Stiglich: Bonds, Clemens get my Hall of Fame vote

Stiglich: Bonds, Clemens get my Hall of Fame vote

After a lot of careful research and consideration, I dropped my first Hall of Fame ballot in the mail earlier this week.

Talk about tricky waters to navigate.

There are so many players who are suspected of performance-enhancing drug use appearing on the ballot every year, and it’s tough to find a uniform criteria to judge everybody by. I do not take a “hard line” stance when it comes to evaluating suspected PED users for the Hall. Surely some benefited more than others by what they put in their bodies, and that’s where the ambiguity comes in and makes this such a challenging process.

I chose to judge each player case by case, based on their own individual credentials. And here’s the eight who got my vote this year, listed in alphabetical order:

Jeff Bagwell: His numbers speak for themselves — 449 homers, a .408 on-base percentage and .948 career OPS. He combined power, batting average, and patience at the plate, and he put up some of his best seasons playing home games inside the Astrodome, which did no hitter any favors. He was a unanimous NL MVP in 1994 and even won a Gold Glove at first base that same year. Not a tough call here …

Barry Bonds: It comes down to this for me when considering Bonds’ candidacy: Even if you take no stats into account past the 1998 season, when the PED suspicions really began to swirl around him, he still produced a Hall of Fame career. From 1986-98, Bonds won three MVP awards, eight Gold Gloves and was an eight-time All-Star. He hit 411 homers and averaged a 30-30 season over this 13-year period. Get him into Cooperstown. Put an asterisk by his name, place him in a separate wing along with other suspected users, whatever. Just get him in the Hall, where he belongs.

Roger Clemens: The same logic applies for me when it comes to Clemens. Taking into account his career from 1984-97, before PED suspicions might cloud his numbers for some, Clemens collected four Cy Young awards and an MVP. He went 213-118 with a 2.97 ERA and 2,882 strikeouts over this time. That strikeout total alone — not even counting the final 10 years of his career — would rank him 15th out of the 77 pitchers currently in the Hall.

Vladimir Guerrero:I wasn’t completely sure about this first-year candidate when I first began to contemplate my picks. But the numbers speak for themselves: a .318 batting average, 449 homers, 1,496 RBI, a .931 OPS. Particularly impressive was a 10-year stretch (1998-2007) during which he hit .327 with 353 homers and a .980 OPS. He notched two 30-30 seasons and in 2002 fell just one homer shy of becoming just the fifth member of the 40-40 club. One of the game’s great all-around talents. Right this way, Vlad.

Trevor Hoffman: He gained 67 percent of the vote last year, his first on the ballot, bringing him close to the 75 percent needed for induction. The longtime Padres closer is getting in sooner rather than later. Hoffman ranks second all-time with 601 saves, and he’s 123 ahead of No. 3 on that list (Lee Smith, who happens to be in his final year on the ballot). I didn’t over-think this one. Punch Hoffman’s ticket …

Tim Raines: His impressive career body of work caught me by surprise a bit, and I think I know why. While Raines was wreaking his havoc with the Expos in the National League, Rickey Henderson was doing the same with the A’s in the American League. In my mind, it always seemed Rickey’s exploits were dwarfing Raines’ (West Coast bias!!!). At any rate, Raines is one of only five players with 800-plus stolen bases. The other four are all in the Hall of Fame. “Rock” gets in …

Ivan Rodriguez:A first-ballot candidate with a PED cloud hanging over him. Jose Canseco claimed to have injected him with steroids while with the Rangers. But Rodriguez never tested positive for anything and was not named in the Mitchell Report. “Pudge”’s case for the Hall is overwhelming. He’s a 14-time All-Star and 13-time Gold Glove winner with one MVP award on his shelf. He hit .296 with 311 career homers, and in nine different seasons he threw out over 50 percent of runners trying to steal against him. A terrific all-around player, and it’s hard for me to believe PED’s were the driving force behind it.

Curt Schilling: Unquestionably, he’s one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time. Schilling went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA, four complete games and two shutouts in the playoffs, getting named the 2001 World Series Co-MVP and 1993 NLCS MVP. He’s also got 216 regular-season victories and 3,116 strikeouts to back his case. Given the views he’s expressed about journalists, I’ve got no reason to want to do this guy any favors. And his social media rants have offended so many different segments of our society. But if you keep him out of the Hall based on the “character” clause in voting guidelines, you also need to go back and evict some of the unsavory characters who already reside in Cooperstown. Schilling’s baseball resume is worthy of induction, despite what anyone might think of him as a human being.

Giants lineup: Belt in left field, Kelby at second base

Giants lineup: Belt in left field, Kelby at second base

Programming note: Dodgers-Giants coverage starts today at 11:30am with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Dave Roberts and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series finale at AT&T Park:

Dodgers (10-12)
1. Enrique Hernandez (R) CF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
5. Chris Taylor (R) 2B
6. Austin Barnes (R) C
7. Scott Van Slyke (R) 1B
8. Cody Bellinger (L) LF
9. Julio Urias (L) P

Giants (8-14) 
1. Hunter Pence (R) RF
2. Brandon Belt (L) LF
3. Eduardo Nunez (R) SS
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
6. Nick Hundley (R) C
7. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Matt Moore (L) P (1-3, 5.87 ERA)

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

SAN FRANCISCO — This spring, Hunter Pence briefly tried to cut back on his coffee intake. The experiment did not last long for a player who is pure caffeine on and off the field, but even Pence is occasionally in need of more than a large cold brew. 

Pence tried to stay upbeat throughout a sluggish start to the season, but around him was a clubhouse in need of energy. Christian Arroyo walked through the door on Monday. Two days later, Michael Morse arrived.

“That’s quite an energy jolt,” Pence said of Arroyo. “Morse, it’s been an energy jolt as well.”

The two recent River Cats sent a pair of jolts through a stadium that was sold out for the 499th consecutive time. Arroyo hit a two-run homer in the seventh, his first in the big leagues. Morse went deep in the eighth for his first big league hit in two years and first homer as a Giant since the 2014 NLCS. 

Pence is close friends with Morse and an admirer of Arroyo, the 21-year-old who has taken a locker a few feet away. He made sure neither jolt went to waste, hitting a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th to give the Giants a thrilling 4-3 win they hope they can build on.

“That was a shot in the arm,” Morse said.

The big slugger was just that earlier Wednesday. Morse agreed to terms on a minor league deal at Pence’s wedding last winter and he was on track for Opening Day before a hamstring injury. He was so excited by Wednesday’s call back to San Francisco that he beat Bruce Bochy to the park. The manager tried to lower expectations before the game, telling reporters that Morse would not be a regular starter, especially in left, where the Giants have watched a black hole open. 

Morse was here for the late innings, for the moment when Bochy looks at him and says simply, “Get ready, Mo.” For most of Wednesday’s game, it looked like that big moment wouldn’t come. Alex Wood took a no-hitter into the sixth but he was pulled in the seventh by a Dodgers staff trying to protect his arm. Sergio Romo entered and soon faced a kid who was 19 the first time he walked into Romo’s clubhouse. 

“He’s been doing the same thing in the big leagues with good results for a long time,” Arroyo said. 

Arroyo got the slider that’s always coming, low and away, and he drilled it deep to left-center. He hit only three homers last year but Giants management felt the 36 doubles at Richmond showed a developing power bat. The strength has come quickly, and the ball carried into the first row of seats. 

“I looked up and saw the ump waving and I was like, ‘I’ve got to slow down,’” Arroyo said, smiling. “I tried to slow down and take it all in.”

As Arroyo crossed the plate and looked to the sky, his family shared hugs — without spilling a nacho — in a section overlooking the home dugout. The ballpark roared. A 3-0 deficit had been nearly erased. 

“Now it’s a one-run game,” Bochy said. “Anything can happen.”

Even by that standard, Morse’s blast was improbable. This is a player who didn’t have a hit last season before being sent home by the Pittsburgh Pirates. A player who, at 35, was having a poor spring before he announced to a reporter one day that he was going to hit a homer -- and then promptly did. On a rehab assignment over the past week, Morse had a .250 average and no homers, but he insisted to general manager Bobby Evans that his swing was ready. 

Evans believed, and Morse rewarded him with a moment that had everyone in the park throwing it back to 2014. Just as in the deciding game of the NLCS against the Cardinals, Morse was sent up as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. Sidewinding Pat Neshek was replaced by fire-balling Pedro Baez, but the approach was the same. 

“Swing hard,” Morse said. “Just in case you hit it.”

Baez kept pumping fastballs and Morse turned on one at 97 mph. He raised his arm the same way he did three years ago, an inning before Travis Ishikawa’s heroics. 

“I’m not going to lie,” Bochy said. “I was thinking about that game against St. Louis.”

All the Giants were. 

“You kind of just sit there and shake your head a little bit because it was very similar to his last homer here,” Posey said. “Even his excitement out of the box was similar.”

Morse said he didn’t intend to strike the same pose. 

“I was like, ‘I hope I didn’t strike out and I’m just running around the bases,’” he said, laughing. “It was cool, man. Not only for me, but for the team.”

For four innings, the surging bullpen made sure the homers would not be a fun footnote to another loss. Gorkys Hernandez kicked off the winning rally in the 10th with a single. He was pushed along by a stolen base, walk and bunt. Pence stepped in with no outs and engaged in one of the strangest battles of a career full of them. 

Ross Stripling, a starter with a deep repertoire, kept pumping 94 mph fastballs up near Pence’s eyes. Pence swung through one, fouled off five, and took three more for balls. Only one of the pitches he saw was in the strike zone. In the dugout, Posey shook his head in amusement. 

“It was kind of hard not to laugh,” Posey said. “He’s probably the only guy who can do that.”

Some Giants couldn’t hold the laughter in, even in a tense spot.

“He had that ‘Thou shall not walk’ going in that at-bat,” Bochy said. “He probably expanded as much as I’ve ever seen. If he would have walked it would have gone down as one of the more amazing walks with all the balls he swung at.”

On a night full of so much energy, a walk would have been an anticlimactic ending. Pence, who had been expecting a curveball the whole at-bat, lofted a 10th fastball deep enough to left to score Hernandez and send the Giants streaming out of the dugout. 

Arroyo, the youngest of them all, went sprinting across the infield. Morse followed, and soon he had Pence wrapped in a hug. Hours earlier, he had promised that at the very least, he would bring energy to the clubhouse. He delivered more than anyone could have imagined.

“To do that is one of those special moments that can change a season,” Pence said. “It was electric ... Morsey being Morsey.”