The Baseball Hall of Fame is a polarizing topic when it comes to who should be in and who doesn't deserve it, for whatever reason. Many disagree, but I quite enjoy poring over the case of every player worthy of discussion, even if we spend four weeks every year for a decade talking about someone such as Fred McGriff. It's not like we have much else to do when it comes to baseball from mid-December to late-January. 

I became a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America during the 2015 winter meetings and I don't get a vote until I've been a member for 10 years, so I'm still seven votes away. That means what follows is a "here's what my ballot would look like" and doesn't actually count. That also means that when someone doesn't like who I would've voted for, he or she gets to act all clever and say something oh-so-original like "thank goodness you don't have a vote! I hope you never get one!" 

It stings, I tell ya. 

Seriously, though, until I do get a vote, I'm going to go through the process every year so I'm in practice for my first vote. 

The first thing that needs to be considered is the PED issue. That's probably the most polarizing area of the Hall discussions these days and the rule I've set for myself is if a player was suspended under the Joint Drug Agreement with Major League Baseball and the Players Association, I will not vote for him. That eliminates one guy from this ballot: Manny Ramirez. Well, actually two including Miguel Tejada but he wouldn't have gotten a vote anyway. 

If a player was never suspended, I'm not going to try and figure out who did what and who didn't. If MLB didn't care, I don't. Sure, they told players not to take anything, but they didn't enforce it. If there was no such thing as a speed limit, someone going 55 in a 30 won't be punished and therefore it's basically legal and the limit is meaningless. I make zero apologies to the people who will inevitably get angry about this. 

With that rule in place, the top two spots on my ballot are incredibly easy: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Just in looking at what they did on the field, they are inner-circle elite. 

Next up: The single greatest relief pitcher in the history of the game. Mariano Rivera is an easy yes. 

I've made the case before that an entire generation of pitchers aren't getting their due in the Hall and that remains the case. I think Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling belong (I made Schilling's case here). Roy Halladay in his first try gets a vote as well (his case here).

Just like that, we're already more than halfway home. I'm a Big Hall guy -- that's what it already is, by the way, so don't fool yourself -- but I also don't feel like everyone voting for the maximum of 10 players would dilute the Hall. There are always disagreements on players and 75 percent is a big threshold. Still, it's possible that there's a lot of heavy lifting done in the coming years getting the ballot to the point where I no longer believe 10 players are worthy of a vote. We'll hit that later. 

Next up, two players in their 10th and final try: Fred McGriff (his case here)* and Edgar Martinez. On the latter, yes, Martinez was mostly a designated hitter, but there are players who were terrible fielders in the Hall, pitchers in the AL don't hit and closer is a specialty just like DH. Martinez's bat is Hall-worthy and that's all I care about. 

*You can argue that Todd Helton was better than McGriff, but it's the last chance to vote for McGriff and it's Helton's first year on the ballot. I don't care to compare them because the chance to vote for Helton will remain while this is the last shot at McGriff and I think McGriff has gotten an entirely unfair shake.

Just like that, I'm down to my final two spots and it's time for a talk. Players such as Larry Walker and Scott Rolen have been darlings for the advanced metric types while Omar Vizquel appears a favorite of the old guard. I'm a mix of those, but I also can't shake the Hall of Fame and not Hall of WAR aspect. Sometimes the "he was feared" or "he was such a big deal" aspect is applied laughably, but I remember watching both of these guys in their prime and know what a huge deal they were. I'd vote for Sammy Sosa and Gary Sheffield

One of the main reasons is I remember Sosa in the 1998-2004 range and I just can't fathom voting for Walker over him. It's not like Sosa doesn't have the numbers. He hit over 600 home runs, he topped 60 in three different seasons and ranks 30th all-time with 1,667 RBI. 

Sheffield ranks 29th with 10 more RBI, owns a 140 OPS+ and hit 509 homers. Who among us never mimicked his batting stance with the fearful waggle? I know, I know ... that shouldn't count. But it kind of does a little, you know? And, again, I can't imagine going back in time to their primes and telling myself Rolen was more a Hall of Famer than Sheffield. 

If it was a binary ballot (just yes or no), I'd have additional yes spots for Walker, Rolen, Helton, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent and Billy Wagner in that order. I guess I'd consider Vizquel, but he's far enough down my list I don't think he'll ever crack my top 10. The next best would be Andy Pettitte, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, but they miss the cut for me. 

It's worth mention that McGriff and Martinez are definitely coming off the ballot after this year and it looks like Rivera and Halladay will get in (along with Martinez) and only Derek Jeter is worthy among next year's first timers. That is to say, it looks like I'll have three open spots next year and will be adding Walker, Rolen and Helton. It's possible even Mussina gets in to open up a spot for Jones. Then again, Jones and/or Sosa might get five-percented off the ballot, too, meaning I'd be adding Kent and/or Wagner! Maybe I will have to nail down my feelings on Vizquel after all (I'm pretty sure I'm a no). 

Further, the 2021 first-year class is headlined by Tim Hudson and Mark Buehrle. Walker will have had his 10 years by then, too. It looks like the backlog will have finally been cleared.

Until then, though, this would've been my 2019 ballot: 

  1. Bonds
  2. Clemens
  3. Rivera
  4. Halladay
  5. Mussina
  6. Schilling
  7. Martinez
  8. Sosa
  9. Sheffield
  10. McGriff

Feel free to tell me how awesome this ballot would've been on Twitter @MattSnyderCBS.