By Jason Shetler
I’ve decided to get an early start on my Baseball Hall of Fame mock ballot. Here are the ten players that I would vote for to be elected into Cooperstown in 2016.
Ken Griffey Jr: The most obvious choice of all the Hall of Fame candidates is Ken Griffey Jr. The 13-time All-Star hit the sixth most home runs in the game with 630. Griffey was the 1997 AL MVP winner and captured seven Silver Slugger awards in his career, the most ever by a center fielder. On the defensive side, Griffey was the recipient of ten Gold Glove honors.
Mike Piazza: After hitting 427 career home runs along with a .922 OPS, Mike Piazza is the greatest offensive catcher of all-time. He was selected to 14 All-Star Games. While some have Piazza under the cloud of suspicion for PED use, there hasn’t been proof of any wrongdoing.
Jeff Bagwell: Craig Biggio was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, and his longtime Astros teammate Jeff Bagwell should go in as well. Bagwell was the NL MVP winner in 1994 while finishing in the Top 3 on two other occasions. In his 15 seasons with the Astros, Bagwell posted a .948 OPS with a 149 OPS+.
Trevor Hoffman: Plain and simple, Trevor Hoffman is one of the best closers in baseball history. The seven-time All-Star compiled 601 saves, which is only second behind Mariano Rivera. He posted a 2.87 ERA and had a K/9 of 9.4 in his 18 big league seasons. There were years were Hoffman was so dominant that he actually finished runner-up for the NL Cy Young in 1998 and 2006.
Billy Wagner: For 16 seasons, Billy Wagner displayed dominance from the closers role. He recorded 422 saves, the fifth most all-time. Wagner had a 2.31 ERA including a 1.00 WHIP, and his 11.9 K/9 is the best mark of any reliever in baseball history.
Curt Schilling: Throughout the late 90’s to mid 2000’s, Curt Schilling was one of the best strikeout pitchers in the game, and he ended his career with 3,116 of them. Although he pitched well during the regular season, Schilling’s calling card was the postseason. In 19 postseason starts, he posted a 2.23 ERA and pitched four complete games. Schilling was a huge part of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox World Series championships in 2001 and 2004 respectively.
Mike Mussina: Mike Mussina pitched 18 seasons for the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees, and was an absolute workhorse, pitching a total of 3,562.2 innings. While his 3.65 ERA doesn’t seem spectacular, the disclaimer is that he pitched his entire career in the American League during a time in which runs were being scored at an all-time high. Mussina compiled an 82.7 career WAR. There were six years in which he finished Top 5 in the AL Cy Young voting.
Jim Edmonds: Perhaps the most productive offensive hitting center fielder during the 2000’s was Jim Edmonds. The four-time All-Star put up a career .903 OPS, which is phenomenal for a center fielder. You could also say that he was the best defensive center fielder in that decade, as he captured eight Gold Glove awards. Edmonds had solid numbers in the postseason as well, hitting 13 home runs with an .864 OPS in 64 games, and helped lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title in 2006.
Edgar Martinez: A valid argument can be made that Edgar Martinez was the best right-handed hitter throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. Martinez played his entire 18 year Major League career with the Seattle Mariners where he hit .312 while posting a .933 OPS and an OPS+ of 147. While some view the designated hitter as not being a real position, it’s still a vital role in the game when it comes to the American League.
Tim Raines: The fact that Tim Raines isn’t in the Hall of Fame still baffles me to this day. As he enters his ninth time on the ballot, Raines has become a sabermetric darling, posting a career .385 on base percentage in 23 big league seasons. His 808 stolen bases are also fifth most all-time. Because Tim Raines played in the same era as Rickey Henderson, my belief is that the more traditional voters want to compare Raines’ career to Henderson’s, which I think is very unfair.