IBWAA Hall of Fame – Class of 2014 – My Vote | Respect the Crown | Sports Unbiased

IBWAA Hall of Fame – Class of 2014 – My Vote

IBWAA CardThe Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) recently sent out their ballot for the IBWAA Baseball Hall of Fame (results to be announced in January).  The IBWAA was created by Howard Cole in 2009 as an alternative to the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) and is open to anyone who writes about to baseball to join (for a fee). 

In 2010, the IBWAA began voting for their own Hall of Fame with Bert Blyleven gaining induction (a year before he gained inducted into Cooperstown by the BBWAA), in 2011 Roberto Alomar was inducted, and then in 2013, Mike Piazza was inducted (and he still hasn’t been inducted into Cooperstown).  No player was inducted in 2012. 

This past year I joined the IBWAA and thus am able to not only vote in the annual MLB IBWAA awards, but also for the Hall of Fame.  I immediately opened my ballot, filled it in, and submitted it.  After I did so, I couldn’t believe I finally had a vote for the Hall of Fame!  Granted, it’s not for Cooperstown, but my vote still counts towards a Hall of Fame induction – kind of mind boggling when I think about it.

The rules for the IBWAA ballot are the same – maximum of 10 players can be voted for induction on each ballot and each player needs 75 percent to gain induction.  Here’s the list of players on the ballot (it basically mirrors the “real” Hall of Fame ballot with one exception – Barry Larkin still has not received induction):

  • Moises Alou
  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Armando Benitez
  • Craig Biggio
  • Barry Bonds
  • Sean Casey
  • Roger Clemens
  • Ray Durham
  • Eric Gagne
  • Tom Glavine
  • Luis Gonzalez
  • Jacques Jones
  • Todd Jones
  • Jeff Kent
  • Barry Larkin
  • Paul Lo Duca
  • Greg Maddux
  • Edgar Martinez
  • Don Mattingly
  • Fred McGriff
  • Mark McGwire
  • Jack Morris
  • Mike Mussina
  • Hideo Nomo
  • Rafael Palmeiro
  • Tim Raines
  • Kenny Rogers
  • Curt Schilling
  • Richie Sexson
  • Lee Smith
  • J.T. Snow
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Frank Thomas
  • Mike Timlin
  • Alan Trammell
  • Larry Walker

IBWAA members are free to release their ballots publicly, and that’s the intent of this article.  I will tell you who I voted for and why, and why I didn’t vote for others.

Let’s start with those players I was able to immediately say “No” for and not even consider.  These players are not Hall of Famers and if they receive any votes at all, I doubt they’ll approach five percent total.  They may have had spurts of greatness and even may have had decent careers, but they aren’t in the anyone’s minds as a Hall of Famer.

  • Jacques Jones
  • Todd Jones
  • Richie Sexson
  • J.T. Snow
  • Mike Timlin

Then I looked at those players that I needed to at least think about for a minute before saying “No” to.  These are players that I had to at least re-familiarize myself with their careers just to make sure I’m not missing a “quiet” Hall of Famer – the players that I pretty much knew wouldn’t get my vote but I needed to make sure.

  • Moises Alou
  • Armando Benitez
  • Sean Casey
  • Ray Durham
  • Eric Gagne
  • Luis Gonzalez
  • Paul Lo Duca
  • Hideo Nomo

Eliminating those players from the list because they all fell short for different reasons, left me with the guys who are “borderline” or clear-cut Hall of Famers:Greg Maddux

  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Craig Biggio
  • Barry Bonds
  • Roger Clemens
  • Tom Glavine
  • Jeff Kent
  • Barry Larkin
  • Greg Maddux
  • Edgar Martinez
  • Don Mattingly
  • Fred McGriff
  • Mark McGwire
  • Jack Morris
  • Mike Mussina
  • Rafael Palmeiro
  • Tim Raines
  • Curt Schilling
  • Lee Smith
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Frank Thomas
  • Alan Trammell
  • Larry Walker

That’s 22 players who at least need to be considered for the Hall of the Fame and with a 10-player limit, this was going to be tough.  However, I have a rule that anyone who tested positive for PEDs/steroids (including the 2003 anonymous test), admitted use (either knowingly or unknowingly), or appeared on the Mitchell Report, will never receive my vote so I removed the following players from the list:

  • Barry Bonds
  • Roger Clemens
  • Mark McGwire
  • Rafael Palmeiro
  • Sammy Sosa

If you don’t like how I handle the Steroid Era players, feel free to join the IBWAA and vote for them how you see fit!  Every person is different for how they choose to handle players from this era, I simply choose to use actual facts (positive tests or admissions) and not just innuendo based on hat size or body style.

So that left 17 players to consider voting for:

  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Craig Biggio
  • Tom Glavine
  • Jeff Kent
  • Barry Larkin
  • Greg Maddux
  • Edgar Martinez
  • Don Mattingly
  • Fred McGriff
  • Jack Morris
  • Mike Mussina
  • Tim Raines
  • Curt Schilling
  • Lee Smith
  • Frank Thomas
  • Alan Trammell
  • Larry Walker

I then removed the “Hall of Very Good Players” – these are the players that are borderline Hall of Famers, but fall short in my opinion for different reasons (peak wasn’t “long enough” due to injury, only true greatness was pitching a lot of innings including a 10-inning shutout in the World Series, etc.).  They are the players that will never receive my vote:

  • Don Mattingly
  • Jack Morris
  • Lee Smith

So now the list is down to 14 players:

  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Craig Biggio
  • Tom Glavine
  • Jeff Kent
  • Barry Larkin
  • Greg Maddux
  • Edgar Martinez
  • Fred McGriff
  • Mike Mussina
  • Tim Raines
  • Curt Schilling
  • Frank Thomas
  • Alan Trammell
  • Larry Walker

Now we can look at each player individually and see if I voted for them or not, and my reasoning why.  We’ll start with the players that did get my vote (in alphabetical order):

Jeff Bagwell:  One of the best first basemen from the 1990s/2000s.  The only steroid rumors are in the minds of some BBWAA voters so I’m not sure why he hasn’t received more support in Hall of Fame voting.  He was simply one of the most feared hitters during his time and he could do it all – hit for average and power, and was a surprisingly good base runner for someone his size.

Craig Biggio:  Biggio was more than just a second baseman.  He was also a pretty good catcher and center fielder too.  This is why I think he didn’t get enough support his first time around – he’s not tied to a single position.  He hit the magic number of over 3,000 hits and was a pretty good overall player that didn’t do a single thing great – he did many things very well and that hurts him in the eyes of some voters.

Barry Larkin:  Really surprised that Larkin made the real Hall of Fame before the IBWAA Hall of Fame.  Larkin was better offensively than Cal Ripken and was just behind Ozzie Smith defensively so he gets lost because he played at the same time as those two short stops.  The only knock against Larkin was his health (especially compared to Ripken), but when he played he was better than Ripken and should easily gain induction this time around.

Greg Maddux:  Maddux is easily among the top-5 pitchers of all-time.  He had some of the greatest seasons ever for a starting pitcher at the height of the Steroid Era.  He wasn’t a power pitcher, but his K/BB ratio was fantastic.  Add to that the fact he was the greatest defensive pitcher in MLB history and you have what should be a unanimous induction (though we know that won’t happen).

Edgar MartinezEdgar Martinez:  The best designated hitter in MLB history (yes, I think he’s better than Ortiz).  I know some people don’t think of the DH as a “real” baseball player and thus won’t vote for Martinez and they would be wrong.  When you have an award named after you (MLB’s Edgar Martinez Award goes to the best designated hitter in the league each season), you should be in the Hall of Fame.

Tim Raines:  Raines’ issue was he wasn’t Rickey Henderson, though no one else in history was.  If Raines played at any other point in history, he would have already been inducted but he had the bad luck of playing at the same time as Rickey.  Raines did everything that Rickey did, but at a slightly lower level.

Frank Thomas:  Should easily gain induction unless voters hold his time at DH against him.  He was the best first basemen in baseball for many years and even though he had the “body type” there is no steroid suspicions regarding him.  Thomas going in to the Hall of Fame with Bagwell is excellent because their careers happened at the same time and they were the two best first basemen in the game at the time.

Alan Trammell:  I’m really surprised he doesn’t get greater support.  He’s another player that has lost support simply because of who else was playing the position at the same time.  In Trammell’s case this is Ozzie Smith and Cal Ripken, and then Barry Larkin.  Those shortstops were clear cut Hall of Famers and were above Trammell, but this doesn’t mean Trammell’s career wasn’t Hall of Fame worthy. 

So that was eight players that got my vote for the IBWAA Hall of Fame leaving six players that didn’t get my vote:

  • Tom Glavine
  • Jeff Kent
  • Fred McGriff
  • Mike Mussina
  • Curt Schilling
  • Larry Walker

I didn’t vote for Glavine because I didn’t want to put him into the Hall of Fame at the same time as Maddux.  I consider Maddux a top-5 pitcher of all-time but not Glavine and even though they were teammates, in my mind the difference between the two is so great that they shouldn’t go in to the Hall of Fame at the same time.  I will vote for him the next ballot that doesn’t have a top-5 pitcher on it (so because of Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez next year, Glavine will get my vote in 2016).

I didn’t vote for Jeff Kent simply because I didn’t want to give him “first ballot” status.  I do think he’s a Hall of Fame second baseman, I’m just not sure what ballot to put him in on.

I came very close to voting for Fred McGriff.  He was hitting over 30 homeruns a season when that meant something and fell short of 500 for his career.  McGriff is overlooked because he was sandwiched between players like Don Mattingly in the 1980s and then Frank Thomas/Jeff Bagwell in the 1990s/2000s.  Without the Steroid Era, McGriff would have had some of the best power numbers from that time period.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever vote for him, but it will be a close call every year.

Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling were a close call.  If I had to choose one to vote for, it would be Mussina.  While Schilling was a beast in the post-season, Mussina was so consistent in the regular season and is probably one of the most underrated pitchers to come from that time period.  If Schilling ever does get my vote, it will be solely for his post-season accomplishments (his regular season numbers were pretty good, but they don’t scream Hall of Famer).  I’m not sure if Schilling will ever get my vote, but I do believe Mussina will one day (after Glavine).

Larry Walker was another very close call.  He was one of the best right fielders but the “Coors Effect” has to be taken into account.  While many players have had tremendous home/road splits (Ted Williams for instance), the drop when Walker was on the road was much greater than for other players (Williams was still a fantastic hitter on the road but Walker was simply average).  Walker may one day get my vote, but I’m not sure when that day will ever come.

So, what do you think?  Do you agree or disagree with my choices?  Feel free to leave a comment and also list who you would have voted for if given the chance.  Remember to check the IBWAA in January when the results are announced – will Barry Larkin finally make it?  Will Greg Maddux be unanimous?  Will Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens break the steroid barrier?

About the Author: Rich Stowe

Rich Stowe has written for many sports-based websites over the years including Informative Sports.com, Sports Nickel.com, Dugout Report.com and was a Featured Columnist for MLB and the New York Yankees for Bleacher Report. Rich is a Lifetime member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA). He is also a self-published author - his book "From Abused Puppy to Beloved Family Member: The Life Story of Jacob the Rottweiler" can be found for the Kindle and in print through amazon.com.