In addition to a saturated ballot, Walker's lack of support comes down to 1) playing time; and 2) playing conditions. He's obviously the victim of altitude bias, having spent his, ahem, peak in Colorado, and he simply wasn't able to take the field enough (Walker averaged 119 games per season from 1995-2005) to accumulate many of the milestone stats expected of a corner outfielder. It's a shame: We can properly adjust for park and league effects – and with those adjustments, Walker was still 40% more productive than a league-average hitter. When one considers his superior base-running and solid defense, Walker was clearly a HOF talent (though it's admittedly less clear that his body of work makes him a slam-dunk candidate).
After considerable deliberation, Walker receives this vote.
Vladimir Guerrero: When Vlad Guerrero was a young player, writers couldn't say enough about his arm. And it was quite the arm. Vlad could unleash with the best of them. Unfortunately, he didn't always know where the ball was going. He brought the same element of unpredictability and awe to the batter's box. Guerrero had a reputation for swinging at anything – anything – within striking range (and Vlad had a generous interpretation of "striking range"). But his career SO/BB ratio is nearly 1:1, suggesting that Guerrero was far more selective, in his own way, than his reputation suggests. Guerrero only swung at pitches he could hit hard; the fact that he could hit a wider range of pitches harder than almost anyone else makes him unique, but not undisciplined.
According to the Jaffe WAR System (JAWS), which compares a player to the HOF averages for his position by peak and career WAR, Guerrero (50) falls short of the HOF average for right fielders (58). The Bill James HOF Monitor, however, suggests he's an easy pick (Vlad scores 209, against a benchmark of 100).
Is the HOF diminished with Guerrero as a member? Certainly not. But he just misses our imaginary cut.
How bad was he with the glove? Put Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield in the same outfield, and you're hoping they hit it to Manny. WAR estimates that over the course of his career, Sheffield's defense rated 29 games worse than that of a replacement-level player. Of the 18,918 players cataloged on Baseball-Reference.com, only Adam Dunn rates worse.
Jeff Kent: MVP voters hate second basemen like an underemployed son-in-law (only 10 MVP selections out of the 173 awarded since 1931). Jeff Kent captured one of those awards in 2000 (though it should have went to Bonds). This isn't to argue that Jeff Kent should be elected to the HOF; it does, however, suggest that we was viewed as if not the best player in his league, certainly among the very best for a short period of time. He was a very good hitter for quite a few years (he famously holds the career record for HR for the position), though never much of a glove man. WAR rates him as the 19th best second baseman of all time, and that feels about right, given the names ahead of him on the list. You can make the argument that one of the 20 best at his position deserves enshrinement (but we won't; Kent misses our cut).
Tim Raines: The cause célèbre of the analytics community since Bert Blyleven's deserved induction in 2011, Raines finally crosses the HOF threshold in this, his final year, on the regular ballot. He receives this theoretical vote.
Player A will enter the HOF this year. Player B will receive tepid support. Player C, when eligible, will likely drop off the ballot in his first year of eligibility. Player A, as you know, is Trevor Hoffman. Player B, Billy Wagner. Player C, it might surprise you to learn, is Joe Nathan.
Billy Wagner was a ninth-inning force of nature, an amazing talent who had a wonderful career. By any objective measure, he was a better pitcher than Trevor Hoffman.
This is not to argue that Billy Wagner deserves a place in the Hall of Fame. In fact, he falls short on this ballot. It's shame that he'll have to watch a (slightly) lesser contemporary receive a plaque for no other reason than he compiled more of the dumbest major statistic ever invented.
FINAL BALLOT: Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Raines, Rodriguez, Ramirez, Mussina, Schilling, Walker