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November 30, 2011

Breaking Down the 2012 Hall of Fame Ballot

On Wednesday, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced the upcoming 2012 Hall of Fame ballot.  Included are 27 candidates (down from last year's 33)...13 newcomers and, like last year, 14 holdovers.

Unlike last year, when Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven got the obvious call, there are no shoe-ins whatsoever.

Leading the pack of returners is 1995 National League MVP, Barry Larkin...who is on his third ballot.  A year ago, the longtime Cincinnati Reds shortstop finished third overall with 62.1% of the vote.

Other holdovers include Jack Morris (53.5%), Lee Smith (45.3%), Jeff Bagwell (41.7%), Tim  Raines (37.5%), Edgar Martinez (32.9%), Alan Trammell (24.3%), Larry Walker (20.3%), Fred McGriff (17.9%), Don Mattingly (13.6%) and Dale Murphy (12.6%).

Three others, Mark McGwire (19.8%), Rafael Palmeiro (11.0%) and Juan Gonzalez (5.2%) are obviously adorned with the steroid scarlett letter and have about as much of a shot of making it in as you or me.

There are no notable newcomers on the ballot, which makes this a boring, boring ballot.

Leading the pack, however is possibly the most accomplished of the first ballot guys...New York Yankees fan favorite Bernie Williams.

Good friend of The Hall "Bald Vinny" might have Williams on his Yankees Mt. Rushmore, but it isn't likely that the Hall of Fame will welcome him. Sure, his .297 career batting average (including eight straight seasons of .300 or more), 2336 hits and 22 post season home runs are things of recent Yankee lore…but they are nothing but a blip on the radar of what gets mentioned alongside the names of those in Cooperstown

Other notable first ballot guys...Javy Lopez, Ruben Sierra and Vinny Castilla.

It's been a long time, but back in the day, I think we all might have been tempted to make the argument that Lopez was on his way to something. Then, well, the train left the tracks and I'm not really sure what happened to the guy. He ended his career with a respectable .287 batting average and 260 home runs.

20 years ago, Sierra was, along with Hall of Very Good frenemy Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Pete Incaviglia, THE future of baseball and you would have been hard pressed to find anyone to agree with you. Now, after 306 home runs and 1322 RBI…he’s an interesting footnote to an era that has long since passed.

Was Castilla a very good hitting third baseman or another one of those who was helped by the much ballyhooed Coors Effect? Both?!? Any way you slice it, his 320 home runs and near perfect hair doesn’t get him through the doors of Cooperstown without paying first.

Rounding out the ballot...Jeromy Burnitz, former two-sport star Brian Jordan, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Phil Nevin, Brad Radke, 1993 American League Rookie of the Year Tim Salmon, Tony Womack and Eric Young.

Voting results will be announced Monday, January 9.

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