Our votes don’t count for anything, but this is my wheelhouse. These are the players from when I was a kid collecting cards, and watching 500-plus games a season. Here is the complete list of candidates. The rules are the same as the real voters. We can vote up to 10 players and as few as none.
1. Greg Maddux
He was the smartest pitcher and had the best command of any pitcher I’ve ever seen. And he had statistics that rival anyone from the history of the game especially since the 1920s through the modern day.
2. Tom Glavine
Glavine was with the Braves almost exclusively in his career, and his career arc was a mirror to the resurgence of the Braves organization. It is almost impossible for me to consider this team’s record over the last 20 years without thinking directly of Glavine who was the one constant through. He may also be the last 300-game winner.
3. Craig Biggio
The fact that Craig Biggio was not in last year forces me to call out every voter that failed to do their job. He had more than 3,000 hits, 600-plus doubles, four Gold Gloves, five Silver Sluggers, played three different positions that are demanding and was above average at all three. He was durable, consistent, and consistently excellent.
4. Frank Thomas
The Big Hurt was the most intimidating hitter in the American League. The combination of power, and plate discipline was only second to Barry Bonds in this generation. He could easily have had two more MVPs, and he had zero allegations to steroids.
5. Barry Bonds
This is where I get myself into trouble with a lot of people, but he was a Hall of Famer in my eyes before the steroids. Let us not forget that baseball blackballed him when he was capable of one to three more seasons. Had he not been forced to retire, he would have reached 3,000 hits and had a shot to set the all-time mark for RBI. He was a phenomenal base stealer, making the 30/30 club become passé. This was all before “the cream” and “the clear.” Bonds was so far above everyone clean and dirty that he belongs in HOF. I think he should have an “(*)” or 20 by his name, and everything he’s been accused and convicted of should be listed on his plaque, but he was without question the very best player I have ever seen play the game of baseball.
6. Fred McGriff
The Crime Dog hit balls as far as anyone and he was class personified. His batting average was always consistently good. His glove was never below average, and once he realized that his skills had eroded he walked away and didn’t hang on just for the seven homers it would have taken to hit 500. He made his teams better. How good would Sheffield or Chipper Jones been had they not had McGriff behind them? He brought San Diego to the edge of greatness along with Sheffield and HOFer Tony Gwynn. He put up excellent consistency throughout his time in Atlanta, and in Toronto his Home Runs needed to be capitalized.
7. Mike Piazza
While I’ve heard whispers about this and that with Piazza, and his catching ability was more lacking than attacking … the power and speed and timeliness of his bat make him one of the greatest offensive machines to ever play that position. Had he been an American Leaguer throughout his career and gotten at bats at the DH position we could add another 15 percent to all of his numbers and he’s still a Hall of Famer in my eyes.
8. Mike Mussina
Mussina was perennially known for being the Susan Lucci of the AL Cy Young (always finishing 2nd or 3rd), and always just missing his 20th win … he went out in his last season at 39 and dominated. He had several offers to come back, and with his career average of 15 wins a season throughout his career, and playing in New York for the Yankees (with that offense) he would have had a very good shot at taking his 270 wins to 300 plus. He also walked away just shy of 3,000 strikeouts.
9. Don Mattingly
While I know that he won’t make it in he was my favorite player as a kid, and for a few years he was the greatest player in the game without peer. He had arguably the best glove of anyone that has ever played the position. His hitting was so excellent that Ted Williams compared Mattingly to himself. The reason he won’t make it in is that he lacked the longevity and the overall consistency that I kept mentioning above.