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Rutter's Hall of Fame ballot: 9 names checked this year

Joe Rutter
| Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, 1:27 p.m.
San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds reacts to being walked in the fourth inning by the Anaheim Angels during Game 6 of the World Series in Anaheim, 26 October, 2002.
AFP/Getty Images
San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds reacts to being walked in the fourth inning by the Anaheim Angels during Game 6 of the World Series in Anaheim, 26 October, 2002.
New York Yankees starting pitcher Roger Clemens throws a pitch during an American League MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York in this  August 18, 2007 file photo.
REUTERS
New York Yankees starting pitcher Roger Clemens throws a pitch during an American League MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York in this August 18, 2007 file photo.
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.
In this Sept. 25, 2012, file photo, Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones gestures while standing on third base after teammate Freddie Freeman hit a two-run home run to beat the Marlins 4-3 and clinch a wild-card berth for the Braves, at Turner Field in Atlanta. All signs point to Jones becoming the latest member of the Atlanta Braves to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame when the next group of inductees is revealed on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)
In this Sept. 25, 2012, file photo, Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones gestures while standing on third base after teammate Freddie Freeman hit a two-run home run to beat the Marlins 4-3 and clinch a wild-card berth for the Braves, at Turner Field in Atlanta. All signs point to Jones becoming the latest member of the Atlanta Braves to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame when the next group of inductees is revealed on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, 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)
Toronto Blue Jays' Omar Vizquel during a baseball game against the Texas Rangers Saturday, May 26, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 8-7 in 13 innings. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Toronto Blue Jays' Omar Vizquel during a baseball game against the Texas Rangers Saturday, May 26, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 8-7 in 13 innings. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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)

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 jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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