Voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame is a wonderfully challenging exercise, an obstacle course of statistics and debates.

When I color in the box next to a player's name, I am endorsing his career for the highest individual honor possible. It's not about one season, or snippets of years, but the body of work. My ballot is not perfect. I am not sure one exists.

I have not endorsed known steroid users, and that did not change this year. My standard, which will be understandably questioned, is to leave out players who tested positive, admitted using or have an avalanche of evidence against them through federal investigations.

So I said no to Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa. I realize my logic will be criticized with those insisting that my ballot does include PED users. They could be right. But I am not basing my vote on speculation or rumors.

I have covered Major League Baseball since September 1996 and as a traveling beat writer since 2001. Those who took steroids had a clear advantage over those who didn't. I respectfully disagree with writers who insist “that everyone was doing it.” That's insulting to clean players who ultimately pushed the players union to agree to more stringent testing.

Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell are both on the ballot for the Hall of Fame.
Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell are both on the ballot for the Hall of Fame. (Pat Sullivan/Associated Press)

When Mark McGwire admitted his use before returning to the big leagues as a coach, he knew he was never going to get into the Hall of Fame because of his actions. And if everyone was doing it, thus a nonissue, where are all of the players speaking out on behalf of steroid users? Why aren't they voicing their opinion?

I believe it's because they know it was wrong.

As for omissions on my ballot this year, there's one that creates anger locally. I did not vote for Larry Walker, who spent the bulk of his career with the Rockies. He is the most talented player I have covered. He passed the Hall of Fame eye test with ease. The reason I did not vote for Walker is simple: His career totals come up short because of games missed due to injuries and, in some cases, lack of interest after the Rockies were eliminated from playoff contention.

Mike Piazza, left, hopes to join Tom Seaver, right, in the Hall of Fame.
Mike Piazza, left, hopes to join Tom Seaver, right, in the Hall of Fame. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

Walker played 17 seasons in the big leagues. But he averaged only 124 games per year. Had he averaged 140 to 145 games per season, he would be a Hall of Famer. He would have 400 home runs, 1,500 RBIs and 500 doubles.

Ballot box

Troy E. Renck's ballot for baseball's Hall of Fame, in alphabetical order:

Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Edgar Martinez, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Frank Thomas, Alan Trammell.