As a lifetime member of the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association), I have the honor of being involved in the organization’s annual Hall of Fame voting process. This is my fifth year with a ballot, and my selections were turned in about two weeks ago.
The IBWAA voting process does not earn a player a plaque at Cooperstown. It does, however, allow a group of well-informed voters to express their opinion as to which players are deserving of the ultimate honor for their baseball career. You can consider it a formal endorsement from baseball writers and bloggers who represent dozens of internet sites.
I had decided over the last couple of years to break my ballot down into three segments. “Hall of Fame” players are those who, for me, are obvious, or whom I evaluated from previous years and decided were worthy. “Future Consideration” names are not so obvious to me, but are strong enough candidates that I will continue to evaluate them moving forward. Finally, “Not Hall of Famer” guys are those who just don’t make the cut for me and will not in the future.
In 2017, eight players received my IBWAA vote: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Trevor Hoffman, Mike Mussina, Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, Curt Schilling, and Larry Walker. Both Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero, who I had on my “Future Consideration” list that year, were voted in by the full IBWAA membership.
On my “Future Consideration” list from the 2018 ballot were Hoffman, Mussina, Walker, Ramirez, Scott Rolen, Gary Sheffield, Billy Wagner, Lee Smith, Johnny Damon, Sammy Sosa, Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff, Omar Vizquel, Jamie Moyer, Andruw Jones, and Johan Santana.
The IBWAA membership honored six players in the final vote a year ago. Bonds and Clemens each finally got in, joined by Thome, CJones, Mussina, and Hoffman.
While the BBWAA only allow their eligible Hall of Fame voters to cast ballots for up to 10 players, the IBWAA has a 15-player limit. I decided after looking over the names to cast a wide ballot this year. Bottom line, I simply felt generous.
MY 2019 IBWAA BALLOT
My list for the 2019 IBWAA ballot was led by Schilling, the only player who has been a definite, no-doubt “Hall of Fame” player for me in both of the last two years but hasn’t made it as yet.
I had decided early-on to bump up two players from last year’s “Future Consideration” list who were back on the 2019 IBWAA ballot, Walker and Rolen, to receive my vote.
That was originally going to be all for me. And then I got soft. I read a couple of pieces written by respected sources advocating for more players to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and was influenced to send in a full 15-player ballot.
For that reason alone, 10 additional players received my vote this year. These players would have usually found themselves in my “Future Consideration” list: Ramirez, Sheffield, Wagner, Kent, McGriff, and AJones from last year’s ballot. And then newcomers Todd Helton, Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, and Andy Pettitte.
Over the last few days, I have come to regret that expansion of my ballot. If I had it to do over again, just Schilling, Rivera, Halladay, Walker, and Rolen would have received my vote. The rest would have been in the “Future Consideration” category, along with holdovers Sosa and Vizquel and newcomer Miguel Tejada.
A year from now you can expect me to return to my three-tiered system of breaking down the nominees. You can expect that any of my five 2019 no-doubt players doesn’t make it this time around, they will get a vote from me again next year.
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