With the Hall of Fame’s 2017 election a few weeks past, now it’s time that we turn to the 2017 election at the Hall of Miller and Eric. As you may know, the HoME is exactly the same size as the Hall, so when the Hall elects, so do we. We had hoped the committee known as “Today’s Game” would have elected a deserving player or two. No such luck, just a couple of executives. And then we hoped the BBWAA would elect four or five. Again, no such luck. But at least there were three.
Fortunately for us, we have already elected Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, and Larry Walker. So we don’t have a ballot as crowded as the BBWAA. Hey, we’ve done our job.
And we continue to do it today. Like the Hall, we stock our ballot with a list of new candidates each year. Unlike them, our ballot also, basically, includes all other players in baseball history who have previously been eligible. Sure, we write obituaries for guys when we decide we won’t elect them, though nothing, not even HoME death, is necessarily forever.
More than two years ago now, we explained why we made a mistake writing an obituary for Roy Campanella. Only a few weeks later, we elected him. Well, much to our surprise and due to some quality research and estimation by Eric, we’re at it again. Sort of. There’s a player we’re electing today who was part of our backlog, never received an obituary, but was never elected either. Keep reading.
When we add the three from today, we will have elected 220 players to the Hall of Miller and Eric.
Here’s how we voted in 2017.
Miller Eric ================================== 1 Ivan Rodriguez Ivan Rodriguez 2 Manny Ramirez Manny Ramirez 3 Sam Rice Sam Rice
The Class of 2017
To the surprise of some (many?), Ivan Rodriguez made it into the Hall of Fame in his first year eligible. He becomes only the second catcher ever elected on his inaugural ballot, joining Johnny Bench. Voters not only avoided an error of temporary omission they had made several times over, but they also, I suspect, largely ignored the PED accusations made by Jose Canseco. The real truth, I think, is that they elected the guy they believe to be the best defensive catcher of all time, which shouldn’t really surprise anyone. As for the HoME, Pudge was a no-brainer. We don’t care much about the 1999 MVP, the 14 All-Star Games, or the 13 Gold Gloves. What we care about, mainly, is the career equivalent WAR that’s about the same as Johnny Bench and peak/prime numbers that put him near the elite in the game’s history. He might well rank among the top five catchers ever, and he’s certainly among the best ten.
I don’t suppose that anyone is too surprised that Manny Ramirez didn’t get the love from the writers that Pudge did. He was pretty lousy defensively, and the PED suspensions turned off some writers, perhaps forever. Still, since we at the HoME don’t know exactly who used and who didn’t, and we don’t feel comfortable speculating, we judge a player just based on his record. And Manny’s record may just be that of a top ten left fielder in history. A placing anywhere from seven to fifteen is something I could buy. Manny did it with flair, though he did it without truly great seasons. With just one season over 6.7 WAR, according to Miller’s equivalency, he doesn’t make a great peak case, but with ten above 4.8, his extended prime numbers are outstanding. For his career, it’s only Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Rickey Henderson, Carl Yastrzemski, Ed Delahanty, and Fred Clarke who top him at the position in career WAR. Given our PED stance, Manny was an easy “yes” vote.
There were three outstanding newbies on the BBWAA ballot, so clearly today we’re electing Vladimir Guerrero. Except we’re not. We’re actually electing Sam Rice. Miller has Rice as the 25th best right fielder ever, and Vlad is just 27th. Eric used to have Vlad at #23 and Rice at #25. To be fair, they’re extremely close, too close to really make a distinction unless forced. Vlad is a shade better in peak and prime, but Rice has a career advantage based on more depth, what Eric likes to call shoulder seasons. When it comes to electing to the HoME, however, there’s no such thing as too close to call. The reason we made the call we did, ultimately, is because of Eric’s in-depth review of BBREF’s baserunning numbers. Simply, based on what we suspect he accomplished on the bases, it seems that Rice is considerably better than we previously believed, as high as #16 at the position according to Eric. He’s going to share that analysis a week from Friday. For today and forever though, Sam Rice is a member of the HoME. And Vlad, well, he becomes part of the backlog.
How’s that for an exciting and surprising election? Trust me, we were surprised too. There are now 220 members of the player wing of the Hall of Fame and the Hall of Miller and Eric. Our backlog player election due to the categorization of Joe Torre as a manager will take place on February 24. And the 2018 election will take place about a year from now.
As after every election, we hope you’ll check out the Honorees page to see all of the HoME members, whether players, managers, or pioneers/executives. Enjoy.