Now that it’s OK to say you’re a liberal without being forced to live in an underground bunker, I will go ahead and admit it: I am a liberal, especially when it comes time to vote for the Hall of Fame. For the 12th straight December, I will have the privilege of casting a Hall of Fame ballot by virtue of having at least 10 consecutive years of membership in the Baseball Writers Association of America.

While many voters prefer to mark very few names on their ballot, I’m different. Perhaps my standards are lower, but I believe there a number of deserving players who have been shut out of Cooperstown. Rather than going into detail on every player in the history of the game who I feel should have a plaque in the Hall, I’ll instead let you in on the eight players who I am going to vote for in this year’s election. The results will be announced January 12, and players must be named on at least three-quarters of the ballots in order to be inducted. Here is my list, in alphabetical order:

  • Harold Baines:
    I have long believed that Baines was a decent but not great baseball player. Part of my rationale comes from him having spent his career as a designated hitter. On the other hand, Paul Molitor also served as a DH more than he played at any other position, and I did not think twice about voting for him. The DH has been around for 35 years now, the Major League Baseball Players Association will never agree to make it go away, and I don’t think the players who serve in that role should be penalized.

    Baines ranks 40th on the all-time hits list with 2,866. Every eligible player with more hits has been elected to the Hall, along with the four who are right behind him. Furthermore, Baines had a fine .289/.356/.465 line in a 22-season career, and he played in six postseasons. The more you examine Baines’ overall accomplishments, the better he looks.

  • Bert Blyleven:
    I have long been on his bandwagon, and feel he should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer, instead of still trying to get in on his 12th try with only three more chances left. He won 287 games, struck out 3,701 batters, and threw 60 shutouts. To put his numbers in perspective, consider that Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Steve Carlton are the four pitchers with more strikeouts, and Warren Spahn, Ryan, and Tom Seaver are the three post-World War II pitchers with more shutouts.

    Blyleven’s detractors point out that he never won a Cy Young Award, and he pitched in just two All-Star Games, but it has always been my belief that a player can make it to Cooperstown based on career achievement as much as on a brief burst of dominance. Thus, Blyleven is an automatic.

  • David Cone:
    I realize that this choice will raise a few eyebrows-he finished his 17-year career with just 194 wins-but bear with me. Cone’s career spanned a time when five-man rotations were the norm, and starters were only expected to pitch six good innings before handing the game off to the bullpen. It’s unfair to expect Cone to have the same kind of numbers as pitchers from previous generations.

    For a statistical point of view, ERA+ is a good way to measure the effectiveness of a modern-day pitcher, and Cone had a career 120 mark. He also finished in the top three in ERA in his league seven times. Throw in the fact that he pitched in eight postseasons, and he’s a Hall of Famer. At least in my book.

  • Andre Dawson:
    I have wavered on Dawson throughout his eight years on the ballot, but the longer he has been out of the game, the clearer my perspective has become. His 438 home runs, accomplished mostly in the pre-steroids era, and his 314 stolen bases, most of which were amassed before his knees degenerated to bone-on-bone, are impressive counting statistics. So are the 2,774 hits he had in 21 seasons; the last three spent primarily as a pinch-hitter because of his bad wheels.

    His .323 on-base percentage always gives me pause, and is definitely a negative, but eight Gold Gloves are enough of a counterbalance to his reluctance to take a walk, and tip the scales in Dawson’s favor.

  • Rickey Henderson:
    He is the only one of the 10 first-timers on the ballot who gets my vote, and he’s the easiest choice of all for reasons that go beyond owning the all-time stolen-base record with 1,406. Until that record was broken when pitchers stopped pitching to Barry Bonds, Henderson’s 2,190 walks stood as the major league record when baseball retired him following the 2003 season. (Remember that Henderson continued playing in independent leagues.) He also scored an all-time record 2,295 runs, and compiled a .401 on-base percentage in 25 seasons.

    Henderson, though, wasn’t just a slap-and-dash hitter with a good eye; he also hit 297 home runs. Although I dock him for the annoyance of always referring to himself in the third person, the numbers are too overwhelming to not put a check mark next to his name.

  • Mark McGwire:
    I have covered this ground before, but to summarize: I do not penalize a player for using steroids, or for being accused of such a thing. The Mitchell List aside, none of us will ever know exactly who used and who didn’t during the time that power numbers went out of control in the late ’90s and the early part of this decade. My educated guess is that there are plenty of players who used performance-enhancing drugs but were never even suspected, though I am not smart enough to know who they are.

    From a statistical standpoint, McGwire’s 583 career home runs, .394 on-base percentage, and .588 slugging percentage are all Hall-worthy markers. Throw in 12 All-Star Game selections and six post-season appearances, and he has my vote, whether people like it or not. I’m not a judge, juror, or jailor. I’m just a baseball writer.

  • Dave Parker:
    By writ of full disclosure, Parker was the Pirates‘ right fielder and the best player in the game in the late 1970s, which just happened to be the time when I was growing up 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh in the Fairview section of the booming metropolis of Ohioville, Pennsylvania. Thus, my most vivid memories of Parker are of him being a five-tool terror who played the game hard and was the most feared hitter in the National League, rather than the drug-using overweight guy who mercifully left town as a free agent after the 1983 season, and then dramatically turned his career back around with the Reds and Athletics.

    Parker had 2,712 hits and 339 home runs, which I consider short of Cooperstown-worthy. However, those late ’70s moments are seared into my memory, and the fact that Parker again became a productive player after falling into the drug abyss makes me cast a vote for him.

  • Tim Raines:
    I did not vote for Raines last December when he first appeared on the ballot, but the passing of another year, and some outstanding arguments made on this site by BP’s Hall of Fame guru Jay Jaffe and his JAWS system, have not only made me reconsider Raines, but they’ve made me change my mind.

    This time, I’m voting for him, and, as with Henderson, it goes beyond his 808 steals. He had a .385 OBP, but also had some pop in his bat with 713 extra-base hits. He made the All-Star Game in each of his first seven seasons, when cocaine rather than Stanozolol was the drug of choice for Raines and many other major leaguers. Raines then kicked his drug addiction and became an important part of the New York Yankees‘ World Series winners of 1996 and 1998, as he morphed into a respected elder. Upon further review, Raines belongs in Cooperstown.

And now to break down the 15 players who did not get my vote:
Seriously considered: Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Jim Rice, Lee Smith, and Alan Trammell.
Pondered for a moment: Mark Grace.
Dismissed immediately, though it was nothing personal: Jay Bell, Ron Gant, Jesse Orosco, Dan Plesac, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn, and Matt Williams.

Twenty-four free agents were offered salary arbitration by their former teams before the Monday night deadline. That was up from 17 last winter, but the only player believed to be seriously considering accepting the offer is left-handed reliever Darren Oliver of the Angels. Oliver is classified as a Type-A free agent, and is among the top 20 percent of relief pitchers according to the formula devised by the Elias Sports Bureau which takes into account statistics from the previous two seasons. The market for Oliver could become somewhat depressed because of the draft-pick compensation required of any team signing him: if a team finished among the top 15 in the major leagues in 2008, it would forfeit its first-round pick in the 2009 first-year player draft, while a team finishing among the bottom 15 would give up its second-round selection.

Furthermore, Oliver could set himself up for a raise over his 2008 salary of $2 million through an arbitration hearing, after ranking 23rd in the American League with a 2.122 WXRL. Some teams have shied away from offering arbitration to their top free agents, including the Diamondbacks, who had originally planned to do so with outfielder/first baseman Adam Dunn after acquiring him from the Reds in an August trade. The Diamondbacks knew they would not be able to re-sign Dunn at the time they dealt for him, but figured they could count on at least receiving draft-pick compensation.

A slow free-agent market that had seen only three of the 171 players who had filed signing contracts through Tuesday night, along with an even slower national economy, has now caused the Diamondbacks to reconsider. They’ll allow Dunn to sign with another team unfettered rather than risk going to arbitration after his .300 EqA, which was 15th in the National League this year while he made $13 million. “There are short-term implications. There are long-term implications,” Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes told Jack Magruder of the East Valley Tribune. “We were hoping to get the draft picks. A lot has happened in the last four months to change our analysis. We studied the marketplace.”

Are compensation picks worth the risk of offering arbitration to a free agent? The answer has been yes many times, including these four instances:

  • The Rockies signed left-hander Mike Hampton in the 2000-01 offseason, and the Mets drafted third baseman David Wright with a compensation pick. Wright has amassed 47.5 WARP3 in six seasons, while Hampton managed 6.7 in two years with the Rockies before being unloaded to the Braves through the Marlins in a three-way trade following the 2002 season. Net gain: 40.8 WARP3 for the Mets.

  • The Padres signed shortstop Kurt Stillwell in the 1991-92 offseason, and the Royals drafted outfielder Johnny Damon with a compensation pick. Stillwell had a -0.6 WARP3 in less than two full years with the Padres, and was released during the 1993 season, while Damon accumulated 31.5 WARP3 in six seasons with the Royals from 1995-2000. Net gain: 32.1 WARP3 for the Royals.

  • The Reds signed left-hander John Smiley in the 1992-93 offseason, and the Twins drafted outfielder Torii Hunter with a compensation pick. Smiley had 17.8 WARP3 in five season with the Reds, and Hunter had 47.0 WARP3 in 11 seasons with the Twins from 1997-2007. Net gain: 29.2 WARP3 for the Twins.

  • The Giants signed left-hander Bud Black in the 1990-91 offseason, and the Blue Jays drafted outfielder Shawn Green with a compensation pick. Black had just 5.1 WARP3 in four seasons with the Giants, while Green had 31.0 WARP3 in seven seasons with the Blue Jays from 1993-99. Net gain: 25.9 WARP3 for the Blue Jays.

Today marks the one-month anniversary of Ruben Amaro Jr. taking over for Pat Gillick as GM of the defending World Series champion Phillies. Amaro has kept busy during that time by hiring a front-office staff, collaborating with manager Charlie Manuel on two changes to the coaching staff, and making a challenge trade of minor league outfielders in which the Phillies shipped speedy Greg Golson to the Rangers for power-hitting John Mayberry Jr.

While Amaro’s primary focus is trying to re-sign left-hander Jamie Moyer as a free agent, he has also talked to right fielder Jayson Werth and set-up reliever Ryan Madson about signing contract extensions before they can become free agents at the end of next season. Amaro has surrounded himself with a group of front-office veterans in picking his assistant GMs: former Rays GM Chuck LaMar, Scott Proefrock, and Benny Looper.

Amaro says that his new job has not been overwhelming; he feels he had been prepared during his 10 years as a Phillies assistant GM under Ed Wade (now the Astros‘ GM), and Gillick. “It’s been challenging and fun,” Amaro told Todd Zolecki of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “At the same time, we still have work to do. We have things to deal with regarding our roster. We’re trying to improve our club, but it’s been a challenge. Nothing has been real surprising. It’s been interesting. I’ve been fortunate to bring on the people I’ve been able to bring on. I give [club president Dave Montgomery] a lot of credit for allowing me to move on a variety of things.”

AL Rumors and Rumblings: Though the White Sox have a trade in place to ship right-hander Javier Vazquez to the Braves, they aren’t done dealing, and there are whispers that they are working on a blockbuster that would send closer Bobby Jenks and right fielder Jermaine Dye to the Mets for a package that would include center-field prospect Fernando Martinez. … The Indians figure to be serious players when closer Francisco Rodriguez begins taking bids as a free agent next week during the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. … The Orioles are willing to help broker a deal that would enable the Cubs to acquire right-hander Jake Peavy from the Padres if Chicago agrees to send shortstop Ronny Cedeno and center fielder Felix Pie to Baltimore. … It appears the Red Sox and Yankees will be the last two teams in the bidding for right-hander Derek Lowe on the free-agent market. … The Rangers will not go more than two years in their bid to re-sign Milton Bradley, but the outfielder/designated hitter reportedly is looking for a four-year, $40 million contract. … The Red Sox are considering infielder Willie Bloomquist and outfielder Jay Payton on the free-agent market for bench help. Also in the picture is infielder Mark Loretta, who is attracting interest from the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Phillies, and Pirates.

NL Rumors and Rumblings:
The Braves won’t be done shopping for starting pitching once they complete the trade for Vazquez; they also continue to hotly pursue free-agent A.J. Burnett. … The Giants’ fallback plan at shortstop is to sign Edgar Renteria if fellow free agent Rafael Furcal decides to go elsewhere. … The Pirates are looking to trade their double-play combination of shortstop Jack Wilson and second baseman Freddy Sanchez. The Tigers and Orioles are showing interest in Wilson, while the Dodgers have backed off. … The Rockies are still open to trading third baseman Garrett Atkins, and he could wind up with the Twins or Indians if either team fails to sign Casey Blake as a free agent. … The Reds have entered the bidding for free-agent left-handed reliever Arthur Lee Rhodes.

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As a fellow liberated liberal I\'m with you on Rickey, Blyleven, McGwire, Dawson and Raines (in that order), but I can\'t quite get to Baines, Parker or Cone (I\'d consider Morris and Trammell ahead of them, but I think the first five are the only truly deserving players). Kudos for not jumping on the Rice bandwagon......
John, I just don\'t understand the Dave Parker pick. All of his stats point to \"no\" regarding the Hall, but since you\'ve had some dreamy nights in the late 70\'s, you think those moments put him over the top. Him being the \"most feared hitter in the NL\" is the same argument that people are using for the induction of Jim Rice and to a lesser extent, Jack Morris (Morris\' case has boiled down to one damn game). I\'d be embarrassed with that pick, actually. When advocates for a player fail to prove his greatness with numbers, they fall back on cherry picking stats or on feelings, which are not measureable, nor should they be. There are reasons why people are making fun of the BRAA.

Also, .323 OBP is an IMMEDIATE no for Dawson. No one should get extra credit for being injured. Why should they? Him being regulated to the DH should have made him concentrate on being a better hitter. I\'ll qualify myself by being a Cub fan who loved to watch him play (he should NOT have won MVP in 1987).

If all your picks were put in, the Hall of Fame would have lowered their standards which is an injustice to the deserving players who are enshrined. I expected better from a writer of BP.
I think it is a lot easier to vote for a player if you know your vote wont make a difference. In the case of a guy like Rice, where there is reason to believe his inclusion may be determined by a couple of votes, you have to be discerning. For a long shots, I don\'t see a problem with letting you opinion be influenced by the little boy inside who thinks Dave Parker was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
John, as has become increasingly apparent with the results of recent seasons, both the results of awards voting and postseason appearances are poor proxies for actual greatness. We should know better in this day and age. Chase Utley was much better than the fifteenth most valuable player in the NL this year, Nate McLouth was not one of the three best defensive outfielders in the NL, Joe Mauer is more valuable than Justin Morneau, Derek Jeter should not get credit for his Gold Gloves.

I\'m interested in how you weighed the context of the ballot. This is Jim Rice\'s last year on the ballot, and if his credentials were enough to warrant serious consideration, then shouldn\'t the fact that this is Rice\'s last attempt put him above names like Cone, Baines, Dawson and Parker? It\'s not like these guys won\'t be there next year. As a fan of Rice, I\'m very disappointed in your ballot, but I look forward to your thoughts on how this went into the decision making process.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me that the Chisox/Mets deal is a possibility. Jenks/Dye would provide so much to this team, and if they can make the deal work without trading a core player or top pitching prospect (like Niese), I\'d give Chicago anything else they want to make this happen.
A lineup of Reyes, 2B, Wright, Beltran, Dye, Delgado, Church, C, P looks great to me.

FWIW- my standard for \"PED users for the Hall\" would be: If the player was found to be using them while they were explicitly illegal and tested for- no vote. Otherwise, vote on the merits.
So much wrong with your Hall of Fame analysis.

1. Gold gloves as a measure of defensive talent? And as a counterweight to a miserable OBP for Andre Dawson?

2. Personal memories as a counterweight to a lack of production for Dake Parker.

3. Using pitching in eight postseasons as a point in favor of Cone when he was just lucky to play on some really good teams (not that he didn\'t pitch well mind you).

4. Saying we shouldn\'t penalize DHs for the position they play. We shouldn\'t outright penalize them, but we should factor in that they accumulate no defensive value whereas fielders actually do. If a DH puts up incredible hitting stats that compare favorably to the combined hitting+fielding of another player, they\'re a Hall of Famer. Baines certainly is not in that category.

Those are four bad arguments to push four marginal players into the Hall, further diluting the talent pool and making it more likely further marginal players will be included in the future.
\"I\'m not a judge, juror, or jailor. I\'m just a baseball writer.\" Very cool. But you shouldn\'t admit that you\'re open to having your mind changed by a good argument by a non-insider. You can get your ballot revoked for that kind of behavior.
John - appreciate you explaining your reasoning behind your ballot, but a ballot that includes Baines, McGwire, Parker and Dawson - and not Jim Rice, is just flat out very seriously flawed. Parker perhaps being the most outrageous in that his prime years were the same era as Rice\'s prime years, and their numbers are not comparable. Whether intentional or not, BaseballProspectus has become the leader of the anti-Rice movement and I just don\'t get it. To remind, and borrowed from the Red Sox PR dept:

Rice ranked among the top five in AL MVP voting in 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1983, and 1986. He is the only player to finish among the top five in AL voting at least five times between 1963-2005. He is one of 16 major leaguers to place among the top five in MVP voting at least six times. Of the 12 Hall of Fame-eligible players on this list, 11 are in Cooperstown, including eight who were elected on the first ballot. Rice is the only exception.Rice is one of only 10 players to lead a league in runs, hits, home runs, and RBIs over a 14-year span. He and Rafael Palmeiro are the only players to accomplish the feat who are not in the Hall of Fame. Among the eight Hall of Famers on this list, five were elected on the first ballot.Rice is one of 14 players to post four or more seasons of 200 hits and 100 RBIs. Among the retired players on this list, only Rice and Steve Garvey are not in the Hall of Fame.From 1975-86, Rice was the most dominant player in the AL. During that stretch, he led the league in 12 categories and ranked among the top five in two others. He led the league over that period with 350 home runs, but unlike most sluggers of his day, he ranked fourth with a .304 batting average. He collected the most hits over that period and also ranked first with a .520 slugging percentage. He legged out 73 triples, including 15 in 1977 and 1978.
I\'d love to hear the argument from folks who vote \'Yes\' on Rice but don\'t give Albert Belle a second glance.

I don\'t think either should get in, imho.
As I noted earlier (and this past season provides ample evidence to support the assertion), a player\'s finish in MVP voting is a very poor proxy for actual impact and value. As for the Red Sox organization PR, we should all realize that \"my player and a bunch of hall of famers are the only ones to reach this combination plateau of cherry picked stats\" argument is one of the logically weaker arguments for Hall of Fame inclusion even though it looks nice.

The Politics Of Glory has been out for almost fifteen years, haven\'t we learned yet? We have advanced metrics now, lets use them, folks!

(Note, I have no comment regarding Baines/Parker/Dawson vs Rice.. they\'re all rather marginal IMO)
Yeah...I\'m kind of surprised to see this kind of article posted here and not, say, on ESPN or anywhere else on the internet. Baines? He\'s Rusty Staub or Al Oliver, except he didn\'t even bother *trying* to play in the field for most of his career. If you\'re so \"liberal\" that you\'d put all three of THOSE guys in, you shouldn\'t get a vote.

Parker? First, it\'s impossible to justify including Parker but not Rice. And second, it\'s really hard to justify including either one and not Lynn, Evans, Murphy, Allen, Belle, Frank Howard, and about 20 other guys who did all the same things those two guys did better than they did. Again, people have differing opinions about how inclusive the Hall should be, and that\'s fine, but if you really want to include ALL of those guys, you\'re trying to create a wholly different institution and probably shouldn\'t be involved with the shaping of this one.

No need to even touch why a \"liberal\" voter would leave Trammell off (or have left Raines off for even one year -- kudos on coming around on him and voting for McGwire, though, I guess).

I think one can actually make a rational argument for Cone (though you can also argue against him quite forcefully without going outside his own generation at all, and only three SPs whose careers started after 1910 pitched so few innings, and they were all terrible choices). I\'d just like to see it actually made. His ERA+ is impressive and all, but so is Saberhagen\'s and Steib\'s and Key\'s and Appier\'s. The argument can start there, but definitely doesn\'t end there.
I should say \"only three SPs whose careers started after 1910 and whose names weren\'t Sandy Koufax pitched so few innings.\" The others are Lemon, Dizzy and Gomez.
Why can\'t an article like this get posted here?

No room for different opinions or approaches?

Hive mentality gets boring after awhile.
You see plenty of different opinions here. It\'s just that most of them are supported, or at least supportable, by something.
More to the point, you get this kind of stuff everywhere else you look. ESPN, Sportsline, Fox Sports, most fan blogs, anywhere. I come here precisely TO get a different opinion and approach from the blather that goes on most other places. This is just more of the same.
I respect your opinions and reasons for voting for each player. To me, that\'s part of the fun in the offseason, debating over Hall of Fame quality players. But I don\'t know how you start talking about a player with \"he was a decent but not great ballplayer\" (Baines) and then proceed to vote for him.
That\'s why hundreds of people get to vote for the Hall. Some writers will remember players fondly because they got to watch them play every day. While I disagree with the choice of Parker, I get it.

From a phillies fan born in \'71, Andre Dawson (mostly as an Expo but a little bit as a Cub) scared the hell out of me everytime he came to the plate. I would\'ve sworn he was capable of hitting a five-run homer. No other opposing player could match the fear he brought to me as a fan. On that completely objective measure, he\'d have my imaginary vote.
Wow - Baines, Raines, Cone and Parker but not Rice? Hard to justify.
As a member in good standing of the Hall of Merit, I salute your approach to liberalism in Hall of Fame voting. After all, it is a Hall of FAME, not statistics. The Hall of Merit tries to use a more statistically based framework for voting and different voting methods to reach a Hall size equal to that of Cooperstown.
If you have not yet submitted your ballot, and are intent on voting for the 8 you mentioned, I urge you to reconsider Rice and Trammell before submitting. Rice was to the AL what Parker was to the NL. And Rice did it for longer and without that drug-slough in the middle. Trammell was simply an amazing shortstop who is unfairly overshadowed by Ripken and Ozzie Smith - similar to how Mussina was great, but not quite Clemens or Maddux.
My two cents.
I\'m with you on not only ALL your picks, but in your frame of thought on the Hall in general, John. I think MLB Hall standards (compared to other major sports) are generally too strict, and voters also seem to have difficulty making distinguishments between players from different eras. I think most of us WANT to see our favorite \"very good\" to \"excellent\" superstar-level players from every generation in the Hall, besides just the ones who are no-brainers (Ripken, Carlton, Gwynn, etc).

IN ADDITION though, I like all the guys in your Seriously Considered for induction as well, except MAYBE Lee Smith and Donnie Baseball. I ALSO want to add Ron Santo. Why he\'s not in already is amazing to me. (Veterans Committee, GET ON THE STICK already!)
A question: how much emphasis do you put on (a) position, and (b) longevity? I ask because I\'m intrigued by your selection of Parker and Baines, but not Trammell, whose shorter career and slightly worse numbers are (at least partly) made up for by his positional advantage.
\"He pitched in eight postseasons\" is really a contributing factor for voting for someone to be in the Hall of Fame? Just being on a playoff team eight times?
you say Rickey is the only first-timer on the ballot getting your vote John....but ian\'t Coney is a first-timer too? Remember he was delayed a couple years because of that one game comeback with the Mets....
I\'ve always felt that had Blyleven spent the # of years that he\'d pitched with the Twins as a Yankee instead - he\'d have been watched that much more often by that many more people and been a first ballot shoo-in. All you youngsters out there that think of him as an announcer and have never seen him pitch should see get some video of that jaw-dropping curveball that could always be counted on and never ceased to amaze.
How can anyone vote for Rice, Baines or Parker, But not Dwight Evans?
Or Alan Trammell
\"a player\'s finish in MVP voting is a very poor proxy for actual impact and value.\"

Which part of that was unclear? The MVP voters have, traditionally, not known their asses from their elbows. They look at silly teammate-dependent things like RBI totals and W\'s, and ignore actual valuable abilities like not making outs and getting the other guys out. When they get it right, it\'s by accident.

But of course, it\'s all irrelevant. When you\'re not even *allowed* to vote for Bobby Grich, but you can vote for Ron Gant, the system is too broken to ever hope to fix it.
Your comments are not far off if you are talking about the winner of the MVP award. But generally speaking, the top 5 in the voting are usually the right top 5. Maybe not the order you think is right, but all the right guys that should be in the conversation. I don\'t think you would say that Pujols\'s six top 5 finishes in 8 years was an \"accident\" by the writers. So 6 top 5 MVP finishes is absolutely relevant. It speaks to era dominance. I\'m a numbers junkie too and I get the shortcomings of the traditional stats. But what the baseballprospectus crowd sometimes forgets to properly consider is listening to the people closest to the game. There is not a pitcher from the 75 to 86 era that won\'t tell you they hated facing Jim Rice. That is meaningful. Add to that things like top 5 MVP finishes and his statistical dominance from 75 to 86, and it\'s an easy evaluation. I can\'t even believe we are talking about Jim Rice in the same context as Harold Baines. Laughable.
The real problem with the HOF is there\'s too much emphasis on this longevity stuff...Baine\'s line is kind of sucky. As long as we\'re letting every tom, dick, and harry in, since, after a half cent, they got about 2500 hits, give me Rice. Yea, he didn\'t retire 5 years ago after a half cent, but at least he did something.
Add me to the list of people who can\'t understand voting for Baines while not voting for Rice. I\'d be perfectly happy if you voted for neither of them, but if you take Rice\'s career and then add a little less than 1680 at bats of hitting .245 with two home runs and a .282 slugging percentage you get to Baines\'s final numbers. Can that dismal performance really transform a player from a non-Hall of Famer to Hall worthy? And on this one, at least, there can\'t be any argument for hidden defensive or base running contributions.
I\'m all for informed liberalism, but when you lower the standards for the HoF, you end up with the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. I\'ll never forget last year\'s inductees, who were...well, I have no idea. Enshrinement there means little outside of Canton, as far as I can tell. Baseball\'s HoF should be reserved for the truly great, not the decent or above-average. Incidentally, Dwight Evans was as good a candidate for the HoF as Tony Perez and Dave Parker. Yet he did not receive the 5% necessary to stay on the ballot for a second year. It would be great if the \"1970\'s Golden Years of Baseball\" votes would get off of Parker and Concepcion and the other above-average guys. Same for Garvey and Donnie Baseball, For me, it\'s Blyleven, Henderson, Raines, Rice, and McGwire.
gjhardy is right, there have been too many borderline Hall-of-Famers already, and this year I\'d take it a step further. Only Rickey is truly Hall-worthy out of this group, and frankly it just seems right for Rickey to be inducted by himself. If we start reaching for guys like Baines, Rice, Evans, Parker etc. I shudder to think of all the above-average guys currently playing who will all-of-a-sudden look Hall-worthy.
I\'d vote against McGwire for his negative impact on the game, frankly.
I am so happy that many of you view a players DEFENSIVE ABILITIES as being very important! A player like DICK ALLEN is more deserving than HAROLD BAINES because he played a position!
I grew up watching JIM RICE, I feel he\'s a HOFer...He was 1 of the most dominate of his time! His numbers were great until the JUICERS of the last 15(or so) years!
BLYLEVEN and JACK MORRIS too! Of course HENDERSON! I feel Rickey is 1 of the greatest ever! Again, if it wasn\'t for the JUICING OF BONDS Rickeys numbers would all that much better! I can\'t wait to hear him talk!
You all make great points! p.s. Raines is a year or 2 away!
Uggh. John, you\'re going to set liberals back another generation with MVP voting like that, not that I\'ll have a problem with that. :-)

I\'ll touch upon just one of our choices, but I have issues with a few. Voting for Baines and using Molitor as justification is poor. Yes, both accumulated quite a bit of ABs at DH, but Baines was a DH for much longer because that\'s all he could do for the bulk of his career, which is why he appeared in far more games as a DH than he did defensively. The opposite is true of Molitor, who played far more games defensively than he did as a DH. The comparison gets even worse for Baines since Molitor played the bulk of his defensive games in important infield position, including 2B, 3B and SS, and when he did play the OF, he was a CFer. He played every defensive position except for catcher, providing extra value to his manager and his team. Baines was one-dimensional. Molitor was just the opposite of that. He was fast and an excellent base runner, stealing more than 500 bases in his career and at a very high percentage. He was receiving MVP votes at 22 and at 39. He also finished his career with more than 3,000 hits and a BA over .300. Baines did not.

Molitor was a complete ballplayer whose career was extended because he could DH. Harold Baines was a fine hitter, but he was a DH. I can see voting for a player he was basically a DH. Frank Thomas was one of the best right-handed hitters I\'ve seen. He belongs, even though he\'s been mostly a DH. Edgar Martinez was more a DH than any of the players mentioned, and I\'d give him serious consideration, too. Baines? No way.
In my book, Tommy John is an automatic simply because he is the direct cause to the naming of the most fearsome surgery.