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Hank Winnicki's Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the Class of 2020

Curt Schilling of the Red Sox pitches in

Curt Schilling of the Red Sox pitches in the first inning against the Yankees on Aug. 30, 2007. Credit: Newsday/David L.Pokress/Newsday/David L. Pokress

It’s easy to criticize Hall of Fame voters. And fun, too.

Steroids, small hall, lack of consistency, there’s always something to poke holes in.

Everyone has a bar for the Hall of Fame, and to me, the bar should be high. Some voters are going to be more generous than others.

One thing I’m trying to maintain is consistency. In other words, if I vote for someone one year, I will vote for them the next. Same goes for the players for whom I don’t vote. I don’t care if someone is in their first year of eligibility or their last, if they make the cut in my eyes I’ll continue to vote for them.

And speaking of consistency, there’s just no way to be consistent about steroids. There’s what we know, what we think we know and what we will never know. Even if you decide not to vote for any suspected steroid users, you are assuming that those for whom you vote are clean. The problem was so pervasive that even marginal middle relievers were using performance-enhancing drugs. The logic here is fraught with peril, and you have to make the choices that make the most sense to you.

All of that said, perhaps I’ll change my mind about these things down the road. Others have, and I could, too.

Last year was my first year voting. I went with eight candidates: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera and Curt Schilling.

Halladay, Martinez, Mussina and Rivera were voted in last year. McGriff missed out and was in his 10th and final year of eligibility. That leaves me with three holdovers: Bonds, Clemens, Schilling. The only new candidate worthy of a vote is Derek Jeter, which brings me to four.

Holdovers

I have voted for Bonds and Clemens based on the idea that they were Hall of Famers before the late-career surge that many suspect was fueled by performance-enhancing drugs. Again, I accept that there is no neat and clean way to handle the steroid issue, so this is the choice I have made.

Schilling is a controversial figure, but his baseball resume gets my vote. He was a brilliant postseason performer (11-2, 2.23 ERA in 19 starts), including a 1.37 ERA in five elimination starts (his team won all five). He won three World Series championships, which makes up for his lack of regular season awards. He never won a Cy Young, though he finished second three times. His career win total was light (216), but he is one of 18 pitchers to top the 3,000 strikeout mark.

Close, but not there

Larry Walker is picking up steam because it’s his last year on the ballot and there are more open slots after last year’s induction class. Walker was a talented all-around player, but he had one of the biggest home-field advantages in baseball history and still couldn’t compile the counting stats or stay healthy enough to make him an easy selection for the Hall of Fame.

In fact, in his first year of eligibility in 2011, he received only 20.3 percent of the vote. Three years later he dipped to 10.2 percent. He’s made a slow and steady climb since then, reaching 54.6 percent last year. The latest numbers from NotMrTibbs have him above the 75 percent needed for entry.

Manny Ramirez has the numbers for the Hall, but the two failed drug tests keep him off my ballot.

Looking ahead

If the voting numbers hold up, my four selections will all get in this year, leaving no holdovers. No one is jumping out at me among those who will be new to the ballot next year: Mark Buehrle, AJ Burnett, Michael Cuddyer, Dan Haren, Tim Hudson, Torii Hunter, Adam LaRoche, Aramis Ramirez, Alex Rios, Nick Swisher, Dan Uggla, Shane Victorino and Barry Zito.

What will that mean for next year’s ballot? It could mean a blank ballot, no ballot, or I could decide to change my mind. I have a year to mull it over.

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