Rutter's Hall of Fame ballot: 9 names checked this year
I'm honored to hold a vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame election for one more year. It's a privilege I received for spending more than a decade covering the sport (and 13-plus consecutive Pirates losing seasons) as a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, and it is one I do not take for granted.
Although I am no longer active in covering baseball, I take my job as a Hall of Fame voter seriously and solicit opinions from other BBWAA members and former MLB players before making a decision that is mine and mine alone.
The Hall of Fame announcement is Wednesday at 6 p.m. Voters are allowed to select up to 10 players, and my ballot for 2018 has nine names check marked.
The thing that stands out about my ballot is the inclusion of two faces from the Steroid Era: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
Bonds and Clemens are each on the ballot for the sixth time. I did not vote for them in the first year, after which I had a change of heart. I do not condone steroid use, but I also do not think the greatest players of that generation should be excluded from the Hall of Fame. Bonds and Clemens, to me, easily were the best hitter and pitcher of that era, respectively. They are my steroid exceptions.
Other holdovers from my 2017 ballot were Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman. I also checked off the names of first-year eligible players Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel. Defense cannot be overlooked (it's why Bill Mazeroski is in the Hall), and that is why Vizquel gets my vote.
My final two spots went to players who previously had never received my vote. I had a change of heart on Mike Mussina (270 wins) and Edgar Martinez (lifetime .312 hitter, two-time batting champ, five-time Silver Slugger). Mussina didn't add to his wins total and Martinez didn't accrue any more hits over the past year, but in conferring with other media members and former players, I became convinced that they were deserving of my vote.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.