballot cast, 12 votes needed for election, electors limited to 4 votes)

1t. Hank O'Day ...... 15 ..... 93.8%
1t. Jacob Ruppert ... 15 ..... 93.8%
3. Deacon White ..... 14 ..... 87.5%
4. Bill Dahlen ...... 10 ..... 62.5%
5t. Sam Breadon...... <3 ..... ≤12.5%
5t. Wes Ferrell...... <3 ..... ≤12.5%
5t. Marty Marion..... <3 ..... ≤12.5%
5t. Tony Mullane..... <3 ..... ≤12.5%<
5t. Alfred Reach..... <3 ..... ≤12.5%
5t. Bucky Walters ... <3 ..... ≤12.5%

I was in support of Ruppert and White, so no worries there. I also supported Dahlen, who at least made a good enough showing to stay out of the "less than three votes" gutter, and Mullane, who as a brand-new name was probably most unfamiliar to the committee. I expect we'll see him again if/when this defined ballot, or a similar successor, comes around in the voting cycle again. These ballots tend to clutter with retread candidates. I still don't see the big deal about O'Day, but he's in, and that's fine.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The 2013 Hall Pre-Integration Ballot -- the non-player candidates

This year's version of the Veterans Committee ballot, named the Pre-Integration Era ballot for those whose primary baseball career contributions occurred completely or mainly before 1947, has four non-player candidates. Let's rummage through the names and see if anyone measures up to the honor of the Hall of Fame. Three of these men have been on recent ballots.

7. Samuel Breadon (Wiki bio)

Previous Hall consideration
VC voting: 2010, less than 3 votes (of 12; less than 17%).

Claim to fame: owner of the St. Louis Cardinals, 1920-47.

The Cardinals rose to power during Breadon's tenure, developing the farm system, bringing home six World Series championships (1926, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1944, 1946) and three other National League pennants (1928, 1930, 1943). But the best thing Breadon did during his tenure was keep Branch Rickey on staff and let him do as he would -- Rickey gets the credit for the farm system, trades, signings, just about everything. Breadon was one of the best types of owners -- he usually got out of the way of the smart baseball people he employed -- but that doesn't raise him up to Hall class.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

8. Hank O'Day (Wiki bio | playing career | managing career)

Previous Hall consideration
VC voting: 2008, 25.0% (4/16 votes); 2010, 50.0% (8/16).

Claims to fame: National League umpire for 29 years (1895, 1897-1911, 1913, 1915-27). Officiated in ten World Series. Developed a stand-offish persona for professional reasons, as he wanted to avoid even potential improprieties, which enhanced his reputation for excellence.

Baseball bonus points: O'day began his baseball career as a player, lasting seven seasons mainly as a pitcher, from 1884-90, before his arm grew too sore to continue. He was also a manager for two seasons, in 1912 for the Cincinnati Reds and 1914 for the Chicago Cubs.

Assessing an umpire objectively is difficult in modern times, and O'Day's career was a century ago. Legends tend only to grow over time. O'Day is a good candidate, but I'm generally not in favor of umpires being honored in the Hall anyway, so I do not support him, as before. Impressively varied career though.

Chipmaker's vote: No.

9. Al Reach (Wiki bio | playing career | extremely brief managerial career)

Previous Hall consideration: none.

Claims to fame: Player prior to the first pro league forming, then five years in the National Association, including being a member of the first champion team, the 1871 Philadelphia Athletics. Later was a founding minority owner of the Philadelphia Phillies, and moved on to start a sporting goods company which, among other things, published the Reach Guide for years, one of the seminal statistical records publications.

Reach had an interesting career and accomplished a lot, but to my eye nothing here, individually or as a complete body of work, stands up and proclaims Hall-class greatness. He was primarily a businessman, he did business, and rather well. And the Guides were an excellent effort, lasting over a century. I just cannot find enough to support his candidacy.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

10. Jacob Ruppert (Wiki bio)

Previous Hall consideration
VC voting: 2010, 58.3% (7/12 votes).

Claims to fame: Owner of the New York Yankees from 1915-39, when he died, a tenure that included seven World Series championships (1923, 1927-28, 1932, 1936-38, and 1939 posthumously) and three other American League pennants (1921-22, 1926). Built and opened Yankee Stadium (1923). Acquired Babe Ruth early on.

I have little interest in owners, as their biggest impact is in paying for things. They should hire good baseball people and get out of their way -- but few really do, as they are hands-on folks. There's probably more owners in the Hall than there should be. Ruppert, though, didn't just put forth a winning team, he put forth a dynasty -- THE Dynasty, the Murderer's Row Yankees of Ruth and Gehrig and Lazzeri and, later, DiMaggio. And he paid for his own ballpark, which today would be almost quaint if not actively discouraged by MLB's powers. If ever a team owner deserves election to the Hall, Ruppert is an excellent choice.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes.

Summing up: I support Ruppert, and with the three players I have already supported (Dahlen, Mullane, White), I have exactly four candidates, which is the upper limit imposed upon the actual electors. So I'm good with my virtual ballot.

Results to be announced on December 3, most likely.

The 2013 Hall Pre-Integration Ballot -- the player candidates

Hasn't been a good year here, sparse readers, but there's Hall ballots to review so let's just get to it.

This winter, the Hall's current version of the Veterans Committee offers up a ballot from the Pre-Integration Era, for those candidates whose primary baseball career happened mostly or completely before 1947. Of the ten candidates, six are players -- Bill Dahlen, Wes Ferrell, Marty Marion, Tony Mullane, Bucky Walters, and Deacon White -- and only Mullane is a new name, the others being retreads from past, recent ballots. As such, I'm not that inspired to give them particularly thorough reviews, since I don't expect to reach different conclusions about which ones I consider Hall-worthy.

Getting right to the candidates, let's address the players first.

1. Bill Dahlen

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA voting: one ballot, collecting one vote (below 1%).
VC voting: 2009,  less than 3 votes (2/12 or lower, less than 17%).

Primary position: shortstop.

Playing career:
21 seasons, 1891-1911 -- Chicago Colts/Orphans (Cubs) 1891-98, Brooklyn Grooms/Bridegrooms/Superbas (Dodgers) 1899-1903 & 1910-11, New York Giants 1904-07, Boston Braves 1908-09.

Standout season:
1894 -- .357/.444/.566, 149 runs, 179 hits, 32 doubles, 15 HR, 107 RBI, 42 SB, 136 OPS+, 4.5 WAR.

Other noteworthy seasons:
1896, 1898, 1899, 1904.

Career WAR:

Honoraria and statistical crowns:
Played most of his career before the big awards were inaugurated. Led the NL in RBI once. Was in the Top Five or Top Ten many other times. Once hit two triples in one inning. Member of the 1905 World Series champion Giants, though he had an awful Series, hitting 0-15 with three walks and one run scored. Also a member of the 1899-1900 NL champion Superbas and the 1904 NL champion Giants, which refused to participate in a World Series.

Baseball bonus points: Dahlen was manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1910-13 (technically a player/manager for the first two seasons, but only put himself into four games, so he certainly wasn't abusing the privilege). Results were not impressive, finishing sixth or seventh each season, never getting close to a winning record.

Really good career, but not one that I see as having reached greatness. Dahlen had a good bat for his era, but a lot of his value was in his defense -- shortstop is a tough, demanding position -- and it's difficult to get a sound judgement of just how good it was after all this time. I didn't support him before, but what the heck, I'll give him his due this time.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

2. Wes Ferrell

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA voting: four ballots, peaking at 3.6%.
VC voting: 2003, 14.8% (12/81 votes); 2005, 11.3% (9/80); 2007, 8.5% (7/82), 2009 50.0% (6/12).

Primary position: RH starting pitcher.

Playing career: 15 seasons, 1927-41 -- Cleveland Indians 1927-33, Boston Red Sox 1934-37, Washington Senators 1937-38, New York Yankees 1938-39, Brooklyn Dodgers 1940, Boston Braves 1941.

Standout season: 1930 -- 25-13 (.658), 296.2 IP, 143 K, 3 saves, 1 shutout, 3.31, 146 ERA+, 7.5 WAR.

Other noteworthy seasons: 1929, 1931, 1932, 1935, 1936.

Career WAR: 45.1.

Honoraria and statistical crowns: Two All-Star selections (but did not play either time). Finished second in the 1935 AL MVP voting. Led AL in wins once, innings pitched three times, complete games four times. Numerous other Top Ten finishes in desirable categories. Major league records for home runs by a pitcher in a career (37 of his 38 total) and in a season (9, 1931). Pitched a no-hitter against the St. Louis Browns in 1931. Member of the 1938-39 World Series champion Yankees, though he did not play in either Series.

Baseball bonus points: Generally recognized as The Best Hitting Pitcher In Major League History (not named Ruth, anyway). Holds the career record for home runs by a pitcher with 37, including nine in 1931. Good enough that he was often used as a pinch-hitter. His 1931 batting season is worth including -- .319/.373/.621, 37 hits in 116 AB including six doubles, one triple, nine homers, 24 runs scored, 30 RBI, 151 OPS+. Career lines of .280/.351/.446, 38 HR, 208 RBI, 129 walks. Brother of Rick Ferrell, who is in the Hall Of Fame, though looking over his career record it is difficult to understand why.

Very good pitcher for a short span of seasons, certainly a tough workhorse, but I don't think his career ever rose to sustained greatness. I haven't supported Ferrell before -- and looking at his ballot returns, neither have any of the electorates which have considered his candidacy -- and I don't now, either.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

3. Marty Marion

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA: 12 ballots, peaking at 40.0%.
VC voting: 2003, 21.0% (17/81 votes); 2005, 20.0% (16/80); 2007, 13.4% (11/82).

Primary position: shortstop.

Playing career: 13 seasons, 1940-50, '52-53 -- St. Louis Cardinals 1940-50, St. Louis Browns 1952-53.

Standout season: 1944 -- .267/.324/.362, 6 HR, 63 RBI, 91OPS+, 4.6 WAR.

Other noteworthy seasons: 1942, 1943.

Career WAR: 29.6.

Honoraria and statistical crowns: 1944 NL MVP, eight All-Star selections, doubles once. Member of three World Series champion (1942, '44, '46) and one other NL champion (1943) teams.

Baseball bonus points: was a manager for six seasons, for the Cardinals, Browns (where he was a player/manager, a rare breed even then, now essentially extinct), and Chicago White Sox.

Good player on a strong team (during the talent-depleted wartime era), and won a Most Valuable Player Award, but that's all there is here, and it doesn't measure up to the Hall's level.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

4. Tony Mullane

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA: none.
VC voting: none.

Primary position: RH (mostly) starting pitcher, third baseman.

Playing career: 13 seasons, 1881-84 & '86-94 -- Detroit Wolverines (National League) 1881, Louisville Eclipse (American Association) 1882, St. Louis Browns (AA) 1883, Toledo Blue Stockings (AA) 1884, Cincinnati Red Stockings (AA) 1886-89, Cincinnati Reds (NL) 1890-93, Baltimore Orioles (NL) 1893-94, Cleveland Spiders (NL) 1894.

Standout season: 1884 -- 36-26 (.581), 2.52 (135 adjusted), 65 starts, 7 shutouts, 567.0 innings pitched (!!!), 325 strikeouts, 11.2 WAR (pitching; 12.8 overall). Only the shutouts led the league.

Other noteworthy seasons: 1882, 1883, 1887, 1892.

Career WAR: 55.1.

Honoraria and statistical crowns: Awards hardly existed during Mullane's era, so there's none of note to mention. Led his league in games pitched, games started, winning percentage, and strikeouts once each, and in shutouts twice.

Baseball bonus points: Mullane was one of the rare ambidextrous pitchers in major league history. He didn't do it often, but he could pitch with his left hand when needed.

Mullane won 30+ games in five different seasons, which wasn't quite so remarkable for the time but is the sort of thing that simply cannot happen today. Another artifact of the time: he pitched over 400 innings six times, twice exceeding 500, and never once led his league. A career total of 284 wins, which is brilliant if you like that stat. Mullane's career after age 33 isn't much to goggle at, but the seasons prior to that were outstanding, easily measuring up to what the Hall should honor. And the ambidextrous pitching ability is the icing here -- weirdly cool, even then.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

5. Bucky Walters

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA: 13 ballots, peaking at 23.7%.
VC voting: 2009, 33.3% (4/12 votes).

Primary position: RH starting pitcher; was a third baseman for his first four seasons.

Playing career: 19 seasons, 1931-48 & '50 -- Boston Braves 1931-32 & '50, Boston Red Sox 1933-34, Philadelphia Phillies 1934-38, Cincinnati Reds 1938-48.

Standout season: 1939 -- 27-11, 319.0 IP, 31 complete games, 2 shutouts, 137 K, 2.29, 168 ERA+, 7.9 WAR.

Other noteworthy seasons: 1940, 1941, 1944, 1945.

Career WAR: 44.3.

Honoraria and statistical crowns: 1939 NL MVP. Collected MVP votes in four other seasons, including finishing third and fifth. Six All-Star selections, including one start. Led in wins three times, ERA twice, innings pitched three times, strikeouts once, complete games three times, shutouts once -- including the pitcher's triple crown (wins, ERA, K) in 1939. Member of the 1939 NL champion and 1940 World Series champion Reds.

Baseball bonus points:  Walters was manager of the Reds for part of 1948 and all of 1949, finishing seventh both times, which does nothing to improve his candidacy.

If Walters hadn't moved to the mound, he'd never get Hall consideration at all. Good pitcher with flashes of greatness, particularly on two NL-winning Reds teams, but he never sustained it and didn't get to that level but sparsely. There's too much mediocrity in his career to support his candidacy.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

6. Deacon White

Previous Hall consideration
BBWAA: none.
VC voting: 2009, 41.7% (5/12 votes).

Primary position: catcher and third baseman, but as often happened in the Olde Dayes, he moved around at need, putting in time at right field, first base, and even the pitcher's mound.

Playing career: 20 seasons, 1871-90 -- Cleveland Forest Citys (National Association) 1871-72, Boston Red Stockings (NA) 1873-75, Chicago White Stockings (Cubs) 1876, Boston Red Caps (Braves) 1877, Cincinnati Reds 1878-80, Buffalo Bisons 1881-85 (National League), Detroit Wolverines 1886-88 (NL), Pittsburgh Alleghenys (Pirates) 1889, Buffalo Bisons (Players League) 1890.

Standout season: 1877 -- .387/.405/.545, 51 runs, 103 hits, 14 doubles, 11 triples, 2 HR, 49 RBI, 191 OPS+, 3.2 WAR (in 59 games).

Other noteworthy seasons: 1873, 1875, 1876, 1879, 1884.

Career WAR: 44.2, noting that this was built during much shorter seasons.

Honoraria and statistical crowns: Rates triple crown (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 1877. Another batting title in 1875. Led in hits once, triples once, RBI three times, plus numerous Top Ten finishes in various positive stats. Member of six league champion teams (Red Stockings 1873-75, including the amazing 71-8 team in '75, White Stockings 1876, Red Caps 1877, and Wolverines 1887).

Baseball bonus points: White was a player/manager, very briefly, in 1872 and 1879, compiling a 9-11 record. He also holds the distinction of recording the first ever major league hit, doubling to lead off the top of the first on 04-May-1871.

White wasn't a great fielder anywhere, but he made up for it with his bat. The man could HIT. Seasons were much shorter back in White's era -- he only played 100+ games in four seasons, and for the first time in 1884 -- but he made the most of them. Rate stats tell us what counting stats cannot, due to lack of opportunity, and White's rates are very impressive indeed, often rising to the level of greatness I think belongs in the Hall. I don't think there are many unearthed gems left in the deeps of baseball history, but here is one of those few.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

Summing up: I support Dahlen, Mullane, and White. Since the actual electors are limited to a maximum of four candidates, if I end up with two or more from the non-players candidates, I'll have to toss someone overboard.

The non-players coming up later today.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Hall's 2012 BBWAA ballot -- the results

The results are in -- have been for several days now.

Congratulations to Barry Larkin, newest honoree of the Baseball Hall of Fame!

On to the numbers.

2012 results

573 ballots submitted.
430 votes (75%) needed for election.
29 votes (5%) needed to stay on the ballot.

...candidate.......... votes.. %.. (remaining ballots)

--- ELECTED ---
1. Barry Larkin....... 495.. 86.4%
--- not elected ---
2. Jack Morris........ 382.. 66.7%... (2)
3. Jeff Bagwell....... 321.. 56.0%... (13)
4. Lee Smith.......... 290.. 50.6%... (5)
5. Tim Raines......... 279.. 48.7%... (10)
6. Alan Trammell...... 211.. 36.8%... (4)
7. Edgar Martinez..... 209.. 36.5%... (12)
8. Fred McGriff....... 137.. 23.9%... (12)
9. Larry Walker....... 131.. 22.9%... (13)
10. Mark McGwire...... 112.. 19.6%... (9)
11. Don Mattingly..... 102.. 17.8%... (3)
12. Dale Murphy........ 83.. 14.5%... (1)
13. Rafael Palmeiro.... 72.. 12.6%... (13)
14. Bernie Williams.... 55... 9.6%... (14)
--- relegated ---
15. Juan Gonzalez...... 23... 4.0%
16. Vinny Castilla...... 6... 1.1%
17. Tim Salmon.......... 5... 0.9%
18. Bill Mueller........ 4... 0.7%
19. Brad Radke.......... 2... 0.4%
20t. Javy Lopez......... 1... 0.2%
20t. Eric Young......... 1... 0.2%
22t. Jeromy Burnitz..... 0... 0.0%
22t. Brian Jordan....... 0... 0.0%
22t. Terry Mulholland... 0... 0.0%
22t. Phil Nevin......... 0... 0.0%
22t. Ruben Sierra....... 0... 0.0%
22t. Tony Womack........ 0... 0.0%

Candidates I supported: Bagwell, Larkin, Martinez, McGriff, McGwire, Murphy, Raines, Smith, Walker, and Williams. I also supported Salmon, but cut him because I constrain myself to no more than ten votes, like the actual ballots mandate. Besides, I had no confidence in Salmon's candidacy, though I thought he'd do better than Castilla did.

Let's go down the ballot.

The electee:

Congratulations, again, to Barry Larkin. This honor was earned and well deserved.

The returning 2013 candidates:

Morris (+71 votes, +13.1%) made a huge gain, giving his candidacy the appearance of a sure thing, so close with two ballots left. I'm not so certain -- and it's not because I'm not a Morris supporter. He still needs approximately 50 votes, and after this huge increase, there may not be many left to garner. Also, with Blyleven out of the way thanks to being elected in 2011, Morris was the best starting pitcher on the 2012 ballot (Radke and Mulholland were faint competition). He will not have that distinction again. The 2013 ballot will likely have David Wells, Curt Schilling, and Roger Clemens, and 2014 -- Morris' last ballot -- will have Mike Mussina, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux. Think what you like of Clemens' upcoming candidacy, he was a distinctly superior pitcher to Morris, as were all the others, Wells being comparable. Voters who prefer checking only one name per position will have a hard time thinking Morris is the standout starting pitcher candidate, at least on his career merits. His ballot momentum may yet gain him the plaque, and that's okay with me; I just do not think he's got the cruise control assurance others have said he does.

Bagwell (+79, +14.4%) made a very nice gain. There's still nothing material, so perhaps the whispering campaign is failing -- and good riddance if so! -- and he should get there in another two or three ballots. Though, with longtime teammate Craig Biggio coming up next time, if they get elected together that would be a pleasing result.

Smith (+27, +5.3%) doesn't appear to have any critical momentum. This was barely a hiccup, and was probably helped by the weak class of first-time candidates. Still, surpassing the 50% mark is a promising sign.

Raines (+61, +11.2%) got a healthy boost. Keep beating the drums, Rock fans! We won the Blyleven campaign, we can do it for this most worthy player as well!

Tigers fans must be happy that Morris and Trammell (+70, +12.6%) made such large gains, but Tram is still so far down, and his clock is getting so short, that it's not likely there will be a happy ending here. The upcoming few ballots will be loaded with superstar candidates, and it will be that much harder for Trammell's candidacy to make an effective push with the field so crowded.

Voters never worry about a pitcher's offensive performance, and no one really cares about a hitter's defensive performance, so why is the best designated hitter ever discriminated against based upon the part of the game his team didn't want him to play? Dammit! The DH has been around for three generations now; there cannot be more than a handful of voters who witnessed the game without the DH (even as young fans, let alone covered as reporters). This is the type of baseball they have lived! Martinez (+18, +3.6%) got a blip of a gain, but he deserves so much more. Anyone who cannot appreciate the majesty of Edgar's hitting cannot appreciate baseball.

McGriff (+33, +6.0%) still isn't benefiting from the theoretical "well, we refuse to vote for the steroids guys, so we'll look instead to the 'clean' guys and vote for them" voter backlash. Great player, just not a flashy one.

Walker (+13, +2.6%) is fighting the Coors Effect, which seems to be as daunting as the DH Effect to a candidate. I find it incredible that, in these modern times with better and more detailed analysis available than ever before, many still will not bother to look beyond the surface dross and learn what a player really did on the field. Walker hit brilliantly, and he was good with the glove too. It wasn't just the thin air. His candidacy has a long time left to see if more and smarter voters cotton to him. Here's hoping.

McGwire (-3, -0.2%) is stuck in neutral. It's not gonna happen. shrug

Mattingly (+23, +4.2%) is likewise stuck in neutral. Just counting down, fans.

Murphy (+10, +1.9%) is not just stuck in neutral, his transmission is burned out. One ballot left before we get this over with. I can easily understand him not getting elected, but how is it this great player and excellent example of humanity only once cracked 20%? No love at all.

Palmeiro (+8, +1.6%) managed to survive, again, and even picked up a few votes. He'll probably linger behind McGwire for as long as both are on the ballot. Must've been the Viagra endorsements.

Williams was the only first-time candidate to get enough return to advance to the next ballot, which was exactly what the early buzz predicted. Good player, and wore the Yankee pinstripes his entire career, and you can never discount that -- but he's got a long, long way to move up if he's ever to get the plaque. Right now it doesn't look good, but we'll know more after next year.

The relegated:

Gonzalez (-7, -1.2%) barely squeaked by last year, and this year fell below the line. No surprise, really.

I have no comments for the rest of the candidates -- Castilla, Salmon, Mueller, Radke, Lopez, Young, Burnitz, Jordan, Mulholland, Nevin, Sierra, and Womack -- so just a quick "nice to see you one more time, guys" tip of the cap, and we're done for the year.

Looking ahead to the 2013 ballot, this will be the long-anticipated tsunami of rookie candidates, including Kenny Lofton, David Wells, Sandy Alomar, Julio Franco, Jose Mesa, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, and lightning rods Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. This one should be a whole lot of fun!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Hall's 2012 BBWAA ballot -- candidate reviews, all in one big post

Boy howdy, I let December get away from me, and now the vote announcement is tomorrow. So, on to the reviews.

Returning candidates I supported in 2011: Bagwell, Larkin, Martinez, McGriff, McGwire, Murphy, Raines, and Smith. And I wanted to support Walker but limited myself to ten names, just like the actual BBWAA voters must. So I already have eight or nine of my possible ten candidates pre-selected, leaving little leeway for the ballot rookies, but if you're reading this you probably already know that the rookies this year are an uninspiring lot. There's probably no end-of-ballot conundrum about which name or names to bypass this time.

I tend to look more favorably upon great seasons produced than upon shiny career totals.

None of the rookie candidates are mentioned in the Mitchell Report.

WAR stats from

The candidates....

1. Jeff Bagwell (career statistics | reviewed on 2011 ballot)

Year on ballot: 2nd (13 remaining).
Peak return: 41.7% (2011).
2011 return: 41.7%

Career: 15 seasons, 1991-2005 -- all with the Houston Astros.
Peak season: 1994 -- in a strike-shortened season, Bags played in 110 of Houston's 115 games. The strike ended the season on August 11, and this is what he did: 147 hits, 32 doubles, 39 HR, 116 RBI, 65 walks, .368 / .451 / .750, 104 runs scored, 213 OPS+, 8.9 WAR (in a short season). Geez.
Other outstanding seasons: 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001... he made a habit of being great.
Career WAR: 79.9.
Primary position: first baseman.
Honoraria and claims to fame: four All-Star selections (two starts), 1994 NL MVP, 1991 NL Rookie Of The Year, three NL Silver Sluggers, one NL Gold Glove for 1B. Led NL in games played four times, runs scored three times, doubles once, RBI once, walks once, slugging once. Jersey #5 retired by the Astros.
Postseason glory: member of six postseason teams, including the 2004 NL champion Astros. Bagwell didn't really shine in October, batting .226 / .364 / .321 in 33 games, 129 plate appearances, with 2 HR and 13 RBI. He had nothing left when Houston went to the Series in '05, he only pinch-hit or played DH, but he greatly helped his team get to the postseason every time. No real bonus points here, but Bagwell's seasons is why there even was postseasons to think of.

Reasons for Bagwell: amazingly good hitter, very good fielder. A bad shoulder drained his power and ended his career, he could have done more (though we cannot give credit for this), but what he did do was amazing and Hall-worthy.

Reasons against Bagwell: he played in the 1990s, hit a lot of home runs (in a power-hostile home park), and had muscular forearms.

I realize McCarthyist whispering campaigns are always going to be popular in certain domains, but I really hoped baseball would be immune to such wretchedness. Voting writers, the craven and cowardly sort, continue to embargo Bagwell based upon, not even real suspicions, but mere worries about maybe suspicions cropping up someday or other. None of these purported "journalists" actually LOOK for anything, of course; far too responsible an approach. Nah. Let's just go with the yellow option.

Such writers are failures. Failing in their responsibility to their charge by the Hall as electors, failing in their responsibility to Bagwell (and any other candidates so treated, based upon nothing), failing as journalists, failing fans of baseball. Got something? Show it. Got nothing? Then move on. Bagwell is a worthy candidate, and when he does get elected, and he will eventually, your failures will be complete. Any voter who refuses to support Bagwell's candidacy for a valid reason -- and your real reason, not whatever you publish; I'd more respect "I didn't like that scraggly goatee he wore for years" in earnest than any unsubstantiated suspicion of steroid usage -- is weak. Go copulate yourselves. Abstain. Withdraw permanently from the electorate. Just get out of the way, because you are not serving the cause.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

2. Jeromy Burnitz (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 14 seasons, 1993-2006 -- New York Mets 1993-94 & 2002-03, Cleveland Indians 1995-96, Milwaukee Brewers 1996-2001, Los Angeles Dodgers 2003, Colorado Rockies 2004, Chicago Cubs 2005, Pittsburgh Pirates 2006.
Peak season: 1999 -- .270 / .402 / .561, 33 doubles, 33 HR, 103 RBI, 91 walks, 142 OPS+, 3.4 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1997, 1998, 2004.
Career WAR: 17.6.
Primary position: right field.
Honoraria and claims to fame: one All-Star selection.
Postseason glory: none. Part-time player for the 1995-96 Cleveland Indians but never got into a postseason game.

Good hitting, good slugging outfielder. An asset on the field and at the plate, but Burnitz didn't have greatness, and nothing in his career profile says otherwise. Not Hall class, but he got on the ballot, and that's a nice finish.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

3. Vinny Castilla (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 16 seasons, 1991-2006 -- Atlanta Braves 1991-92 & 2002-03, Colorado Rockies 1993-99, 2004, & 2006, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2000-01, Houston Astros 2001, Washington Nationals 2005, San Diego Padres 2006.
Peak season: 1998 -- .319 / .362 / .589, 206 hits, 28 doubles, 46 HR, 144 RBI, 127 OPS+, 4.5 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1996, 2004.
Career WAR: 16.4.
Primary position: third base.
Honoraria and claims to fame: two All-Star selections, three NL Silver Sluggers for third base, led NL in RBI once, games played once, assists by 3B twice, putouts by 3B twice, fielding percentage by 3B twice (and not always the same two seasons).
Postseason glory: played in four postseasons, hitting .350 / .409 / .617 in 17 games, 66 plate appearances, with 5 HR and 12 RBI. That's pretty darn good -- but all four teams lost in the Division Series, so he never got to really show off in October.

Castilla loved hitting in Coors Field. Well, sure, everyone did, and there's nothing like playing at home -- but among ballparks where he played more than ten games, he hit better only in Phoenix, and even there not much better. Vinny was a good player, a good hitter, and a good fielder -- yet even with Coors helping his cause, he never was great and never really looked great (because he wasn't). Even playing an underappreciated position like third base, he doesn't measure up to the Hall.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

4. Juan Gonzalez (career statistics | reviewed on 2011 ballot)

Year on ballot: 2nd (13 remaining, maybe).
Peak return: 5.2% (2011).
2011 return: 5.2%

Career: 17 seasons, 1989-2005 -- *Texas Rangers 1989-99 & 2002-03, Detroit Tigers 2000, Cleveland Indians 2001 & 2005, Kansas City Royals 2004.
Peak season: 1993 -- 166 hits, 33 doubles, 46 HR, 118 RBI, 105 runs scored, .310 / .368 / .632, 169 OPS+, 6.7 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1992, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001.
Career WAR: 33.5.
Primary position: right fielder. Gonzo did not DH very much -- only 370 games out of nearly 1700 in his career.
Honoraria and claims to fame: three All-Star selections (two starts), two AL MVP Awards (1996 and 1998), six AL Silver Sluggers. Led league in home runs twice, doubles once, RBI once.
Postseason glory: Played in four postseasons, including all three of the Rangers' first appearances. Devastating in 1996 against the Yankees with five home runs, but the rest of the team mustered nothing as they went down in four games. Scored Texas' only two runs total in 1998 and 1999 as the Yanks mercilessly swept them. And made a good showing with Cleveland in 2001, resulting in a career postseason line of .290 / .333 / .742, 8 HR, 15 RBI in 15 games, 66 PA -- but every team went down in the first round, obscuring his performances.

Mitchell Report: A bag belonging to one of Gonzalez's trainers was seized at Canadian customs (his team was heading to Toronto) with steroids inside.

So much fun to watch hit, because he'd swing at anything and, when he made contact, the ball tended to go a long way. Probably should have had another 400 quality games, but couldn't stay healthy. Barely escaped ballot relegation last year, and while he might survive again, it won't last. Loved watching him play, but there's no plaque forthcoming.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

5. Brian Jordan (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 15 seasons, 1992-2006 -- St. Louis Cardinals 1992-98, Atlanta Braves 1999-2001 & 2005-06, Los Angeles Dodgers 2002-03, Texas Rangers 2004.
Peak season: 1998 -- .316 / .368 / .534, 34 doubles, 25 HR, 91 RBI, 134 OPS+, 6.5 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1995, 1996, 2001.
Career WAR: 33.5.
Primary position: right field, though he played a good bit in center and left as well.
Honoraria and claims to fame: one All-Star selection. Often among the defensive leaders as an outfielder.
Postseason glory: member of five postseason teams, mostly Atlanta including the 1999 NL champions, and once in St. Louis. Batted .250 / .305 / .436 in 38 games, 154 PA, with 6 HR and 27 RBI.

Really good defensive player who could hit and slug pretty well, a definite asset on the roster, but not a rare player and never ascended to greatness. Made the ballot, which is his last stop, and that's still more than most players ever get.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

6. Barry Larkin (career statistics | reviewed on 2011 and 2010 ballots)

Year on ballot: 3rd (12 remaining).
Peak return: 62.1% (2011).
2011 return: 62.1%

Career: 19 seasons, 1986-2004 -- Cincinnati Reds the whole time.
Peak season: 1996 -- 33 HR, 89 RBI, .298/.410/.567, 117 runs, 32 doubles, 36 stolen bases, 154 OPS+, 7.4 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999.
Career WAR: 68.9.
Primary position: shortstop.
Honoraria and claims to fame: Twelve All-Star selections (five starts), 1995 NL MVP, three NL Gold Gloves for shortstop, nine NL Silver Sluggers for shortstop. Ranks in the Top Five in many Reds franchise hitting records, including second in hits and doubles (behind Pete Rose).
Postseason glory: member of two postseason teams, including the 1990 World Series champions. Batted .337 / .397 / .465 in 17 games, 78 PA, with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 8 stolen bases and 7 walks. None of this excellence makes him any better a player, but should push his Hall candidacy from "slightly uncertain" to "no doubt at all".

Great player. Great shortstop, and position matters (a lot). Larkin is Hall-worthy, and the voters know it, so I hope this year they get over whatever has been holding enough of them back from giving him his due.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

7. Javy Lopez (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 15 seasons, 1992-2006 -- Atlanta Braves 1992-2003, Baltimore Orioles 2004-06, Boston Red Sox 2006.
Peak season: 2003 -- .328 / .378 / .687, 29 doubles, 43 HR, 109 RBI, 169 OPS+, 6.6 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1997, 1998, 2004.
Career WAR: 27.9.
Primary position: catcher.
Honoraria and claims to fame: three All-Star selections, one Silver Slugger for catcher, often among the defensive leaders as catcher in the NL.
Postseason glory: thanks to being a key part of the Braves dynasty, Lopez played in nine postseasons, including the 1995 World Series champions. Posted .278 / .324 / .493 in 60 games, 225 PA, with 10 HR and 28 RBI. Named MVP of the 1996 NLCS.

Lopez was a long-lasting part of the Atlanta dynasty, the 1991-2005 era that saw the Braves advance to October fourteen times. He caught greatness -- Glavine, Smoltz, sometimes Maddux. And he played in 100+ games ten times over eleven seasons (1995-2005), which isn't easy as a catcher; the position delivers a beating.

Even allowing for that, Lopez was never consistently great. One great season, four really good ones, and a bunch of adequate ones. Overall it's not enough for the Hall.

About that one great season, 2003 -- does anyone ever question it? It was his free agent year, he was 32, it was way better than anything he'd ever done, and it was before the steroids ban. Was he enhanced? I don't know and, since it was before the ban, I don't care -- but it is so out of line with his career, like the superb seasons of Brady Anderson or Bret Boone (just to name two) that it surprises me there are no questions asked about it. I suppose the BBWAA voters only really want to suspect high-leverage Hall candidates, and the hoi-polloi can go about their merry ways. Lopez isn't going to be back on the 2013 ballot, so it doesn't matter; but if the PED question DOES matter, shouldn't it matter in every case? Perhaps I hope for too much accountability, from the players and the writers.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

8. Edgar Martinez (career statistics | reviewed on 2011 and 2010 ballots)

Year on ballot: 3rd (12 remaining).
Peak return: 36.2% (2010).
2011 return: 32.9%

Career: 18 seasons, 1987-2004 -- all with the Seattle Mariners.
Peak season: 1995 -- 29 HR, 113 RBI, .356/.479/.628, 182 hits, 52 doubles, 121 runs, 185 OPS+, 7.7 WAR, while playing the entire 145 game schedule.
Other outstanding seasons: 1990, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003.
Career WAR: 67.2.
Primary position: designated hitter; was a third baseman in his early seasons.
Honoraria and claims to fame: Seven All-Star selections (four starts), five AL Silver Sluggers (one for 3B, four for DH), two AL batting championships, led the league in OBP three times, runs scored once, doubles twice, RBI once. MLB's designated hitter award is named in Martinez's honor.
Postseason glory: member of all four Mariners teams that have advanced to the postseason. Batted .266 / .365 / .508 in 34 games, 148 PA, with 7 doubles, 8 HR, 24 RBI, and 19 walks. Beat the utter crap out of the 1995 Yankees (.571 / .667 / 1.000!), including the game-winning and series-winning double that scored Griffey in extra innings of Game 5 of the Division Series, still the finest moment in Seattle baseball history.

Designated hitter is a real position, part of the game for nearly 40 seasons now. How many voting members of the BBWAA remember baseball before the DH? I suppose there's a few crusty old farts who still think expansion was a bad idea or are waiting for the Dodgers to move back to Brooklyn, but it cannot be more than a handful. The point, most voters have never known baseball without the DH. It's a part of the game, and the Hall is going to have to recognize a primary designated hitter some time or other, and may as well start with the best ever, Martinez. By the baseball gods, this man could hit like crazy. He's Hall-worthy. Let's see him on a plaque.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

9. Don Mattingly (career statistics | reviewed on 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 ballots)

Year on ballot: 12th (three remaining).
Peak return: 28.2% (2001 -- Donnie's first ballot).
2011 return: 13.6%

Career: 14 seasons, 1982-95 -- all with the New York Yankees.
Peak season: 1986 -- 238 hits, 53 doubles, 31 HR, 113 RBI, 117 runs scored, .352 / .394 / .573, 161 OPS+, 6.9 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989.
Career WAR: 39.8.
Primary position: first base.
Honoraria and claims to fame: six All-Star selections (one start), 1985 AL MVP, nine AL Gold Gloves at 1B, three AL Silver Sluggers at 1B, 1984 AL batting champion. Led league in slugging once, hits twice, doubles three times, RBI once. Set the major league single season record for grand slams with six in 1987. Tied the ML record for consecutive games with a home run, with eight. Jersey #23 retired by the Yankees.
Postseason glory: played in one postseason, 1995 v. the triumphant Mariners, and did very well -- .417 /.440 / .708 with 1 HR and 6 RBI, a shining swan song performance in a series that was decided more by the pitching than the hitting.

That lack of postseason airtime possibly could be what keeps Mattingly out of the Hall. Many fans attach way too much import to postseason play, at least when it comes to Hall consideration. The voters tend not to penalize players who missed October or never held aloft the trophy. But, while lack of playoff time doesn't count against most, it does tend to count against Yankees, because of the franchise's rich (and belabored) postseason history. Not winning, as a Yankee, is something seen as a fault or flaw. Had Mattingly gotten to the playoffs more, maybe he'd have higher returns -- probably not enough to get the plaque, but I think it is hurting him some. The Yankee mystique is working against his cause. Conversely, winning as a Yankee, even as a minor part, has gotten some men a plaque that history probably didn't see a great need in adding to the collection. Weird, ain't it?

It doesn't really matter -- the effect is interesting, but for Mattingly specifically it doesn't matter -- because his career doesn't measure up. Four great seasons, two good seasons, and the rest was average. Donnie's career is the opposite of Koufax's -- Sandy started out forgettably, then soared, then departed, leaving all to wonder "what more was there?". Mattingly started out soaring, then plunged, and if he left anything undone it wouldn't have impressed us anyway. Important lesson: leave them wanting more.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

10. Fred McGriff (career statistics | reviewed on 2011 and 2010 ballots)

Year on ballot: 3rd (12 remaining).
Peak return: 21.5% (2010).
2011 return: 17.9%

Career: 19 seasons, 1986-2004 -- Toronto Blue Jays 1986-90, San Diego Padres 1991-93, Atlanta Braves 1993-97, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 1998-2001 & 2004, Chicago Cubs 2001-02, Los Angeles Dodgers 2003.
Peak season: 1992 -- 152 hits, 30 doubles, 35 HR, 104 RBI, 79 runs scored, 96 walks, .286 / .394 / .556, 166 OPS+, 5.2 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2001.
Career WAR: 50.5.
Primary position: first base.
Honoraria and claims to fame: Five All-Star selections (three starts), three Silver Sluggers (one AL, two NL) for 1B, led both leagues in HR once each. 1994 All-Star MVP.
Postseason glory: Member of five postseason teams, including the 1995 World Series champion Braves. Delivered .303 / .385 / .532 in 50 games, 218 PA, with 11 doubles, 10 HR, 37 RBI, and 27 walks. Certainly helped his teams' causes in October!

Outstanding hitter and very good fielder. First base will never be a premium defensive position, in fact it's considered the least demanding spot on the diamond, but McGriff was excellent at what he had to do. Often among the league leaders in power stats. I cannot help but think that if he had reached 500 home runs, his candidacy would be much higher, possibly even his plaque minted by now. Given back the 1994-95 seasons -- which we cannot do, of course, as as a MLBPA member McGriff supported the action -- he surely would have hit those seven more (at least) dingers and that would be that. C'mon, he's Hall-worthy, voters!

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

11. Mark McGwire (career statistics | reviewed on 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 ballots)

Year on ballot: 6th (nine remaining).
Peak return: 23.7% (2010).
2011 return: 19.8%

Career: 16 seasons, 1986-2001 -- Oakland Athletics 1986-97, St. Louis Cardinals 1997-2001.
Peak season: 1998 -- 152 hits, 21 doubles, 70 HR, 147 RBI, 130 runs, 162 walks (then an NL record), .299 / .470 / .752, 216 OPS+, 7.2 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1987, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2000 even though he played only 89 games.
Career WAR: 63.1.
Primary position: first base.
Honoraria and claims to fame: 12 All-Star selections (six starts), 1987 AL ROY, one AL Gold Glove at 1B, three Silver Sluggers (one AL, two NL) at 1B. Led league in on-base percentage twice, slugging four times, home runs four times, RBI once, walks twice. Rookie record 49 HR. Record 70 HR in 1998, since surpassed once. Member of the 500 Home Runs Club (583 career).
Postseason glory: Member of six postseason teams, including the 1989 World Series champion Athletics. Hit .217 / .320 / .349 in 42 games, 151 PA, with 5 HR, 14 RBI, and 18 walks. Managed only one hit in the 1988 World Series, but it was a walk-off home run to win Game 3, a moment largely overlooked against the Dodgers' championship and Gibson's far more remarkable walk-off shot in Game 1.

On his playing merits, McGwire merits the Hall. Hit and slugged a ton. Missed a lot of time due to injuries, but I think his total production overrides that. And whatever magic waters he used, and he has said he did, he used before the 2004 ban was enacted. I will not penalize players for breaking rules which did not exist at the time.

Mac doesn't get to stand on just his playing merits, though. The writers have refused to give him fairer due to date, and they aren't much going to change. I won't go there, because it is an ugly place.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

12. Jack Morris (career statistics | reviewed on 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 ballots)

Year on ballot: 13th (two remaining).
Peak return: 53.5% (2011).
2011 return: 53.5%

Career: 18 seasons, 1977-94 -- Detroit Tigers 1977-90, Minnesota Twins 1991, Toronto Blue Jays 1992-93, Cleveland Indians 1994.
Peak season: 1986 -- 21-8, 3.27, 35 starts, 15 CG, 6 ShO, 267.0 innings, 223 K, 127 ERA+, 4.7 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1979, 1981, 1985, 1987, 1991, 1992.
Career WAR: 39.3 (as a pitcher).
Primary position: starting pitcher (right handed).
Honoraria and claims to fame: five All-Star selections. Led league in wins twice, strikeouts once, shutouts once, innings pitched once, complete games once. Pitched a no-hitter in 1984.
Postseason glory: You've probably heard about this game, which helped him win the 1991 World Series MVP. Overall 7-4 in 13 starts, 92.1 innings, with a 3.80 ERA, 1.245 WHIP, and 64:32 K:BB ratio. Hey, he was very good in 1984 and 1991 and not very good in 1987 and 1992 -- which works out to Morris being on four postseason teams and helping win three championships.

Good pitcher. Sometimes very good. Rarely great. Those who see the Hall-worthiness will see it no matter what. I don't see it no matter how closely I look for it.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

13. Bill Mueller (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 11 seasons, 1996-2006 -- San Francisco Giants 1996-2000 & 2002, Chicago Cubs 2001-02, Boston Red Sox 2003-05, Los Angeles Dodgers 2006.
Peak season: 2003 -- .326 / .398 / .540, 45 doubles, 19 HR, 85 RBI, 59 walks, 140 OPS+, 5.5 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: um... 1998 was pretty good.
Career WAR: 22.6.
Primary position: third base.
Honoraria and claims to fame: 2003 AL batting champion. One AL Silver Slugger for 3B.
Postseason glory: Member of five postseason teams, including the historic 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox. Hit .234 / .302 / .310 with 8 doubles, 1 HR, and 4 RBI. No, it's not much, but his one RBI in the 2004 ALCS came in the bottom of the ninth in Game 4, facing elimination with Rivera on the mound, and Mueller smacked the ball into center, allowing Roberts to score and tie the game, and the greatest comeback in baseball history began that moment.

Mueller played for eleven seasons, and that's pretty amazing given what he provided. The first player for the curse-breaking 2004 Red Sox to reach the Hall ballot, he is no shining star, but his presence does evoke that storied season, and that's a happy thought. If he gets one vote, even from a Boston-area writer, that will be a triumph. I cannot give him my support, but Mueller was on one very special team that has proudly gone down in history.

Chipmaker's vote: no. But I'll always think fondly of Mueller or any member of the 2004 Sox.

14. Terry Mulholland (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 20 seasons, 1986 & 1988-2006 -- San Francisco Giants 1986, 1988-89, 1995, 1997, Philadelphia Phillies 1989-93 & 1996, New York Yankees 1994, Seattle Mariners 1996, Chicago Cubs 1997 & 1998-99, Atlanta Braves 1999-2000, Pittsburgh Pirates 2001, Los Angeles Dodgers 2001-02, Cleveland Indians 2002-03, Minnesota Twins 2004-05, Arizona Diamondbacks 2006. To save you counting, that's eleven different franchises.
Peak season: 1993 -- 12-9, 3.25 in 29 games (28 starts), 191.0 innings, 116 K, 1.136 WHIP, 122 ERA+, 3.8 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: With 20 seasons, there'd have to be some other noteworthy year, right? Um... 1991 and 1998 were interesting.
Career WAR: 10.3.
Primary position: starting pitcher (left handed), though he mostly pitched in relief after age 38.
Honoraria and claims to fame: one All-Star selection. Led NL in complete games once. As a rookie, he made highlight reels when he fielded a hot bouncer back to the mound, couldn't get it out of the webbed pocket, and decided to toss the entire glove, ball stuck within, to his first baseman. They got the out.
Postseason glory: Member of five postseason teams, including two NL champions, the 1993 Phillies and 1999 Braves. Overall 1-2, 6.61 in 15 games (3 starts), 31.1 innings, with 15 strikeouts.

Mulholland was around forever, always finding a job somewhere, living proof that a left-handed pitcher is always a commodity in short supply. He could eat up innings, and teams do need to throw around 1400 every season, so that made him useful, but he was rarely good and never great. Nice to be on the ballot, but for Mulholland it is one and done.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

15. Dale Murphy (career statistics | reviewed on 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 ballots)

Year on ballot: 14th (one remaining).
Peak return: 23.2% (2000).
2011 return: 12.6%

Career: 18 seasons, 1976-93 -- *Atlanta Braves 1976-90, Philadelphia Phillies 1990-92, Colorado Rockies 1993.
Peak season: 1983 -- 178 hits, 24 doubles, 36 HR, 121 RBI, 131 runs scored, 30 stolen bases, 90 walks, .302 / .393 / .540, 149 OPS+, 7.2 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1980, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1987.
Career WAR: 44.2.
Primary position: center field, right field when he got older.
Honoraria and claims to fame: seven All-Star selections (five starts), 1982 and 1983 NL MVP Awards, five NL Gold Gloves for outfield, four NL Silver Sluggers for outfield. Led league in slugging twice, runs scored once, home runs twice, RBI twice, walks once. Jersey #3 retired by the Braves.
Postseason glory: Only made it to October once, with the 1982 Braves, where he went .273 / .273 / .273 with three hits, all singles, and one run scored. Nothing more to say here.

Murf had six great seasons in an eight-year span, 1980-87, and then fell off a cliff. I think the great span was enough, though recognize that the fall-off-a-cliff part of his career does nothing to help his candidacy. A graceful tail-off would look much nicer, as would 400 home runs. The voters aren't seeing Murphy the way I am, and I am resigned to this. I still support him, but it's not going to happen.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes! Though it's clearly futile. Ah well.

16. Phil Nevin (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 12 seasons, 1995-2006 -- Houston Astros 1995, Detroit Tigers 1995-97, Anaheim Angels 1998, San Diego Padres 1999-2005, Texas Rangers 2005-06, Chicago Cubs 2006, Minnesota Twins 2006.
Peak season: 2001 -- .306 / .388 / .588, 31 doubles, 41 HR, 126 RBI, 71 walks, 158 OPS+, 6.6 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1999, 2000.
Career WAR:15.9.
Primary position: third base, but also played first base, left field, and even caught (!) 109 games.
Honoraria and claims to fame: one All-Star selection. Overall #1 draft pick in 1992.
Postseason glory: Appeared in only one postseason game, the very last of his career, with the 2006 Twins. And went 0-3. And you thought Murphy was unimpressive.

Number one draft picks almost never live up to the inevitable hype. Some do -- Griffey, Rodriguez -- but most are like Nevin, who play well but it never looks like enough. He had a good career, never stepped it up for long, and it seemed like he never figured it out. Well, maybe, but maybe he should have been drafted lower instead. It doesn't matter, he got to play and got on the ballot this time, and we say a brief hello and goodbye, nice to remember you.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

17. Rafael Palmeiro (career statistics | reviewed on 2011 ballot)

Year on ballot: 2nd (13 remaining).
Peak return: 11.0% (2011).
2011 return: 11.0%

Career: 20 seasons, 1986-2005 -- Chicago Cubs 1986-88, *Texas Rangers 1989-93 & 1999-2003, Baltimore Orioles 1994-98 & 2004-05.
Peak season: 1993 -- 176 hits, 40 doubles, 37 HR, 105 RBI, 124 runs scored, .295 / .371 / .554, 150 OPS+, 7.4 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1991, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002.
Career WAR: 66.0.
Primary position: first baseman. He DH'd some in his older seasons, but that was his primary role only twice, 1999 and 2003.
Honoraria and claims to fame: four All-Star selections (one start), two AL Silver Sluggers, three AL Gold Gloves for first base (though the one in 1999 was a bad joke, as he played only 28 games at 1B). Led league in hits once and runs scored once -- but he was in the top ten, and often the top five, in many categories in many seasons. Member of the 500 Home Run Club (569) and 3000 Hits Club (3020).
Postseason glory: Member of three postseason teams, providing .244 / .308 / .451 in 22 games, 91 PA, with 5 doubles, 4 HR, and 8 RBI. Never reached the World Series, though, which has happened to greater and lesser players.

Mitchell Report: mentioned for having failed a steroids test (stanozolol was found in his system) in 2005, for which he was suspended for ten games. Named by Canseco as having been using under his supervision, possibly as early as 1992.

Whatever players used before 2004, I give them a pass -- no rules, no rulebreaking, and the entire MLB internal culture was one of tacit complicity. No asking, no telling, use whatever you need for your competitive edge. But since the ban -- man, only an idiot gets caught. But we're not yet discussing Manny Ramirez....

Palmeiro brewed a perfect storm of witlessness -- testifying boldly before Congress, avowing his cleanliness, and then getting busted. On his playing merits, like McGwire and others, he's got more than enough testimony for the Hall. But getting nailed after the ban went into effect, that just crushes his candidacy, knowing better and still blowing it. Maybe knuckleheadedness shouldn't be an obstacle to the Hall, but today, in these circumstances, I still think it is.

Chipmaker's vote: no. Not yet, anyway.

18. Brad Radke (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 12 seasons, 1995-2006 -- the entirety with the Minnesota Twins.
Peak season: 1997 -- 20-10, 3.87 in 35 starts, 239.2 innings, 174 K, 1.193 WHIP, 120 ERA+, 4.0 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004.
Career WAR: 41.4.
Primary position: starting pitcher (right handed).
Honoraria and claims to fame: one All-Star selection.
Postseason glory: Member of four postseason teams, overall 2-3, 3.60 in 6 starts, 35.0 innings, with 17 strikeouts.

Radke was rarely distinguished on the diamond; he was a quiet workhorse, throwing over 200 innings (usually well over) nine times in ten seasons. He was prone to serving longballs, but he mitigated that by not walking anyone. Seriously, Radke's high in walks issued was 57, and he only once else gave up as many as 51 -- and remember, these were 200+ inning seasons. But a lot of his early Twins teams weren't very good, so he never piled up wins but for the one 20-win season. Very useful pitcher; not a great one, but a lot better than most remember him as being. He deserves being on this ballot. He doesn't deserve more, but he does deserve this one.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

19. Tim Raines (career statistics | reviewed on 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 ballots)

Year on ballot: 5th (ten remaining).
Peak return: 37.5% (2011).
2011 return: 37.5%

Career: 23 seasons, 1979-99 & 2001-02 -- Montréal Expos 1979-90 & 2001, Chicago White Sox 1991-95, New York Yankees 1996-98, Oakland Athletics 1999, Baltimore Orioles 2001, Florida Marlins 2002.
Peak season: 1987 -- 175 hits, 34 doubles, 8 triples, 18 HR, 68 RBI, 50 stolen bases (caught only five times), 90 walks, .330 / .429 / .526, 149 OPS+, 6.8 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1992, 1993.
Career WAR: 64.6.
Primary position: left field. Leadoff hitter.
Honoraria and claims to fame: Seven All-Star selections, 1987 All-Star MVP, one NL Silver Slugger. Led league in batting once, on-base percentage once, runs twice, stolen bases four times. Career 84.7% stolen base success rate is the highest for anyone with 300+ SB. 808 career SB ranks fifth all-time. Jersey #30 retired by the Expos.
Postseason glory: Member of five postseason teams, including the 1996 & 1998 World Series champion Yankees, and the only Expos team ever to play in October. Stats: .270 / .340 / .349 in 34 games, 142 PA, with 7 doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 14 walks, and 3 stolen bases.

What's not to love about Raines? The most successful base stealer in baseball history (and ranked fifth in total steals). Outstanding hitter in the first half of his career, very useful journeyman in the second. Compares favorably, in just about every way, with Rickey Henderson, his exact contemporary. Raines is Hall-worthy. His ballot returns are showing a promising trend, going up, though he's still got a long way to go. Let's hope it doesn't take very long, because he has more than earned the plaque, and the Hall needs another Expos logo.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

20. Tim Salmon (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 14 seasons, 1992-2004 & 2006 -- all with the Angels. That's the California Angels (1992-96), Anaheim Angels (1997-2004), and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2006). Gracious!
Peak season: 1995 -- .330 / .429 / .594, 34 doubles, 34 HR, 105 RBI, 91 walks, 165 OPS+, 6.8 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1993, 1997, 1998, 2002.
Career WAR: 37.6.
Primary position: right field.
Honoraria and claims to fame: 1993 AL Rookie of the Year Award, one AL Silver Slugger for outfield. Often among the defensive league leaders for right fielders.
Postseason glory: Member of two postseason teams, though he played in only one, but one worth playing for -- the 2002 World Series champion Angels. Hit .288 / .382 / .525 in 16 games, 68 PA, with 2 doubles, 4 HR, 12 RBI, and 8 walks. Salmon certainly made the most of his one chance.

Tim Salmon was never an All-Star. How could that have happened? He wasn't an obviously great player but he was always a very good one; an All-Star berth should have popped up at least once. Strange.

Salmon was reliable. Started with a bang, collecting the Rookie award, hung on through some lean times in Anaheim, and was on hand (and helped greatly) when the Halos at last collected the trophy. He produced reliably, always with 20+ home runs, 90+ walks, a healthy OBP in the upper .300s, slugging around .500. And he was good on defense at an important position. It's nice to be able to pencil in someone like that.

I can't see any reason not to support Salmon, other than that he never really stepped up to greatness, but he provided reliable and consistent very-goodness, and that's worth remembering. I don't think he'll be back on the 2013 ballot anyway, and if I end up with too many candidates he'll be the first cut, but right now, heck, I'm happy to support Salmon for the Hall.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

21. Ruben Sierra (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 20 seasons, 1986-98 & 2000-06 -- Texas Rangers 1986-92, 2000-01, & 2003, Oakland Athletics 1992-95, New York Yankees 1995-96 & 2003-05, Detroit Tigers 1996, Cincinnati Reds 1997, Toronto Blue Jays 1997, Chicago White Sox 1998, Seattle Mariners 2002, Minnesota Twins 2006. Nine different franchises.
Peak season: 1989 -- .306 / .347 / .543, 101 runs, 194 hits, 35 doubles, 14 triples, 29 HR, 119 RBI, 146 OPS+, 5.7 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1991. For so many seasons, not many were noteworthy.
Career WAR: 13.6.
Primary position: right fielder for ten seasons, then DH for most of the second half of his career.
Honoraria and claims to fame: four All-Star selections, one AL Silver Slugger for outfield. Finished a close second for the 1989 AL MVP (behind Yount) and probably should have won, but such things happen. Led AL in games played once, slugging once, triples once, total bases once, RBI once (all in that 1989 season), and outfield assists once.
Postseason glory: Member of five postseason teams, including the 2003 AL champion Yankees. Hit .264 / .333 / .549 in 31 games, 105 PA, with 5 doubles, 3 triples, 5 HR, 21 RBI, and 11 walks. Sierra certainly was doing his part.

Sierra was another fun player to watch -- I saw him often when he was with the Rangers. He wasn't much for taking a walk and would swing freely, but was better at both than his teammate and fellow candidate Juan Gonzalez. Sierra had some control to his plate approach. He was a very good hitter, but after age 27 he just petered out, though he hung around forever, but a DH who cannot hit better than league-average is not an asset. Not winning the 1989 AL MVP bothered him, he's said as much, but how long can resentment last? If he had more to prove, he didn't spend a lot of years proving it, because after 1992 he was nothing special -- a brief surge in 2001, but that was it. Being an adequate backup outfielder with the capability of hitting a pinch HR from either side must have been key to him keeping a job in the majors for so long. Sierra looks more like a might-have-been than a certainly-was. Nice to think of him again, but there's no second ballot next year.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

22. Lee Smith (career statistics | reviewed on 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 ballots)

Year on ballot: 10th (five remaining).
Peak return: 47.3% (2010).
2011 return: 45.3%

Career: 18 seasons, 1980-97 -- Chicago Cubs 1980-87, Boston Red Sox 1988-90, St. Louis Cardinals 1990-93, New York Yankees 1993, Baltimore Orioles 1994, California Angels 1995-96, Cincinnati Reds 1996, Montréal Expos 1997.
Peak season: 1991 -- 6-3, 47 saves, 2.34, 67 K, 157 ERA+, 1.137 WHIP, 2.6 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1994.
Career WAR: 30.3 (as a pitcher).
Primary position: relief pitcher (right handed), primarily a closer.
Honoraria and claims to fame: Seven All-Star selections, three Rolaids Relief Awards (two NL, one AL). Led league in saves four times. Held the career record for saves from 1993 to 2006; currently third all-time.
Postseason glory: Only appeared with two postseason teams, the 1984 Cubs and the 1988 Red Sox, and got bloodied pretty harshly both times: 0-2, 8.44, in 4 games, 5.1 innings, 7 strikeouts (to only one walk). That's part of the risks of being the closer -- you only get a small amount of innings to do your stuff, and if you get pounded, everything looks much worse than it was (it was bad, but the stats look disastrous).

I think Smith measures up well when compared with the relievers who are in the Hall, and was an excellent pitcher in his own right with periods of greatness. Relief pitchers are still building a profile-in-progress for Hall evaluation, and I think Smith would well serve bringing that profile into clearer focus should he get the plaque. (Alas, middle relievers will continue to be utterly screwed here, but it's difficult to undertake more than one or two causes at a time.)

Chipmaker's vote: Yes! As before, and satisfied to say so.

23. Alan Trammell (career statistics | reviewed on 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 ballots)

Year on ballot: 11th (four remaining).
Peak return: 24.3% (2011).
2011 return: 24.3%

Career: 20 seasons, 1977-96 -- Detroit Tigers all the while.
Peak season: 1987 -- 205 hits, 34 doubles, 28 HR, 105 RBI, 109 runs scored, 21 stolen bases (against 2 caught steals), .343 / .402 / .551, 155 OPS+, 8.4 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1993.
Career WAR: 66.9.
Primary position: shortstop.
Honoraria and claims to fame: Six All-Star selections, 1984 World Series MVP, four AL Gold Gloves, three AL Silver Sluggers.
Postseason glory: Member of two postseason teams, including the 1984 World Series champion Tigers. Provided .333 / .404 / .588 in 13 games, 58 PA, with 2 doubles, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 6 walks.

Baseball bonus points: Trammell was manager of the Tigers for three seasons, 2003-05. This part of Trammell's career does nothing to help his Hall candidacy.

That 1984 team was really something, and Trammell was a big part of it.

Now that Ron Santo has vacated his spot in the small Best Player Not In The Hall circle, I think Trammell steps in to fill the opening. For years I've seen him as being really, really close to Hall class but not quite there -- and with Larkin alongside him on the ballot, and probably imminently inducted, it's hard to keep thinking that. But I value seasons before career totals, and Trammell's seasons seesawed. From 1978 to 1993 -- 13 consecutive seasons playing full time, two more part time (1991, '93), and one we'll overlook (1992, 29 games), Tram's adjusted OPS went up and down: 89, 95, 113, 91, 97, 138, 135, 89, 120, 155, 137, 85, 130, 90, (114), 138. He didn't play more than 76 games in his last three seasons, and his hitting showed why.

That up-and-down, that inability to sustain his peak and keep his offensive value above league average consistently, drives me nuts. What was he missing? What held him back? Granted that OPS+ numbers in the high 80s or 90s are not bad, but this is the Hall under consideration, and league-average should be the minimum. Trammell cracked 100 (usually easily) eight times, and fell below seven times. (Larkin? OPS+ of 100 or more, thirteen straight seasons.)

My general consideration for the Hall is "sustained greatness", and for me, Trammell is missing -- just missing -- on the "sustained" part, and that's dampening the "greatness" part a bit as well.

I need someone to convince me otherwise, but I'm still placing him on the other side of the velvet rope.

Chipmaker's vote: no. Very, very close, but still "no".

24. Larry Walker (career statistics | reviewed on 2011 ballot)

Year on ballot: 2nd (13 remaining).
Peak return: 20.3% (2011).
2011 return: 20.3%

Career: 17 seasons, 1989-2005 -- Montreal Expos 1989-94, Colorado Rockies 1995-2004, St. Louis Cardinals 2004-05.
Peak season: 1997 -- 208 hits, 46 doubles, 49 HR, 130 RBI, 143 runs scored, 409 total bases, .366 / .452 /.720, 178 OPS+, 9.0 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1992, 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002.
Career WAR: 67.3.
Primary position: right fielder.
Honoraria and claims to fame: five All-Star selections (four starts), 1997 NL MVP Award, seven NL Gold Gloves, three NL Silver Sluggers. Led league in batting three times, on-base percentage twice, slugging twice, doubles once, HR once, assists by a right fielder three times. Member of the 2004 NL champion Cardinals, and hit the only two homers St. Louis had against Boston in the World Series.
Postseason glory: member of three postseason teams, including the 2004 NL champion Cardinals. Batted .230 / .350 / .510 in 28 games, 121 PA, with 5 doubles, 7 HR, 15 RBI, and 16 walks. Walker was pretty much the only St. Louis player who showed up against the 2004 Red Sox in the World Series, hitting the only two Cardinals home runs.

Walker played in 1988 games -- 604 in Denver (both as a Rockie and a visiting player) and 1384 games elsewhere.

Walker in Denver: 604 games, 2163 at-bats, 823 hits, 181 doubles, 32 triples, 155 HR, .380 batting, .461 on-base, .709 slugging.

Walker elsewhere: 1384 games, 4744 at-bats, 1337 hits, 290 doubles, 30 triples, 228 HR, .282 batting, .372 on-base, .500 slugging.

The first line is, of course, insane, but that second line is pretty darn good. Let's pro-rate his non-Denver stats up to his career games total.

Walker pro-rated: 1988 games, 6814 at-bats, 1920 hits, 417 doubles, 43 triples, 328 HR, .282, .372, .500.

That's Larry Walker had he not played in Denver ever, and it's a very good line. Is it Hall good? Eh; it's not real, but combined with his excellent defense I'd probably go for it. But of course he did play in Denver, and took better advantage of the rarefied air than probably anyone else, and put up fantastic numbers. Even allowing for the Coors Effect, Walker was superb, a genuinely great hitter. Adjusted OPS adjusts for home parks, and even adjusting, Walker could and did hit the crap out of the ball.

I didn't support him in 2011 only because I already had ten names. That's not the case this year, and I'm glad to back his candidacy.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

25. Bernie Williams (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 16 seasons, 1991-2006 -- a lifelong New York Yankee.
Peak season: 1998 -- .339 / .422 / .575, 101 runs, 30 doubles, 26 HR, 97 RBI, 74 walks, 160 OPS+, 6.1 WAR (despite playing in only 128 games).
Other outstanding seasons: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002.
Career WAR: 47.3.
Primary position: center field.
Honoraria and claims to fame: five All-Star selections, one AL Silver Slugger for outfield, four AL Gold Gloves for outfield, 1998 AL batting champion. Led AL in outfielder putouts once.
Postseason glory: Plenty! Member of 12 postseason teams, including the 1996 & 1998-2000 World Series champion Yankees. Batted .275 / .371 / .480 in 121 games, 545 PA (that's practically an extra season), with 83 runs, 128 hits, 29 doubles, 22 HR, 80 RBI, and 71 walks. Named the 1996 ALCS MVP.

Bernie Williams, long considered by many to be the headliner first year name on this ballot, and thought by few to be Hall class. Let's take a look.

Huh. Other than the one batting title, he never led the AL in anything, but he always produced -- nine consecutive seasons with an OPS+ of 119 or better. He only played 150+ games twice, but during that nine-season run he ony played in fewer than 128 games once, and that was the short 1994 season. So reliability is a bit off, but that's not a terribly harsh criticism. He completely lost it after age 33, probably should not have been in center or even in the starting lineup his last two seasons, but the Yankees have long valued loyalty, and the team had enough oomph to carry him as supercargo.

I'm seeing more reason to support Williams' candidacy than I am seeing reasons not to do so. Therefore -- yes. Bernie for the Hall. I don't think he'll get in this time, possibly not ever, but his plaque would be a solid addition to the collection.

Chipmaker's vote: Yes!

26. Tony Womack (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 13 seasons, 1993-94 & 1996-2006 -- Pittsburgh Pirates 1993-94 & '96-98, Arizona Diamondbacks 1999-2003, Colorado Rockies 2003, Chicago Cubs 2003 & '06, St. Louis Cardinals 2004, New York Yankees 2005, Cincinnati Reds 2006.
Peak season: 2004 -- .307 / .349 / .385, 91 runs, 22 doubles, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 26 stolen bases, 91 OPS+, 3.2 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1997, 1998, 1999, but only for the stolen bases and success rates.
Career WAR: 1.2. Yes, one point two.
Primary position: middle infielder (played a little more second base than shortstop).
Honoraria and claims to fame: one All-Star selection, led NL in stolen bases three times, triples once, singles once.
Postseason glory: member of five postseason teams, including the 2001 World Series champion Diamondbacks. Hit .212 / .250 / .276 in 40 games, 167 PA, with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 6 RBI, and 4 stolen bases. Signature moment came in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, when Womack slashed a double to right field off Mariano Rivera, scoring the tying run, and moments later the Snakes were champions.

Womack's only significant skill was his basestealing -- his career success rate is 83%, par with Raines, and over the three seasons when he led the NL in steals (1997-99) his aggregate was 87%. Those are fantastic numbers -- but those are the only fantastic numbers he has in his Hall candidacy, and they're not nearly enough.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

27. Eric Young (career statistics)

Writers ballot rookie.

Career: 15 seasons, 1992-2006 -- Los Angeles Dodgers 1992 & 1998-99, Colorado Rockies 1993-97, Chicago Cubs 2000-01, Milwaukee Brewers 2002-03, San Francisco Giants 2003, Texas Rangers 2004 & 2006, San Diego Padres 2005-06.
Peak season: 1996 -- .324 / .393 / .421, 113 runs, 184 hits, 23 doubles, 8 HR, 74 RBI, 53 stolen bases, 98 OPS+, 3.8 WAR.
Other outstanding seasons: 1995, 1998, 2000, though only if we don't look too closely.
Career WAR: 17.0.
Primary position: second base.
Honoraria and claims to fame: one All-Star selection, one NL Silver Slugger for second base, led NL in stolen bases once, triples once. Stole six bases in one game in 1996, including consecutive steals of second, third, and home.
Postseason glory: Member of two postseason teams, and did really well, providing .409 / .458 / .727 in seven games, 24 PA, with 2 HR and 5 RBI. But both teams, the 1995 Rockies and the 2005 Padres, were eliminated in the Division Series.

Young was barely a league-average hitter, a pretty good but not elite base stealer (career rate 73%), and an adequate fielder. He had a good career, but not nearly a great one, and I can think of only one item to add -- his son, Eric Jr., has been a Rockies part-time player for the past three seasons. Young was a father at 18, and he's gotta be prouder than punch that his boy is following his footsteps. The son is no better a player, but he's in the majors. That's better than any honors.

Chipmaker's vote: no.

Wrapping up

My candidates: Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Dale Murphy, Tim Raines, Tim Salmon, Lee Smith, Larry Walker, and Bernie Williams -- which, unfortunately, is eleven names, so I have to cut one. I already decided Salmon is my last choice, so, yes, I have to toss Salmon off the boat.

We learn the results later today, Monday, January 9.