It's definitely HOF time. I covered the off-field stuff last week, so now it's time to look at the guys on the list...
Well, I'd certainly vote for Blyleven and Alomar, who are also the two likely to actually make it this year. Of the returning group, McGwire, Larkin, Raines, and Trammell are all easy votes for me. And of the first-timers, Bagwell is automatic, and I suppose I can't see a reason to oppose Palimiero --he was never a favorite of mine, but he was a very good player for a very long time, and there's really no precedent for a guy like him not going in. That makes eight.
On the fence, I see the same group from last year: Edgar Martinez, McGriff, Parker, and Murphy. I don't think there are any marginal additions from this year's ballot...maybe Kevin Brown? I don't really think so. Slightly better ERA+ than Blyleven, but Blyleven's career was half again as long. I suppose you have to look at Juan Gonzalez, but again his career was just too short for the kind of player he was. If you're going to have a short career, you better have a pretty good case to be the best in the game for a chunk of it, and Gonzalez was never really in that conversation (as opposed to, say, Mark McGwire). Last year, I said yes on Martinez and McGriff, no on Parker, and a very close no on Murphy. This year I only have two spots available, so I suppose I would say the same thing.
Ah, wait: I forgot about Larry Walker. I don't know...I've never really taken him seriously as a HOFer, but we're talking about a good defensive RF with a 140 OPS+ in almost 7000 ABs. Baseball reference's WAR thinks he was 67 wins over replacement over his career; BP's version has him at 62 wins. That's awful strong, but not automatic HOF territory. It puts him in the same ballpark as Martinez and McGriff. For this year, I'll just say that I'd rather have had the other two guys, and so I don't really have to decide whether Walker is deserving or not. And, as I said last year, I still sort of think that if I could have my team come up with one these guys, I just have a sense it would be Dale Murphy. But I can't support it, so Martinez and McGriff it is, along with Bagwell, Palimiero, Blyleven, Raines, Alomar, McGwire, Larkin, and Trammell.