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My Cardinals Hall of Fame Ballot

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In the Game of Cardinals Hall of Fame Balloting, either you win, or you die (or they just leave you on the ballot for next year).

A few old baseball players.
A few old baseball players.
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to Halls of Fame, I take it all with an enormous grain of salt. I've been to Cooperstown. It's a fantastic baseball museum, even if it is built on a site that has been completely debunked as the birthplace of the game. But as for the canonization of players? It's a fun debate, but when it descends into moralizing I quickly excuse myself to the nearest restroom to power-vomit.

It's with that same ambivalence that I approach the Cardinals Hall of Fame, which will induct two new members again this season. As long as we grant that we aren't electing the next pope here, it's a fun debate.

Here's the eight nominees:

Player

WAR*

Seasons*

Ted Simmons

44.8

13

Keith Hernandez

34.3

10

Joe Torre

22.4

6

Bob Forsch

21.5

15

Steve Carlton

20.9

7

Mark McGwire

19.2

5

Matt Morris

18.7

8

Edgar Renteria

16.5

6

*As a Cardinal

Ted Simmons

Many believe Ted Simmons should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, so he seems like a bit of a no-brainer for the Cardinals Hall. He not only posted more WAR than anyone on this list, he has the 11th highest total for any catcher in history, which, you know, is pretty good.

Hernandez, Torre, McGwire

While Torre did some catching with the Cardinals, these three were primarily corner infielders. They each posted some of their peak seasons with the Cardinals. Hernandez 7.6 WAR in 1979 and McGwire's 7.5 in 1998 are the two highest single-season totals of anyone on the ballot, with Joe Torre's 1971 MVP season not far behind. Despite peaking with the Cardinals, they each also spent significant portions of their career in other cities, wearing other baseball costumes.

This is strictly anecdotal, but when I think of Keith Hernandez, I think of the Mets. When I think of Joe Torre, I think of the Yankees. And when I think of Mark McGwire, I still think of this:

Renteria

Really? Edgar Renteria? Very good player, part of a great era in team history, but he seems to me clearly off-the-pace of this group. Plus, his career highlight wasn't even as a Cardinal.

Steve Carlton

If you covered up the teams and years, Steve Carlton is clearly the best player on this list. He's not only the only one in the actual HoF as a player (Torre is in as a manager), he was elected on his first ballot with 96% of the vote. So it seems safe to say that Steve Carlton was good at baseball.

The hangup with Carlton is that, despite pitching seven years a as a Cardinal (nearly as many as Matt Morris), that was a fraction of his 24-year career, and less than half the time he spent in Philadelphia. The trade that sent Carlton to Philadelphia for Rick Wise, reportedly motivated by a Gussie Busch tantrum over stalled contract negotiations, is widely regarded as one of the worst in history.

Was Steve Carlton a great Cardinal? Absolutely. But even just the mention of his name still beings tears to many fans.

Bob Forsch and Matt Morris

Both of these guys were drafted by the Cardinals and spent several years as the #1 starter of a not-particularly-good pitching staff. Morris had the much higher peak, twice an All-Star, finishing as high as third in the Cy Young vote. Forsch's greatest assets were his consistency and longevity, and those are nothing to sniff at. He has the second most starts of any pitcher in Cardinals history, behind only Bob Gibson.

***

You've got about a week left to vote online before the deadline April 20, and you can pick two.

For me, Simmons is a lock. He was the most productive and 2nd-longest tenured on the list. As for my 2nd pick, I'm a little unsure. Part of me really wants to go with Bob Forsch. The numbers may not blow you away, but that guy absolutely was a Cardinal. Keith Hernandez and Steve Carlton had very long careers that weren't spent entirely in St. Louis, but 10 and 7 years are still substantial stretches. I probably end up going with Carlton. Put the trade behind us. Reclaim a part of his great career for St. Louis. Let the healing begin.

How about you?