Baseball Hall Of Fame 2016: Who Should Punch Ticket To Cooperstown?

The whole Baseball Hall of Fame voting process stinks. There I said it.

It’s an amazing honor to be enshrined in Cooperstown, sure, and congratulations to those who’ve punched their tickets. But the uncertainty of the steroid era and the unavoidable pissing contest that ensues every year among voters, particularly as it relates to steroid era players, is just too much.

After all, why should I suspect certain players of performance-enhancing drug use and not others? Yeah, there’s more evidence against certain players, but maybe some players above suspicion have just done a tremendous job of covering up their transgressions.

You can judge who did and who didn’t use steroids based on performance uptick, physical changes and rumors. But I’m not going to because, frankly, I don’t trust anyone.

I’m not going to assume Player X, who’s an absolute beast with a whole bunch of home runs, used steroids, while Player Y, who’s a shrimp with three homers to his name, didn’t. For all I know, they shared a needle.

Now, my personal annoyance with the subject shouldn’t — and won’t — stop me from breaking down the 2016 ballot. There’s at least one slam dunk candidate up for induction and several others who should be Hall-bound when the final results are announced Wednesday.

So, behold, one man’s 2016 Hall of Fame ballot. Feel free to discuss in the comments section.

Who’s in?
Ken Griffey Jr.
Junior is the slam dunk of the 2016 class. Whoever doesn’t vote for him is on drugs.

Mike Piazza
Piazza is the best offensive catcher of all time. That counts for something.

Jeff Bagwell
Bagwell, the best offensive player in Houston Astros history, was a force for basically his entire 15-year career. He averaged 39 homers, 124 RBIs, 40 doubles and 18 stolen bases per 162 games from 1993 through 2003. Keeping him out of Cooperstown because he fit the physical profile of a juiced up slugger is absurd, especially since he never failed a drug test and wasn’t even named in the Mitchell Report.

Barry Bonds
Bonds’ case is the ultimate example of one’s morals coming into play. Some will contest he should be left out of Cooperstown for the sake of integrity. I will contest that keeping Bonds out of the Hall of Fame only adds to the absurdity of the process, seeing as how he’s one of the best baseball players who ever lived — no matter how you slice it, steroids or no steroids.

Roger Clemens
Clemens’ case essentially is the same as Bonds’ case. If you leave him off your ballot, it’s because of your own personal set of values — not because his on-field credentials don’t warrant enshrinement.

Edgar Martinez
I’ve gone back and forth on this one, but I’m giving Martinez the nod. He’s the best designated hitter of all time not named David Ortiz, who I’d vote for as soon as he’s eligible, and one of the best pure hitters of his generation.

Just missed
Curt Schilling
The playoff success — 11-2 record, 2.23 ERA in 133 1/3 innings over 19 career postseason starts — speaks for itself. The regular-season track record, while very good, just doesn’t scream “Hall of Fame.”

Mike Mussina
Mussina finished in the top six in Cy Young voting nine times during his 18-year career, and he won at least 15 games in 11 seasons. Somehow, his Hall case looks stronger and stronger every year, especially since his accomplishments came during a hitter-friendly time period, but he just misses the cut.

A notch below
Trevor Hoffman
Hoffman had a heck of a career. I just have a hard time voting in someone (not named Mariano Rivera) who consistently pitched less than 60 innings per season.

Tim Raines
An exceptional leadoff hitter and an unbelievable base stealer. A “Hall of Very Good” stalwart.

Apologies to the following…
Lee Smith
Billy Wagner
Alan Trammell
Jeff Kent
Fred McGriff
Larry Walker
Gary Sheffield
Mark McGwire
Sammy Sosa
Jim Edmonds
Nomar Garciaparra

Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@si_mlb

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