By Jason Wojciechowski on November 28, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Over at the BBWAA website, on the front page, you can find a list of all the people who Hall of Fame--voters are permitted to vote for this year. (If you're reading this a month from now, that link probably won't go to where the list is because the BBWAA's web game, while better than it was a year ago, is still stuck in the last century. You can find a full ballot with stats here.) Let's do two things. First, my list, real quick, of the ten players I'd vote for if I had a ballot. Second, a quick look at any and all ex-A's who can get votes. (I stole the latter idea from Marc Normandin.)
- Barry Bonds
- Roger Clemens
- Jeff Bagwell
- Mark McGwire
- Larry Walker
- Alan Trammell
- Tim Raines
- Kenny Lofton
- Edgar Martinez
- Craig Biggio
I only get ten votes. I would also vote for Curt Schilling, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mike Piazza. I did not vote for my ten strictly based on who I think is best. Rather, I left Schilling and Piazza off because I think they can get in whether I "vote" for them or not. Palmeiro may not get in because of steroid issues, but look at the rest of that ballot: Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, and McGwire are all either known users or have had enough whispers that voters seem to be dinging them. I want them all in because I don't care about the drugs, so I had to prioritize among the drug users.
As to the other six, I think everyone on my list from Walker to Biggio is in danger of not making it in. Trammell is on his 12th ballot already despite being one of the best shortstops of all time. Walker isn't nearly the creation of Coors Field that voters seem to think he is. Tim Raines ... well, Tim Raines you know about. Kenny Lofton may end up a victim of the overemphasis on power, as his .372 OBP, top-notch defense at a premium position, and baserunning may actually be missed by the same people who would decry those of us who don't care about "the little things" in our constant staring at spreadsheets. Edgar Martinez was so good a hitter that it didn't matter that he was a DH, but the voters haven't noticed. And Craig Biggio has a similar profile to Kenny Lofton.
So that's my ballot.
There are three players I mentioned above who played for the A's.
You know Mark McGwire. You remember him. Maybe you even love him as much as I do. Because he hit 70 homers for St. Louis, it may be easy to forget that he actually spent 12 years in Oakland (being traded in the middle of that 12th year), making nine All-Star teams, leading the league in homers twice, slugging three times, and even on-base percentage once. He also stole eight bases as an Athletic, though he went a perfect four-for-four in St. Louis.
Mike Piazza and Tim Raines aren't in McGwire's class as Athletics. Piazza spent his age-38 year in Oakland, had his worst OPS+ of any season in which he batted more than 75 times, and got hurt trying to play first base. (First base! Even Prince Fielder can play first base!) Raines was 39 and had his second-worst season in which he batted at least 30 times. (And his worst to date -- the only year surpassing his 1999 numbers in badness was 2002 in Florida.) You would be forgiven for having few fond memories of either player.
Farther down the ballot is ... wait just a damn minute. There are no other ex-A's on here! What the garbage, man? Royce Clayton played for 11 teams and never made it to Oakland until he stood in for Miguel Tejada in Moneyball? Julio Franco was in the bigs until he was 48 (granted that he basically missed all of 1998 through 2000 on walkabout) and never signed a deal with the A's? Todd Walker played 12 years and ... wait, he did play for Oakland?
Huh, you're right. Todd Walker got in 18 games for the A's in 2007, had a 580 OPS, and was designated for assignment to make room for Dallas Braden. Walker played mostly first base, of all places. By bWAR, Walker has the lowest career value of any player on the ballot, even below Jose Mesa, a reliever. He also has the lowest bJAWS (I'm calling it rJAWS to note that it's JAWS built from bWAR. JAWS, in case you missed it, is Jay Jaffe's Hall of Fame rating system that balances a player's career WAR or WARP with his best seven seasons (non-consecutive). The idea is to come out with a single number that values the career value and peak value positions on Hall of Fame voting equally. It's not the end of the story, but it's at the very least a nice place to begin) of any player on the ballot.
You have to admit that it's pretty funny that two players on the Hall of Fame ballot, one of whom should be in the Hall, finished their careers in Oakland, and one other who should also be in the Hall had one of his wind-down seasons there. And the only other player on the ballot who played in Oakland started there but was traded away. Story of the A's life!