The Hall of Fame Class has been announced, and what a class it is.
The four players elected by the Baseball Writers Association of American on Tuesday will be a Class that will go down in history for having the first unanimous selection in Mariano Rivera. But it also includes Edgar Martinez, who did most of his damage as a designated hitter; Mike Mussina, who never won a Cy Young and didn't win 20 games until the final season of his career; and Roy Halladay, part of a shrinking breed of pitchers who could throw 250 innings in a season.
This class show how voting has changed in recent years. It's disappointing that conversations about Hall of Fame candidates devolve into trash-talking on social media. But social media and the internet provides more transparency -- writers just can't withhold a vote because of a grudge against a player or play that "first ballot HOF" card without criticism.
In the spirit of transparency, I'm revealing my ballot below. It also can be viewed on the Baseball Writers Association of America website. Somehow, there's a belief floating around on Twitter that I didn't cast a vote this year. My, how does this stuff get started?
I voted for the maximum ten players.
Some notes about my selections:
Rivera was so dominant during his career that I think even the anti-closer camp had to acknowledge his greatness. And Rivera was a class act throughout his career. During his final season, Rivera asked to meet with ballpark employees across the league to show his appreciation. The Twins, upon his final trip to Target Field, gave Rivera a rocking chair made out of some of the bats he had broken through the years. "The Chair of Broken Dreams," they called it.
As for Mike Mussina, I have to tell the story one more time. Terry Ryan was a scout for the Twins when Mussina was pitching at Stanford. He saw Mussina pitch in person multiple times his final year there. Each time, Mussina didn't pitch well. Ryan comes back with his reports, the Twins complete their preparations then head for the draft. And, in what might have been a franchise-altering decision, Todd Ritchie was selected with the 12th overall pick in the first round. Ritchie compiled 6.2 WAR during his career. Mussina, who was drafted 20th overall that year (so the Twins weren’t the only ones to pass on him) put up 83.0 WAR in his career -- and he's going on a plaque in Cooperstown.
I did not vote for Roy Halladay but I really thought I would get a chance to vote for him in the coming years, so I went for other players. Halladay received 85.4 percent of the vote and goes in this year. I misread that one.
Yes, I have voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in recent years. I have arrived at the conclusion that, before MLB toughened its drug policy in 2006, there were many more players cheating that we knew of. Cheating pitchers were throwing to cheating hitters without the fear of being suspended. When there's no fear of punishment, people will break rules to gain an advantage. I’ve heard enough stories to believes this.
Now, players who have failed tests since the policy was toughened, like Manny Ramirez and A-Rod, will probably not have a check next to their name on my ballot.
A quick note about the Twins offseason:
I would not be surprised if Martin Perez is their last free agent signing. They might bring in someone like Ryan Madson if he agrees to a minor league deal with an invite to camp, but I don't see another move. They had to make room on the 40-man roster when they signed Nelson Cruz. And they have to make room on the 40-man roster for Perez. It will be tougher and tougher for the Twins to try clear space without losing someone on waivers.
I think folks should be prepared to see this seven-man bullpen: Blake Parker, Fernando Romero, Trevor May, Trevor Hildenberger, Addison Reed, Taylor Rogers and Adalberto Mejia. Gabriel Moya, Matt Magill and Tyler Duffey should contribute during the season when needed.