People only get their feathers ruffled when it comes to the Hall of Fame because it means something to them. I generally don't care about metal hunks inside old buildings in upstate New York, but I've been to Cooperstown, I've grown up loving baseball, and I've admittedly been suckered into really caring about this kind of stuff.
No, I won't devote my life to trying to make things closer to my vision. But I can spend an hour giving you guys 600 words on who I would vote for and why. In fact, that's probably way more time than many actual Hall of Fame voters actually spend on their ballots, so I'm pretty much qualified now. So, here it is, my 2012 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot:
We have no proof that Bagwell did steroids. We don't even know how much steroids can help a player. But we're going to knock this guy off the ballot because he maybe did something that might have helped him play better? Thanks, but no thanks. I see historically great offensive performance, regardless of era. He's in.
Got close last year, has loads of momentum going into this year's voting. Even while being somewhat injury-prone, Larkin had a long career as one of the best all-around shortstops in the game. Not a tough one here, he's in.
If you need an explanation of Raines' greatness, you can read this not-that-old take from Keith Law. Basically, we're talking about a player who was uniquely great at getting on base, and then uniquely great at stealing bases after getting on. He's one of the best players of the 1980's, and he's definitely in.
The numbers aren't shiny, but the all-around value that he actually brought to the table is nearly blinding. An exceptional defender at shortstop, he was also an above-average hitter with numerous MVP-quality seasons. He's in.
In order to make the Hall as a DH, you need to have essentially been an elite hitter for your entire career. Enter Edgar Martinez. Ignore the lack of gaudy home run and RBI numbers, because this guy was scary-good as a hitter for a long time. Over a seven-year span from 1995 to 2001, Martinez's worst single-season line was .306/.423/.543. Yeah, he's in.
This isn't quite like Bagwell, because we know that McGwire actually used PED's. If I thought that McGwire was right on the fringe, I'd probably leave him off. But I don't think he is. Not with 583 home runs, 1467 walks and 71 WAR. McGwire only had a few skills, but they were historically strong, just like his peak. He's in.
By raw numbers, you put Walker in. His .313/.400/.565 career line puts him among all-time greats, his WAR puts him in line with Raines/Trammell even while accounting for park and era. But does WAR really take in the effects of Coors in the late 90's? I don't know, but I do believe that players who played there were adversely affected while playing on the road. He's right on the fringe, but he's in for me.
As I said before, guys on the fringe are the ones that will get particularly hurt by steroids. For all of Rafael Palmeiro's greatness, he feels too much like a compiler to really get in once you factor in the steroids. Only one season above 7 WAR, the lack of peak. It's important to emphasize here that I'm primarily leaving him off for performance, not PED's.