If you’re a baseball fan, odds are good you have some strong opinions regarding who belongs in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The odds are equally strong that your opinion doesn’t count.
Well, neither does mine. I’m not a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, the panel responsible for voting. But that’s not going to stop me from revealing whom I would elect this year.
In the spirit of Wednesday’s Class of 2016 announcement at 6 p.m., here’s who I would put on my ballot — in alphabetical order. I’ll limit myself to 10, just like the official voters.
Jeff Bagwell (1B)
Stats: .297/.408/.540, 449 HRs, 1,529 RBIs
The slugger and 1994 NL MVP is a no-brainer. Arguably better than longtime teammate Craig Biggio, who was enshrined last year.
Cap on the plaque: Astros
Barry Bonds (LF)
Stats: .298/.444/.607, 762 HRs, 1,996 RBIs
I’ve come around on PED-linked stars. Forget morality; this is about performance. And seven NL MVP awards speak for themselves. Oh, and he’s the all-time home run king.
Cap on the plaque: Giants
Roger Clemens (P)
Stats: 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 4,672 SO
Same as Bonds. Seven AL Cy Young Awards and the 1986 AL MVP tell the tale just fine. Put “Rocket” in. I promise the Earth will keep spinning.
Cap on the plaque: Red Sox
Ken Griffey Jr. (CF)
Stats: .284/.370/.538, 630 HRs, 1,836 RBIs
If not for injuries, the 1997 AL MVP’s impressive numbers likely would have approached those of Bonds — and, presumably, without performance-enhancing drugs.
Cap on the plaque: Mariners
Edgar Martinez (DH)
Stats: .312/.418/.515, 309 HRs, 2,247 H
Perhaps the finest pure hitter of his day, Martinez quietly defined his position. Don’t punish him for not picking up a glove very often.
Cap on the plaque: Mariners
Mike Mussina (P)
Stats: 270-153, 3.68 ERA, 2,813 SO
“Moose” was a force for more than a decade. It’s a shame he only pitched for the Yankees during the eight-year gap between championships in the 2000s.
Cap on the plaque: Orioles
Mike Piazza (C)
Stats: .308/.377/.545, 427 HRs, 1,335 RBIs
One of the greatest ever at a position that doesn’t often produce eye-popping career numbers. His better seasons came with the Dodgers, but he spent more time in Queens.
Cap on the plaque: Mets
Curt Schilling (P)
Stats: 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 3,116 SO
One of the greatest postseason pitchers of the past 50 years won three rings, at least one in each league.
Cap on the plaque: Pick ’em (Phillies/D-backs/Red Sox)
Alan Trammell (SS)
Stats: .285/.352/.415, 2,365 H, 1,003 RBIs
The 1984 World Series MVP contributed with both bat and glove at an All-Star level. This is his last year, and it looks like he’ll miss out.
Cap on the plaque: Tigers
Larry Walker (RF)
Stats: .313/.400/.565, 383 HRs, 1,311 RBIs
If you’re not discounting PED use, you can’t discount the 1997 NL MVP’s numbers in the thin air at Coors Field.
Cap on the plaque: Rockies