• Tim Raines, a devastating leadoff man ranking behind only Rickey Henderson in the modern era.
• Alan Trammell, who continues to be criminally overlooked compared to his peers at shortstop, perhaps because he didn’t do enough backflips.
• Edgar Martinez, who shouldn’t be penalized for being a designated hitter; it’s been a position for 40 years and no one has done it better.
• Mike Piazza, whose offensive production as a catcher was exemplary.
• Larry Walker, a great all-around player unfairly downgraded in some eyes for playing much of his career at Coors Field.
• Curt Schilling, consistently excellent and among the greatest postseason pitchers of all time (11-2, 2.23 ERA).
• Jack Morris, the poster child of the numbers-vs.-eyeballs debate that has consumed baseball discussion. The overall numbers aren’t on his side, of course, most notably that 3.90 ERA, but one number courtesy of Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci put me over the top on Morris. Over a 14-season span, Morris pitched at least eight innings in 52 percent of his starts. That’s astounding, and a clear indicator of the regard in which Morris was held by managers of some pretty good teams — most notably the world-champion Tigers, Twins and Blue Jays squads he helped win rings.
Despite their obvious worthiness based on their statistics, despite my long-standing disdain for those who establish a double standard with their Hall votes, when it came time to mark down my final choices, I just couldn’t do it.
Illogical? Self-important? Call it what you will. I imagine I’ll vote for both next year and in future elections, but one last look at them this time just gave me too much pause.
It’s highly unlikely either player will get in this year, but just on the off chance, I didn’t want to be a part of either being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.