Larry offered up his hall of fame ballot yesterday, so I had TNT columnist and hall of fame voter John McGrath send me his ballot with a brief explanation for each player he voted for ....
In alphabetical order, here goes:
Roberto Alomar: I chose him last year, in his first year of eligibility, when he fell eight votes shy – perhaps due to voters' misgivings about the spitting incident. No way he won't make it this time. Maybe the best all-around infielder of the 1990s, when he made the All-Star team every year and finished in Top 6 of MVP balloting five times. Speed, defense, line drives, some power – and a .300career hitter.
Jeff Bagwell: Another no-brainer, but it's a crowded field with Alomar and Blyleven on their way in, and there's always some bias against first-ballot candidates. My only concern with Bagwell is the suspicion his numbers were juiced-up by PHDs, but he always insisted he was clean, and he was never linked to the Mitchell Report. What else can I do? His record speaks for itself.
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Bert Blyleven: 3,701 strikeouts, 242 complete games, 60 shutouts. Next.
Barry Larkin: Right there with Alomar in terms of all-around talent, and he played shortstop.
Edgar Martinez: I had to laugh at Bob Ryan's recent contention that Edgar never really aroused the concern of pitchers when he came into town on road games. On teams with Griffey, Buhner, A-Rod and then later with Ichiro, Boone and Olerud in the mix, he was the MOST feared.
Fred McGriff: MVP elections, I believe, are a much more accurate barometer of a player's performance than All-Star Game invitations. In McGriff's case, he placed more times in the Top 10 of the MVP vote (six) than had trips to the All-Star Game (five). He wasn't flashy, but the guys who worked the beat determined he was among the 10 best players in the league every season between 1989 and 1994.
Dale Murphy: Over four seasons between 1982 and 1985, he hit .293, averaging 31 HR, 93 RBI and 162 games played...all while playing in the midsummer heat of Atlanta. And during the six seasons before '82 and the eight seasons after '85, he graced baseball, and its fans, with integrity, sportsmanship and humility.
John Olerud: I explained my position a few weeks ago in a column. While I'm not optimistic about his chances, it'd be a travesty if a great hitter and superior fielder were dismissed from the ballot because he didn't accumulate the 5 percent minimum.
Tim Raines: A perfect leadoff man – a switch-hitter with speed – who once won an NL batting title (.334 in 1986), my favorite Raines stat is .847: As in, his success rate on stolen-base attempts. And he stole 808 bases!
Alan Trammell: A classic case of a great shortstop whose offensive prowess has been devalued by the juice era that followed his prime. He hit .300 seven times, with two seasons of 20-plus homers and three seasons of 20-plus stolen bases, and is remembered, for those of us who remember the '84 Detroit Tigers, as the best player on one of the best teams of the 20th century.