Mackey: I don't have an official Hall of Fame vote, but if I did...
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Until very recently, the Baseball Writer's Association was mostly a newspaper-driven membership. Over the past few years, the BBWAA has allowed more online-based writers into the club. I have covered baseball online for the past five years (three years as a Minnesota Twins beat writer for 1500ESPN.com), however I am not yet a member of the BBWAA. Therefore, I do not have an official Hall of Fame vote.
In other words, my opinion really doesn't matter, and this column is going to be relatively meaningless compared to the thoughts of the hundreds of credentialed BBWAA Hall of Fame voters.
That said, just for fun, here is my hypothetical 2014 Hall of Fame ballot; Who I would have voted for...
Explaining the hypothetical ballot...
The steroid era is a complicated one to judge. For one, we really have no idea how many players were using performance-enhancing drugs. And secondly, we have no idea how much those PEDs aided players. In fact, some studies even show that PEDs have no significant impact on numbers. I tend to disagree with those studies, but either way, there are just too many unknowns.
That's why I would only take potential steroid use into consideration if the player in question is a borderline Hall of Famer. Mark McGwire, for instance, is borderline in my opinion. Because we know he used steroids, I leave him off the ballot. Bonds and Clemens, on the other hand, are not borderline - they're simply two of the greatest players in major league history. Sure, perhaps with the help of performance-enhancing drugs, but on my ballot, they're in.
So, with my steroid-era stance in mind, I thought there were five no-doubters on this ballot: Bonds, Clemens, Maddux, Glavine and Thomas. Maddux's credentials (3.19 ERA, 355 wins, playoff cred, four Cy Youngs and the fourth-highest Wins Above Replacement of any pitcher in history) are even more impressive considering the era he pitched in. Glavine has post-season cred, 300 wins (for the old school crowd), the fifth-highest WAR on the ballot, and is top-10 on the ballot in "WAR-7," which sums up a player's best seven seasons. Thomas hit 500-plus home runs while batting over .300, and he owns the 19th-highest on-base percentage (.419) in baseball history. He also won two MVP Awards.
After those five, I genuinely believe at first glance you can make a case for roughly 12 more players, and these are the other five I picked:
• Piazza is perhaps the greatest-hitting catcher in baseball history. He's in.
• Only one player scored more runs than Biggio between 1985 and 2010, and that was Bonds. Nobody hit more doubles over that stretch. Biggio also stole over 400 bases and played mostly two positions - catcher and second base - in which offense is often difficult to find. In.
• Raines is fifth on the all-time stolen base list. He also scored more than 1,500 runs and was a top- two or three leadoff hitter of his era. In.
• Between 1980 and 2013, the top six pitchers according to Wins Above Replacement are Clemens, Maddux, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Schilling and Mussina. Over that same stretch, Mussina is fifth in wins (Schilling 12th), and both are top-seven in strikeouts. Schilling had 83 career complete games (more than Glavine's 56) and a ton of postseason cred. Although neither Schilling nor Mussina ever won a Cy Young Award, they combined to finish second in the voting four times. Jack Morris never finished first or second in Cy Young voting. Also, to compare across eras properly, Schilling's ERA+ was 127. Mussina's was 123. Morris' ERA+ was 105 (higher numbers are better, with 100 being average). Plus, for all the talk about Morris' Game 7 (rightfully so), Schilling owned a 2.23 career postseason ERA. And a bloody sock. Mussina and Schilling are in.
• I struggled a lot with Morris. He's a hometown guy, and I really want to believe he's a Hall of Famer. I just don't think he is. Game 7 absolutely matters, and it was one of the greatest pitching performances of all-time, but we must draw a line somewhere, and unfortunately I think the cutoff comes right before Black Jack.
I've heard the usual argument... "The eye test" - that Morris was simply dominating in the 80's. And I agree, he was really good. But my eyes also tell me Maddux, Glavine, Mussina and Schilling dominated steroid-aided hitters for the better part of two decades.
My eyes told me Morris was really, really good. He was superhuman in Game 7. From there, I go to the numbers. Between 1975 and 2005, Morris ranked 11th in wins, 15th in strikeouts, 11th in total innings and 28th among starters in Wins Above Replacement. Morris' 3.90 ERA would be the highest ERA in the Hall of Fame, and his ERA+ would be the third-worst.
I guess it depends on how exclusive we want baseball's Hall of Fame to be.
Or, not we.