Baseball's Hall of Fame ballot was released yesterday; "approximately 600" voting members of the BBWAA will decide whether any eligible player will be inducted next July.
This is, of course, in addition to the new Veterans Committee vote that will take place early next week at MLB's Winter Meetings in Dallas, at which we hope Ron Santo will at last gain induction.
Beyond that, though, it doesn't appear that this year's ballot has anyone new on it that rates induction. Here's a list of the players appearing for the first time:
Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Brian Jordan, Javy Lopez, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Phil Nevin, Brad Radke, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Bernie Williams, Tony Womack, Eric Young
There are a fair number of people on that list who played for the Cubs at one time. Six of them, in fact: Burnitz, Mueller, Mulholland, Nevin, Womack and Young. Not one of those ex-Cubs deserves Hall of Fame consideration. Neither, in my opinion, do any of the other 13 newcomers; as Rob Neyer points out, Williams is probably the best player on that list and he's a prime candidate for the Hall of Very Good.
There are 14 holdovers from last year's ballot:
Jeff Bagwell, Juan Gonzalez, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, , Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker
Larkin and Morris are the only ones returning who got more than 50% of the vote in 2011 (62.1% for Larkin, 53.5% for Morris). Generally, when someone gets over 60% of the vote, he eventually gets in.
Yesterday, we discussed this to some extent in this FanShot; I don't see Larkin as a Hall of Famer, but many pointed out that he has the same argument in his favor as Santo -- he's one of the top shortstops in history.
I've attached a poll to this post. If you were a voter for this in real life, you'd get to vote for up to 10; unfortunately, SBN's poll infrastructure doesn't yet allow for multiple votes in a poll. So, vote for the ONE player you would most like to see inducted this year. Then, in the comments, you can post what your entire ballot would be if you had an official vote.
Personally, I would vote for Larkin, Smith, Raines and Martinez. I've softened my stance on Martinez; I never felt he had the counting stats. But he is clearly the best DH in MLB history. That deserves recognition.
Next year is when voting really gets interesting. First-timers on the 2013 ballot will include Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa and Curt Schilling.