First of all, let me explain my basic reasoning when pondering this ballot:
(1) Once I vote for a player, he remains on my ballot, barring extraordinary circumstances. A player can't get worse by not playing.
(2) I won't leave a player off my ballot because of things he did away from the sphere of baseball. A great player may not always be a great person, and while personality flaws may diminish how you perceive him, it shouldn't take away from his performance between the lines.
(3) I will leave a player off my ballot if he has violated a cardinal rule of baseball. I'm obviously referring to taking illegal (according to MLB) substances, as well as gambling on the game while playing. These allegations must be proven.
(4) I generally prefer players with great peaks over players who have longer careers, all things being equal.
So with that being said, here's my 2007 Imaginary Hall of Fame Ballot.
First, the returnees:
(1) Alan Trammell. Played shortstop for almost all of his 20-year career, won four Gold Gloves, and finished with a 110 OPS+. Finished his career with .285/.352/.412 line, and placed in the top 10 in MVP voting three times (he finished 2nd in 1987). Four seasons with a WARP3 over 10, and a total WARP3 of 117.6.
(2) Bert Blyleven. Pitched for a long time, but didn't get as much recognition because he pitched for some pretty bad teams. His career record (287-250) scares off a lot of voters, but his longevity and his consistency should make up for it. Career WARP3 of 138.6. 3701 career strikeouts. Career ERA+ of 118. He certainly isn't an inner-circle Hall of Famer, but he should be in.
(3) Rich "Goose" Gossage. The Mariano Rivera of the 1970s and 1980s, Gossage didn't accumulate the amount of saves that pique the interest of potential voters, but consider the amount of innings he would pitch in a relief appearance. For example, in 1978, he threw 134.1 IP and appeared in just 63 games. He finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting 5 years. Career ERA+ of 126. Career WARP3 of 84.
(4) Albert Belle. Throw out the personal animosity between Albert and the BBWAA and he'd be at least a borderline candidate. Belle at his peak was one of the best hitters in baseball: from 1993 to 1999, Belle posted WARP3s of 10.5, 10.6, 13.4, 11.2, 5.1, 11.7, and 10.3. Belle finished in the top 10 of MVP voting 5 times. His 1995 feat of 50 doubles and 50 home runs (in a strike-shortened season, nonetheless) still has not been equaled. Career batting line of .295/.369/.564.
Next, the newcomers:
(5) Cal Ripken Jr. There really is no legitimate argument not to vote for him. He was the consensus best shortstop of his era, won two MVPs, hit 431 HR, collected 3,184 hits, and of course holds the record for consecutive games played. Career WARP3 of 169.1, by far the best among players on the ballot.
(6) Tony Gwynn. Best pure hitter of his era, with a career .338/.388/.459 line, and leading the NL in batting average an amazing eight times. Never hit more than 20 home runs in a season, but also never struck out more than 40 times in a season. Career WARP3 of 124.3.
(7) Mark McGwire. Obviously the most controversial of any on my ballot. There actually is a case to be made that he doesn't belong based soley on his playing career: he was a one-dimensional player throughout much of his career, and wasn't much of a defender at first base. But his offensive peak was awesome; between 1995 and 2000 he posted OPS+s of 200, 203, 182, 217, 178, and 205. That's a dominant force for a period of six years, and if he had no steroid controversy associated with him, he'd probably have a good shot of getting elected. Time and perspective have both been unkind to McGwire; other first baseman like Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas had much better careers, and don't have any baggage to carry with their candidacies.
He's a borderline candidate, but I'm voting for him. If the steroid allegations are proven true, he'll come off my ballot. And there will be plenty of time to wait, because I don't think he's getting elected anytime soon.
Thanks for Playing: Harold Baines, Dante Bichette, Bobby Bonilla, Scott Brosius, Jay Buhner, Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Eric Davis, Tony Fernandez, Wally Joyner, Paul O'Neill, Bret Saberhagen, Devon White