Red Sox

MLB Notebook: One man’s Hall of Fame ballot

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

The New Year is almost here, and with it, the pending announcement about which players will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next July.

As always, the right to vote for the Hall is both privilege and chore. A privilege because I get a say in determining which players have their careers honored forever in Cooperstown, a task I couldn't take lightly. A chore because the task can be overwhelming, the amount of information endless, and the resulting debate — especially on social media — so toxic.

Still, it's an honor to be entrusted with such responsibility. As always, I approach the process with great seriousness, while striving never to take myself too seriously.

The large number of honorees of late — most of whom I voted for, some of whom I did not — has resulted in an opportunity for some to redress some past omissions, and coupled with a new class of names which features only one obvious induction candidate, could produce one of the more interesting elections in recent memory.

As I've noted in the past, I was once very much a "Small Hall'' voter — that is, I tended to vote for only the no-questions-asked candidates while resisting some worthy but more borderline candidates. I don't see my change of heart as any relaxing of standards, but rather, a more generous and inclusive view of what constitutes a Hall of Fame-worthy career.

I also relaxed my stance against some players linked to or having confessed to PED use (more on this later), on the grounds that it had become impossible to differentiate who had used what, and to what benefit. After all the discovery and accusations — credible and not — it was simply too hard to sort everything out. And a part of me resented being asked by the Hall of Fame to play judge and jury without any guidance provided.

So, I stopped trying to throw sandbags against an unstoppable current.

What follows is an explanation of the players (six this year) for whom I voted, and also, why I considered a few others but ultimately decided against.

I make no apologies for