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Biertempfel's Hall of Fame ballot: 6 checkmarks this year

| Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, 10:00 a.m.
In this Aug. 16, 2012, file photo, Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones celebrates with teammates after scoring a home run on his 2700th career hit in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, in Atlanta. All signs point to Jones being selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame when the next group of inductees is announced Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt, File)
In this Aug. 16, 2012, file photo, Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones celebrates with teammates after scoring a home run on his 2700th career hit in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, in Atlanta. All signs point to Jones being selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame when the next group of inductees is announced Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt, File)
The Phillies' Jim Thome watches his home run against the Orioles on Saturday, June 9, 2012. (AP)
The Phillies' Jim Thome watches his home run against the Orioles on Saturday, June 9, 2012. (AP)
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is introduced before being inducted into the team's Hall of Fame before a game against the  Twins on Aug. 3, 2012, in Boston.
Getty Images
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is introduced before being inducted into the team's Hall of Fame before a game against the Twins on Aug. 3, 2012, in Boston.
Baltimore Orioles' Vladimir Guerrero reacts as he crosses home plate after hitting a home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth inning of a baseball game on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Baltimore Orioles' Vladimir Guerrero reacts as he crosses home plate after hitting a home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth inning of a baseball game on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
In this Jan. 12, 2011, file photo, former baseball pitcher Trevor Hoffman speaks to journalists after announcing his retirement at Petco Park in San Diego.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
In this Jan. 12, 2011, file photo, former baseball pitcher Trevor Hoffman speaks to journalists after announcing his retirement at Petco Park in San Diego.
New York Yankees Mike Mussina delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in their baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Wednesday, June 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees Mike Mussina delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in their baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Wednesday, June 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
In this May 27, 2003, file photo, Seattle Mariners' Edgar Martinez hits a three-run home run against the Kansas City Royals in the third inning of a baseball game in Kansas City, Mo. Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero appear likely to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, and Martinez and Trevor Hoffman figure to be close to the necessary 75 percent. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga, File)
In this May 27, 2003, file photo, Seattle Mariners' Edgar Martinez hits a three-run home run against the Kansas City Royals in the third inning of a baseball game in Kansas City, Mo. Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero appear likely to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, and Martinez and Trevor Hoffman figure to be close to the necessary 75 percent. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga, File)

The latest class of inductees for the Baseball Hall of Fame will be revealed at 6 p.m. Wednesday. As a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America for more than a decade, I have a ballot.

It's a honor for the Hall to entrust me with a vote, so I don't take it lightly. I consider candidates year round and try to cull information from all kinds of sources. I use stats, I use opinions, I use historical data and I use my gut.

I appreciate historic achievements. I appreciate longevity, consistency and versatility. I consider how each player was viewed by others in the game while he played.

I don't vote for steroids users. It's cheating, it violates the integrity of the game and, worse yet, it's illegal. Barry Bonds, Rogers Clemens and Manny Ramirez have bats, balls, jerseys and photos in the Hall to mark their accomplishments. That's fine. I don't feel it's right to honor the way they played (and schemed) the game with a bronze plaque.

Did some players in bygone days enhance their performance with illegal substances? Possibly. Are some of them in the Hall? Probably. But I cannot do anything about that; I can only decide on the players on my ballot.

Every year I wrestle with the Edgar Martinez issue, and every year I do not check his box. I cannot deny that he was a great hitter. His stats trended up when he became a full-time designated hitter; I don't think that's a coincidence. It's difficult to compare his numbers against other players who spent at least half the game on the field, chasing fly balls and grounders and staying focused on the action.

Some voters believe the 10-player limit is too restrictive. I don't. A hall of fame, by its very nature, should be elitist. I'm not voting for the hall of very good home run hitters or the hall of third basemen with an above-average OPS.

Is this a perfect system? Heck no, but it's a good one. Every voter I know takes it seriously.

With that all being said, here's who made my ballot this year: Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, Curt Schilling, Trevor Hoffman and Mike Mussina.

Jones and Thome are on the ballot for the first time. I did not vote for Guerrero last year, but came around after reconsidering his case. The other three are holdovers from my previous ballots.

I went back and forth the most about Martinez and Billy Wagner. They were my final cuts.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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