The Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2012 will be announced Jan. 9. Ron Santo has been selected by the veterans committee to be enshrined in July. Here’s my ballot as a voting member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America:
Barry Larkin: Easy choice because he was the best shortstop in the National League while playing 19 seasons for the Cincinnati Reds. A 12-time All-Star who won three Gold Gloves and an NL Most Valuable Player in 1995, Larkin finished with 2,340 hits and 379 stolen bases. He’s the first shortstop to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season, when he hit 33 home runs with 36 steals in 1996. Prediction: After getting 62.1 percent last year, Larkin will make the jump to 75 percent this time, but it could be close.
Alan Trammell: Biggest injustice on the ballot with 24.3 percent of the vote last season. He’s the American League version of Larkin. He played in the offensive shadow of Cal Ripken Jr. and the defensive shadow of Ozzie Smith. Still, Trammell defined the 1980s Detroit Tigers, won the 1984 World Series MVP and finished with more hits (2,365) than Larkin. Trammell helped revolutionize the shortstop position into an offensive force. He’s got four years left on the BBWAA ballot to make the Hall. Tough call on whether he will make it.
Jeff Bagwell: His vote total (41.7 percent) was held down in his first year given that voters suspected his use of performance-enhancing drugs. That’s not fair because there’s no evidence to suggest that Bagwell has any link to steroids. His 1,529 RBIs for the Houston Astros are impressive. Bagwell is at 41.7 percent and he’ll reach the magic threshold soon.
Tim Raines: Another injustice. Raines played in the shadow of Rickey Henderson, the all-time steals king, but how can voters overlook Raines’ 808 steals and 2,605 hits? This is his fifth season on the ballot. He’ll eventually get in.
Edgar Martinez: He hit .312 with 309 home runs and 1,261 RBIs and had every intangible a Hall of Famer needs. He was the most feared DH in the game during his time with the Seattle Mariners. He’s got plenty of voters to convince before he makes Cooperstown.
Jack Morris: He had only 254 wins and a 3.90 ERA, but he was the starter with the most wins in the 1980s and he lived up to his reputation as a big-game pitcher. He also won three World Series with three different teams. Morris has a long way to go, but I think he’ll make the Hall in the next couple of years.