The 2013 Hall of Fame class will be announced shortly, and I cannot recall so much angst and soul-searching over a ballot that on its face is as star-studded and glittering as any in history. The reason, of course, is the dark shadow of performance-enhancing drugs that overhangs and taints the reputations of so many on this ballot.
There are different ways the voters will approach this looming conundrum: some will resolutely refuse to vote for those that are suspected, no matter the evidence, of “better living through chemistry.” Others will decide if there isn’t enough reason to bar these players from the ballot, then there isn’t enough reason not to vote for them if their achievements would otherwise qualify them. Some will decide to “punish” certain suspects by not granting them “first ballot” passage.
You might think I am jealous of the voters, but I am not. It is a pretty darn good year not to be voting for the Hall of Fame, all in all.
That said, there are a few players that I think are eminently well qualified and should be voted in: Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros, the kind of all-around good player who is rather under-represented, a member of the 3,000-hit club that has always served as a defining credential who was not a slugger, a player who was intelligent and skilled defensively, who moved from one premium defensive position to another and played them all well, fulfilling the needs of his club. He amassed five Silver Sluggers, four Gold Gloves, and seven All-Star Game selections. He appears to be untainted, and uncontroversial.
His long-time team-mate Jeff Bagwell who was a slugger and who amassed impressive statistics during a career that was cut short because of frequent hand injuries, does seem to labor under a cloud of suspicion. However, it must be pointed out that the 2007 Mitchell Report does not mention Bagwell.
No position is less well-represented in the Hall of Fame than shortstop, and Alan Trammell of the Detroit Tigers should be a shoo-in. He excelled in an era before the big, slugging shortstops such as Cal Ripken, Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra came to the fore. He was a four-time Gold Glover, won three Silver Sluggers, and garnered six All-Star Game selections.
I must say, though, that Trammell’s team-mate Jack Morris, down to his last chance, might find favor from the voters, but I am unconvinced that he is truly deserving. Curt Schilling, in his first year of eligibility, would be a better choice although I am not altogether convinced on his behalf, either.
In closing, let me say that Tim “Rock” Raines was second only to Rickey Henderson during the great stolen-base epoch of the 80’s and early 90’s and is well-deserving of enshrinement.