Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening – whichever is applicable to you. I love Fantasy Baseball. I love the offseason prep work, the draft room strategy, the in-season grind, and the euphoria that comes with another title. These things fill my heart with happiness, and this outlet gives me the opportunity to share my passion on to others.
At the very heart of this hobby is the game I have loved for as long as I can remember. Nearly all of my most fondest childhood memories involve baseball. Growing up, Wiffle Ball games were a daily occasion, organized by an older group of kids who always welcomed my group with open arms. We would spend hours upon hours giving all we had. When I was nine, a once in a lifetime friendship started as I came to find out that the “new kid” from Indiana had a passion for baseball. For the next seven years I spent more time with him than I did my own siblings. From HR derby to fielding grounders our days were spent with a ball in hand, and the nights featured countless trades of Jerome Walton Rookie Cards for another Don Mattingly 1987 Topps.
During that same time frame I had the pleasure of calling my best-friend a teammate and his Dad, Coach. I now live right beside that baseball field, and there’s not a single day that goes by that I don’t think of something wonderful that I experienced there. My parents were not baseball fans. In fact, neither had any interest in any sport. Despite this fact, on several occasions each and every year they would take me to games and stopped at every baseball card shop along the way.
For those who have held on to see where this is going – I’m sure you have many similar stories. I feel that at the heart of anyone with a passion for Fantasy Baseball is the love for the game. Those of you who came here in hopes of finding something of value for draft day will be disappointed. For those familiar with my work and expect nothing of value, this post will be par for the course.
Today I’m not breaking down the top-10 middle infield options or analyzing the supporting cast of Mike Trout. Today I am casting a Hall Of Fame Ballot, a ballot that much like my fantasy advice, means nothing. It counts for nothing; it doesn’t make the world a better place, but it sure as hell makes my heart happy. So sit back, have a drink, and let the debate begin. There’s a Comment Section fellas – let’s fill it…..
* Steroids were created in the 1930’s have been rampantly used in all sports at one point or another, but the only one left with a black-eye is baseball. So now anyone who played during this sports writer created “Steroid Era” has this cloud of doubt. Personally, I wouldn’t penalize anyone for the use of steroids. I’ve always been a believer that “good is good”. Marvin Benard was busted for steroids, I don’t recall him chasing HR history at any point. I’m confident steroids make you better, but I’m also confident they don’t turn a fringe MLB talent to a perennial All-Star. Keeping that in mind, here is my 2017 Ballot “that means nothing”.
Barry Bonds – Bonds was undoubtedly the greatest hitter of his generation. As the years pass I feel that more and more fans will be willing to acknowledge Bonds place in the game. In turn, voters will become more willing to acknowledge the greatness of Bonds’s even if the period wasn’t the games brightest moments. Should Bonds fail to make the hall, he will join the likes of Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, as a symbol of injustice for an entire generation.
Curt Schilling – Schilling is the prime example of the hypocrisy involved with the Hall Of Fame process. Writers discredit all offensive numbers due to the steroid cloud surrounding them. Yet, here we have a pitcher who managed to win 215 Games, averaging 15 Wins a season while posted a 3.46 ERA during a span when the league ERA for a starter was north of 4.25. Is it because his 11 post season wins and 2.23 ERA wasn’t good enough? Or is it a case of him being vocal about things he believes in and those same views aren’t accepted by all?
Roger Clemens – Baseball is a numbers based game. Before analytics became all the rave, statistical milestones were used to determine greatness. For Pitchers 300 Wins and 4,000 K’s were only the property of the elite. Clemens had 354 Wins and 4672 K’s – those marks rank 9th and 3rd all-time.
Vladimir Guerrero – Does not have the slam dunk statistical profile most likely believe, but he possesses the “It factor” for me. From 2000-2007 he finished in the top-5 of MVP voting 4 times and won the AL version in 2004. His plate approach was questionable having generated more than 70 BB only twice, yet he K’d more than 80 times just twice and finished with a career .318 AVG and an OPS of .931.
Ivan Rodriguez – Sometimes we undervalue the catcher position, often holding their offensive prowess in the same regards as position players. Simply put, we don’t value them often amongst just catchers. I know I’ve been guilty with this in the past when viewing Pudge’s HOF case, but I’ve adjusted myself to this idea in recent years. With that being said, I see no reasonable explanation Rodriguez should not be Cooperstown bound. Rodriguez’s 68.6 Career WAR is greater than that of last season’s HOF inductee Mike Piazza and compares very favorably to Johnny Bench’s 75 mark.
Tim Raines – Growing up I knew that at one point Tim Raines had been a superstar. All of my baseball cards referenced it as Raines seemed to be a fixture on those multi-player cards Topps and Fleer mass-produced. The Raines I grew to know was the White Sox version. In my early teens solid OBP options just weren’t as appealing as those 35 HR cleanup hitters. Point being, my appreciation for Raines isn’t derived from my personal recollection of him. Instead my appreciation of Raines was done in retrospect. From 1981-1989 Raines finished lower than 5th in OBP just once, and that mark was the 6th best in MLB. He stole 70 or more bases for 6 consecutive seasons from 1981-1986. Raines exploits would typically be second to none; it’s not his fault he came along during the reign of the greatest leadoff hitter of all time.
Sammy Sosa – For the record, I’m a Cubs diehard. Taking that into consideration, I am not, nor was I ever a Sosa fan. Yes, I loved the production, and yes he made some lean years entertaining, but I never bought the manufactured “live, love, be merry” persona he gave off. From a baseball perspective, however, his accomplishments cannot be ignored. His 162 Game AVG is 42 HR, 102 Runs, 115 RBI and an .878 OPS. Most importantly, what he and McGwire did for the game of baseball, even if it was tainted, cannot be adequately measured. When looking at Hall Of Fame players I often ask myself “How good was the good?”. Sosa’s 1998-2001 most certainly would go down as one of the top-5 four-year runs after he managed to average 61 HR, 125 Runs, 149 RBI and a .310 AVG during that span.
Jeff Bagwell – The player I’m least adamant about. Statistically Bagwell passes the eye-test. Over his career his 162 game average was 34 HR, 114 Runs, 115 RBI, with a .297 AVG and .948 OPS. Bagwell managed 1 MVP, but finished among the top-10 a total of 6 times over the course of 7 years. His 79.6 Career WAR is good for 64th all-time, and his offensive marks rank 49th. I don’t feel that Bagwell’s mark on the game is generational, but from a pure statistical standpoint it’s difficult to keep him out.
So there you have it. The official ballot of Josh Coleman that means nothing to anyone other than Josh Coleman. With 10 potential spots to fill I’m happy to name 8. For the record, my first two out were Manny Ramirez and Larry Walker. I could easily talk myself into both which leads me to the next thing to ponder. Should the Hall Of Fame be left to ponder? Shouldn’t an immediate yes be required before handing out acceptance letters? I’ve always felt this way in the past, but I’m beginning to believe in the idea that sometimes a players accomplishments may need to marinate.
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