'Greg Maddux jersey in museum at Turner Field' photo (c) 2009, Peter Bond - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Every year the BBWAA voters get together and try to determine who should be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. There is always heated debate, name calling, and general grumblings from all corners of the baseball universe. Some say we should exclude everyone who played during the “steroid era.” Others say there's just no way for us to know who did or didn't cheat so we just have to vote on the players by comparing them to the players the played against which seems reasonable to me. What if the guy was the “best” for five years and is career petered out quickly (think Don Mattingly). Is that long enough? Does he need eight All-Star level campaigns, ten? What if he was a great player but because of other great players who appeared on the field at the same time that Player X was never regarded as the best player in the game at his position (Fred McGriff types)? Can a guy like that be in the HOF? What abour round numbers? Does someone automatically make the HOF because they hung around long enough to hit 350 homers with 2,500 hits?Are we voting for the best all-around players? Can DH types make it (Edgar Martinez)? No HOF engenders more vitriol an argumentation than the Baseball Hall of Fame. The debate will continue to rage on, an on, an on.

Here are the players that are eligible for enshrinement for the first time this year.

ELIGIBLE FOR THE FIRST TIME

Moises AlouArmando BenitezSean CaseyRay DurhamEric GagneTom GlavineLuis GonzalezJacque JonesTodd JonesJeff KentPaul Lo DucaGreg MadduxMike MussinaHideo NomoKenny RogersRichie SexsonJ.T. SnowFrank ThomasMike Timlin

Here are the players that picked up at enough votes last season to be carried over on the ballot for this years voting.

PREVIOUSLY ON THE BALLOT (2013 voting totals)

Jeff Bagwell, fourth year, 59.6% - My Thoughts. • Barry Bonds, second year, 36.2% • Craig Biggio, second year, 68.2% • Roger Clemens, second year, 37.6% • Edgar Martinez, fifth year, 35.9% - My Thoughts. • Don Mattingly, 14th year, 13.2% • Fred McGriff, fifth year, 20.7% - My Thoughts. • Mark McGwire, eighth year, 16.9% - My Thoughts. • Jack Morris, 15th year, 67.7% • Rafael Palmeiro, fourth year, 8.8% • Mike Piazza, second year, 57.8% • Tim Raines, seventh year, 52.2% - My Thoughts. • Curt Schilling, second year, 38.8% • Lee Smith, 12th year, 47.8% • Sammy Sosa, second year, 12.5% • Alan Trammell, 13th year, 33.6% • Larry Walker, fourth year, 21.6%

*** Here is link to my review of the 2013 Class.

By the way, who votes on the Hall of Fame? If you have been a member of the BBWAA for 10 years you get a ballot to vote, and you can select up to 10 names (you can select less if you prefer). I'll act like I've been in the BBWAA for 10 years and give me thoughts (as a fantasy guy who covers sports other than baseball, I'm not a full-time baseball reporter, I'm not eligible).

Without further ado, here is my 2013 ballot.

1 Greg Maddux 2 Roger Clemens 3 Barry Bonds 4 Mike Piazza 5 Craig Biggio 6 Jeff Kent 7 Tim Raines 8 Jeff Bagwell 9 Frank Thomas 10 Mark McGwire

Maddux is the best “pitcher” I have ever seen. He has the wins (355), the ERA (3.16) the WHIP (1.14) and the control (3.37 K/BB). For his career his ERA was 32 percent better than the league average, the 29th best mark in the history of baseball. From 1992-95 he won 4-straight Cy Young Awards with an average season of 19 wins, 1.98 ERA, 0.95 WHIP in 237.2 innings.

Clemens is a moron. Flat out he's an idiot. He did some funny business, but here's the problem. I don't know who did what when, and neither do you. I'm also not the morality police. I don't like it, it makes my skin crawl, but I think you have to vote Clemens in. He led the league in wins four times, ERA seven times and strikeouts five times. He also won 354 games (9th most ever), had 4,672 strikeouts (3rd most ever) and had an ERA that was 43 percent better than the league average, the 11th best mark ever. Oh yeah, he won an MVP Award and seven Cy Young Awards.

Ditto on Bonds. Was he using PEDs? The evidence is overwhelming that he was. At the same time, since there was no testing in place at the time, there's just no way that I can possibly know who was or wasn't cheating and neither can you. I don't like it, but I don't see how you can keep him out of the Hall. Bonds made 14 All-Star teams. He won seven MVPs. He won eight Gold Gloves. He's 6th all-time in OBP (.444), 5th in SLG (.607), 4th in OPS (1.051), first in homers (762), 4th in RBIs (1,996) and 3rd in runs scored (2,227). He has to be in the Hall. Sorry.

Piazza was the best hitting catcher of all-time. Sure he defense was poor, I may have been able to throw the ball to second base better than Piazza, but he goes into the Hall for the bat. He hit 30 homers nine times. He drive in 90 runs ten times. He hit .308 for his career with six seasons of .324 or better. Twelve All-Star appearances and the 30th most MVP votes in history should get him in.

Biggio is the guy who makes it because he played forever (20 years and 2,850 games, the 16th most in history). He had a season of 119 games at catcher, 162 at second base and 150 games as an outfielder (think about that versatility for a moment). He had 3,060 hits (21st all-time) and 1,844 runs scored (15th). At his peak he was also an elite offensive weapon. From 1995-99 an average Biggio season was the following: .304-19-79-126-37 with a .871 OPS while he was a second baseman.

Kent is one of the most productive second basemen in baseball history. He hit 520 doubles as a second baseman (3rd all-time). He had 922 extra base hits (the most ever). He had 357 home runs (the most ever and 82 more than any other second baseman). He had 1,428 RBIs (the most ever). He scored 1,223 runs (the 13th most). From 1997-2002 he had at least 22 homers and 106 RBIs each season, and from 1997 to 2005 he had at least 22 homers and 93 RBIs each year. Not bad for a career .290 hitter.

I made the case for Raines previously.

I made the case for Bagwell previously.

Thomas is just like Piazza. Thomas couldn't run, throw or play defense. But boy was he an offensive force. After a 60 game rookie season, here is what an average Thomas campaign looked like for the next seven years: 36 homers, 118 RBIs, 107 runs scored with a .330 batting average, .452 OBP and .604 SLG (1.056 OPS). Oh yeah, the 1994 season was cut short due to a strike so he only played 113 games that year (he was historically excellent that season hitting .358-38-101-106... in 113 games). In those seven years he won two MVPs, made five All-Star teams, scored at least 100 runs each season, drove in 100 runs each season, never hit lower than .308, led the league in OBP four times and OPS four times. He retired with a .301 average, .419 OBP, .555 SLG, 521 homers and 1,704 RBIs.

I made the case for McGwire previously.

Let the debate, I was going to say begin, continue.

By Ray Flowers




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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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