HALL of FAME
Garret Anderson - Brad Ausmus - Jeff Bagwell - Barry Bonds
Luis Castillo - Roger Clemens - David Eckstein - Jim Edmonds
Nomar Garciapara - Troy Glaus - Ken Griffey Jr. - Mark Grudzielanek
Mike Hampton - Trevor Hoffman - Jason Kendall - Jeff Kent
Mike Lowell - Edgar Martinez - Fred McGriff - Mark McGwire
Mike Mussina - Mike Piazza - Tim Raines - Curt Schilling
Gary Sheffield - Lee Smith - Sammy Sosa - Mike Sweeney
Alan Trammell - Billy Wagner - Larry Walker - Randy Winn
1) Ken Griffey Jr.
Had he worked-out his body just a little more, Griffey Jr. would have been even greater than his numbers indicate. His years spent in Cincinnati were overly compromised by injuries. Otherwise, his seasons in Seattle were epic. The only real debate is whether Griffey breaks Tom Seaver's 98.8% induction record.
2) Mike Piazza
I do not operate under the guise of suspicion. That is a dangerous tact in any walk of life. To me, it's simple - a given player was either a user of PEDs, or not. There has never been evidence linking Mike Piazza to PEDs. I'm sorry, back acne just does not constitute an indictment. Writers whom previously failed to vote for Piazza in the hope some evidence would eventually materialize should have their privilege revoked on the grounds of egregious bias in the absence of reasonable suspicion.
Mike Piazza was the most prolific hitting catcher of all-time - period.
3) Tim Raines
Yes, he got snared in the drug scandal of the 1980s. And yes, Tim Raines even admitted to sliding head first so as to not break the vile of cocaine he kept in his back pocket. Baseball, and legal system caught up with, and dealt with the matter. If you can overlook that, then there's little debating that Raines was one of the 2 or 3 greatest lead-off hitters of all-time. His only other mistake was playing in the same era as Rickey Henderson.
4) Jeff Kent
It's hard to find anyone whom actually likes this guy. I don't - particularly as a Mets fan. But, that is neither here nor there. His numbers as a second baseman speak for themselves. He was not a great defensive player, but then, many HOF'ers weren't either. You can dislike him, just do not deny him of his HOF worthiness. Championing a case for him does not come easy for me. Sometimes you just have to turn a blind eye.
5) Alan Trammell
His credentials have everything to do with whom you talk to. If you come from my era, shortstops were typically weak hitting, smallish, skinny, and above all primarily defensively orientated players. Think Mark Belanger and Buddy Harrelson. Along with Robin Yount, Alan Trammell was clearly a step above his contemporaries - until the likes of Cal Ripken, then Barry Larkin, Nomar Garciapara, and Alex Rodriguez all broke the mold.
6) Jeff Bagwell
See Mike Piazza. Then take a look below at Gary Sheffield and Mark McGwire. I debated this one way too long. Bagwell, however, deserves the benefit of the doubt.
The Hall of Very Very Good:
The Hall of Fame should be for the elite. I'm having to think these players too much, and so I would have to decline ... for now.
I'd love for Crime Dog to get in the Hall. But, take a look at what other first basemen of renown accomplished. Edgar Martinez was a great hitter - few better. I'm just not sure they were the elite of their day.
Mike Mussina pitched his entire career in the highly competitive A.L. East (against the Red Sox, and both for and against the Orioles and Yankees), and still fared extremely well. That said, if Jack Morris is not in the Hall, I can not justify putting Mussina, nor Curt Chilling in the Hall.
Lastly, I think Lee Smith was a far more effective reliever/closer than Trevor Hoffman ever was. I've never seen a closer blow damn near every big game he pitched more so than Hoffman. He is the epitome of an accumulator. Billy Wagner? Overall, I'm not sure writers take closers too seriously. The ones that are in the Hall, are truly the elite.
That said, I do believe in consistency and longevity, and the ability to accumulate a HOF resume without really dominating the game. There's something to that. I just do not think Trevor Hoffman was that good, at any point of his career (not in that division, unlike Mussina).
Not Even a Consideration:
Read Game of Shadows. That's good enough for me.
Hires some dude as a personal trainer, lets him into his home, let's him inject his wife with juice, but Roger himself was never injected. That's what Clemens wants us to believe. Too circumstantial? There's Andy Pettitte's deposition too.
What a clown. At the height of his popularity, this guy spoke English like a British judge, and was even hawking tourism commercials for the Dominican Republic in very fine English indeed. Then, suddenly, he forgot every word of the English language when he appeared before a congressional hearing regarding steroid usage in baseball. Aye caramba!
Gary Sheffield and Mark McGwire
They were just two of many whom turned the magic number of 500 home runs into a farce.