It’s time for another look at the agate type in the HoME Times. We last checked in ten elections ago, and since then we’ve seen some interesting movement.
At the top, the same but different
The top six teams haven’t changed or changed their order but there’s nonetheless signs of imminent change among them. The Giants are still running well out in front, but Yankees narrowed the gap from four to three careers while expanding their lead over the Cubs to a full career. The Dodgers meanwhile, have now caught the Bruins and threaten to pass them. With fifteen more elections to come, there’s still time to catch the Gothams, but for teams outside the top ten, it’s pretty much impossible. The Tigers and Braves remained in fifth and sixth places respectively. Can they disrupt the standings or even catch the leaders? Whitaker and Trammell’s eligibility comes up immediately but the Bengals have little to follow up with by our 2015 election. The Braves, on the other hand, may well be poised to make a run with the core of their 1990s and 2000s dynasties en route (especially the Big Three). They may not get there by 2015, but they’ll have Chipper and Andruw Jones arriving in the next several years after.
Up, Up, Up
The Red Sox continued their impressive climb. After the 1991 election, we noted they had risen 5 places in the standings, from 13th to 8th by adding about 2.5 careers’ worth of players. This time, they moved up another notch by tacking on another two players’ worth among Pudge Fisk, Dwight Evans, Reggie Smith, Tom Seaver, and Fergie Jenkins. They are within a single career’s worth of playing time of the Tigers and Braves who are fifth and sixth respectively. In fact, the Sox have spent most of the post-Impossible Dream era competitive, so we can expect them to continue their vault into the upper reaches of the standings. They may not catch the G’nts, but maybe they can at least get close enough to spoil the fun of Yankee fans.
The Phillies had their best decade from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s and have also catapulted upward thanks to Schmidt, Carlton, and Rose. They rose from 12 place to 9th. Can they continue this blistering pace? I’m not optimistic. The 1993 team had few long-time stars besides Curt Schilling, and the Phils weren’t very good until the mid 2000s.
The White Sox also pushed upward two spots to 11th place with the elections of Red Faber, Fisk, Goose Gossage, and Seaver. The Pale Hose don’t seem poised to make much of a run either. Other than Frank Thomas, there’s not a ton of frontline Hall-level talent to depend on. And they trail the Cardinals and Indians who have had extended success in the last twenty years.
A squad to watch out for might be the Orioles. Ripken, Murray, Mussina, Palmeiro, and Alomar all spent time with them and will be good candidates. Then again, the O’s were also a bad team from the late 1990s until about 2012.
Expanding the Horizons, Expanding the Parameters
Fans of expansions franchises can get ready for better times at the HoME. While the newest four teams may not show much for a few more years, the previous rounds are starting to gather some steam. The Astros (The Killer Bees, Clemens), the Expos/Nationals (Raines, Dawson, Pedro, Walker), the Padres (Gwynn, Winfield, Kevin Brown, Ozzie), Mets (Piazza, Saberhagen, Cone), and the Blue Jays (Winfield, Alomar, Molitor, Stieb, Cone, Clemens) all have strong candidates coming up. The Angels (Winfield, Finley), Brewers (Molitor), Mariners (Edgar, and The Big Unit), Rangers (Palmeiro, Brown), and Royals (Saberhagen, Appier, Cone) also have notables. Watch for lots of movement at the bottom of the pack.
Give up de-funct
One thing we haven’t run yet is a standings for all 65 teams in history who have fielded at least one HoMEr or are active now in MLB. Well, here it is to the right. One thing to notice right away is that the Cleveland Spiders, our highest ranking defunct team were awfully talented during their short existence. But like all defunct teams, they will eventually fall out of the top 30 as the current MLB teams take their places. Maybe MLB will expand soon and those legacy teams will have something to cheer about from the aether.
Clearly, the Astros and Brewers will soon be knocking the Spiders and the Providence Grays out of the top 20. The Rangers aren’t far behind, and the Royals, Nats, and Padres are all within 1 career of the Spiders and Grays and will pass them soon. Those six will push the defunct teams down to 25th place and lower. The Mariners and Jays have some catching up to do but as we saw above, they should nonetheless have a lot of chances to pass the Forest City Arachnids by 2015. The four most recent expansion teams, however, will have more trouble with the task. None has a career-long member to lean on and will be patching together bits and pieces of careers. The D’Backs will get good chunks of Johnson and Schilling, and the Rox have about half of Larry Walker. Nice foundations, but enough to spring over the olde tyme teams? The Rays and Marlins have it tougher. The Fish have little tiny bits of Brown, Sheffield, Dawson, and yes, a week’s worth of Mike Piazza plus lots of fire sales. The Rays are even worse off with Wade Boggs and…Tanyon Sturtze? It’ll be a long haul for the Florida squads, but baseball rewards the patient.
Keep tuning in for more updates!