Last year, the BBA only made two recommendations for the Hall, and they ended up being the two that were actually inducted -- Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven. My ballot was a bit more expansive, as I voted for Alomar, Blyleven, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro.
This year, I mostly stuck with my picks from last year, with one addition. My ballot after the jump.
Jeff Bagwell - Welcome to Year 2 of many Hall of Fame voters voting no on Bagwell because they "just have a feeling" that something wasn't right. Bagwell played with Ken Caminiti and Roger Clemens and hit home runs, so he MUST have been using, right? This, of course, requires a blind leap in logic, and it's a leap that could get a little messy if you actually chose to be consistent with it. The Common Man at The Platoon Advantage did an excellent job of breaking down who played with alleged PED users. If you're going to leave Bagwell off your ballot because he played with a few suspected cheaters, what do you have to say about Rickey Henderson, who played with 28 PED users over the course of his career? Or Wade Boggs (14)? Cal Ripken (13)? Nolan Ryan (11)?
We don't know what Bagwell did or didn't do (and if you've been reading me for very long, you would know I don't exactly care who did something that wasn't against the rules at the time). What we do know is that he was a ridiculously good hitter, even though he played the first part of his career in an abyss. The Astrodome (and injuries during his last season) kept him from 500 career home runs, but he still posted a career line of .297/.408/.540, an OPS+ of 149, a wOBA of .406, and an ISO of .244. Those are beastly numbers that stood out even in the high-offense era in which he played.
Barry Larkin - I said it last year, and I'll say it again: if Barry Larkin spent his entire career as a Yankee instead of a Red, he'd be in on the first ballot and called one of the best shortstops to ever play. It's a shame he had to wait a couple years, but thankfully this is looking like Larkin's year to get in.
Edgar Martinez - I may dislike the DH, but I dislike the "You can't win an MVP or go into the Hall as a DH" arguments even less. Edgar could hit. He's a guy with two batting titles to his name, three OBP titles, and a ridiculous .356/.479/.628 line in 1995 that would have won him an MVP if he played 15 years later (Mo Vaughn won the award that year, despite a bWAR of 4.2, compared to Edgar's 7.7 and Albert Belle's 6.6). If you believe Martinez shouldn't get in because he's a DH, do you honestly think he'd be a HOF player if he pulled a Mo Vaughn and pretended to play defense? As one of the best DHs of all-time, who better to be the first full-time DH inductee?
Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro - See my reasoning from last season. I don't especially care who was using steroids or creatine or HGH in the 90s, just like I don't especially care who was on coke in the 80s and who was popping greenies for decades before that. If the Hall of Fame is supposed to be a record of the best players from every era, these two should be in.
Tim Raines - I didn't vote for Raines last year, and I'll readily admit it was an oversight. Raines' credentials didn't improve in the past year, but in looking over the candidates this winter, I realized I had left him off last season. Maybe it was because I was concerned over the size of my ballot, or maybe I just messed up -- I don't really remember. Raines does deserve to go in, though -- with 808 career steals and a .385 OBP, he was the rare speed guy who could actually take a walk. The length of his career -- parts of 23 seasons, spanning four decades -- makes it easy to forget just how good he was early in his career. He stole 71 bases and was only caught 11 times in 88 games during the 1981 season. He stole 90 in 104 attempts in 1983. If you're a High Peak Hall kind of person, Raines is your kind of guy -- during the 80s, there wasn't anyone better.