Why Griffey got my Hall of Fame vote but Piazza didn’t

In this file photo from 1995, Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. smiles from beneath a pile of teammates who mobbed him after he scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning of game against the New York Yankees in Seattle. Griffey was a near-unanimous first-ballot selection for the Hall of Fame. (AP photo)

In this file photo from 1995, Seattle’s Ken Griffey Jr. smiles from beneath a pile of teammates who mobbed him after he scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning of game against the New York Yankees in Seattle. Griffey was a near-unanimous first-ballot selection for the Hall of Fame. (AP photo)

Ken Griffey, Jr., who we know did it the right way, was voted into the Hall of Fame.

Mike Piazza, who may or may not have done it the right way, also was voted in.

Both had obvious Hall of Fame credentials. Griffey made it in on the first ballot. Piazza made it in on the fourth. The difference? A cloud of doubt over Piazza’s career as to whether he used performance-enhancing drugs.

For what it’s worth, I did not vote for Piazza. Nor did I vote for Jeff Bagwell. My view on candidates who are in what I perceive as a gray area of suspicion is that I am going to wait until their 10th (and final) year of eligibility before voting yes. That allows as much time as possible for evidence to surface. But the results of this year’s voting suggest a thawing among the majority of the electorate regarding players suspected of PED use. Even Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, while falling well short of the needed 75 percent of votes, saw an increase in their totals.

There were 440 ballots posted this season, meaning a candidate needed to be named on at least 330 to get in.

Below are my view on selected candidates. The complete Hall of Fame voting results are at the bottom:

IN: Ken Griffey Jr. (437 votes, 99.3 percent): I voted yes. An obvious first-ballot Hall of Famer who’s as deserving of a unanimous vote as Babe Ruth, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux and so many others – none of whom also weren’t unanimously selected for mysterious reasons. The three people who didn’t vote Griffey could have no acceptable reason. Again – no reason. He hit 630 home runs. His 22-career season included 13 All-Star seasons, 10 Gold Gloves, seven Silver Slugger Awards and won an American League MVP award. He also was as great an ambassador for the game as there ever was.

IN: Mike Piazza (365, 83.0): I voted no. He’s an obvious Hall of Famer from the standpoint of career achievement, which included 12 All-Star Games, 10 Silver Sluggers and the most home runs by a catcher in major league history. But there was enough suspicion about PED use that I chose to hold off on a yes vote until his final year of eligibility, letting as much time as possible pass for potential evidence to surface before voting him in. Piazza admitted using androstenedione early in his career, before the substance was banned by baseball, but he denies ever using steroids.

OUT: Jeff Bagwell (315, 71.6): I voted no. Like Piazza, there’s no question of his HOF credentials. But the Hall of Fame voting rules give me 10 years to decide and I plan to exercise that right. My guess is, however, that Bagwell will get in next year (his seventh year of eligibility), as he fell only 15 votes short this season.

OUT: Tim Raines (307, 69.8): I voted yes. I’ve been voting yes for 10 years and have never understood why others didn’t see him as Hall of Fame worthy (seven All-Star Games, four stolen base titles, fifth most stolen bases in history (808) seven seasons of hitting .300-plus, six seasons of 100-plus runs, rookie of the year and a National League batting title). But Raines fell only 23 votes short, moving up from 55 percent to nearly 70 percent. Next year is his 10th and final year of eligibility, my guess is he will get in.

OUT: Trevor Hoffman (296, 67.3), Lee Smith (150, 34.1), Billy Wagner (46, 10.5): I voted yes to all. I know, that seems strange. But I looked at the careers of all three closers and could not find such an overwhelming difference between the three that would move me to vote for one but not the other two, or two but not one. I’ve long felt closers have been overlooked by Hall voters and have been voting for Lee Smith for year. As great as Hoffman was, I’m a little surprised he garnered as many votes as he did, given this was his first year of eligibility. Clearly he’s on the track to Cooperstown.

OUT: Curt Schilling (230, 52.3): I voted no. I’ve waffled on him from year to year because while he was only a very good pitcher in the regular season (216-146, 3.46, six All-Star Games, no Cy Young Awards), he was a great pitcher in the post-season (11-2, 2.23, three World Series titles, World Series MVP, NLCS MVP). In fact, as a typed this, here I am waffling again. This is his fifth time on the ballot so I have plenty of time to change my mind again, and again, and again.

OUT: Roger Clemens (199, 45.2), Barry Bonds (195, 44.3), Mark McGwire 54 (12.3), Gary Sheffield 51 (11.6), Sammy Sosa (31, 7.0). I voted no to all. McGwire’s candidacy is dead, as this was his 10th season on the ballot. His only route into the Hall of Fame now is the Veterans Committee. Good luck with that. Clemens (fifth), Bonds (fifth) and Sheffield (third) have a while to go but aren’t close. All four players were strongly linked to PED use – so strong that I doubt if they’ll ever get in by a vote. Because I’m so convinced they juiced, the only way I would change my vote and/or consider their candidacy is off they came clean and provided clarity on the steroid era. Frankly, I’m not even sure McGwire or Sosa have HOF numbers without steroids, and I don’t think Sheffield is there either. So for me, this is really about Clemens and Bonds.

OUT: Edgar Martinez (191, 43.4) and Mike Mussina (189, 43.0). I voted no to both. Right now I would consider both of them to be in the Hall of Very Good. I might change my mind. This was Martinez’s seventh year on the ballot and Mussina’s third. Both will be given serious consideration moving forward.

OUT: Alan Trammell (180, 40.9): I voted yes. When I think of Hall of Famers, the first question I ask myself before even looking at numbers is, “Did I consider this player one of the greatest, and possibly the best, at his position during his era?” The answer with Trammell is yes, but obviously not enough others felt that way. Six All-Stars, seven .300-plus seasons, four Gold Gloves, a World Series MVP (when he batted .450), a 200-hit season. Unfortunately, this was his last year on the ballot.

COMPLETE VOTING RESULTS

Ken Griffey Jr. 437 (99.3), Mike Piazza 365 (83.0), Jeff Bagwell 315 (71.6), Tim Raines 307 (69.8), Trevor Hoffman 296 (67.3), Curt Schilling 230 (52.3), Roger Clemens 199 (45.2), Barry Bonds 195 (44.3), Edgar Martinez 191 (43.4), Mike Mussina 189 (43.0), Alan Trammell 180 (40.9), Lee Smith 150 (34.1), Fred McGriff 92 (20.9), Jeff Kent 73 (16.6), Larry Walker 68 (15.5), Mark McGwire 54 (12.3), Gary Sheffield 51 (11.6), Billy Wagner 46 (10.5), Sammy Sosa 31 (7.0), Jim Edmonds 11 (2.5), Nomar Garciaparra 8 (1.8), Mike Sweeney 3 (0.7), David Eckstein 2 (0.5), Jason Kendall 2 (0.5),  Garret Anderson 1 (0.2), Brad Ausmus 0, Luis Castillo 0, Troy Glaus 0, Mark Grudzielanek 0, Mike Hampton 0, Mike Lowell 0, Randy Winn 0.

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17 comments
Bob Ricci
Bob Ricci

There are enough suspicions about your incompetency that you shouldn't be allowed to vote.

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

So how did you vote on the local guy McGriff?

Mike
Mike

Agree Jeff, not sure why Bradley went to the dark side.

BobDawg
BobDawg

Jeff,  Come On.. you guys are holding your pinky finger up and trying to figure out who was on PED's and who wasn't… I'm surprised these guys didn't take out a secret testing program during their careers (The ones who were clean) and then release it once they were done and retired… Other than that… you guys have no idea…… 

Angus Shangus
Angus Shangus

There was barely a whiff of malfeasance with Piazza.  I don't think I could punish him on  rumor and innuendo.  With folks like Bonds, Sosa, Clemens and McGwire where the evidence was indisputable, I understand but we might as well punish everyone who played in that era because then EVERYONE can be made suspect.  Might as well send in a blank ballot if thats what you think.  In reality, a steroid cheat is probably already in the HOF and we just don't know it.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Your explanations at least make some logical sense. I agree on Raines, saw quite a bit of him in his prime as an opposing player. More deserving than Dawson IMHO. As for PEDs, there is a cloud of suspicion over everyone who played (and still plays). The shame of it all is the Union and MLB and players pretty much turned a blind eye, staining them all, and the Union and MLB in my opinion encouraged or enabled PED use after the strike. Makes it hard for me to "vote" for anyone who played in the era, Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz included.


BobDawg
BobDawg

@DawgDadII Like I said above.. I would have taken out a secret testing policy on myself and then released it after I'm done…. Sealed until I retired without even myself knowing the results…. 

Lakehartwell
Lakehartwell

I agree with you Schultz. Bradley needs to take some lessons from you. .

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

Schultz, you have "never understood" why some don't vote for Raines?


When it comes to Raines, what holds back voters to this day was his cocaine habit.  Raines admitted that he would go to the clubhouse between innings and do some lines of coke.  That has certainly influenced voters.  No other explanation.  

emily16
emily16

Why isn't Fred McGriff getting more love. He’s tied with Lou Gehrig in the 28th spot on the home run list and led each league in homers once. At one point, coming within seven homers of the 500-homer mark earned a hitter strong Hall of Fame consideration. Willie Stargell got in with 475 home runs and an .889 OPS that was just three points higher than McGriff’s. Bill James’ Hall of Fame Monitor establishes 100 points as the figure at which a candidate becomes a likely Hall of Famer. McGriff hit that number on the nose. I know he played during the steroid era but the way he fell off at the end should tell the voters that he played clean because the ones who have been linked to PED's kept putting up big numbers despite aging. Well that is except Jeff Bagwell who could barley throw from first to home at the end probably from steroids breaking his body down.

19palmer49
19palmer49

Good for you and your character. Bradley needs a dose of character but do not think it is coming. Thanks Jeff.

bufordpurvis
bufordpurvis

agree with Schultz on nearly all of them. Raines should be in but was an Expo. That's holding him out. Piazza should not be in for being the worst catcher I've ever seen

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

I disagree with your vote on Piazza but I also see an inconsistency. You have your own personal standard that says you only vote for a player suspect of PEDs during their tenth year of eligibility yet you take issue with three of your peers refusing to vote for Griffey on the first ballot. I submit that some of them may also have their own rules that precluded them from voting for Griffey on a first ballot.

njbraves
njbraves

Schilling has a better career ERA than Glavine, who I'm sure you voted for. W/L record isn't the best way to judge pitchers. Schilling played on some pretty bad teams in Philly.

E983
E983

Some of the writers have changed their votes over the past couple of years. Some, like you, haven't and never will. To quote Tom Verducci, "We have been likened to McCarthyism. That's nowhere near true because those people lost their jobs and their standing in the industry. Bonds and McGuire both are hitting coaches and all of them are living on the millions they were paid during their playing years." MLB, the Players Union and the clubs kept silent during this time. To quote Peter Gammons, "Todd Helton and Mike Sweeney told me at the Allstar Game in Milwaukee they never would stand a chance as long as it was allowed in the game. We are told to shut up if we try to bring it up at the union meetings." Al Leiter, "These are the 'action figures'. Don't give em anything to hit." Bob Costas, "When a 31 year old player hits 47 homers and the next year he hits 67? The numbers during that time were whacked. They also talk about the use of amphetamines during the 50s, 60s and 70s and the statistics can't make a case for there use. They were used to keep the players awake."

John Smoltz did admit that he asked Griffey Jr. for an autographed bat for a friend. Griffey told him he would if he would throw him a "cookie". Smoltz threw him one and Griffey hit it about 400 ft. He got the bat.

Thanks Jeff.

mar1049
mar1049

@Edgar Don't know who is more of a goober. Edgar, Costas or Jeff.