Mike Bauman: Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson and Lee Smith
Alomar was a transcendent defensive second baseman, an incomparable defender, the best of his era at his position, as his 10 Gold Gloves indicate. And at a position that was historically defense-first, he brought extra-base power, speed and on-base ability to the lineup. Blyleven should have been in the Hall years ago. His career numbers, such as fifth all-time in strikeouts, offer testimony to his worth. He has been penalized for having 287 victories instead of 300. He would have had many more than 300 had he pitched for better teams, and he had a curveball for the ages. Dawson was a splendid all-around player, with wonderful defensive skills in the outfield (eight Gold Gloves), power and speed. Playing on artificial surfaces wrecked his knees and shortened the period of his greatness, but his support has been growing each year. Smith was a dominant closer in his era.
Barry M. Bloom: Roberto Alomar, Fred McGriff, Edgar Martinez, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Lee Smith, Mark McGwire and Robin Ventura
This year I filled out my ballot, using all 10 slots. Of the newcomers, I voted for Alomar, McGriff and Martinez. Of the returnees, I checked off Blyleven, Dawson, Morris, Trammell, Smith and McGwire. I added Ventura to the bunch just because he was a personal favorite. I doubt Ventura will even get the five percent requisite vote to carry him over. If he doesn't, at least he knows he got one vote. Mine.
Hal Bodley: Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar and Jack Morris
I believe the fact that Jim Rice finally made it last year helps Dawson. He won eight National League Gold Glove Awards, was a NL All-Star eight times, Rookie of the Year in 1977 and NL MVP in 1987. He had a career .279 batting average, collected 2,774 hits, drove in 1,591 runs and hit 438 homers. He had a rifle arm, one of the best outfielders when he was healthy I've seen. If Blyleven doesn't make it this time, he may not. He'd have just two more chances and the competition will be stiffer. Many of my writer friends believe Alomar will be voted in easily. His credentials are the most impressive of the 26 candidates. He batted .300 during his 17-year career, hit 210 homers, 502 doubles and stole 474 bases. What made him such a standout was the fact he could hit for average, had a knack for getting on base, could steal and field his position better than anyone else during his era, winning 10 Gold Glove Awards. He helped Toronto win back-to-back World Series titles (1992-93) and had a career .313 postseason batting average.
Peter Gammons: Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Mark McGwire, Barry Larkin, Alan Trammell, Andre Dawson and Tim Raines
Click here for Gammons' full column.
Ken Gurnick: Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson and Lee Smith
Dawson would already be in if his knees hadn't given out. Some people don't like the way closers have changed the way a game is managed, but Smith helped make it happen as one of the best one-inning pitchers ever. Blyleven's bulk numbers put him right there with Hall of Famers like Don Sutton and Ferguson Jenkins.
Chris Haft: Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Barry Larkin, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy and Lee Smith
Alomar performed with consummate, transcendent grace. They call soccer the "beautiful game?" Watch Alomar and you'd pin that label on baseball. Blyleven and Dawson have grown on me. I covered a large portion of Larkin's career, so I'm biased in his favor, but that's just it -- I saw him win games in every way possible. Too many voters forget that Morris and Smith were the epitome of an ace and a closer, respectively, for a long time. And if we can keep somebody out of the Hall due to questionable character, such as Pete Rose, why not admit somebody like Murphy who did something to ennoble the game literally every day -- whether he was signing autographs or answering fan mail -- and just happened to be a heck of a player?
Carrie Muskat: Andre Dawson and Roberto Alomar
Some naysayers point to Dawson's low on-base percentage as a reason he's been kept out of Cooperstown. Dawson's response? "Maybe I should've walked more," he told me recently. That wasn't his job. The Hawk was one of the most respected players and teammates in the game, and he has the numbers to be in the Hall. This should be his year. Alomar was a dazzling acrobat, and his 10 Gold Gloves back that up. He was the whole package.
Mark Newman: Roberto Alomar, Mark McGwire, Lee Smith
Ballot arrives in mail early December. Open contents. See Alomar's stat summation and somehow the "12 consecutive All-Star selections" now sink in more than it did while he played. Check box, quickly. He and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg were the gold standards at second base for a long time. I was at Big Mac's 62 game and am still a believer having watched his career. No one else made batting practice into a regular "show." Still not playing commissioner with the Hall vote, fourth straight year I've checked McGwire's name. There is not sufficient reason otherwise, as long as he appears on the ballot. If Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage and Hoyt Wilhelm are in, so is Smith. He held the Major League saves record of 478 from 1993 until 2006, and last year said justifiably: "I have, like, 200 more saves than two or three guys who are in there." I didn't vote for Rice and I saw Dawson/Blyleven in the same way while watching their whole careers: "really good." Go to Cooperstown and walk into the hallowed Gallery room and you are reminded that "really good" players do not belong in that room with plaques alongside Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and Nolan Ryan.
HOW THEY VOTED
|Bauman||Alomar, Blyleven, Dawson, Smith|
|Bloom||Alomar, McGriff, Martinez, Blyleven, Dawson, Morris, Trammell, Smith, McGwire, Ventura|
|Bodley||Dawson, Blyleven, Alomar, Morris|
|Gammons||Alomar, Blyleven, McGwire, Larkin, Trammell, Dawson, Raines|
|Gurnick||Blyleven, Dawson, Smith|
|Haft||Alomar, Blyleven, Dawson, Larkin, Morris, Murphy, Smith|
|Newman||Alomar, McGwire, Smith|
|Singer||Alomar, Larkin, Blyleven, Dawson, Smith, Morris, Martinez, Trammell|
|Spencer||Alomar, Blyleven, Dawson, Larkin, Mattingly, Murphy, Raines, Smith, Trammell|
|Street||Alomar, Blyleven, Dawson, Larkin, Martinez, Morris, Raines|
|Sullivan||McGwire, Dawson, Blyleven, Alomar|
Marty Noble: Barry Larkin and Dave Parker
Alomar will probably be elected, and based on performance through most of his 17 seasons, he ought to be. But he will go without my vote this year. I don't like to use the ballot in this manner, but the best second baseman since Joe Morgan -- and probably the best ever -- doesn't deserve my vote for at least one year because of two spitting instances. We're all aware of the one involving John Hirschbeck. I don't care that Hirschbeck forgave Alomar for spitting at him; I haven't. It was unacceptable behavior. And during his 222-game tour with the Mets, Alomar repeatedly spit in the face of the game by playing with conspicuous apathy. His father and brother didn't deserve that, nor did the game. Larkin was a gentleman, an MVP and a genuine offensive force who played the most important defensive position at a high level. He was an easy choice. Parker remains the the best player I ever have covered. He beat opponents every way possible, running over them, if necessary. And he was better at keeping a clubhouse loose than any player I've experienced. I hadn't voted for him until now because of his involvement in the 1985 cocaine mess in Pittsburgh. But I had supported the Hall candidacy of Keith Hernandez, the second-best player I ever covered, despite his involvement with cocaine. That inconsistency had to be rectified. I can forgive their flaws more readily than I can forgive Alomar's. Wait till next year.
Tom Singer: Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Lee Smith, Jack Morris, Edgar Martinez and Alan Trammell
Alomar, Larkin, Dawson and Trammell easily pass the best-in-their-era test. Blyleven measured up to any era, and Smith was a pioneer marquee closer who belongs with Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter. Morris was the last of a breed, an uber-competitor. And when it comes to breaking down a DH barrier, who if not the best, Martinez?
Lyle Spencer: Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Barry Larkin, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell
Alomar was the purest glove at second I've seen and a tough out in the clutch. The time has come for Blyleven -- dominant with best curveball ever -- and Dawson, whose greatness was obscured in his early years in Montreal. Larkin and Trammell with grace and style did it all at the most important non-battery position on the field. Raines was very close to Rickey Henderson in impact, and gentlemanly Murphy and Mattingly in their prime were the best in the game. Smith was Gossage-like, fiercely productive. Hard to omit: Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, Dave Parker.
Jim Street: Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Jack Morris and Tim Raines
There are no slam-dunks among the 26 candidates, but three players on the ballot for the first time got my votes. Alomar was one of the best all-around second basemen I have ever seen, playing in 12 All-Star Games and winning 10 Gold Gloves. Larkin, a 12-time All-Star shortstop with the Reds, is first-ballot worthy and so is Martinez, who helped turn the DH role into one of the most important positions in the lineup, and a player instrumental in making the Mariners a respected franchise for the first time. As for the four carryovers, I will continue voting for Blyleven, Dawson, Morris and Raines until they make it -- or no longer are on the ballot.
T.R. Sullivan: Mark McGwire, Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar
Dawson needs to be in the Hall of Fame. He was a magnificent blend of offensive and defensive talent, as was Alomar. The obsession with on-base percentage is ridiculous. Dawson was a great all-around player. His absence ranks right up there with Ron Santo on the injustice scale.