Hall of Fame voters got it right

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CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 23: Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians waves to the crowd after hitting a two run home run during the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field on September 23, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

As usual, the writers got it mostly right this year in the baseball Hall of Fame balloting.

The Baseball Writers Association of America voters get their ears singed a lot over the voting process and who makes it and who doesn’t, but the process is extremely subjective and each voter is left to his own interpretations of who should get a vote and who shouldn’t.

So far, my record is perfect. Since I became a voter in 1978, every player voted into the Hall of Fame has received my vote.

But many for whom I have voted have not made it.

Nobody can argue about this year’s class of four. All four — Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman own solid Hall of Fame credentials.

Two who didn’t make it make me scratch my old head — Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff.

Yes, I am a strong and stubborn critic of the designated hitter rule and Martinez made his name as a DH for the Seattle Mariners. Despite my protestations, the DH is a position — at least in the American League — and so far Martinez is the hands-down best DH of all-time.

If relief pitchers and closers can be Hall of Famers, why not DH’s? It took Trevor Hoffman longer to make it than I expected. And next year New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera will be on the ballot and probably will receive more than 90 per cent of the votes.

Hoffman’s story, of course, began with the Cincinnati Reds. He was a shortstop. A failed shortstop. So the Reds converted him into a pitcher, but they lost him to the Florida Marlins in the 1992 expansion draft.

The Marlins made him part of a trade to the San Diego Padres for Gary Sheffield in 1993 and Hoffman went on to record 601 saves.

The other head-scratcher is Fred McGriff, a guy who played 19 years and hit .283 with 493 home runs and 1,550 RBI. There are a lot of guys with plaques with lesser numbers. I’ve voted for McGriff every year on the ballot and next year is his final year on the ballot. He won’t make it, but he gets my vote.

And to answer the question every voter gets every year, “Did you vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens?”, my answer is no and no.

Both Bonds and Clemens are creeping up on the ballots. Both were in the 50s percentile this year (a player needs to be on 75 per cent of the ballots for enshrinement).

Some will say that there already are cheaters and PED users with plaques. They didn’t get my vote.

Scott Rolen was on the ballot this year for the first time and received only 10 per cent of the vote. He received my vote.

He finished his career with the Cincinnati Reds after playing in Philadelphia, St. Louis and Toronto. His numbers are glossy, just border-line, but there are other factors.

Character is supposed to be a major measuring stick and nobody surpasses Rolen. He was one of the best clubhouse leaders I ever encountered and his teammates revered him and always went to him for advice on every facet of the game.

And Rolen was one of the best third basemen of all time — Brooks Robinson calibre. Unfortunately, defense is not much taken into consideration, so the eight Gold Gloves Rolen won at third base aren’t taken much into account.

And while on the subject of the Cincinnati Reds, it is going to be a long, long time before a member of the Reds is enshrined — unless the veterans committees suddenly realizes that Vada Pinson might be a Hall of Famer.

The next Cincinnati player probably will be Joey Votto and that’s way, way down the road. Votto still has seven years remaining on his contract and must wait five years after he retires to be eligible. So that’s at least 12 years.


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