In today’s Enquirer there is a very interesting article by John Erardi concerning Dave Parker, Erardi’s criteria to make his ballot, and his Hall of Fame selections:

It is Cincinnati native Dave Parker‘s 15th and final year on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot with the 600-plus voters of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Every year I’ve voted, I have voted for the former Pirates and Reds slugger (he also played in Oakland and Milwaukee) and never questioned myself, despite increased anti-Parker lobbying from my friends in the sabermetric community.

I stand by my vote.

I admit it; I like the comets, especially five-tool comets. And even though I know it’s unsabermetric, I like guys that have their best (or close to their best) years in their championship season(s), which was what Parker did in 1979 for the We Are Family Pirates.

Early in his career, top 10 MVP voting 4 out of 5 years, including winning it in 1978.

For my money – notwithstanding National League MVP votes to the Reds’ Joe Morgan in 1975-76 and George Foster in 1977 – Parker was the best player not only in the NL in the second half of the decade, but in all of baseball. If there was a player I could have picked to start a franchise then, Parker would have topped the list.

For me, that qualifies Parker as a Hall of Fame player – even though I realize I’m in the minority for thinking that way.

During his first five full seasons in the majors, from 1975-79, Parker batted .322 with an average of 23 home runs, 98 RBI and 16 stolen bases per season. He earned back-to-back batting titles in ’77 and ’78 (the year he won his MVP award) and won the All-Star Game MVP in ’79.

Second half of the decade? That’s kind of cherry-picking and when you’re talking about the HOF, you shouldn’t have to cherry pick years/numbers. Why isn’t he in the HOF?

“if he had done anything” in what should have been his near-prime season (ages 29-33, which covers the period of 1980-84), he would be in the Hall of Fame by now. Instead, during that five-year stretch, Parker was little more than what is known as a “replacement player,” sabermetric talk for somebody you can pick up off the waiver wire.

I don’t know if I’d go THAT far, he only had one season where he was below average (1983 – OPS+ of 97). I’m not an expert on Parker’s career, but I’m assuming this is when the cocaine issues/the trial, etc took their toll on him and his career.

So, John explains how he fills out his ballot:

But I look at it this way:

Besides giving points to players who post their best years in their championship seasons, I also give points to players who resurrect their careers from the ash heap – as Parker did in the second half of the 1980s – even when that demise is self-inflicted.

I applaud sabermetricians for trying to remove all forms of subjectivity, but I’m not going to give zero weight to guys who play for World Series’ teams and bounce back from demises.

I just can’t go “pure math” on these guys.

And he did resurrect his career in Cincinnati.

In my opinion, he also should have won the National League MVP award with Cincinnati in 1985, when the Cardinals’ Willie McGee beat him out.

I’ll go to my grave believing that Parker’s involvement in the cocaine scandal of the early 1980s cost him that MVP honor, and has cost him at least another 25 percent on the ballot, for which he’s never received more than 24.5 percent of the vote (75 percent is required for election).

He was an Ironman for the Reds that year, playing in 160 games and leading the league in double, RBI, total bases; he also had an OPS+ of 149, was named to the All Star team, won the Silver Slugger, and was second in the MVP balloting.

He followed it up with a season nearly as good, playing in all 162 games and again leading the league in total bases, again going to the All Star game and winning the Silver Slugger, and coming in 5th in the MVP voting.

Finally, John gives us an early peak at what will probably be his ballot:

I’m five days away from faxing my ballot to New York (it’s due Jan. 1), and I’m leaning toward making this the first year I’ve filled in all 10 blanks on the ballot.

For me, the lock votes are for Parker, fellow Cincinnati native and former Red Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Alan Trammel (if I voted for Dave Concepcion every year, which I did, how can I not vote for Trammel?), and Tim Raines (the sabermetric guys convinced me on Raines a few years ago; basically, he was the NL’s Rickey Henderson).

That’s seven. I’m also voting for the aforementioned Walker because I think there’s a chance he could fall off the ballot this year by receiving 5 percent or less of the vote, and I’d hate to see what happened to Dwight Evans happen to Walker. More years of debate are needed on Walker, who benefited from the Coors Field syndrome.

I’m also voting for first-timer Jeff Bagwell. My sabermetric buddies convinced me on him.

I’m also voting for Murphy because I feel so strongly against the steroids users – if there’s one guy you can take to the bank as clean, it’s Murphy, who did much of his damage in his back-to-back MVP seasons in 1982-83 before steroids took over the game. Yes, he’s a comet, but that’s just me.

By the way, I thought Parker drove in everything that wasn’t nailed down in 1985. In fact, he was second best among the big RBI guys, knocking in a whopping 25 percent of the runners on base. Murphy was an off-the-charts’ 28 percent.

I’m also voting for Fred McGriff, who doesn’t have the slugging numbers of the steroids users who followed him. But I refuse to hold the “not taking ‘roids” asterisk against him.

I admit that I’ve not yet been able to overcome my anti-DH (designated hitter) bias, which is why I’ve never voted for Edgar Martinez. But I’m wavering, and wouldn’t be surprised if I vote for him as soon as next year, when I’ve got some room on the ballot, and the only solid newcomer is Bernie Williams, who I don’t regard as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, if one at all.

As usual when John writes something, it’s not only worth reading, it’s also worth discussing…thanks again, John.