2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot
Benjamin Kabak -
Off the Facade

Benjamin Kabak's Hall of Fame Ballot 2006
Albert Belle
Bert Blyleven
Andre Dawson
Jack Morris
Jim Rice

Usually, Hall of Fame balloting doesn’t elicit nearly the same controversy as, say, the annual MVP races often do. Fans usually
agree that a few candidates up for election have the stature to gain a place among the giants residing in Cooperstown.

The Class of 2006, however, promises to give us a fresh topic for the quiet baseball days of January simply because there are
no clear cut Hall of Famers on this list. There are no 300-game winners, no members of the 500 home run club. There are no
shoe-ins; there are merely players noted for their longevity and loyalty. As a I write this before the voting is announced, it is
possible that no one will appear on 75 percent of the ballots. Maybe the baseball writers won’t choose to enshrine anyone this
year.

While only time now will tell, I’d like to present my ballot. Eligible voters (of which I am not one) are allowed to vote for as few
as zero and as many as 10 candidates. None of the candidates leap out at me as sure-fire Hall of Famers, but in my opinion,
a few of them deserve recognition for their careers.

Before, I get to my ballot, I would like to explain a little about my overall voting. According to the Rules for Election, “voting shall
be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on
which the player played.” As this is somewhat vague, I also like to consider, as I debate this with my friends, whether during
the candidate’s playing days, you would have wanted to have this player on your dream time. So here goes.

My Ballot, Explained

Albert Belle:
Belle, a first-time candidate, represents the toughest choice. He utterly fails the integrity, sportsmanship and
character test. While some of that can be attributed to his playing intensity and the media perceptions of this fiery outfielder, he
did use a cork bat once and sent Jason Grimsley on his infamous crawl through the ducts of Jacobs Field to retrieve the bat.

But as a player, he was feared. In 12 seasons — his career was cut short by a degenerative hip condition — Belle hit .295 with
a .369 OBP and a .564 slugging percentage. He had 381 home runs and 1239 RBIs through age 34 and could have reached
500 if his health had not been a factor. In 1995, a season shortened to 144 games by the strike, Belle became the first player
in Major League history to hit 50 home runs and 50 doubles in the same year. He was nearly on pace to accomplish this feat
in 1994 when the season ended. His slugging average for those two seasons was around .700.

Belle was also a five-time All Star and lost the 1995 MVP race by eight points, or one first place vote, to Mo Vaughn. He was
robbed by his reputation. He topped 100 RBIs every year for nine years in a row between 1992 and 2000. He truly was one of
the dominant players of the 1990s and for this reason, he deserves a place in the Hall. While he won’t ever be regarded as a
role model, plenty of baseball’s legendary players were far from saints. Albert Belle should just be another recognized for his
contribution during the time he spent in between the foul lines.

Bert Blyleven: This season marks the ninth year of eligibility for this 22-year veteran of the game. Last season was the right-
handed pitcher’s best showing on the ballot: He garnered 40.89 percent of the vote. While it seems dubious that Blyleven will
be elected by the writers (as opposed to the Veterans’ Committee), he deserves a place in Cooperstown.

Blyleven doesn’t have too many stats that leap out at you and scream, “Cooperstown!” In 22 years in the Bigs, he won 287
games, only once reaching the 20-win plateau. He led the league in strike outs just once, and he gave up a whopping 96
home runs over the course of two seasons in the mid-1980s.

While none of these numbers are enough to blow anyone away, a few of his career accomplishments deserve recognition.
First are the strike outs. With 3701 whiffs in his career, Blyleven is fifth on the all-time strike out list.  All four guys in front of him
and the 10 guys behind him are already in or will be in when their playing days are over.

Additionally, Blyleven’s 60 career shut outs are ninth all time. Again, everyone in front of him is in the Hall and everyone behind
him to 25th place, except for Luis Tiant, is in the Hall. To penalize Blyleven, the 17th winningest pitcher since 1900, just
because the teams behind him weren’t good enough to win 13 more games seems absurd. He deserves his spot right there
next to the rest of the guys on the strike out and shut out list. You don't need his 339 win shares to know that he deserves a
spot in the Hall. (For more on Blyleven’s Hall of Fame credentials, check out <a href="http://baseballanalysts.
com/archives/2005/12/the_hall_of_fam.php">this article at The Baseball Analysts</a>. That's where I got much of my info.)

Andre Dawson: The Hawk has 503 career doubles, 438 career home runs, 1591 career RBIs, eight All Star appearances,
eight Gold Gloves, and four Silver Sluggers. He's twenty-first all time on the extra-base hit list; everyone in front of him is in the
Hall, and the next twenty behind him will be too. I'll overlook the .323 on-base percentage. There are worse players and worse
people in the Hall of Fame.

Jack Morris: Remember 1991 when Jack Morris pitched a 10-inning complete-game shut out to seal the World Series for the
Minnesota Twins? Morris was that kind of work horse, and in the 1980s, you would have wanted him on your team. His 162
wins between 1980 and 1989 were tops in the decade. His 2443.6 innings pitched were tops in the decade. And he threw 133
complete games. His numbers won't blow too many people away, but for a set time frame, he was among the best in the
game. And for that, he fits my criteria for the Hall. But I recognize that his 250 win shares are on the low side, he had a high
career ERA and his ERA+ of just 105 makes him slightly above average. It's a toss up.

Jim Rice: I'm on the fence with Jim Rice. He was a great player from 1975 through 1986 when you compare him to everyone
else playing at the time. But is he an all-time great player? During those 12 seasons, Rice average .304 with 29 home runs
and 106 RBIs. He's an eight-time All Star, and the only Major Leaguer with 200 hits and 35 home runs in three straight years.
He won the MVP award in 1978 when he topped 400 total bases. Since I put Morris in the Hall, I would put Rice in the Hall. But
the case can easily be made against him as well.

Leaving Off Some Closers

I opted to leave off Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter and Lee Smith because I don't see them as Hall-worthy. In my mind, saves
are fairly worthless. Protecting a three-run lead in the 9th by getting out the sixth, seventh, and eighth hitters is no great
accomplishment. Smith's 478 saves are an all-time record. However, the rest of his career is fairly unimpressive. Sutter's 2.83
ERA and 300 saves give him the edge overall, and it seems as though he'll come the closest to election this year, but I'm not
that excited about him. If Sutter gets in, it won't be awful. I just disagree with it.

Dishonorable Mention

What is Gary DiSarcina doing on the ballot? DiSarcina had 65 career win shares. Alex Rodriguez had more than half as many
IN ONE SEASON this year. DiSarcina played 12 season and a hit a whopping .258/.292/.341. He never drove in more than 56
runs, never hit more than 5 home runs, wasn't particularly fast, and never won a Gold Glove. It's almost insulting to see his
name on the ballot. Maybe he's just there for comic relief. Just think: Gary DiSarcina, Hall of Fame. If enough voters thought it
was funny enough, it just might happen.


Benjamin Kabak is the author of the
Talking Baseball blog, a general baseball site updated daily during the week. He also
writes for
Statistically Speaking and Off the Façade, MVN's Yankees site.