Hall of Fame ballot time in baseball. Thought I’d give you my selections in this annual ritual. Getting into Cooperstown — or not — is a big deal.
Reminder about the rules: Results announced Jan. 18. Candidates getting votes on at least 75 percent of all ballots will be inducted into the Hall July 30, 2017.
Let’s start with the newcomers — 19 on this year’s ballot. Here are the notables.
Starting off with Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge. The only first-year nominee I will vote for. Among the greatest catchers of all time. Here is the Hall’s bio of him. Read it and be amazed.
“Ivan Rodríguez appeared in more games as a catcher — 2,427 over 21 seasons — than any player in big league history. A 14-time All-Star Game selection, Rodriguez played for the Rangers, Marlins, Tigers, Yankees, Astros and Nationals — earning a record 13 Gold Glove Awards behind the plate. The 1999 American League Most Valuable Player hit .296 for his career with 2,844 hits, 311 home runs and 1,332 RBI. Rodriguez was named the 2003 NLCS MVP en route to leading the Marlins to the World Series title.”
To me, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He is what Buster Posey aspires to be. The only issue with Rodriguez is the hint of PED use. But it’s not a big hint. So I’m sticking with Pudge.
Other first-year nominees:
Manny Ramirez and his 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs is attractive. Just a great player. Although he’s a first-timer on the ballot; unfortunately, he wasn’t a first-timer when it came to PED use. He was somewhat of a devotee of the stuff. Got caught red-handed twice. No Hall of Fame for you, Manny. It’s a shame.
Vladimir Guerrero: Had 449 home runs. Excellent numbers, maybe not Hall-worthy. Not this year. A perpetual contender. Will get in some other year.
Guys who have been passed over but deserve consideration:
Lee Smith. Ranks third in career saves. Every year I vote for this guy. Don’t know what the voters’ beef is.
The Giants would love to have him. But he won’t get in. Probably will make it later on through the Veterans Committee, which cleans up the mess as years go by.
Trevor Hoffman. All you need to know about him is his 601 saves. Second-best in history. Put him in the Hall. Throw him a parade.
Jeff Bagwell: .297 batting average, 449 homers. Unanimous choice for National League MVP in 1994. Missed by 15 votes last year. Will be elected this year. Should have made it last year.
Tim Raines: This is his 10th and final chance to get in through regular voting — not the Veterans Committee. Fifth in all-time steals, .294 batting average, seven-time All-Star. Just missed last year. Put him in already.
Jeff Kent: I’m voting for him. I covered him in San Francisco. That has nothing to do with it — meaning I’m not a homer. In fact, I found him unpleasant some of the time, although he could be charming when he wanted. And, unlike some other Giants, he would talk after losses.
Look at his numbers — and remember these are second-baseman numbers. He hit 377 home runs. That’s a ton of home runs for a second baseman. He batted .290.