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The Cardboard HoME, 2004 Election

For regular readers of this column, you know that we’re collecting baseball cards of each member of the HoME, and we’re occasionally posting our thoughts about them when we complete an election year. I’d call 2004 a fairly interesting year in the Miller/Eric electoral process. We elected two Hall of Famers, one guy who fans of advanced stats like a decent amount, and another who almost nobody supports.

Miller also voted for Sal Bando and Pud Galvin, two of the HoME’s lesser lights. Eric came around on Bando five elections later, and he succumbed on Galvin three votes after that. Man, the calls on the margins are very difficult.

Anyway, maybe I’ll buy a Pud Galvin card one day. Or maybe not. As I write this, the only card contemporaneous with Galvin’s career available on eBay has an asking price of $5,225.00 Yikes! Thankfully, the 2004 electees were less expensive.

If you’ve missed any part of this series, please check ‘em out.

[Getting Started], [1999], [2009], [1981]

Molitor, 1983Paul Molitor – Eric

There’s not a lot of good choices for a Molitor card, and I don’t have his rookie card, so I went with the one that has some action in it. One that’s also really weird when you take a second look at it. OK, so clearly, he’s pulled the bat back on an ill-fated bunt attempt. But who the hell bunts on their front foot? If he’s sacrificing, then it’s amazingly bad form. Even Ken Phelps could show a Little Leaguer how to bunt better than that. By the way, Molitor had trouble moving runners along by the bunt. He attempted 156 sacrifices during his career and succeeded in 48.1% of them. Now, when you think about it, the whole point of the sac bunt is to trade a certain out for certain advancement of the baserunner. Molitor couldn’t even move half his runners along. It’s not as though he had goofball pitchers in front of him in the AL either, so we can’t blame bad baserunning. He just didn’t do it very well.

OK, but you say, dude, he’s bunting for a hit. He must be, right? But it’s hard to even tell where in the batter’s box he is to know. You know, I kinda hate the drag bunt for a righty hitter. If you’re a fast player and people know you bunt, you’re just asking for it because the third baseman will play in, and, unlike a lefty, you have all those extra steps just to leave the batters box. Yeah, do it here and there for the sake of keeping the third baseman from playing back on you, but, seriously. We have data for Molitor from 1988 onward that shows he bunted 48 times for a hit. That’s about 4.5 times a year, which for a righty feels pretty good, right? We don’t know how often he attempted to bunt for a base hit, however. All of this came during the second half of his career. He even cadged four hits by bunt as a 41 year old. That’s gotta be some kind of record. Looking a little more widely, Molitor averaged 30 infield hits a year in his thirties and forties, representing 17 percent of all his hits. You know, he also reached on errors 155 times in his career. There’s a lot of ways to get to 3,000 hits and to the Hall of Miller and Eric.

Molitor, 1980Paul Molitor – Miller

Paul Molitor was a lot of things on a baseball diamond, even if he wasn’t much of a bunter. Before he became a designated hitter, he played a good amount of third base and second base. And this 1980 Topps card notes him as a shortstop, though he only manned that position 57 times in his career and for just 89 innings the year before this card came out. Molitor was also both oft-injured and very durable. From 1978-1987, he topped 140 games only twice. From 1988-1996, he topped 150 games six times, and that doesn’t include 1994 when he led the league in games played. Whatever Molitor was, he was a batter, hitting .300+ twelve times, posting a doubles title, a triples title, and three hits titles. It’s possible he’s the greatest DH in history (apologies to Frank Thomas and Edgar Martinez). I had to have a shot of him hitting. Frankly, I don’t love the 1980 Molitor. I like the 1982 Donruss picture more, but I don’t like the card. There just aren’t a lot of great choices, particularly if you have to have Molly in a Brewer uniform, which I did. For pretty much every player, I want him in the uniform with which I associate him most. To be fair to 1980 though, Molitor looks somewhat regal, poised to smack one of his 14th all-time 605 doubles.

Cruz, 1972Jose Cruz – Eric

I went for the rookie card on this one. I often forget the Cards had first dibs on the elder Cruz. They gave him some extended playing time as a platoonish centerfielder from 1970–1974 before selling him to the Astros. Cruz probably didn’t deserve his reputation as a platoonist. In 1971 in 113 PA, he OPSed .733 against southpaws. I’ll grant you that his .395 OPS against them in 59 1972 PAs probably didn’t help his case, but in 1973 he faced 104 lefties and hit them for a .719 OPS. Yet in 1974, the Cards gave him only 13 reps against lefties despite his hitting for a 1.098 OPS against them. It took the ‘Stros a couple years to realize the errors of the Cardinals’ ways. They only gave him 45 and 74 PAs versus same-siders in 1975 and 1976, but from 1977 onward he played every day against all paws.

Once Cruz established himself in Houston as an everyday player, he slashed 292/357/431 in the Astrodome, worth a 124 OPS+, which he combined with outstanding defense to make his way to the HoME. The Astrodome at that time just absolutely killed offense. During his first several years there, it played as a 91 or 92 park factor. For his career, Cruz homered 59 times at home and 106 times on the road. Oddly, though, Cruz seemed able to adapt his game sufficiently well to the Dome. Despite its run-suppressing tendencies, he OPSed 784 at home and 765 on the road.

Still, it seemed as though Cruz had to fight uphill for much of his career to get playing time, against his park, and certainly for any acknowledgement of his play outside of Houston. While he managed to finish third in the 1980 MVP race, that season marked his first All-Star game—at age 32. He wasn’t voted in, he was named a reserve. Nor was he voted into his only other appearance, at age 37. A great player that no one knew about.

Cruz, 1979Jose Cruz – Miller

An understated card for an understated player. The fact that Eric’s card was my second choice for Cruz shows just how few action shots he had. And Eric’s card really couldn’t have been my second choice though. I was going to take Cruz as an Astro no matter what, so maybe there was just one choice for me. His 1980 Topps card seems like he’s checking his swing. His 1981 Topps card looks like he popped out and is falling down. The 1983 Donruss card shows some action. Same with the 1983 Topps. Actually, that’s a pretty cool card, but that and the 1994 Donruss were rejected because in them it seems Cruz was hitting a homer, something he did only 165 times in his career. Like my Molitor choice, Cruz looks noble in this 1979 Topps edition. Plus, the coolest Astro uniform they’ve ever worn existed only from 1975-1979, so I had to grab one of those.

The baseball card market is a bit strange to me. The very top guys go for some nice money, and the worst guys go for nothing. Those things make a lot of sense. The fact that there’s bit a premium for players like Bo Jackson and Whitey Ford makes sense too. What always strikes me is the players in the middle. And there’s quite a middle. If you wanted to collect all eight of our choices for the 2004 Cardboard HoME, you could do so for about a buck if you looked around enough. Just imagine if any of these selections were in the junk wax era!

Card collectors don’t care about Jose Cruz. He’s a common every year of his career. Even though collectors pay a premium for rookie cards, a 1972 Topps Jose Cruz rookie card in Gem-Mint, graded condition can be had for no more than an Enzo Hernandez, Steve Huntz, or Dick Dietz of the same year. No respect, I tell ya.

Eck, 1983Dennis Eckersley – Eric

Look, I hated Eck as a kid. I was a Yankees fan at the time, and the A’s and Yanks had some really nasty encounters in the early 1990s. Tony LaRussa and his minions swept the season series from New York in 1990, took the season series in 1991, and generally behaved in a haughty manner toward the Bronx Bombs of Stump Merrill. At some point, Eckersley, as he did, gesticulated in some manner after nailing down a win. The Yanks didn’t like it. The next day the managers started scrapping, ejections ensued. To sixteen year-old me, TLR’s hair was the embodiment of his arrogance. Naturally, I ported that over to Eck with his trademark shoulder-length locks. So I hated him.

Nonetheless, I’ve warmed to Eckersley since I moved to northern New England, dumped the fat-cat Yankees from my fandom, adopted the Bosox, and watched Eckersley do color commentary. He’s pretty good. Yeah, there’s sometimes his funky word salad, but his analysis of the pitcher-batter confrontation is trenchant, and he doesn’t get all silly like Jerry Remy does. His hair still looks the same. I also learned that Eckersley has publicly admitted to being an alcoholic in recovery, and that he’s committed to helping others find the good fortune he’s had in that realm. To me, that’s someone I can root for.

The other thing besides hair that I remember Eck for was his sidearm motion. It enabled him to get on top of a devastating slider, over which he had pinpoint control. My pal Brett used to do a fair imitation of that very motion in wiffle ball, and it was really tough to pick up the ball. So, I needed a card that showed the hair and the stash. But I also needed one that somehow conveyed his motion. The 1983 Topps turns the deuce nicely with the headshot giving us the appearance, and the in-action shot showing his hair flying through the air as he finishes a motion in such a way that could only have come via sidearmer.

Eck, 1982Dennis Eckersley – Miller

I was torn on Eck. On one hand, he’s in the Hall because of his time in Oakland. On the other, he’s in the HoME in large part because of his time in Boston, the place he had three of his best six seasons, including 1982. Ultimately, since I decided to collect the Cardboard HoME and not the Hall, I had to go to the place where had the most value. Add to that my Red Sox fandom, and it’s an easy enough call.

I like the 1982 Topps version because it’s an action shot that feels to me a lot like I remember Eck. Eric’s 1983 Topps card is actually my second favorite of the eight we show today, but I prefer the 1982. In my opinion, a higher percentage of Eckersley cards than those of other players are pretty cool. Hard to go wrong here.

I want to mention a bit about Eckersley’s announcing because Eric did. Yes, he’s good, perhaps very good at breaking down the battle between pitcher and hitter. That’s something you’d expect from a person who’s reasonably thoughtful and an actual expert on what he’s discussing. Still, Eck’s desire to be cool cools me to his announcing. What the Red Sox should do, since they’re going to have a bunch of Mookie money after sending their best player to Los Angeles, Hiroshima, or somewhere, is donate $500 to the Jimmy Fund every time Eck uses the word “cheese” on the air. We’d cure cancer.

Stieb, 1982Dave Stieb – Eric

What can I tell you, hair and moustaches. My dad had a big broomy moustache when I was a kid, so I always wanted one of my own. Well, my hair doesn’t do the broom, but I’ve worn some kind of facial hair pretty much since I got to college. I like how Stieb has a sort of everyman look in this photo. He’s got the facial hair, his hair’s a little long and bit disheveled under his hat, and he’s got a look on his face that sixteen-year-old Eric remembers using when Eric’s Dad would say, “You may mow the lawn now.” I identify with you, Dave.

Stieb, 1984 FleerDave Stieb – Miller

Unlike Eck, Stieb doesn’t have a ton of great cards. I like the 1984 Donruss a lot, but the popularity of that set and the fact that I selected a few of them for my HoME collection made me go in another direction. For me, there are a lot of acceptalbe, meh-ish Stieb choices. Nothing’s super exciting, but a lot of them are fine. Whatever.

Does anyone run a Dave Stieb for the Hall of Fame Twitter account? I know about Andruw Jones, Todd Helton, the infrequently posting Mike Mussina account, Jim McCormick, and I think one or two others, but I don’t know of a Stieb account. I think there should be one. By the way, if you ever see a Bobby Grich for the Hall account out there, Miller will probably be running it.

Coming up as some point relatively soon, another year to be determined by our card purchases. Happy collecting!

Miller and Eric

 

Grading the Hall of Fame Ballots, #69-113

As you know, The Athletic is a subscription-based site. They call themselves “The New Standard of Sports Journalism”, and they gained popularity fairly quickly by bringing in all sorts of veteran scribes, as well as some newbies. I don’t subscribe to The Athletic, frankly, because I don’t have the time or patience to read all I want to read as it is. Well, I have a new reason for not subscribing now. (I do love Joe Posnanski and Jayson Stark though. Emma Span is also excellent, as is C. Trent Rosecrans. Of course, only one of them had a ballot in this bunch).

I’m going to begin this ballot review with the group from The Athletic – the first eleven ballots. So how’d I get my hands on it if I don’t subscribe, you may wonder. Well, big shout out to BigKlu for sharing The Athletic group reveal article. There are some beauties included, and the average score from all of their writers is 37. Yuck!

Onto those ballots!

Andrew Baggarly: -55

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Vizquel
  • He seems to think people still apply for jobs with resumes on nice paper. Perhaps that thought process speaks to his age. Perhaps.
  • One of his selling points for Vizquel is that he played more games at shortstop than anyone.
  • Another is his Gold Glove total.
  • And a third is transcendent joy he brought to those who watched him play.
  • He’s a fan of a binary ballot. I’m not, but I really respect that point of view.
  • As far as Walker goes, he couldn’t get past all of the times he sat against lefties. And I have to tell you, I don’t hate this argument. However, I thought I should do some research because Baggarly seems the type to use his gut rather than anything else. I looked up just four players – Omar, Helton, Rolen, and Walker. For Helton, it was 28% for Helton, 27% for Vizquel, and 24% for Rolen. Yeah, Baggarly’s just making crap up. He chose not to vote for Walker on his final ballot because of something that’s just wront. Fool. Jerk.
  • He says that being on the bubble means being left off. Why? Again, that’s just made up nonsense to justify stupidity.

Dan Barbarisi: 30

  • Helton, Jeter, Jones, Rolen, Schilling, Wagner, Walker
  • Helton is an add.
  • He said Brooks Robinson truly excelled offensively. He didn’t. Barbarisi is just making crap up too. Do you know how many players who played more than half of their games at third and have over 5,000 career plate appearances have a more impressive OPS+ than Brooks? It’s only 63. Fool.
  • He calls 2,000 hits and 300 home runs basic stat counting thresholds. Does anyone ever mention 300 homers as something???
  • Still, he writes this garbage to explain his support for Scott Rolen, so I can’t be too angry.

Rob Biertempfel: -20

  • Jeter, Rolen, Schilling, Walker
  • Rolen is an add.
  • He says he’s a small-Hall guy. But I doubt he knows what that means. Actually, I’m nearly certain it’s just his way to justify the stupidity that’s his ballot.
  • A reason he began exploring Rolen further is that he chatted with a few players and coaches familiar with him. Really?
  • He mentions Rolen’s Gold Gloves as a reason to support him. Ugh!

Dan Connolly: 55

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Jones, Rolen, Schilling, Vizquel, Wagner, Walker
  • Jones, Rolen, and Wagner are adds.
  • He votes based on the numbers and what he experienced with his eyes and ears while covering games. Yeah, great. That made up garbage is what causes people to vote for Vizquel.
  • Last year he voted for Vizquel. Yet, he says that he had never before voted for a player who he didn’t think was a Hall of Famer while he was playing. That’s either not true, or he misremembers, or he was in a minority of about one who thought Omar was a Hall of Famer during his career.
  • He says he judges players accused of PED use more by defense, baserunning, and intangibles. Yeah, he’s a fool too.
  • He mentions Gold Gloves as a pro-Jones argument. And he also says that he viewed him as a future Hall of Famer – until his offensive numbers fell off a cliff. So, was his earlier standard that for some period of time, no matter how short, he needed to consider the player Hall-level? Welcome to the Hall Vada Pinson, Cesar Cedeno, Dale Murphy, Rico Petrocelli, Norm Cash, etc.
  • Rolen and Gold Gloves. Wow!

Matt Gelb: 90

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Sosa, Walker
  • First time voter.
  • He didn’t explain his ballot, but he didn’t really need to for me. Rather, he took his time to argue that Bobby Abreu was very good. Yeah, whatever.

Dan Hayes: 85

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Jones, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Wagner, Walker
  • Jones, Rolen, Sheffield, and Wagner are adds.
  • He comedically interacts on Twitter.
  • Though he’s fair, he shares that he’s not there on Omar.
  • He’s interested in keeping guys on the ballot, which is admirable.
  • His explanation in The Athletic was lame. Actually, he explained nothing, but told us that he had a hard time. His was completely a non-explanation.

Chad Jennings: 85

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Jones, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Sosa, Wagner, Walker
  • First time voter.
  • His PED stance works for me. Once there was a rule, you’re out. Before there was, he’ll judge your case.
  • He favors peak over longevity. Okay, but for most who say that, they don’t mean anything. Jennings, however, mentioned Dizzy Dean and Ralph Kiner. Good calls on his part. As far as peak goes, that’s why Sosa and Jones got his support rather than Helton or Abreu. Unfortunately, at least by my numbers, Helton had a better five-year peak than either Jones or Sosa. But Jennings seems to like peak to be consecutive. I don’t know. I think he needs to reexamine Helton and his peak.

Tim Kawakami: 40

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Vizquel, Walker
  • Rolen and Sheffield are adds.
  • “I’m voting for Rolen and Sheffield (the first time I’m doing that for either) and Walker (the second time I’m voting for him) because I think Lou Whitaker definitely should’ve been voted in years ago and guys like Will Clark, Dick Allen, Dale Murphy and Bret Saberhagen should’ve gotten a lot more consideration than they did … and I don’t want to feel that way about the Sheffield-Rolen-Walker class of players.” That logic is asinine! I like his list of players who needed further consideration, but the words he uses make him seen foolish.
  • “I don’t want to be seriously contemplating a future Joe Mauer vote if I didn’t vote for Sheffield or Walker. I don’t want to be the guy who puts Carlos Beltrán over the threshold if I didn’t weigh every bit of Rolen’s candidacy, too.” What?!? This guy’s insane.

David O’Brien: 50

  • Helton, Jeter, Jones, Kent, Rolen, Schilling, Wagner, Walker
  • If you won’t vote for a “known” PED user, this is a perfectly reasonable ballot. I like that there’s no Vizquel. I’d have liked to see support for Abreu and/or Lee here.
  • He says we won’t let personal distaste affect his voting, and he also says he won’t ever vote for known steroid users. I think that’s a clear contradiction. I’ve yet to hear a good argument that anyone on this ballot but Manny cheated.
  • He replied to a bunch of people on Twitter, but we didn’t learn anything, perhaps other than his Twitter personality, through those replies.
  • He did explain with The Athletic group.
  • “No one is saying Hoffman wasn’t deserving.” Um, I do, I do, I do!
  • He talks about analytics and versus counting stats, seemingly suggesting that he’s seen the light. Of course, he mentions that Jones is alone in the 300 Home Run – 200 Defensive Runs Saved – 150 Stolen Base club.
  • When he compares Wagner and Hoffman, it’s lots and lots of traditional stats. And then he gets to the analytics.

C. Trent Rosecrans: 100

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Jones, Ramirez, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Walker
  • Helton, Jones, and Sheffield are adds.
  • I think it’s interesting to note that Pettitte has added less frequently so far than any deserving player.
  • He chooses the best ten, and he finds Pettitte, Kent, and Vizquel outside of the top-10. Totally reasonable.
  • He says that Rolen was better than Ron Santo. I disagree with him pretty strongly there, but his larger point about Rolen being so clearly deserving is obviously correct. Did he fall in love with Rolen from 2009-2012 when he was in Cincy? I’m not sure. Rosecrans is pretty great, so I suspect his assertion comes from a place of study not homerism.
  • He posted his ballot as a GIF. One Twitter user was shocked when it looked like he voted for nobody, but it was an Internet problem. C. Trent replied. “yeah, i’m not one of those”. That’s awesome!
  • He says next year is the best chance for Wagner to receive his vote, but he’s not sure about what will happen.
  • Wonderful, wonderful interaction.
  • He shared more at The Athletic group reveal, including his thought process about the possibility of leaving Jeter off.

Mike Saxon: 35

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Kent, Ramirez, Vizquel, Walker
  • He explains his Schilling omission because of the righty’s character. Gimme a break.
  • Yeah, I’m happy to go another year without The Athletic. These guys are mostly garbage.

Kirby Arnold: 35

  • Helton, Jeter, Jones, Rolen, Schilling, Vizquel, Wagner, Walker
  • Jones is an add.
  • Ballot shared with Thibs via a DM.

Chris De Luca: 70

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Jones, Schilling, Sheffield, Sosa, Vizquel, Walker
  • Jones, Sheffield, and Vizquel are adds.
  • No explanations.

Evan Grant: 80

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Jones, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Vizquel, Walker
  • Helton, Jones, Rolen, and Vizquel are adds.
  • He took Vizquel over Kent for the final spot.
  • He’s not yet sure how he feels about Pettitte.
  • No other discussion, but this is enough for me not to ding him.

Mark Newman: 90

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Jones, Pettitte, Rolen, Schilling, Wagner, Walker
  • Helton, Wagner, and Jones are adds.
  • Entertaining post.
  • He says that the 2022 ballot will be loaded. I don’t think that’s accurate. The five best newcomers that year by WAR will be Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Mark Teixeira, Jimmy Rollins, and Jake Peavy. A-Rod will get his votes. Ortiz will get a bunch if writers don’t buy into the alleged failed test that was never supposed to go public. The other three might be shut out. Hardly loaded.
  • “More and more voters have shrugged off the whole Coors Field thing, because (a) it’s a major league stadium, (b) he killed it there, and (c) he had a nice .278/.370/.495 road line, comparable to Ken Griffey Jr.’s (.272/.355/.505).” Thank you!
  • “Walker is so far ahead of recent inductee Vladimir Guerrero by JAWS and WAR among right fielders that this should be a no-brainer.” Thank you again!
  • “The Hall is filled with dunces, and Schilling ought to join their ranks.” Well said.
  • He says that Carlos Beltran will be an easy Hall of Famer. I hope he’s right, but I’m not sure I agree.
  • “The biggest point of contention when it comes to Pettitte is the value of postseason numbers; he had a huge advantage over most pitchers in major league history, breaking in with the Yankees after the playoff format was increased to allow more starts.” Very good call.
  • He hopes for another year of discussion for Abreu.
  • He’s conflicted about Manny. In the past, his line has been an MLB suspension for PED use, but he does plan on voting for A-Rod when he becomes eligible.

Bob Klapisch: 65

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Kent, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Vizquel, Wagner, Walker
  • Kent, Rolen, Sheffield, and Wagner are adds.
  • He says he’s very likely to add Jones when space opens.
  • No other real feedback.

Jamie Aron: -25

  • Jeter, Schilling, Wagner, Walker
  • Sent to Thibs in an email. The only surprise is that he doesn’t support Vizquel.

Mike Harrington: 40 (best stinky ballot we’ll see – dropping Vizquel!)

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Pettitte, Schilling, Walker
  • Vizquel was a drop, which I find amazing! Gotta read his Buffalo News expalanation!
  • I don’t know what he’s saying yet, but I love the first line of his post. “I’m not a big Hall guy or a small Hall guy.”
  • “Sure, he spent the last few years of his career not playing a very good defensive game at shortstop, but what about the first 15 or so years of his career and all those World Series rings?” Ugh! I still think I like him, but I continue to wonder if I’m right.
  • He writes, “First off, Pettitte was forthright in describing two uses of HGH to rehab an elbow injury in 2002. That’s not performance-enhancing.” He’s both wrong and sorta foolish. If you rehab an elbow injury and get on the field when you would have otherwise been unable, that’s performance enhancing.
  • He writes, “Again, stat hounds say you can’t consider wins. But why else do we keep score?” Well, we keep score to see which team wins, not to assign some statistic to someone who may have had a ton of very little to do with the victory.
  • He dropped Vizquel, discussed him, but said little.
  • He writes that he thought hard about Konerko. Seriously? C’mon!
  • He compares Scott Rolen to Konerko saying he didn’t think about either as a Hall of Famer while they were playing. And then he says no more…

John Canzano: 65

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Ramirez, Schilling, Sheffield, Sosa, Walker
  • Schilling, Sheffield, and Walker are adds.
  • No Twitter interaction.

Willie T. Smith: 75

  • Abreu, Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Ramirez, Schilling, Sheffield, Vizquel, Walker
  • Helton, Ramierz, Sheffield, Vizquel, and Walker are adds.
  • Of course, he dropped Helton, and there was no explanation.
  • Thanks for Walker!
  • No explanations. No surprise.

Dom Amore: 75

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Kent, Pettitte, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Vizquel, Walker
  • PEttitte, Rolen, and Sheffield are adds.
  • I’ve decided that there’s going to be a greater penalty next year for including Vizquel and for not explaining your ballot.
  • Amore seems still to be using Facebook. What age does that make him?

Tim Booth: 90

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Jones, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Wagner, Walker
  • Jones, Sheffield, and Wagner are adds.
  • No Twitter interaction.

Arnie Stapleton: 30

  • Helton, Jeter, Kent, Rolen, Schilling, Vizquel, Walker
  • Kent and Rolen are adds.
  • He says that steroids = cheating. I asked him about amphetamines and the spitter. I suspect I’ll be waiting for my answer for some time. However, he did answer others. A tiny bit.

Larry Brooks: 85

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Pettitte, Ramirez, Rolen, Sheffield, Sosa, Walker
  • Rolen, Sheffield, and Sosa are adds.
  • No Twitter interaction. Ugh! It’s so easy. Please just talk to your followers!

Mark Faller: 15

  • Helton, Jeter, Rolen, Sheffield, Vizquel, Walker
  • Sheffield and Vizquel are adds.
  • Why is it that so many Vizquel voters refuse to interact or explain? Is it because they know they’re wrong and don’t want truth explained to them? I have a friend – actually he’s my friend’s husband – who I don’t see eye-to-eye with politically. He’s incredibly thoughtful in almost all aspects of his life, but, politically, he’s not willing to think beyond what he already knows (and he knows a good deal), at least he’s not willing to share that thinking. This feels like the Vizquel voter to me. They know lots of different things, but they don’t want to think beyond what they already believe. It’s frustrating. Perhaps it makes them bad voters, but not necessarily bad people.

Claire Smith: 5

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Sheffield, Sosa, Vizquel.
  • Sheffield is an add; Schilling is a drop.
  • I’m supposed to love Claire Smith. She’s the first female MLA best writer, and I’m pretty confident she’s African-American. As a woman doing the job she does, she’s likely taken a boat load of garbage, so I don’t want to attack. But sometimes I must. This ballot is garbage! What made her drop Curt Schilling?
  • What? I don’t know. She refused to reply to her Twitter followers. I’ve begun to have a greater and greater problem with this. If you’re a celebrity of any note, you need to interact with those who follow you, at least a little. And as a BBWAA member, you need to interact a lot on your Hall ballot. She doesn’t, and she absolutely needs to.
  • This is a shameful, awful ballot given that there’s no defense for it.

Bernie Wilson: 75

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Jones, Rolen, Sheffield, Vizquel, Wagner, Walker
  • Helton, Jones, Sheffield, and Wagner are adds.
  • I love that Wilson calls himself an idiot when posting his ballot, not because he is, necessarily, but because he’s acknowledging his Twitter followers.
  • Lots of Twitter interaction, bro, but no Twitter explanation.

Jimmy Golen: -75

  • Jeter, Walker
  • Walker is an add.
  • I’m happy that he revealed his ballot in a DM to Thibs. That he has no outlet for garbage like this makes me hopeful he’ll lose his ballot before long.

Tim Reynolds: 35

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Pettitte, Ramirez, Vizquel, Walker
  • He says he really wanted to vote for Helton, but he didn’t. Strange given that he had three open spots.
  • No other real interaction even when there were fair questions.

Joseph Liao:

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Kent, Ramirez, Rolen, Schilling, Vizquel, Wagner, Walker
  • Kent, Rolen, and Vizquel are adds.

Greg Cote: 85

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Ramirez, Schilling, Sheffield, Sosa, Walker
  • Helton, Schilling, Sosa, and Walker are adds.
  • No Twitter interaction.

Joe McDonald: 75

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Pettitte, Ramirez, Rolen, Sosa, Vizquel, Walker
  • Helton, Pettitte, Rolen, and Vizquel are adds.
  • On Twitter, he wrote, “Let the debate begin.” I guess he meant among others since he didn’t interact at all.

Steve Popper: 60

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Jones, Rolen, Schilling, Wagner, Walker
  • Jones is an add.
  • I’m not a Newsday subscriber, so I can’t read his ballot explanation.

Barry Rozner: 35

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Kent, Pettitte, Schilling, Wagner
  • Wagner is an add.
  • Another very questionable, the author of which might be going away soon. He emailed Thibs.

Howard Sinker: 75

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Jones, Kent, Ramirez, Rolen, Wagner, Walker
  • Rolen and Wagner are adds.
  • His ballot was sent to Thibs via DM.

Sean Forman: 95

  • Abreu, Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Jones, Ramirez, Rolen, Sosa, Walker
  • This is Forman’s first ballot, and I’m pretty sure it’s the first time that a HoMEr has voted for the Hall.
  • Detailed, wonderful explanation.
  • On December 19, Forman said that Schilling was clearly a Hall of Famer, yet he didn’t vote for the man.
  • Part of the logic he used to call Manny Ramirez a Hall of Famer is Manny’s similarity to Willie Stargell. Yikes!
  • Only a couple of hours before sharing his ballot, he said he was likely to vote for only one of Abreu, Sheffield, and Sosa. He voted for two but not Curt Schilling.

Jon Morosi

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Jones, Kent, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Vizquel, Walker
  • Jones, Kent, Sheffield, and Vizquel are adds.

Paul Daugherty: -60

  • Jeter, Schilling
  • Schilling is an add.
  • His next two seem to be Walker and Vizquel.
  • I think he might be the first idiot of the year to discuss Coors as a reason to vote against Larry Walker.
  • His “explanation” was one paragraph in length and buried in a football column.

Marc Lancaster: 20

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Schilling, Walker
  • He calls himself a “big hall” voter. Clearly, he doesn’t know what that means.
  • No explanations.

Art Davidson: 5

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Schilling, Walker
  • This would be a perfectly fine ballot if the limit were five players.
  • In the Tracker via a DM. Shocker.

Ryan Fagan: 75

  • Abreu, Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Ramirez, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Walker
  • Sheffield is an add.
  • The time he spent saying Walker had better numbers at Coors than on the road was completely unnecessary.
  • He basically says Ramirez was a Hall of Famer before his first suspension. Yeah, I can’t argue with that.
  • He says he won’t listen to Schilling’s Hall speech. Okay.
  • The Abreu vote is because he thinks the Phillie deserves to stay on the ballot. He’s not sure Abreu is a Hall of Famer. I buy that reasoning.
  • When he discusses Coors and Helton, he says it’s to provide context for the debate, not to tear Helton down. His other explanations make me think that’s genuine.
  • He would take Wagner over Hoffman. Reasonable.
  • He puts himself as neither an Omar supporter or a member of the Never Omar camp. However, I don’t think his explanation supported that. I think he’s a Never Omar guy.
  • He supports a vote for Pettitte even though he didn’t throw one the lefty’s way. Pettitte, he says, still belongs in the conversation. Agreed.
  • Fairly succinctly, he explains that Cliff Lee falls short. I can’t disagree.
  • I’m shocked that he says he can’t honestly think of a reason not to vote for Sosa if he votes for Bonds, Clemens, and Ramirez. Um, I can! They were all better. At this point, I’m beginning to believe that Fagan, who writes for The Sporting News is being a little less than honest in an effort not to upset his readers.

Hank Winnicki: -10

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Schilling
  • Not subscribing to Newsday seldom makes me so happy.

Joe Smith

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Jones, Ramirez, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Wagner, Walker
  • Jones, Ramirez, Rolen, Sheffield, and Wagner are adds.
  • With so many adds, I had to look at his 2019 ballot to see what was going on. Lots of writhers have three adds to replace Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Roy Halladay. Occasionally someone has a fourth to replace Fred McGriff, but more often McGriff voters were outside the mainstream and weren’t so likely to fill their ballots.
  • Smith was no exception. A year ago, he dropped Rolen, though he had an extra space, only to add him back this year.
  • He says he could see himself voting for Vizquel in the future with an open spot. He will. Vizquel’s getting in, folks.
  • He thinks Sosa was more a product of the steroid ear, and not just part of it. That’s convenient.
  • He thinks Helton and Kent deserve consideration.

Teddy Greenstein: -15

  • Jeter, Rolen, Vizquel, Wagner, Walker
  • Rolen is an add.
  • Seriously? This is a pretty disgusting ballot, and I haven’t even read his explanations.
  • Defending his Walker selection, he offered a silly comparison that I won’t repeat here.
  • He really wanted to vote for Paul Konerko. That should tell you how silly his ballot is, even if you don’t look at it.
  • His Wagner support is a comparison to Hoffman.
  • His Vizquel support appears to be all about Gold Gloves.
  • Sad, really.

Garry D. Howard: 55

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Ramirez, Schilling, Sheffield, Vizquel, Walker
  • Vizquel and Walker are adds.
  • Thanks Garry! Of course, he added Vizquel too and revealed his ballot on Facebook. Maybe he’s going away soon.

Scott Lauber: 60

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Wagner, Walker
  • When I wrote this, Thibs hadn’t shared where Lauber posted his ballot. Shame on Thibs for being anything but perfect!

Christian Red: -75

  • Derek Jeter, Omar Vizquel
  • He didn’t vote in 2018. Then last year, he only voted for the guys who got in plus McGriff and Vizquel.
  • His ballot was sent to Thibs via email.
  • I really think he’s a troll, perhaps an actual troll. This is just such a moronic ballot.

Grading the Hall of Fame Ballots, #16-32

Today’s regularly scheduled 2019 pitcher update will be delayed a week while I finish my pitcher rankings. Ugh!

Frustrated that we keep delaying? Imagine being Eric when his partner can’t get his act together. Or perhaps worse yet, imagine me and not being able to make sense of my own numbers.

Anyway, as long as you’re here, I should provide some interesting content beyond the ballot grading.

Through 32 ballots, Larry Walker sits at 81.3%. That might seem hopeful, but it’s kind of meaningless unless you know whether or not Walker has been converting “no” votes from 2019.

A year ago, Walker received 232 votes from the 425 writers. There are eleven writers who voted last year but will not do so this year, whether because they lost their ballots or passed away. Nine of those ballots are known, and just three of the nine writers supported Walker. That means Walker had support from 229 out of 416. He needed support form 312 to get in. That means he needs to convert 83 of the 187 “no” votes from a year ago, or 44.4% of those votes.

Thus far, we’ve heard from eleven writers who didn’t support Walker a year ago. Today, five of them or 45.4% do. So that means thus far Walker meeting the exact pace he needs to get to 75% overall.

I’m sorry I have to be the barer of bad news to Walker supporters though. Early voters tend to be wiser than later and unpublished voters. So Walker is actually behind the pace I think he’ll need.

Last year, Walker had the support on 60% of public ballots and just 28% of private ones. So even if he’s converting public ballots at the necessary rate, he’s very unlikely to keep that rate up among private voters.

Sorry all!

Please check out earlier posts in this series.

[1-7], [8-9], [10-15]

Pat Caputo: 100

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Kent, Pettitte, Ramirez, Rolen, Schilling, Walker
  • Best ballot of the year thus far. In fact, while there are ballots I might prefer, you can’t really do better than this.
  • In his discussion of Jeter, he mentions the captaincy and Gold Gloves without losing points here. That’s kind of amazing.
  • He says, “It’d be naïve to suggest that there aren’t multiple players in the Hall of Fame who used PEDs.” He’s no doubt correct.
  • He also mentions Coors without losing points. Love this guy!
  • He says Pettitte’s case is just s strong as Whitey Ford’s. He’s right, but that’s hardly a compliment to Pettitte. Still, I like his comparison.
  • No discussion of guys who didn’t get his vote. That’s okay. I’ll let it slide.

Jeff Blair: 55

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Ramirez, Walker
  • He talked a lot about Marvin Miller, which is great, but he didn’t really discuss his ballot.

Steve Buckley: 75

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Kent, Pettitte, Rolen, Schilling, Vizquel, and Walker
  • Helton and Kent and Pettitte and Rolen are new to his ballot. I support these four, so I can’t argue much. But what did they do since the last ballot that Buck would change his mind in such a major way?
  • And he didn’t share on Twitter…

Earl Bloom: 50

  • Abreu, Helton, Jeter, Jones, Kent, Ramirez, Rolen, Vizquel, Wagner, Walker
  • Seriously, Manny but neither Bonds nor Clemens? That’s both asinine and the same decision as he made a year ago.
  • He explains nothing. I guess I should be happy he DMs Thibs, but I’m not.

Rob Parker: 10

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Sheffield, Sosa
  • I don’t know what to say about this guy. I guess there are two positives. First, he’s consistent. He voted for four returners last year and this. Second, it was nice of him not to share his thoughts in writing, assuming logic and sense still elude him.

Chris Assenheimer: 5

  • Jeter, Jones, Rolen, Schilling, Vizquel, Walker
  • There’s no explanation, and that’s no surprise. Ugh!

Steve Politi: 70

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Kent, Pettitte, Ramirez, Schilling, Walker
  • His column seems to be about how he almost didn’t vote for Jeter – because he misplaced his ballot. Click, click, click, click.
  • The rest of the column made enough sense.
  • While I dislike his comparison between Pettitte and Jack Morris, I like that he says he wants the Pettitte discussion to continue. I won’t ding him on that.

Paul White: 5

  • Helton, Jeter, Schilling, Sheffield, Wagner, Walker
  • White hasn’t explained his ballot in year. Man, he really needs to explain how he can vote for Sheffield but not Bonds. Perhaps my memory is faulty, but didn’t they admit to the exact same thing?

Jack McCaffery: 55

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Jones, Kent, Schilling, Vizquel, Walker
  • Kent is an add, which is cool. At this moment, he’s a +6, better than anyone on the ballot. (Walker is +5).
  • No discussion on Twitter.

Bill Ballou: -35

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Ramirez
  • Ballou rails against the Era Committees saying, “Nothing about a player’s career changes after he retires. Nobody discovers lost home runs, RBIs, wins, saves or sacrifice flies.” Yeah Bill, this is just the point – we do discover more value. If the writers can’t understand the value of certain players, there has to be another avenue.
  • I can’t believe Bill Ballou made me praise the ERA Committees!
  • He calls David Ortiz worthy and Edgar Martinez not because of “some intangible ‘presence’”…
  • He say “gut instinct” isn’t enough to judge National Leaguers like Chipper Jones and Larry Walker for him. I suppose it is for ALers because, as he says, he saw 3,500 Red Sox games in person.
  • He voted for Jones and not Walker because – get this! – Jones played in 93 playoff games versus only 28 for Walker.

Carl Steward: 65

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Kent, Schilling, Sheffield, Vizquel, Walker
  • Helton and Sheffield are adds.
  • Seemingly no Twitter conversation.

Mark Hale: 30 (best 30 you’ll see all year)

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Ramirez, Schilling, Walker
  • He mentioned that Rolen and Wagner are close for him. He mentions Wagner’s similarity to Hoffman and Smith in terms of WAR, and he didn’t vote for those guys. He also mentioned Wagner’s awful post-season. I hate to say it, but if Wagner were on my in/out line, that might hurt him
  • He mentioned that Pettitte lacked career greatness.
  • He defends his Manny over Sosa stance, does it well, and doesn’t get snippy when I might have.
  • A six-player ballot might only make me happier if he substituted Rolen for Jeter.

Peter Botte: 80

  • Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Jones, Kent, Rolen, Schilling, Vizquel, Walker
  • Helton, Jones, and Rolen, are adds because Mariano, Halladay, and McGriff are gone.
  • Says he thought that Wagner was better than Hoffman. Wagner is his #11.
  • His anti-Manny reasoning is that Manny failed two tests. I can’t disagree with him there.

Mike Vaccaro: 70

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Kent, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Vizquel, Wagner, Walker
  • Adds of Kent, Rolen, Sheffield, and Vizquel with the subtractions of Halladay, Edgar, McGriff, and Mariano.
  • He’s the first writer to add Vizquel. Be afraid, everyone.
  • Manny failed two PED tests; Vizquel corked. I wonder what his view on Gaylord Perry was?
  • There was very little Twitter interaction. I won’t tax him five points.

Anonymous: 25

  • Helton, Jeter, Kent, Rolen, Schilling, Vizquel, Walker
  • Seems like the best we can do from an anonymous ballot…

Eric Boland: 85

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Ramirez, Rolen, Schilling, Sheffield, Sosa, Wagner, Walker
  • Boland voted for the first time in 2018, selecting ten players. Last year, he dropped Sosa and added Manny, still selecting ten. He brought Sosa back this year while adding Rolen and Sheffield to get to ten once again.
  • No explanations.

Tom D’Angelo: 30

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Ramirez, Schilling, Vizquel, Walker
  • No Twitter interaction.

Miller

Grading the BBWAA Ballots, #8-9

I don’t watch a heck of a lot of televised sports aside from baseball. But several years ago, I noticed something pretty important. I noticed that basketball and football announcers are pretty good, while almost all baseball announcers are awful. That wasn’t the critical discovery however. The important part was figuring out why.

It’s quite simple, really. The basketball and football announcers are talking to me; the baseball announcers aren’t. What I mean is that announcers try to appeal to the mainstream viewer. I’m not the m baseball viewer. I know too much about the game, so I think the announcers are fools. I’m completely mainstream for basketball and football, so I think the announcers are pretty good. It’s not that baseball announcers are crap. It’s that I know too much about the game. And if you’re a frequent reader around here, you do too. I’d bet you think baseball announcers stink (thought you may like your local team because, well, homerism).

I share this today because of the ballot of one Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun Times. The fact that Morrissey voted for only Derek Jeter, Curt Schilling, and Larry Walker is disturbing enough. The real issue, however, is his article. Nearly every line of it is pure garbage.

To me.

But Morrissey knows his audience. He must. And he writes the things they want to read. Could he do a better job? Maybe, but that’s not the point. Mainstream writers like Morrissey probably shouldn’t do a better job. Newspaper readers skew older than the general public. And you might be surprised to know that as of just three years ago, according to Nielsen, 51% read print exclusively. Morrissey has been writing for major newspapers, near as I can tell, for at least 30 years. Put those three facts together, use some deductive reasoning, and voilà!

In other words, awful as they are, Morrissey’s explanations can be justified given who he thinks his audience may be. If I were ever to read an article on the Football Hall of Fame, I bet it would make sense to me. There’s a reason Morrissey’s post received thousands of times more clicks than this one. Sad, I know, but likely true.

Onto those ballots! Missed the first post in this series? Here it is.

Joe Cowley:  65

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Kent, Ramirez, Schilling, Sheffield, Vizquel, Wagner, Walker
  • Kent, Sheffield, and Wagner are adds this year. While I’m good with two of the adds, it’s always surprising when someone adds three ballot veterans. However, I like it in this case. Last year he also named ten guys, including Halladay, Edgar, and Mariano, so I really like the adds this year.

Rick Morissey:  -140 (Yeah, that’s negative 140).

  • Jeter, Schilling, Walker
  • The fool is amazed that Sammy Sosa is at only 8.5% when Bonds and Clemens are near 60%. Um, Rick, Bonds and Clemens were better.
  • He says that Paul Konerko did everything well except baserunning. More accurately, Konerko did everything poorly except hit. Fool.
  • As a positive, he mentions Jeter’s Gold Gloves. Fool.
  • His first line about Schilling is about his post-season winning percentage. Fool.
  • He equates Schilling not being in the Hall with Colin Kaepernick not being in the NFL. Fool.
  • He goes on about Coors, though he says it doesn’t matter – since Walker’s .278 road batting average “isn’t shabby”. Fool.
  • He didn’t submit a public ballot last year after doing so the three previous seasons, so this may be good news for Walker and Schilling. But he voted for both of them two years ago, so probably not.

Miller

Grading the BBWAA Ballots, 2020

It’s that time of year again! Time to open Ryan Thibodaux’s awesome Hall of Fame Ballot Tracker and refresh for the next six weeks. That means it’s also time for me to begin my ballot grading absurdity. I’ve been doing this for three or four years now, and I always do so with a bit of trepidation. On one hand, I really have no business judging someone else’s opinion. On the other, I care about the Hall of Fame far more than many people who have a vote. It also really bugs me when writers use faulty logic to justify the unjustifiable. So I grade.

I’m not sure how these posts will roll out, whether I grade once each week, more, or less. I expect that it’ll be a combination of whim, free time, and anger. I’d love to review every single ballot, as I did a few years ago. I’d also love a million dollars. And for anyone who makes the second one happen, I can promise the first one will too.

Today we’ll answer some questions, discuss the grading system this year, and review the first batch of ballots.

How can you vote for Bonds and Clemens and not Sosa?

I am stunned by how frequently I’ve seen this question in comments sections just about everywhere. The answer is as simple as Bonds and Clemens were better. Of course, the question presumes that if you vote for one PED user, you must vote for them all. However, that assumption is ridiculously flawed. Bonds and Clemens were all-time greats with or without PED use. However, a reasonable person could suggest that Sosa’s use of PEDs put him over the in/our line. Voting for Bonds and Clemens but not checking Sosa’s name is completely reasonable.

How can you vote for Sosa but not Manny?

Like in the question above, there are presumptions implicit in this question. First, Manny was a better player. Second, both Manny and Sosa used PEDs. Third, players who used PEDs should be judged on the same level. However, I disagree. There is clear evidence that Manny Ramirez broke the sport’s rules – those suspensions. Sosa, on the other hand, was not caught using during the time PEDs were legitimately banned by MLB. So yes, if you believe Manny cheated but that Sosa didn’t, which is entirely reasonable to me, you can vote for Sosa but not Manny.

How can you vote for Omar Vizquel but not Scott Rolen (or Andruw Jones)?

[Editor’s note: As I’m not a meat eater, please forgive me if the detail of the following analogy falls flat, and just try to follow what I mean.]

If you grow up being told that Salisbury steak is a great cut of beef, like a rib eye or a New York strip, then maybe you don’t ever know any better. Vizquel is the Salisbury steak in this analogy. Rolen and Jones are the rib eye and the strip, respectfully. Salisbury steak will get the job done. If there’s nothing else to eat and you need nourishment (a shortstop), you’d eat it. But if you could make the choice, you’d choose one of the other options. Because they’re better.

The presumptions in this question are that Vizquel voters are in his corner because of his defense and that Rolen and Jones were equal (or superior) to him on defense and far superior on offense. In other words, even if you mistakenly believe Vizquel is the rib eye, adding a wonderful glass of Bordeaux or an incredible Cuban cigar would still make it that much better.

Here’s where the analogy falls flat – assuming you’ve been following it so far. If you want your steak to be Salisbury, if you think the best movie ever made is The Sandlot, or if you want your engagement ring to be made out of amethyst, that’s completely fine! It’s your choice. There’s no objectively correct answer. However, we have objective data to say that Rolen and Jones were superior to Vizquel. So, basically, it’s a good question. You can’t vote for Vizquel without voting for the other two.

Should Jeter be on the Cooperstown stage alone?

Was he that great? That important? Well, Babe Ruth wasn’t. Willie Mays wasn’t. And writers who suggest Jeter was ignore the fact that there’s an Era Committee that will likely elect someone to join Jeter, and perhaps others, on the New York dais. If you truly believe Jeter should be there alone, hold off your vote and your column until after the Era Committee votes. If they elect nobody, bring out your garbage column. If you bring it out before that even happens, you’re nothing but clickbait and awfulness.

The Grading System

  • Voters will earn 10 points for each of the following players: Bobby Abreu, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Todd Helton, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Andy Pettitte, Manny Ramirez, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, and Larry Walker.
  • Voters will earn 0 points for the following: Cliff Lee, Jason Giambi, and Billy Wagner.
  • Voters will earn -10 points for the following: Josh Beckett, Heath Bell, Eric Chavez, Adam Dunn, Chone Figgins, Rafael Furcal, Raul Ibanez, Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena, Brad Penny, J.J. Putz, Brian Roberts, Alfonso Soriano, Jose Valverde, and Omar Vizuel.
  • Voters will earn -10 for every spot on their ballot left open below 9 since there are 13 players on the ballot who would receive my vote.
  • Voters lose 5 points for not explaining their ballots.
  • Voters lose 10 points for choosing Bonds and not Clemens, or vice versa.
  • Voters lose 10 points for talking about character in any way.
  • Voters lose 10 points for taking PED users but not Clemens or Bonds.
  • Voters lose 5 points for mentioning Coors Field as an argument against Larry Walker or Todd Helton, even if they support those guys.
  • Voters lose 5 points for any comparison between Omar Vizquel and Ozzie Smith.
  • Voters lose 5 points for each judgment of the morality of specific players.
  • Voters lose 5 points for any other case of ridiculous logic.
  • Scores max out at 100.
  • Scores can dip as low as they dip.
  • I sometimes add or subtract points just because I feel like it.

The Ballots

Bill Center: 25

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Schilling, Sheffield, Vizquel, Wagner, Walker
  • Center admits to making a stupid argument by dropping Helton to focus on Walker this year. It’s particularly stupid because he has room on his ballot.

Lynn Henning: 50

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Rolen, Schilling, Walker
  • I love Henning. Thoughtful guy, great on Twitter.
  • If you’re going to vote for exactly six, I think he got it right.
  • Even though his grade is pretty low, he wrote, “Ozzie Smith was at least five Cooperstown kilometers ahead of Vizquel, who didn’t come within 110 career Defensive Runs Saved of Smith, to cite one tell-all metric.” I’ve arbitrarily assigned 20 points for writing that.

Sadiel Lebron: 65

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Jones, Pettitte, Ramirez, Schilling, Sosa, Vizquel, Walker
  • One thing that remains true about Lebron is that he remains consistently inconsistent. He added four names this year and subtracted one. Last year, he added two and subtracted two. The guy’s just making stuff up.

Steven Marcus: -85

  • Jeter
  • Keith Law put it very well when he tweeted to Marcus, “Here’s the attention you ordered.” This is just a pathetic ballot.
  • He hashtags a desire to keep the Hall small. However, a small Hall guy probably shouldn’t vote for Jeter.

Tony Massarotti: -10

  • Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Ramirez
  • He shared on his radio show. Since I lived in Boston for so many years, I’m familiar with the show he and Michael Felger host. That’s why I didn’t listen.

Aurelio Moreno: 70

  • Abreu, Bonds, Clemens, Helton, Jeter, Schilling, Sosa, Vizquel, Walker
  • He wrote about 600 words about the ballot, but he said very little.

Anthony Rieber: -80

  • Derek Jeter
  • This is our idiot of the week. He dropped six guys he supported a year ago because Jeter “deserves to stand alone at the podium as the entire Hall of Fame Class of 2020 on July 26 in Cooperstown.” Asinine.
  • And he really explains nothing. This vote is all about clicks. I clicked, but I won’t link here.

I’ll come back with another one of these soon enough. Hope to see you back then.

Miller

RIP, Players Falling Off the 2019 Ballot

Today will be our final word on many of the players who appeared on the 2018 BBWAA ballot. Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejada will remain part of our consideration set for some time, though they’ll get some love here today. As for everyone else, they’re done unless there’s a Baines-like flood of players who get into the Hall in the next few years or we learn something we don’t expect. Hey, it’s possible.

Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Cupid Childs, Heinie Groh and Larry Doby are now in the Hall of Miller and Eric while the 17 guys below, they’re on the outside looking in – most of them forever, but up to a few, just for now.

Rick Ankiel: An interesting player from a historical perspective, Ankiel likely didn’t belong on the ballot with only 8.9 career WAR. If you know a way to use BBREF’s Play Index to find the number of players who have at least 10 wins, 10 homers, and 10 stolen bases in separate seasons, I’d be very interested in the result. (If I get some time, I might try to look for this the hard way).

Jason Bay: Bay won the Rookie of the Year trophy, became a star in Pittsburgh, was shipped to Boston because of salary concerns, remained a star, then signed with the Mets as a free agent and became much less of a player. We shouldn’t be surprised. Bay had a nice little peak from 2005-2009. By 2010, the 4-time 30 home run hitter was 31. Decline should have been expected for a guy who won’t be going to the HoME but ranks ahead of Hall of Famer Chick Hafey.

Lance Berkman, 2012Lance Berkman: It says all we need to say about Berkman here just to list the players within three places of him by CHEWS or MAPES: Harmon Killebrew, David Ortiz, Tony Perez, Frank Chance, John Olerud, Jason Giambi, Jake Beckley, Fred Tenney, and Harry Stovey. Berkman is on the wrong side of the line, but make no mistake, he’s within shouting distance of that line.

Freddy Garcia: The Chief reached double figures in wins nine times, made two All-Star teams, and received Cy Young consideration two times. During his 1999-2006 heyday, only 14 pitchers had more value per WAR. His best postseason start came in the closeout game of the 2005 World Series when he went seven innings of a combined 1-0 shutout of the Astros to complete the sweep. A very nice career worth celebrating by having his name on the Hall ballot. And hey, he had more value than Jesse Haines and a couple of Hall relievers.

Jon Garland: The 2005 All-Star won in double figures for nine consecutive years. He was the youngest player in the AL when he debuted in 2000, and he pitched quite well in his two postseason starts, allowing only four earned runs in sixteen innings. A fine career for sure.

Travis Hafner: From 2004-2006, Hafner was a beast. Only Albert Pujols had more value by Rbat over those three seasons. Taking his worst number in each category, his triple slash was /305/.408/.583. He won two OPS+ titles, yet he made no All-Star teams. I’m sort of surprised Bill Livingston didn’t submit a ballot this year so he could vote for Omar again as well as Hafner. He’s a dead ringer for more celebrated sluggers Prince Fielder, Mo Vaughn, and Paul Konerko in value.

Ted Lilly: Continuing a pattern among starters on this list, Lilly won 10+ games nine times. In 2003, he pitched two games in the ALDS against the Red Sox. He allowed zero earned runs in nine innings but took two losses. In fact, he was handed the loss in each of his five postseason games. During his 2007-2009 peak though, only a dozen pitchers outperformed him by WAR. It’s nice that Lilly made an appearance on this ballot.

Derek Lowe, 2004Derek Lowe: It seems like it’s some sort of law that pitchers on this ballot won in double figures exactly nine times. Unlike the few above, however, he had a bunch of other career highlights too. Though he made only two All-Star teams, when he was great, he was historically great. Only Lowe, Dennis Eckersley, and John Smoltz can boast 150+ career wins and 75+ career saves. Lowe also pitched a no-hitter in 2004. And he won the closeout game against the Angels, the Yankees, and the Cardinals in 2004 as the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years. It’s nice to review some of the career highlights, particularly for a guy like this.

Darren Oliver: Oliver had two careers, one as a mediocre or worse starter and one as a very effective lefty reliever. From 2006-2013, in his last 400+ innings, almost all in relief, he posted a 149 ERA+, not something we’d have expected from the guy whose ERA+ was only 82 over the previous five seasons, almost all as a starter.

Roy Oswalt: Oswalt wasn’t good; he was great, at least for a while. Of course, he too won ten or more games exactly nine times in his career. He ranks 81st by CHEWS+, in front of three HoMErs. He ranks 84th by MAPES+, in front of five HoMErs. From 2001-2008, only HoMErs Randy Johnson, Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, and Curt Schilling had more value. While he’s far from a shoe in for the HoME, in fact I’d consider him an underdog, the three-time All-Star and 2004 NLCS MVP who pitched a no-hitter in 2003 will absolutely continue to be discussed around here in the future. If our rules allowed us to swap him in for Chuck Finley, we would have to seriously consider it.

Andy Pettitte, 2017Andy Pettitte: Don’t tell Eric, but I think Pettitte is going to be a HoMEr one day. I was once against Pettitte but can’t quite get there now. I rank him 73rd, ahead of seven HoME pitchers. Eric sees him 68th, in front of eight HoME hurlers. In the coming months, I plan to consider an overhaul of my pitcher rankings to highlight WAA in a way I don’t right now. Should Pettitte remain ranked similarly to how he is today, he’ll likely find a place within our hallowed halls in the next few years. More about him in the coming months, for sure.

Juan Pierre: I’m happy he didn’t get a vote. He didn’t deserve one. He won three stolen base titles, two hit titles, and a triples title. Unfortunately, he also won seven caught stealing titles. While he’s one of the most prolific base stealers we’ve seen, 13th overall since the formation of the American League, his 75% success rate says he didn’t help his teams too much by stealing. And in the playoffs, he was successful in just three of eight attempts. Anyway, he didn’t get a vote, but he did get a level of respect he deserved by having his name on the ballot.

Placido Polanco: I’m happier about him than I am about Pierre. Polonco received two votes. Since he wasn’t one of the ten best players on the ballot, I suppose he shouldn’t have gotten them. Still, he’s 44th by MAPES+ and 49th by CHEWS+. If I could have only the two-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and 2006 ALCS MVP or Bill Mazeroski in the Hall, I believe it would be Polanco. And if it were only him or Vizquel, c’mon! Guys like Davey Lopes, Jim Gilliam, and Nellie Fox are within three MAPES+ points of Polanco. He had a wonderful and underrated career.

Miguel Tejada, 1998Miguel Tejada: The 2002 AL MVP was an iron man and a force. From 2000-2006, he was the seventh most valuable position player in the game. The top six are all in the HoME. Tejada is close. Eric and I agree that the only better shortstop outside the HoME was Hughie Jennings. He’s obviously never getting into the Hall of Fame after he received a 105 game PED suspension and perjured himself before Congress a few years earlier. Still, if the Hall goes big the next few years, there’s a shot Tejada finds a way into the HoME. A shot.

Vernon Wells: The three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner made over $131 million playing the game he loved. That’s cool.

Kevin Youkilis: The Greek God of Walks drew a lot of walks, as you might have guessed. He got a late start, had a short peak, and he was done. But during that peak from 2007-2010 he put up the sixth most WAR among position players. Youk made three All-Star teams, won a Gold Glove, owns two World Series rings, and posted a career .306/.376/.568 playoff line in 125 trips to the plate. You’d be right to think of him as similar in value to Ted Kluszewski, Tino Martinez, or Andres Galarraga.

Michael Young: Texas voters really like Young. He got nine votes, and all that I could identify came from his hometown writers (though I admit not looking hard to learn differently). The four-time All-Star and 2005 batting champ had a nice career, not so different in value from that of Omar Vizquel. And that says it all.

Our 2019 election is now in the books. As always, we remind you to take a look at our Honorees page to see the plaques of our new members and all of the members of the Hall of Miller and Eric. And come back a week from today when we discuss the players who almost got to the HoME this year.

Miller

A Ballot Grading Resolution?

Michael Young, 2012

Yeah, he got another vote.

It’s the new year, and as such, it’s time for a bit of introspection. Each semester when I begin to teach persuasion, I talk to my students about the opinions we all hold. We, necessarily, believe that each one of our individual opinions is correct (if we didn’t think we were correct, we wouldn’t hold that opinion). At the same time, we know that not all of our opinions are correct since we’re not perfect. Thus, we need to keep thinking about the things we believe so that we can stop believing the things that aren’t correct.

I’m not right about everything. I know that.

This week, Sean McAdam (60 – Bonds, Clemens, Halladay, Andruw, Edgar, Mussina, Mariano, and Schilling) wrote the following:

“I’ve also come to abhor the notion of “scoring” which ballots are good and which aren’t. As statistically-based as the voting process is, the act of determining those Hall of Fame-worthy is an entirely subjective process. There are no “good” or “bad” ballots; there are only ones with which you agree or disagree.”

In many years living in and around Boston, I came to appreciate McAdam as a fair voice, often a voice of reason, which isn’t too common in any sports scene’s talking-head-o-sphere. So when I read those words of his, I was forced to think.

McAdam’s Right

I am willing to admit that McAdam is being entirely fair when he implies that guys like me are or can be, essentially, jerks. I’m not in the rest of my life, I don’t believe, but that’s the hat I wear when reviewing Hall of Fame ballots.

The world today is very different than it was 20 years ago. If I had a beef with someone’s Hall of Fame ballot back then – and I did – I’d write about it in a long screed of an email to Eric – and I did. Today, that screed is available for the whole world to see.

I think there’s a difference between sharing on a blog and writing to someone to tell him or her how awful their choices are. Right?

BABIP Law Offices

A Parks and Rec law office. Tremendous!

One of my favorite Twitter follows is @KenTremendous. That’s the penname of Michael Schur, co-creator of Parks and Recreation, among many other things in television. I follow him because he’s a big baseball fan whose takes I enjoy. Recently, there was a Twitter conversation about sharing with celebrities how much you think their work sucks. I don’t want to go into much depth here, but Schur’s take, with which I agree, is that there’s no reason to do so. I would never write to McAdam to tell him that his ballot just barely passes. First, who the heck am I? Second, what makes me think he should care about my opinion? Third, that’s just mean.

McAdam is correct to abhor ballot grading if we take Schur’s thoughts just one step further. Maybe two. If you shouldn’t tell a celebrity (or BBWAA member) how much their work sucks, you probably shouldn’t tell the friend of a celebrity that same thing. McAdam is a “celebrity” in this regard, and he likely has many friends in the BBWAA. Thus, since I’d never write to McAdam to tell him that he did a poor job, I also shouldn’t write to him to tell him that someone else did a poor job. No, I’m not doing that. Not exactly. But I am putting those thoughts out there for everyone to see. While I don’t suspect McAdam has seen this blog, there’s no doubt he’s seen the work of others, and I suspect he’s been hurt by some of it.

There was a time when personal opinions were personal. Today, they’re sometimes very public. I can understand why McAdam might think my Friday work is akin to tweeting @KenTremendous how awful Brooklyn Nine-Nine is (I actually think it’s a really smart show).

Unlike some, I don’t think McAdam or others who are bothered by ballot grading need to toughen up or anything like that. Being upset when someone insults you or your friends makes perfect sense to me.

If you’re reading this, Sean, I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings.

No, I Won’t Stop Grading Ballots

It’s dichotomous at best, and hypocritical at worst, to believe McAdam is right to abhor scoring ballots and still to do it.

Three reasons I won’t stop. First, despite more than 32,000 hits at the HoME last year (thank you!), we’re still extremely small. Basically inconsequential. Second, while I am genuinely sorry if I hurt McAdam’s feelings, I would not be sorry in all cases. McAdam, from what I know, tries to do the right thing. I do not believe the same about all of his colleagues. Finally, I enjoy doing what I do every Friday. It serves as an outlet for the anger I feel when seeing what I believe to be “bad” ballots.

McAdam’s Also Wrong

While I understand and might even agree with McAdam’s distaste for ballot grading, I disagree with his assertions that this process is “entirely subjective” and that there are no “good” or “bad” ballots.

The process isn’t entirely subjective. If it were, writers would only talk about the beauty of Omar Vizquel at shortstop, which is subjective. They’d never mention his 2,877 hits or the 11 Gold Gloves he was awarded, which are objective facts. Clearly the process isn’t entirely subjective. At most, it’s partly subjective.

Also, there are bad ballots. Here are some examples:

  • A homer ballot: If McAdam’s ballot included Red Sox Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Manny Ramirez, Billy Wagner, Kevin Youkilis, Derek Lowe, Jason Bay, and Darren Oliver, he’s not working to get the best players into the Hall. I feel comfortable saying that’s a bad thing to do.
  • An alphabetical ballot: Voting for Rick Ankiel, Jason Bay, Lance Berkman, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Travis Hafner, Roy Halladay, and Todd Helton is bad too. The reason is because the person with that ballot isn’t trying to get the best players in the Hall.
  • A Polanco ballot: This is a bad ballot, one where the writer votes for only Placido Polanco. What such a ballot means is not just that you think Placido Polanco belongs in the Hall of Fame (which is incorrect, though less so than most believe), but it also means you believe Polanco is better than all other players on the ballot. That’s just absurd. Even if you dump Martinez because he was a DH, Rivera because he was a closer, Schilling because he’s a tool, Walker and Helton because of Coors, and Bonds, Clemens, Ramirez, Pettitte, Sheffield, Sosa, and Tejada because of PED use/speculation, you still have Mussina, Rolen, Halladay, Jones, and others who were clearly better players than Polanco.

Can all agree that those three are examples of bad ballots?

I suspect even McAdam would agree.

Trying to Keep Learning

There’s little that bothers me more than writers who pooh-pooh the analytics community for asserting that there are statistics more valuable than wins, hits, and Gold Gloves (or something like that). When they do so, it means they’ve chosen to stop learning. Though not as egregious, choosing not to question your own assumptions, suggests to me that one has stopped learning.

When I talk about this with students, I use the tooth fairy as an example. I ask a student if he or she believed in the tooth fairy 15 years ago. They giggle and say they did. Then I ask if they still believe in the tooth fairy. After they answer, I tell them I’m about to say something that might sound harsh. If they still, at age 19, believe everything they believed when they were 4, they might be an idiot. That usually gets some laughs. Students agree. Then I get to the real lesson, which I admit falls flat for most. I tell them that when they’re 34, if they believe everything they believe today, they’re probably an idiot. And when they’re 49, if they believe everything they did when they were 34, they’re probably an idiot. The lesson is that we don’t know everything today, that we need to keep thinking and learning. I try to do that every day.

So let me question one of my assumptions here – the assumption that a ballot containing fewer than ten names is flawed.

I believe there are 15 qualified players on this ballot: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Manny Ramirez, Mariano Rivera, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, and Larry Walker. Further, I think those who advocate for Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, and Billy Wagner are quite reasonable. That’s 19 guys. If you can’t find 10 in those 19, I believe you are making a mistake. At least I did six weeks ago when I constructed this system. Let’s start with 19 and work our way down.

  • A reasonable person could leave Berkman, Oswalt, Pettitte, and Wagner off their ballots. After all, I would. We’re down to 15.
  • A reasonable person could reject Manny Ramirez because he cheated. I will not assert that someone cheated if they didn’t fail a test during the time that PEDs were banned in MLB through collective bargaining. Before that time, it was akin to the wild west – Brown-Séquard elixir, extract from sheep testicles, greenies, anabolic steroids – I don’t consider myself fit to judge who did what, let alone who didn’t. Anyway, we’re down to 14.
  • A reasonable person could have Kent, Sheffield, and Sosa on the wrong side of the in/out line. That leaves only 11 players. Let’s move the other way now.
  • There are 70 pitchers in the Hall of Fame. MAPES+ says that each of Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, Roy Halladay, and Mariano Rivera is within the top-44 ever. I think it’s unreasonable to leave any of them off your ballot. That’s four.
  • I believe it is unreasonable to leave Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens off your ballot too. To be brief, it was not until 2005 that MLB could dole out any punishment for PED use. Bonds and Clemens both played in 2005-2007, and neither failed a test for performance enhancing drugs. I don’t count what Ruth tried to do, what Mays and Aaron might have done, or what Bonds, Clemens, or anyone else likely did prior to 2005 testing. They all did or tried to do something, which wasn’t banned, to enhance their performance. (Don’t give me the entirely unenforceable memo sent by Fay Vincent in the summer of 1991. He had the same authority to make that decree that you and I did – absolutely none). In short, Bonds and Clemens were deserving of induction after the 2004 season, and neither one failed a test after 2004. We’re up to six players who must be on your ballots.
  • I rank Todd Helton better than eleven Hall first basemen, Edgar Martinez better than six Hall third basemen at an underrepresented position, and Larry Walker better than sixteen Hall right fielders. Those three simply have to be in, bringing us to nine.
  • We have just Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen remaining. Given that more of his value comes from offense, I prefer Rolen by a bit, though he leads only four Hall third basemen. Jones leads eight Hall center fielders. You have to be able to write one of those names.

Okay, I thought it through. I’m okay with the penalty I give when grading, though I’m a lot less confident than I was six weeks ago, and I’m a lot less justified in my opinion than I was a year ago when the ballot was more crowded than it is today.

Will I have the same rule next year? Well, that depends who’s on the ballot. I’m almost 100% sure the following players will appear: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Manny Ramirez, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Larry Walker, and Derek Jeter. Pettitte and Wagner will be back too. They’ll be joined by Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, and Cliff Lee. With only those guys on the ballot, I see just six to eight no-brainer candidates. If Mussina doesn’t make it this year, that’s one more. So no, I don’t think I’ll have the same grading criterion next season. Of course, my disposition may change on Pettitte or Abreu or some of those for whom I think extremely reasonable voters could find fault. I’ll let you know in November or December.

For now, I’m happy McAdam’s words propelled me to reconsider one of my positions. I remain apologetic if my words hurt him or any of his colleagues who actually work to do well. And I hope that I’ve convinced you that while I am angry, I am not only angry.

Come back on Friday for some more ballot anger. Sorry, Mr. McAdam.

Miller

2018 HoME Update, Active Catchers

Welcome to the beginning of our off-season player updates where we let you know how active players stack up on our all-time lists, update you on their seasonal progress, and make some predictions about how they’ll fare moving forward. Each installment will look at a different position (pitchers may take a bit since we both have a post-season factor in their rankings). It all gets started today with the catchers. First base and second base come later this week.

Joe Mauer
2018 BBREF WAR:
1.2

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
13
Ahead of Joe Torre, Roy Campanella, and Thurman Munson
Trailing Charlie Bennett, Gabby Hartnett and Bill Dickey

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
13
Ahead of Roger Bresnahan, Wally Schang, and Thurman Munson
Trailing Joe Torre, Gabby Hartnett, and Charlie Bennett

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
It seems like Joe Mauer might choose retirement, which wouldn’t seem like a terrible thing for the Twins on the field. Still, it would be a real hit to the team’s soul. Were he to return and have the same season he did this year, he still wouldn’t catch Joe Torre. He’s likely locked into the #13 spot either until Buster Posey catches him or for many years after that.

HoME Outlook:
He’s in the first moment he’s eligible. Same with the Hall, I imagine.

Buster Posey
2018 BBREF WAR:
2.9

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
22
Ahead of Tony Pena, Ernie Lombardi, and Jorge Posada
Trailing Jim Sundberg, Gene Tenace, and Roger Bresnahan

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
20
Ahead of Gene Tenace, Bill Freehan, and Jim Sundberg
Trailing Ernie Lombardi, Ted Simmons, and Roy Campanella

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
While 2018 wasn’t a great year, that may have had more to do with health than age. Of course, the two can go hand-in-hand. The 2012 MVP continues to get some rest at first base, which we might see more of going forward. Mauer stopped being a great player after 30. Might the same be true of Posey? If he repeats his 2018 in 2019, he’ll pass Lombardi. If he has five more seasons exactly like Mauer’s last five, he’ll pass Bresnahan for 14th in history, one spot behind Mauer. I think he might do a little better, but the gap between Bres and Mauer is great enough that even with seasons of 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 WAR to close out his career, Posey will still trail Mauer. I say he finishes at #14

HoME Outlook:
At #14, he’s a sure thing. In fact, for me he’s already in. I think Eric would require another solid season.

Russell Martin
2018 BBREF WAR:
1.3

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
26
Ahead of Bill Freehan, Jason Kendall, and Jack Rowe
Trailing Jorge Posada, Ernie Lombardi, and Tony Pena

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
25
Ahead of Jason Kendall, Jack Clements, and Yadier Molina
Trailing Jorge Posada, Jim Sundberg, and Bill Freehan

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
Despite a batting average south of the Mendoza line, Martin’s elite walk rate suggests he can still play. On the other hand, he hasn’t had a season worth even 2 WAR since 2015. The Jays are going to pay him about $200K per game next year hoping he rebounds. Another year like 2018 gets him nowhere. Three more like last year, through his age-38 season, get him to #23, still trailing Bill Freehan.

HoME Outlook:
Martin may well be a difficult call. Eric already has him ranked ahead of HoMEr Bill Freehan. But I think Freehan may have been a bit of an error on our part. Maybe. In any case, Martin has a shot. Seasons of 3, 2, and 1 WAR would get him to 100.28 MAPES+, a shade over the theoretical in/out line. I don’t think he’ll get there, but it wouldn’t be a total shock. There are eight catchers ever who were Martin’s age to total the 6 WAR he needs to reach 100 MAPES+. He’s no Carlton Fisk or Gabby Hartnett, the only two catchers with double figure WAR from 36 on. But Wally Schang, Bob Boone, Chief Zimmer, Ernie Lombardi, Deacon McGuire, and Walker Cooper may be more reasonable comps. Let’s say he gets there. I’m still not sure he gets a HoME vote. And if he doesn’t, he still may. In other words, I don’t know. Catchers are tough. Understanding handling is tougher. Deciding how many catchers should be in the HoME isn’t easy either. It should be an interesting case.

Yadier Molina
2018 BBREF WAR:
1.8

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
34
Ahead of Smoky Burgess, Deacon McGuire, and Duke Farrell
Trailing Mike Scioscia, Lance Parrish, and Jack Clements

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
28
Ahead of Lance Parrish, Darrell Porter, and Johnny Kling
Trailing Jack Clements, Jason Kendall, and Russell Martin

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
He’ll be 36 next year and is signed for two more campaigns. He’s at the end of his career, though he generally remains healthy. But a healthy Yadi isn’t better than a 2-win player any longer. If we give him two more seasons like his last two, he doesn’t reach Russell Martin’s current level.

HoME Outlook:
He’s not so close by MAPES+. He’s even further away by CHEWS+. I suspect it’ll be a down vote by both of us, and I’ll write an angry post or ten about the use of narrative to elevate Molina to an easy first-ballot Hall of Famer in the eyes of many.

Brian McCann
2018 BBREF WAR:
1.0

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
45
Ahead of Andy Seminick, Victor Martinez, and Jocko Milligan
Trailing Chief Zimmer, Sherm Lollar, and Cal McVey

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
42
Ahead of Elston Howard, Victor Martinez, and Rick Ferrell
Trailing Ray Schalk, Mike Scioscia, and Cal McVey

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
Over the last three years it’s been a shade under 1.5 WAR on average. He’ll be 35 next year, and the Astros have a team option for $15 million. I don’t think Houston will pick it up, but I’m confident he’ll have a job next year. After all, a bunch of catchers on this list are free agents about his age with about his level of production. What I don’t expect is that a guy whose WAA has been below zero since he turned 30 to suddenly turn it around at 35.

HoME Outlook:
Things once looked pretty good for him. There were only 15 catchers who topped McCann in WAR through age-26. And of those, only Johnny Bench, Joe Torre, and Gary Carter hit more homers. Needless to say, McCann hasn’t aged quite so well. He’s not going to make it unless there’s a late-career renaissance the likes of which we’ve almost never seen.

Victor Martinez
2018 BBREF WAR:
-1.2

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
47
Ahead of Jocko Milligan, Rick Ferrell, and John Clapp
Trailing Andy Seminick, Brian McCann, and Chief Zimmer

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
44
Ahead of Rick Ferrell, Chief Meyers, and John Clapp
Trailing Elston Howard, Brian McCann, and Ray Schalk

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
His trajectory is retired. Over the last four years, he’s moved backwards on the all-time list, down three spots. Retirement is the right choice.

HoME Outlook:
He won’t be going.

Salvador Perez
2018 BBREF WAR:
2.4

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
80
Ahead of Darren Daulton, Heinie Peitz, and Brad Ausmus
Trailing Hank Gowdy, Gus Triandos, and Bob O’Farrell

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
77
Ahead of Muddy Ruel, Heinie Peitz, and Earl Battey
Trailing Frankie Hayes, Carlos Ruiz, and Bob O’Farrell

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
Unlike most guys on this list, he was good in 2018. Only Buster Posey topped his BBREF WAR among catchers we chart. Plus, he’s only 29, he’s generally healthy, and DRA likes his defense more than Rfield does. There are only 20 catchers ever with a greater WAR total through age 28, all the usual suspects plus Butch Wynegar, Lance Parrish, Ray Schalk, Fred Carroll, and Jason Kendall. He’s going to need a 5-win season or two pretty soon, something I’m not sure he can do. But if he does…

HoME Outlook:
It’s not looking great, though it’s not looking so bad either. There are only four catchers in history with a greater WAR total through age-28 who are neither in the Hall nor HoME, none ahead by more than 1.5. I’m not betting on him, but it might be fun to watch.

Jonathan Lucroy
2018 BBREF WAR:
-0.7

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
99
Ahead of Bo Diaz, Hank Severeid, and Harry Danning
Trailing Ron Hassey, Bubbles Hargrave, and Joe Ferguson

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
88
Ahead of Ramon Hernandez, Johnny Edwards, and Joe Ferguson
Trailing Hank Gowdy, Frank Snyder, and Paul Lo Duca

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
Over the last two years, he’s posted negative WAR. And since his career year in 2014, he’s been worth only 1.2 WAR per season. He’s a free agent and will be 33 next year. Maybe he has another year like 2016 left in him. If so, and if he gradually declines from there, he’ll get into the top-60. However, I don’t think he’s going to get there. What’s more likely is jumping about 10-15 spots before retirement.

HoME Outlook:
After 2014 it looked like he might have been able to put together a run. Now it’s certain he won’t.

Kurt Suzuki
2018 BBREF WAR:
2.1

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
114
Ahead of Steve Yeager, Shanty Hogan, and Joe Azcue
Trailing Babe Phelps, Chris Iannetta, and Andy Etchebarren

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
96
Ahead of George Gibson, Charles Johnson, and Matt Wieters
Trailing Mike Stanley, John Stearns, and Brad Ausmus

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
Playing a little less, it seems Suzuki has become a bit of a better hitter in the last couple of years. A free agent, he’ll be 35 next year and is sure to be signed, probably by a team dubious about the value of catcher framing. If he plays two more years, declining by 0.7 WAR each time, just as he did between 2017 and 2018, he’ll move up to #87. I’ll take the under.

HoME Outlook:
He might reach the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame. Lenn Sakata and Mike Lum are in, and he’s been a clearly player than either.

Matt Wieters
2018 BBREF WAR:
0.6

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
120
Ahead of Stan Lopata, Mike Lavalliere, and Mike MacFarlane
Trailing Ernie Whitt, Alan Ashby, and Joe Azcue

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
99
Ahead of Ivey Wingo, Jody Davis, and Phil Masi
Trailing Chrales Johnson, George Gibson, and Kurt Suzuki

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
I don’t know if it’s true that stud prospects that never turn into studs have nice long and low careers, but it sometimes feels that way. Wieters is dragging though, reaching one WAR only once in his last five campaigns. He’s a free agent, and since he’s just 33 next year, I suspect he’ll sign another deal. Still, it’s not like he can move up too far.

HoME Outlook:
A decade ago there was hope. No more.

Chris Iannetta
2018 BBREF WAR:
-0.4

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
112
Ahead of Babe Phelps, Kurt Suzuki, and Steve Yeager
Trailing Andy Etchebarren, Art Wilson, and Jim Pagliaroni

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
114
Ahead of Ron Hassey, Bo Diaz, and Rick Wilkins
Trailing Terry Kennedy, Jerry Grote, and Steve Yeager

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
He’s signed for next season and even has a 2020 option. In other words, even if he’s done, he’s not done. He’s only been worth a win in one of the last four seasons and is going to retire somewhere outside the top-100.

HoME Outlook:
He’s neither young nor good. It’s not happening.

Alex Avila
2018 BBREF WAR:
0.0

CHEWS+ rank at the position after 2018:
132
Ahead of Don Slaught, Mike Lieberthal, and Doug Allison
Trailing Earl Smith, Gregg Zaun, and Ron Karkovice

MAPES+ rank at the position after 2018:
125
Ahead of Earl Smith, Ron Karkovice, and Milt May
Trailing Mike LaValliere, Joe Azcue, and Pop Snyder

Current career trajectory per MAPES+:
Catchers can sometimes age well as part-timers. Of course, Avila has only played 316 games in the last four seasons, so he’s already been a part-timer who’s not aging well. Even with three more seasons of 2 WAR, he won’t reach the top-100.

HoME Outlook:
Didn’t his dad trade him a couple of years ago? When your dad gives up on you, there’s not much more to say.

On Wednesday, we’ll take a look first base.

Miller

NL Mount Rushmore, 2018 Update

So, I know what you must be thinking. Miller, you’ve been gone for months, and when you come back you do so with one of the least popular series in HoME history. Well, yeah. At least for me this is a really fun series. And I can use the NL and AL updates that come today and Friday to preview the post-season active player updates that will follow. No, we’re not officially back, but there is going to be some content in the coming weeks, including complete CHEWS+ and MAPES+ lists at every position, lists that will be archived on the site for your future reference.

But first, each National League team’s updated Mount Rushmore. If you don’t happen to recall, this isn’t about the four best players in a team’s history. Rather, it’s about the four best players in history that have never played for another team. So Ty Cobb isn’t on the Tiger list, and Willie Mays isn’t on the Giant list. Here we go!

Arizona

  • Paul Goldschmidt (40.1 WAR) isn’t leaving this list until he leaves Arizona or long after he retires. He’s signed for next year, but then the D’backs will have a decision to make. Do they give the cornerstone of their franchise a long-term deal starting at age-32, or do they part company? Goldschmidt is building a Hall of Fame career, so I hope Arizona resigns him.
  • Brandon Webb (31.4) is locked too.
  • Next on the mountain is A.J. Pollack (20.0), a pretty interesting player. His 2015 season made him one of only four players, joining Jacoby Ellsbury, Hanley Ramirez, and Cesar Cedeno with 39 2B, 39 SB, 20 HR, and fewer than 100 K in baseball history. He’s been injured a lot, but he’s been great when healthy. He leaves the Diamondback Rushmore only if he leaves the team. He’s not getting caught from behind for at least a few seasons.
  • We have a change in the fourth spot. Last hear it was David Peralta, the lefty corner outfielder who just has his first 30 homer season. It was also his best season at 3.9 WAR. Unfortunately for him, Patrick Corbin (12.5) caught him from behind with a very impressive 4.8 WAR this season. Peralta is signed for another couple of seasons while Corbin could leave this winter, so there might be another change on the Diamondback Rushmore next year.

Atlanta

  • Chipper Jones (85.0) is far and away tops here.
  • After another outstanding season, Freddie Freeman (33.1) remains in second place. I just mentioned Paul Goldschmidt as someone on a Hall of Fame trajectory. Same with Freeman who is three years younger and could certainly join the fight if he keeps up his pace. As for Rushmore status, he’s signed for an extra couple of seasons, so he’s going to be here for a while.
  • The Braves have had quite a long history, dating back to their 1876 Boston Red Stockings days. Yet, Julio Teheran (17.7) is third on their list.
  • Perhaps more amazingly, Rick Camp (12.3) is fourth.

Chicago

  • Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks (67.4), leads the way. Who else?
  • Stan Hack (52.5) is second and only 14.9 WAR behind Banks. It doesn’t feel that close, does it?
  • Charlie Hollocher (23.2) is third. You might not have heard of him. He played for the Cubs from 1918-1924. He apparently left the team in 1923 due to depression, tried to come back in 1924, but couldn’t. I wonder how many major leaguers have suffered from depression. For those looking for a silver lining in these difficult political times, it’s that in many places in this country, those who suffer from depression can come forward in ways not available 100 or even 10 years ago. That’s progress.
  • Much to my surprise, the fourth spot remains held down by Bill Lange (22.9). That’s because Kris Bryant played only 102 so-so games and posted just 1.9 WAR on the season. He should bounce Lange off and Hollocher to third next year.

Cincinnati

  • Johnny Bench (75.0) leads the way.
  • Barry Larkin (70.2) backs him up.
  • Until Joey Votto (58.8) goes away or passes Larkin, this is his spot.
  • Bid McPhee (52.4) is fourth.
  • Davey Concepcion is waiting in the wings should Votto depart the Queen City.

Colorado

  • Todd Helton (61.2) sits atop this list, while the rest of it will be in flux for some time pending strong seasons, trades, and free agency.
  • Nolan Arenado continued to add to his Hall campaign with another outstanding season and sits second at (33.1).
  • The same cannot be said of Charlie Blackmon (16.1) whose contribution in 2018 was less than one win. He may need to do better than that because there are two very impressive players within a very good season of catching him.
  • For now, it’s Kyle Freeland (11.5) who occupies the fourth spot on this list. Those of us on the east coast who know plenty about Jake deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Aaron Nola should tune into the awesome season Freeland had. Sure, it might only be the fourth best by an NL pitcher this year, but it deserves more celebration than it seems to have received. Too bad his Rockies were bounced from the playoffs so quickly. Of course, Freeland was awesome the one time he took the ball.
  • Right behind Freeland is last year’s fourth guy, Trevor Story, just a tenth of a win short. It’ll be interesting to see what the next few seasons bring for this pair and for the Rockies.

Los Angeles

  • Don Drysdale (67.2) starts us off.
  • Pee Wee Reese (66.4) follows.
  • When the season began, there was just one question pertaining to the Dodger Rushmore: Where would Clayton Kershaw (64.6) land when the season ended? He needed 2.2 WAR to pass Jackie Robinson for third place, 7.1 to slide past Pee Wee Reese into second, and 7.9 to take the #1 spot from Don Drysdale. With 4.0, he lands in third. Sandy Koufax takes his place if he departs. Among current Dodgers, it seems Yasiel Puig (18.6) and Kenley Jansen (15.9) aren’t really threats. It also seems that Kershaw won’t add further seasons to his peak. Still, there’s every reason to believe he’ll top this list one year from now.
  • Jackie Robinson (61.5) is fourth and not going anywhere anytime soon.

Miami

  • What a mess this is. Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcel Ozuna are all gone of last year’s list. Jose Fernandez (14.2) will hang around for a while, possibly forever. By the way, the aforementioned trio, including the clubhouse leader for MVP, Yelich, combined for more WAR last year than this.
  • J.T. Realmuto (13.0) is a perfectly fine player whose WAR has increased every year in the bigs, reaching a high of 4.3 this past season. He’s arbitration eligible for the second time this winter after making $2.9 million in 2018. So maybe he won’t be a Marlin next year?
  • I almost know who Derek Dietrich (4.6) is. On one hand, he’s a mediocre utility guy. On the other, he played nearly every day in 2018 on his way to 0.4 WAR. As long as he remains on the Marlin Rushmore, it’ll be clear this franchise is without hope.
  • On the other hand, I know two players named Brian Anderson. However, neither is the Brian Anderson (3.8) who’s on the Marlin Rushmore. He was actually a very useful player in 2018, moving between third base and right field. Still, I don’t think it’s good with the Marlin’s long-term prospects to see him on this façade. Now if we could sub him for the other B.A. in the announce booth, that would likely be an improvement.

Milwaukee

  • Robin Yount (77.0) gets things started.
  • Ryan Braun (46.4) will remain in second until the Brewers buy him out in two seasons (I’m guessing).
  • Next is Teddy Higuera (30.7).
  • Then there’s Jim Gantner (22.3).
  • If Braun were to go elsewhere, moving up will be Dave Nilsson (10.5) unless Zach Davies (5.5) surprises.

New York

  • David Wright (50.4) continues to lead the way. One of my favorite live baseball moments came when I got to see Wright walk and pop out in the final two trips to the plate of his MLB career. Mets fans were great, a full 180 degrees from the reputations of negativity some of them have. It was such a joy to be there, in one of the most positive baseball atmospheres I’ve ever experienced.
  • Next is Jacob deGrom (27.2), who I hope remains healthy (and a Met!) so Mets fans can continue to be happy about something.
  • Noah Syndergaard (13.2) is third.
  • And somehow, amazingly at least to me, Juan Lagares (12.8), who the Mets have never seen as a starter even when he has been, finishes out the Met Rushmore. Is he really still on the team?

Philadelphia

  • We start with Michael Jack Schmidt (106.5), now and forever.
  • Next is Charlie Ferguson (32.1), a guy who spent the 1884-1887 seasons with the Philadelphia Quakers.
  • Aaron Nola (15.5) flies up to third with his incredible 10-win 2018.
  • Ryan Howard (14.9) finishes things off. Remember when MLB General Managers paid big bucks for runs batted in? Howard had 572 of them over four years from 2006-2009.

Pittsburgh

  • Roberto Clemente (94.5) isn’t going anywhere for generations.
  • Willie Stargell (57.5) is set too.
  • With the departure of Andrew McCutchen, Sam Leever (41.3) moves into the third spot.
  • And Bill Mazeroski (36.2) joins the Pirate Rushmore. It seems like there’s a better chance Starling Marte (26.2) prices himself out of Pittsburgh than that he gains enough value to catch Maz.

St. Louis

  • It’s likely that nobody ever touches Stan Musial (128.1).
  • And it’s pretty likely Bob Gibson (89.9) never relinquishes second place.
  • Yadier Molina (38.9) steps into the third spot, which is, perhaps, another nail in the coffin of those who don’t believe he’s deserving of Hall induction.
  • Adam Wainwright (38.2) is the third-best fourth-on-the-façade, behind Jackie Robinson and Bid McPhee.

San Diego

  • Tony Gwynn (68.8) should be called Mr. Padre more than he is.
  • And here’s why. Tim Flannery (9.2) is second. Only four times in his eleven seasons did he play 100 games. He never topped three homers in a season. He was successful in just 50% of his 44 steal attempts. His career Rbat was -44. You get the point.
  • Manuel Margot (4.6) is third. I guess he’s an okay player, but like Flannery, he can’t hit.
  • And for now Hunter Renfroe (3.7) finishes off the Padre Rushmore. At least he’s passable at the dish.

San Francisco

  • Mel Ott (107.8) is very safe.
  • Carl Hubbell (67.5) is too.
  • Bill Terry (54.2) makes it three who are locked in for quite a while.
  • Going into the season, however, Mike Tiernan (42.2) was in jeopardy of losing his spot to Buster Posey. But Posey and his 2.9 WAR on the season couldn’t quite get there. With just one WAR in 2019, he’ll make it.

Washington

  • I don’t know why I’m such a huge fan of Steve Rogers (45.1) topping this list, a list I expect he’ll continue to top for years to come.
  • Ryan Zimmerman (38.0) certainly doesn’t have enough left in him to topple the 158-game winner.
  • The first day of the 2019 campaign should be the last day Bryce Harper (27.4) is on this list.
  • Stephen Strasburg (27.3) continues to chug along, but he can opt out after next year. It’ll be interesting to see if he leaves four years and $100 million on the table.

Well, that’s it for the National League. The updated American League Rushmore will post on Friday.

Miller

Out at HoME?

Hi all,

After more than five years of content three days per week, Eric and I have decided to call it quits at the HoME, at least for the time being. We would like to thank all of those who have read our work, provided feedback that improved our knowledge, or shared our posts with friends.

It’s not like something major has happened. Eric hasn’t gotten a job getting paid to do this – one that he absolutely deserves. I haven’t given up on the dream of Rick Reuschel getting into the Hall. Even if we never share another post, we will always treasure the five years we’ve spent on the Hall of Miller and Eric.

The good news? The site will remain live, so you’ll continue to have access to about 1,000 posts.

Thank you again for all of your support.

Miller

Institutional History

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