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January 2, 2014
Better Versions of Bad Hall of Fame Arguments
You probably don’t have to do much guesswork to figure out what my Hall of Fame ballot will look like when the staff puts out its hypotheticals. You’d probably think that as a Baseball Prospectus writer and general citizen of the baseball internet, my ballot would be predictable down to that last spot or two, and for the most part, you’d be right. I’m not far off from the consensus saberballot.
As such, I get a little annoyed when I see an outlandish outlier ballot. But I really don’t want to. I want to banter in a space where contrary opinions are well thought out and lead to good, respectful debate, not dismissal and name-calling. To be frank and overgeneralizing, I hold the opinions for the undeserving candidates and against the deserving candidates to be bad opinions. And that could be as much on me as it is on the opinions themselves.
It made me think about whether I am—or whether we as the sarcastic internet are—able to draw any distinctions between a bad argument and an argument that we just disagree with.
So I tried my hardest to come up with some arguments for the other side that I would respect and would see as a jumping-off point for good discussion. You might find these terrible and laugh them all down like you do with those Sunday columns we all hate. None of these is taking a stance for someone like Ryan Klesko to make the Hall of Fame because nobody would ever argue that.
But if I were reading columns against Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, for Lee Smith, against Alan Trammell and for Jack Morris, to pick a few contrary arguments, I’d like to think I can come up with bits of reasoning I would disagree with but would respect and try to debate constructively.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are Hall of Famers. I mean, look at them. You have one of the two or three (or maybe one) best hitters of all time and a top-five pitcher who was voted best in his league seven times. Let’s not overthink this. But here’s what I would like to read from somebody who does not vote for them: