The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2014 is being announced on Wednesday, and it is completely loaded with lots of candidates who are eligible for the first time, along with a slew of candidates who have been on the ballot previously, and one candidate, Jack Morris, who is on the ballot for the 15th and last time.
I'm obviously not an eligible Hall of Fame voter, but as somebody who has been a baseball fan for 30 years, I've got to see all of these guys play live or on TV. Voters get the opportunity to cast a ballot for 10 different players, so if I got to cast a ballot, this would be who would get my vote:
- Jeff Bagwell: Few National League hitters were more feared than Bagwell, the first of the Killer B's. A .297 career hitter with 400+ home runs despite spending more than half of his career playing in the cavernous Astrodome, he was a 2-time National League MVP who had an underrated all around game, including good defense and two 30-30 seasons that most people seem to forget. Just don't ask the Red Sox about him...
- Craig Biggio: Biggio was by far the best 2nd baseman of his generation, a guy who bounced around from catcher to the outfield before settling into the position. His longevity as the second of the killer B's helped keep baseball in Houston. Also, he's the all-time major league leader in being hit by pitch.
- Roger Clemens: Clemens is one of the few people who were accused of steroids who seems to have gotten the courts to back up his denial. There was no pitcher who was more intimidating in his era. Ninth all-time with 354 wins and third all time in strikeouts with over 4,600. Those seven Cy Young Awards weren't won in a vacuum either...
- Tom Glavine: The best left-handed pitcher of the era without question, and one of the best of all time. He was a model of consistency too: he made 29 or more starts for twenty consecutive seasons from 1988-2007.
- Greg Maddux: The best pitcher of the era bar none. 8th-all time with 355 wins. Despite never winning more than 20 games in a season (and only doing that twice) he won 15 or more games every year from 1988-2004. He also had a stretch from 1993-1995 where he had season ERAs of 2.36, 1.56, and 1.63. An underrated athlete, he was a decent hitting pitcher and a great fielder.
- Edgar Martinez: One of the most consistent hitters in the American League. Seems to be earn demerits since he spent the majority of his career as a DH, but he was the best at his position for a decade.
- Hideo Nomo: I know that Nomo doesn't have the numbers that many of these other pitchers have, but hear me out. Nomo was the first Japanese Major Leaguer since Masanori Murakami pitched for the Giants in 1964 and 1965. Nomo was the one who paved the way for the other great Japanese ballplayers to come over and play in the bigs. For that and for throwing a no-hitter in each league (in hitters ballparks no-less: Coors Field and here at Camden Yards) he deserves some sort of recognition.
- Mike Piazza: A guy who was a 62nd round draft pick become a .308 career hitter with 427 home runs. As a catcher. Enough said.
- Tim Raines: Arguably a better leadoff-hitter than Rickey Henderson was, though Henderson had gaudier stolen base numbers. Got overshadowed by the fact that he played in Montreal, which was like being exiled to Siberia for the Majors. The only former Oriole on my list, though you'd be forgiven if you forgot the four games he played here in 2003.
- Frank Thomas: His numbers trailed off after he turned 33, but for the first 10 years of his career he was the most feared hitter in baseball. Hit 521 home runs. Played tight end at Auburn, too, and I bet he would have been playing in the NFL if he were coming out of school today.
--Brian Griffiths is a co-founder and contributing editor for Red Maryland, which has strived to be the premier blog and radio network of conservative and Republican politics and ideas in the free state since 2007. He is chairman of the Maryland Young Republicans. and has worked on and advised numerous local, state and federal campaigns. His Red Maryland posts appear here regularly.