Modern Era Committee Speaks

December 11, 2017

The first of the two Hall of Fame votes for this season is done. The Modern Era Committee, one of the four current versions of the Veteran’s Committee just announced their picks for addition to Cooperstown: Alan Trammell and Jack Morris.

Trammell

Trammell was new to the ballot, having just fallen off the BBWAA ballot short of election. He played shortstop for Detroit during his entire career. I’m not sure who the top 10 all time shortstops are (Honus Wagner and nine other guys is a good bet) but Trammell legitimately belongs in the argument.

Morris with Minnesota

For a while Morris was a teammate of Trammell’s. They won the 1984 World Series together. Later Morris moved on to Minnesota where he won another World Series (and was Series MVP), then headed to Toronto for two more championships.

I have no problem with either man making the Hall of Fame. I’ll admit to being more pleased with Trammell than with Morris, but I’m not opposed to either being there. I’m very surprised to see Marvin Miller fail election again. MLB’s website says he got 7 votes (of 16 possible). Ted Simmons I feel a little sorry for. Needing 12 votes to get elected (of 16) Simmons got 11. That’s kind of a shame, but it also surprises me and gives me hope for Simmons in the future.. And BTW the same site says Trammell got 14 votes and Morris 13.

The Morris election is, to me, a hopeful sign for other players. Traditionally high ERA’s have been a disqualifier to election for the Hall of Fame. With Morris now in with an ERA just south of four it may open up the Hall for other pitchers like Mel Harder and Wes Ferrell, as well as current nominee Mike Mussina (who’s ERA would be high for the Hall). We’ll see if that works (and none of this is meant to indicate whether I indorse Ferrell and/or Harder for the Hall or not).

So congratulations to both on their election. Now we get to see (in January) what the other vote does.

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2017 Hall of Fame Ballot

December 5, 2017

 

Chipper Jones

I’ve spent the last while waxing wonderful (I do that, you know) about the Modern Era Veteran’s Committee’s upcoming vote, that I’ve basically set the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot on the back burner. As I can pretty much only do one thing at a time anymore (doing two things at once is now doing three too many), that was the right thing for me. But now it’s time to weigh in on the players who will be announced in January.

The rules allow for 10 picks and as I believe in voting as many times as they’ll let me I’m picking 10 guys again this year. Some years because of a weak ballot, that’s not the best idea in the world, but this year there are a lot of really worthy candidates for the Hall so I’ve actually had to eliminate some I might otherwise at least consider. Normally I write-up short blurbs attempting to justify my choice of a particular player for the Hall of Fame. Well, I’m tired, I’ve done it a gazillion times, so this year I’m going to skip it for most of my list. Because most of the list consists of holdovers from 2016. So seven of my picks are seven players I’ve chosen before: Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Shilling, and Larry Walker. If you want to know my reasons for each, find the post about this time last year when I wrote about each. Having written all that, there are still three spots on the 10 man ballot. All are new guys and all deserve a comment, in alphabetical order.

Chipper Jones: During my lifetime baseball has produced an inordinate number of truly great third basemen, Brook Robinson, Eddie Mathews, Wade Boggs, Mike Schmidt, George Brett (in no particular order). Chipper Jones deserves recognition as a member of that group. He has an MVP award which maybe he shouldn’t, but there is nothing wrong with his statistics with either the bat or the glove. As “first ballot Hall of Famer” has become a thing, I think he probably deserves to be one of them.

Scott Rolen: Hear me out before you yelp. Rolen doesn’t have the big offensive numbers that guys like Jones, Mathews, and Schmidt have, but he was an excellent hitter. His OPS+ is 122, his offensive WAR is 52.1. That’s good enough for consideration. But he was an amazing defensive player. His defensive WAR is 20.6, he’s 11th in career assists, is top 20 in both double plays turned, and fielding percentage. He has a Rookie of the Year award (which he probably deserved). He’s going to have trouble making the Hall because he followed Schmidt at Philadelphia and he wasn’t Schmidt (but then neither was anyone else) and he’s up against Jones who was always more well known, played for a more popular team, and was flashier. I just want him to get enough votes so he’ll hang on the list. Then maybe voters will take time to look over his career and move him up the ballot and ultimately into the Hall.

Jim Thome: You get 600 home runs without a whiff of steroids in the steroid era you should automatically get consideration for the Hall of Fame. That’s Jim Thome. But he also has 1699 RBIs (what? He couldn’t stay around for one more?), an OPS of .956 with an OPS+ of 147, and 77.1 WAR. But then he struck out a lot, you say. Yeah, he did, but he also walked a lot, leading his league in both three times. And of course he got bigger as time went on (so did I, but I’m not talking about around the waist) and that surely will lead someone to go “Ah ha, steroids.” We’ll see how well he does. I expect him to stay on the list, if not be elected.

So there’s my list. I’m sticking with seven previous picks and adding three new ones. Good luck to all of them.

 

 

“Where Were You…

November 30, 2017

…when I laid the foundations of the earth?”–Job 38:4

Joe Morgan

So Joe Morgan has decided to chastise the rest of us concerning Hall of Fame voting. It seems we fans, as much perhaps as the voters, have made a mistake. We’ve allowed a bunch of steroid junkies to run amok on our favorite Hall of Fame ballot and may be close to electing one, or more, of their ilk to the hallowed halls of Cooperstown. Well, Joe, where the heck were you 10 years ago?

It’s not that I disagree with Morgan. I think the steroid boys should be rejected and left to purchase a ticket to the Hall of Fame if they want to get in. But I wonder why the “Morgan Letter” wasn’t written 10 years ago when a lot of these guys were first coming onto the Hall ballot. How’s come, oh, great arbitrator of our morals? From my point of view guys like Morgan, who could have weighed in more strenuously years ago are at least partially at fault if the evil, nefarious steroid villains get into the Hall because guys like Morgan needed to send the letter a long, long time ago. I recognize that Morgan has spoken out previously, but the letter is a much for formal and concentrated format that has more punch than mere comments.

So don’t get too upset, Joe, if one of the steroid bunch gets in. You should have yelled more strenuously a long, long time ago.

 

 

Modern Era Ballot: the Pitchers

November 28, 2017

With the contributors and everyday players out-of-the-way, it’s time to look at the pitchers appearing on the ballot.

Tommy John is known more for the surgery named for him than for his pitching. That’s a shame, because he was very good. Primarily a ground ball pitcher he won 288 games, lost 231, had an ERA of 3.34 (ERA+ 111), 2245 strikeouts, a 1.283 WHIP, and 62.3 WAR. He went to three World Series’ (losing all 3), and is perhaps most famous in Series play for being pulled at a critical time in game six of the 1981 Series. His team subsequently lost both the game and the Series.

Jack Morris unlike John, is known primarily for a World Series win–game 7 in 1991. It is frequently considered the second greatest pitching performance in a World Series game (behind Larsen in 1956). But Morris more than a single game. He led all pitchers in wins in the 1980s, had a no-hitter on national television, led his team to the World Series in 1984, 1991, and 1992, begin MVP in the middle one. For a career he went 254-186 with a 3.90 ERA (ERA+ 105), 2478 strikeouts, a 1.296 WHIP. and 43.8 WAR.

Luis Tiant was something of an enigma. He started his career strong, then faltered in the middle before coming back strong and leading the Red Sox to a World Series (which they lost). He won an ERA title in is fifth season, then had four terrible seasons. In 1972 he won another ERA title and pitched effectively through 1980. For his career he was 229-172 with a 3.30 ERA (ERA+ of 114) with 2416 strikeouts, a 1.199 WHIP, and 66.1 WAR.

At this point I have one vote left (of five). Frankly, I’d have little problem with any of these three reaching the Hall of Fame, although if I had my choice, I’d take Dr. Frank Jobe, the man who created Tommy John surgery. His pioneering work has saved a lot of pitching careers. I’m also aware that a high ERA is going to be a problem for Andy Pettitte (as will the steroid allegations) when he becomes eligible. The same problem also plagues Wes Ferrell and Mel Harder, two excellent pitchers of the 1930s. A vote for Morris might cut away some of that stigma and help each of the three. Tiant has the best ERA, WHIP, and WAR.

I think I’ll hold this vote for Dr. Jobe. Maybe he’ll show up soon.

 

 

Modern Era Ballot: Everyday Players

November 22, 2017

Trammell

Part two of my look at the latest Veteran’s Committee effort. This time the Everyday Players.

Let me begin by reminding you which everyday players are on the list: Steve Garvey, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons, Alan Trammell.

Garvey is most famous for all his years with the Dodgers as a first baseman. He won an MVP, two All Star game MVP Awards, was twice the NLCS MVP, and led the Dodgers to the World Series three times, winning one, and the Padres to a single Series (losing it). He holds the NL record for consecutive games played, hit .294, and has 2599 hits (What? He couldn’t have hung on for one more hit?).

Mattingly was the Yankees first baseman for much of the 1980s and 1990s. He won a single MVP Award, had his number retired by the Yanks, tied the record for consecutive games with a home run, holds the record for most consecutive games with a hit (not part of the home run record), holds the record for grand slam homers in a season (since tied), and has managed both the Dodgers and the Marlins.

Murphy is a two-time MVP while playing outfield for the Braves. Originally a catcher, he made a successful transition to the outfield. He ended his career with 398 home runs and 1266 RBIs. He was, according to his Wikipedia page, elected to the World Humanitarian Hall of Fame (had never heard of it).

No one ever was going to elect Parker to a Humanitarian Hall of Fame. He also won an MVP Award while with Pittsburgh along with a World Series championship. He later served as the designated hitter for the “Bash Brothers” Oakland A’s team of the late 1980s and early 1990s, winning another championship. He also won two batting titles and an RBI crown. He was also suspended for drug use.

Simmons was one of the first power hitting catchers, following the likes of Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella. He was miscast as a catcher and eventually ended up a designated hitter in the AL after starting his career in St. Louis. At the end of his career he also played first base with Atlanta. He ended up with 248 home runs, 1389 RBIs, and a .285 average.

Trammell was a superior shortstop for the Tigers. He led them to the World Series title in 1984 (against Garvey’s Padres), winning the Series MVP. He was second in the MVP race in 1987. A lot of people thought he should have won. Later he managed the Tigers, producing no winning seasons.

Those are short notes about each player highlighting some of their career, and post playing baseball activities. Not a bad player in the lot. In fact it the committee picked all of them I wouldn’t be sorry. Having said that, each has distinct problems that have kept them out of the Hall.

With four votes left on my mythical ballot I can’t pick ’em all, so I’ll take three: Trammell, Simmons, and Mattingly. To the others: better luck next time, fellas.

Pitchers next.

Modern Era Ballot: the Contributor

November 20, 2017

When I listed the ballot for the Modern Era Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee, I commented that I would have more to say later. Well, it’s later and this is the first of three looks at the ballot.

Marvin Miller, Player’s Union

When Marvin Miller took over the Player’s Union, no one outside the union noticed (probably a lot of players didn’t notice either). By the time he retired, the union had reached something like equality with the team owners. Miller shows up this year on the Modern Era Veteran’s ballot.

For good or bad, Marvin Miller made the Player’s Union what it is today, a potent force in baseball, not just in labor negotiations, but in a lot of MLB areas. Want to add more games? Check with the union. Want to more double headers? Check with the union. That’s Miller’s doing. I am totally comfortable in calling him one of the 10 most important people in baseball history. I remind you that “important” is not a synonym for “great.” As far as I know, Miller didn’t play baseball at all (except maybe as a kid), but he revolutionized the game by creating something like labor parity in the sport.

Apparently he wasn’t a particularly likeable guy. Even a lot of the players didn’t like him, but he made them money and gave them power. He’s been on the Hall of Fame ballot before and was never elected. There’s a line of thought that believes that he was so disliked by the baseball community (including a lot of players) that no one wanted to see him on the stage to receive his plaque and then have to listen to his speech. Maybe it’s so, maybe it isn’t. But to date he’s not gotten in. Now that he’s gone on to whatever reward labor organizers get he’s going to receive another chance.

The members of the Veteran’s Committee get five votes for enshrinement. If I were a member, Marvin Miller would easily get mine. I think he definitely deserves to be in Cooperstown.

 

Win Some, Win Some

November 17, 2017

 

One of Yogi Berra’s MVP Trophies

With the announcement of the MVP Awards last evening, the major awards season for MLB came to a close. In earlier posts I indicated who I thought would win the Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP Awards for both leagues. Now a couple of thoughts.

For the first time ever, I think, I got them all correct. I just went eight for eight which is absolutely astounding for me. I generally get about two out of three right. I’d like to pat myself on the back, but I do have short arms.

To be clear the picks I made (and did I tell you all my picks were right?) were the picks I thought would win, not necessarily the picks I thought ought to win. I would have voted for seven of the eight.

The one I wouldn’t have voted for? Stanton. I would have cast my vote for Joey Votto, who I thought had just an astoundingly good season. Without him, Cincinnati would have finished last (OOPS!!). OK, they would have lost 120 games. I’ve always liked Votto and will be interested to see his final statistics when he hangs up his uniform for the last time. It will also be interesting to see how a first baseman with limited power does in Hall of Fame voting.

Anyway, congratulations to the 2017 postseason award winners. Now on to the controversies about to erupt over the Hall of Fame voting (both vets and regular picks).

RIP Bobby Doerr

November 14, 2017

 

Bobby Doerr

Just saw that Hall of Fame second baseman Bobby Doerr died. He was 99.

Doerr arrived in Boston in 1937 and remained there for his entire career (excepting a stint during World War II that cost him 1945). He was part of the 1946 pennant winning team and participated in the 1948 one game playoff that propelled Cleveland to its last World Series win. For his career, which ended in 1951, his triple slash line reads .288/.362/.461/.823 with more walks than strikeouts. His WAR (BBREF version) is 46.1. He made the Hall of Fame in 1986 and was one of the major players quoted in David Halberstam’s The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship. At his death he was the oldest living Major League player and the last to play in the 1930s.

RIP, Bobby.

Modern Era Ballot Released

November 10, 2017

The latest iteration of the Veteran’s Committee for the Hall of Fame just released the ballot for the “Modern Era” Committee (that’s the most recent retirees). Here they are in the order that shows up on the Hall of Fame website (it’s alphabetical):

Steve Garvey

Tommy John

Don Mattingly

Marvin Miller

Jack Morris

Dale Murphy

Dave Parker

Ted Simmons

Luis Tiant

Alan Trammell

Committee members will vote in December and are allowed to vote for up to five people.

Commentary to follow.

 

2017 Gold Gloves

November 8, 2017

 

Gold Glove Award

After all these years I still associate “Golden Gloves” with youth boxing. It was a big deal when I was younger (although I had enough sense not to participate). But the baseball people now use s version the term for their “All Glove” team. This year’s roll out of the post season awards begins with the Gold Gloves. Here’s this year’s team (American League listed first):

pitcher Marcus Stroman/Zack Grienke

catcher Martin Maldonado/Tucker Barnett

first base Eric Hosmer/Paul Goldschmidt

second base Brian Dozier/DJ LeMahieu

shortstop Andrelton Simmons/Brandon Crawford

third base Evan Longoria/Nolan Arenado

left field Alex Gordon/Marcell Ozuna

center field Byron Buxton/Ender Inciarte

right field Mookie Betts/Jason Heyward

If you’re keeping track, in the AL the Twins, Royals, and Angels all put two players on the squad. In the National League both the Diamondbacks and Rockies place two players on the team.