Biertempfel's Hall of Fame ballot: 6 checkmarks this year
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.