The results of the second stage of the annual Hall of Fame voting process will be announced Tuesday evening with the Baseball Writers’ Association selections, and we can safely say not to expect any stunning news along the lines of what happened in December with the Today’s Game Era committee.
In other words, we’re not going to see a reunion of the 2005 White Sox with the elections of Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia.
The committee’s election of Harold Baines, however, does raise an interesting question: How much does the BBWAA vote even matter if a 16-person committee is simply going to override those results in the future?
Take Fred McGriff. He’s on the BBWAA ballot for the final time. He’s not going to get in. Not to worry; in a few years he seems like a surefire committee choice. He’s like Baines — a one-dimensional slugger, highly respected, played a long time — except even better at that one dimension. McGriff hit .284 with 493 home runs and an OPS+ of 134. Baines hit .289 with 384 home runs and an OPS+ of 121. McGriff’s 52.6 WAR dwarfs Baines’ 38.7. He’s fared much better in BBWAA voting than Baines ever did.
The same can be said of some of the other borderline candidates on the ballot, such as Larry Walker, Scott Rolen and Jeff Kent. Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte are on for the first time. They aren’t strong candidates based on traditional BBWAA standards, but compared to Baines, Lee Smith and Jack Morris — elected the past two years by the special committees — they look pretty good. We can debate their merits, but in the long run they’re probably all getting in. The BBWAA vote only (potentially) expedites the process.
That isn’t to suggest that everyone better than Jack Morris or Harold Baines should get in. Heck, there are 21 players on this ballot with a higher career WAR than those two. What remains to be seen is how the soft selections of Morris, Baines and Smith might start influencing the BBWAA vote.
Anyway, here are some key things to look for with Tuesday’s results. All references to voting totals are courtesy of the great work Ryan Thibodaux does with his Hall of Fame vote tracker.
Will Mariano Rivera become the first player elected unanimously?
Among those who obsess about Hall of Fame balloting, there is a small subset who obsess over this twist of history: No Hall of Famer has received 100 percent of the vote. Somehow, 23 people didn’t vote for Willie Mays. Nine people didn’t vote for Hank Aaron. Imagine having a Hall of Fame ballot and not voting for Willie Mays or Hank Aaron. Twenty didn’t vote for Ted Williams, but, hey, a lot of writers despised the man. In the first election in 1936, 11 writers didn’t vote for Babe Ruth. The rules might not have been entirely clear: Ruth had just retired the previous year. Still, Ruth received just 215 votes out of 226 ballots.
So, as Joe Posnanski related in a recent column, the issue of unanimity became a thing right from the beginning.
Tom Seaver came close. He was named on 425 of 430 ballots in 1992. Three writers sent in a blank ballot, protesting that Pete Rose was not on the ballot. One writer had just gotten out of open-heart surgery and simply missed checking off Seaver’s name. The final non-vote, as Posnanski writes, came from a retired writer named Deane McGowan, who apparently refused to vote for any player on his first ballot. And you think Baseball Twitter is cranky.
Ken Griffey Jr. set the record with 99.3 percent of the vote in 2016. Three writers didn’t vote for him. We don’t know who they were since voters don’t have to reveal their ballots. Maybe somebody sent in a blank ballot. Maybe somebody refused to vote for anybody who played in the steroid era. Maybe somebody decided, “If Babe Ruth wasn’t no unanimous, nobody should be unanimous.”
So it goes. As did Griffey, Rivera has received 100 percent of the publicly revealed ballots. He’s 180-for-180 so far. My guess: He won’t get 100 percent. Somebody will enforce the Ruth rule. Maybe somebody feels no reliever deserves to be enshrined. Maybe somebody, knowing Rivera will get elected, will use his or her 10 spots on the ballot for other candidates. But Rivera has a chance to end the silly 100 percent stigma.
Does Edgar Martinez get in on his final ballot?
It would be a little awkward if Baines is giving a speech in July and Martinez isn’t. After all, the Designated Hitter of the Year award isn’t named after Baines. Fortunately, it looks like Martinez will get elected. He’s received 90.8 percent of the public ballots, compared to 76.3 percent last year, when he finished at 70.4 percent. So even with an expected decline in the percentage he receives from the private ballots, he looks in good shape. Book those hotel rooms now, Mariners fans.
Does Roy Halladay get in on his first ballot?
Halladay is polling at a surprising 94.1 percent — not that he’s undeserving, but he’s not a slam dunk by career WAR (64.3) or wins (203), standards that BBWAA voters have employed in the past. Compare him to Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling:
Halladay: 64.3 WAR, 203-105, 3.38 ERA, 131 ERA+
Mussina: 83.0 WAR, 270-153, 3.68 ERA, 123 ERA+
Schilling: 79.6 WAR, 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 127 ERA+
Mussina is on the ballot for the sixth time and received just 20.3 percent of the vote on his first ballot. Schilling is on for the seventh time and received 38.8 percent of the vote his first time. There are reasons to like Halladay over Mussina and Schilling — he won two Cy Young Awards and finished second two other times, and his seven-year peak is highest of the three (50.4 WAR, 48.7 for Schilling, 44.6 for Mussina) — but it seems Halladay is being viewed much differently than those two. Perhaps his unfortunate death in a plane crash is helping his vote total.
Anyway, like Martinez, his total will surely drop in the private ballot, but he needs just 59.5 percent on the remaining ballots to clear 75 percent.
Speaking of Mussina and Schilling, how will they do?
Mussina is inching closer, but it looks like he’ll fall just short. He’s at 82.2 percent of the public vote and would need 69.2 percent of the remaining ballots. He received just 46.7 percent of the private ballots last year, so he will need a significant increase in that area. Still, he’s trending in the right direction and looks primed for 2019. If Halladay gets in, that helps Mussina since it clears a strong candidate off the ballot and there aren’t any strong starting pitchers hitting the ballot in upcoming years. (Tim Hudson and Mark Buehrle are the best.)
Schilling, meanwhile, continues to fall behind Mussina — even though as recently as 2016 he was well ahead (52.3 percent to 43.0 percent). Schilling is polling at 74.1 percent, which is better than the 60 percent he received on public ballots a year ago, so it’s difficult to know how much his various contentious statements on Twitter and elsewhere have hurt his vote total.
Will Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens get any closer?
We know the Hall of Fame’s stance on these two. Joe Morgan’s letter in November 2017 — he’s the Hall’s vice chairman and on the board of directors — made that clear. Issued from a Hall of Fame email address, Morgan implored voters not to vote for known steroid users. “We hope the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame. They cheated. Steroid users don’t belong here,” he wrote.
Of course, there’s the almost certain likelihood that there are steroid users already in the Hall of Fame, and recent elections have voted in players strongly suspected of steroid use. The Hall doesn’t want Bonds or Clemens in, and it could simply remove the pair from the ballot (not to mention Manny Ramirez, who actually failed tests for performance-enhancing drugs), but hasn’t had the audacity to do that.
Anyway, Bonds and Clemens won’t get in, at least not this year. They’re both polling at 73 percent, which is an increase from last year’s public ballots, when they were at 64 percent. Like Schilling, this is their seventh year on the ballot and time is running out, with just three years remaining after this vote and likely not enough momentum in the private ballots (which tend to be more anti-steroids).
What happens after that if they don’t get elected? Who knows. The Hall of Fame could simply choose not to put Bonds and Clemens on the committee ballot. Or it could put them on with the implicit knowledge they won’t get elected. We certainly know one board member who won’t vote for them.
Will Andy Pettitte stay on the ballot?
A player needs 5 percent of the vote to remain on the ballot the following year. Pettitte is at 6.5 percent. Like Jorge Posada a couple of years ago, he’s in danger of getting the boot after one year. (Even Bernie Williams lasted two years.) Pettitte has a stronger case than those two former teammates, however, and a similar — but much stronger — case than Morris. The strongest part of Pettitte’s case might be his postseason record: He went 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA over 44 starts, including 23 starts in which he allowed two runs or fewer.
Still, he’s not one of the 10 best players on this ballot, and his 3.85 career ERA is a tough hill to climb to get in. He also admitted to a one-time use of PEDs, although I haven’t seen anybody reference that as a reason they didn’t vote for him.
How close will Larry Walker get?
Walker is polling at 67 percent of the public ballots compared to 37.5 percent last year. That’s good! Except this is Walker’s ninth year on the ballot. That’s bad! It feels too late to make a run. Tim Raines, for example, was up to 69.8 percent in his ninth year and Martinez was even closer last year. Even if Walker becomes the guy everyone pushes next year, he’s probably going to have to finish with at least 65 percent of the vote this year, and it seems unlikely his private support will keep him at that level.
Even if he falls short next year, there’s always the Today’s Game Era committee. After all, Baines, who lasted only five years on the ballot, topped out at just 6.1 percent on the BBWAA vote.
Inside the numbers of the wacky Padres-Rockies series
Baseball has never seen a series quite like the four-game set between the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies this weekend at Coors Field. A record number of runs, two epic comebacks, 15 hits — by one guy.
In case you missed it, the series went like this:
Thursday: A relatively pedestrian 9-6 win for the Rockies.
Here’s a closer look at some of the wackiness:
— The 92 total runs were the most ever in a four-game series in the modern era (since 1900), surpassing the 88 scored by the Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers in May 1929, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. The final tally for the series split: Rockies 48, Padres 44.
— While the 44 runs was the most ever by the Padres in a four-game series, the Rockies’ total of 48 ranked only fourth on their gaudy list.
Charlie Blackmon becomes the first player in the modern era with 15 hits in a 4-game set and just the third player since World War II to do so in any single series.
— The teams combined for 131 hits, the most in a four-game series since 1922, with 15 — yes, 15 — coming from Blackmon alone. That’s the most by a player in a four-game series in the modern era. Blackmon entered the series hitting .305; by the end of the series, his average was up to .336. As a team, the Rockies gained 10 points on their batting average.
— After hitting three home runs Friday, Renfroe added two more Sunday. He bumped his OPS from .877 to .952.
— Sunday’s game was 9-8 Rockies after 2½ innings, and Colorado led 13-8 after six and 13-10 going into the ninth. But Greg Garcia tied it for the Padres with a two-out, two-run triple. The Rockies then chose to intentionally walk the next two hitters, setting up a matchup between Gray and pinch hitter (and pitcher) Matt Strahm. Gray walked Strahm on six pitches to plate the go-ahead run.
This season, teams that have trailed by at least five runs after the sixth inning are 3-251. Two of the three wins were by San Diego in this series, with the other coming Friday night when …
— The Padres trailed 11-5 in the ninth inning, but tied it with a six-run outburst that included Renfroe’s third homer of the game and a two-out, two-run single by Fernando Tatis Jr. to tie it. San Diego scored five more in the 12th inning for the first win in franchise history when trailing by six or more runs entering the ninth inning. The Padres had been 0-766 in such situations, according to Elias research. They also were the first road team to win when entering the ninth trailing by six or more runs since May 2005. Road teams had been 0-3,805 over that span, according to Elias.
— The Padres were the first team to overcome deficits of three or more runs in the ninth inning or later in multiple games of the same series since the Astros did it to the Padres in 1989, according to Elias research.
What might these teams do for an encore? While the Rockies will make a couple of visits to Petco Park, that’s not nearly the hitters’ paradise that Coors is. We’ll have to wait until Sept. 13-15 for the Padres’ return trip to Colorado.
Look out, world — The Yankees’ big guns are ready to swing into action
CHICAGO — A new day is dawning on the New York Yankees‘ season.
Compared to every other day in an injury-ravaged spring that was dominated by a bevy of little-known backups, this new day will look and feel vastly different. With two of the biggest tests the Yankees will face this year looming on their schedule, the revamped look and feel is timely and necessary.
Remember the B-teamers? Well, this was their team. But now their reign is over. They’ve served their purpose. But it’s time for them to step aside. Why?
Because “Big Boy Season” is about to commence.
It will unofficially kick off Monday night in the Bronx when the Yankees, before taking on key division foe Tampa Bay, introduce a pinstripes-wearing Edwin Encarnacion to the Yankee Stadium crowd. That introduction will mark the moment the organization moves into the latest — and perhaps last — phase of its season, when power becomes a truly potent and viable weapon.
As the Rays and Astros report to the Bronx this week, the Yankees are about to let their big boys play.
“We’ve got a lot of talented guys in the room, and a lot of talented guys heading back, which will do nothing but make our team stronger,” veteran outfielder Brett Gardner said Sunday following the Yankees’ 10-3 win over the Chicago White Sox. “Anytime you can add somebody as good as Edwin, he’s a guy who’s going to make us better.”
In addition to the arrival of Encarnacion, the American League’s home run leader with 21, the Yankees will be welcoming back Giancarlo Stanton, who has been limited to eight at-bats this season but led the big leagues in homers two seasons ago. Stanton is expected to be activated from the injured list Tuesday. Another once-injured big bopper who has paced his league in long balls, Aaron Judge, ought to be back in the lineup in the coming days as well.
The arrival of all three sluggers has Yankees manager Aaron Boone eager to see where his club may soon go.
“Encarnacion, Stanton and Judge, that’s three elite power hitters plugged into our lineup,” he said. “Hopefully it’s something that over time creates a big-time advantage for us.”
One would think these additions would lead to enormously advantageous situations for the Yankees. After all, with three of the league’s best power hitters in the same lineup, no lead ought to be considered safe.
Not to mention the likes of Gary Sanchez (who ranks second in the AL in homers), the similarly powerful Luke Voit, the ever-dangerous Didi Gregorius, the strong Gleyber Torres, the steady DJ LeMahieu and Gardner, the patient Aaron Hicks and clutch Gio Urshela. Put it all together, and there are really no spots for a pitcher to catch a breather.
Remember the days when the Yankees’ offense hinged on the largely inexperienced Mike Tauchman, Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada? Certainly, the Yankees won games with those guys in the lineup, as evidenced by the 32-10 run through April and May, when all three contributed at one time or another. But still, with all due respect, who would you rather have hitting in a spot when an extra-base hit could end a game? Them, or the big boys?
Against this week’s challenging opponents, the Rays and Astros, Stanton has 13 homers and a .237 batting average in 76 games. Judge has a .263 average and 11 homers in 56 regular season games against them.
As for Encarnacion, the 36-year-old designated hitter has 43 homers in 178 regular season games against the two teams. He’s been particularly prolific against them the last two seasons, enjoying the highest home run rates against them in his career during those years.
Encarnacion homered in 9.3 percent of his plate appearances against the Rays and Astros in 2017. In 2018, he homered 8.2 percent of the time. Overall in his career, he homers 5.7 percent of the time he steps in the batter’s box.
With Big Boy Season beginning to take effect, the Yankees are already seeing the byproducts of a roster crunch. Viable options like Estrada and the burgeoning RBI machine Clint Frazier have already been sent down as the Yankees get healthier. In the coming days, Tauchman seems likely to go back to the minor leagues too.
“This is the reality of things,” Frazier said Sunday. “So guess I’m facing reality right now.”
Reality also is that Frazier himself possesses a big-boy bat, but as the odd man out of a changing outfield rotation, he was expendable in this round of roster moves.
Of course, the real roster moves the Yankees will need to make in the coming weeks will be ones that aid their starting rotation. Although they finally got quality work from opener Chad Green and his long-man reliever Nestor Cortes Jr. on Saturday, and a similarly strong outing from James Paxton on Sunday, the Yankees haven’t gotten the consistency they’d like from their rotation in recent weeks.
Currently, Yankees starting pitchers have a 4.13 ERA. Prior to June, however, they had a more palatable 3.76 ERA.
Expect the starters’ failings to be addressed by the trade deadline, but in the meantime, don’t be afraid to gawk at the power the Yankees’ new-look offense is about to showcase. This week gives them a prime opportunity to put it on display.
Padres, Rockies break 4-game series runs record
DENVER — The San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies set a modern-era record by combining for 92 runs in a four-game series, when San Diego pitcher Matt Strahm drawing a pinch-hit, bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning to rally past Colorado 14-13 Sunday. The all-time record is 112 runs between the Cleveland Blues and St. Louis Browns of the American Association in 1887.
It was just another wacky day at Coors Field, especially in this split series in which the Rockies outscored the Padres 48-44 while the teams combined for 131 hits. Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon became the first player since at 1900 with 15 hits in a four-game series.
Adding to the zaniness: The finale was delayed once to clean up a big puddle in foul territory despite sunny skies, and again later because of weather.
With the Padres trailing 13-10 in the ninth, Wil Myers had an RBI single and Greg Garcia promptly tied it with a two-out, two-run triple off closer Wade Davis (1-2). The Rockies brought in starter Jon Gray, who intentionally walked two batters to face Strahm. Gray fell behind 3-1 before throwing a strike. Taking all the way, Strahm watched a fastball narrowly miss for ball four.
Gerardo Reyes (3-0) earned the win by striking out three in the eighth. Kirby Yates threw a perfect ninth for his 24th save. Hunter Renfroe homered twice for San Diego, while Fernando Tatis Jr. had three hits, including a double and a triple.
The Padres raced out to a 3-0 lead before a giant puddle suddenly formed along the right-field line due to an issue with the irrigation line. The grounds crew rolled the water away as the teams waited in the dugout during the 15-minute holdup.
In the bottom of the inning, Colorado responded with six runs. Blackmon led the way with two hits in the inning, including a solo homer to lead off.
The game was again halted in the sixth as weather moved into the area. The delay lasted 48 minutes.
Once the tarp was lifted, the Rockies quickly went to work by scoring three runs to make it 13-8. Ian Desmond, Ryan McMahon and Raimel Tapia had three consecutive doubles to start the frame. The trio went a combined 9-for-15 with six RBIs.
Blackmon remained red hot with three more hits. He has reached base safely in all 26 of his home games this season.
Padres lefty Nick Margevicius surrendered nine runs and 11 hits over 1⅓ innings as his ERA rose from 5.02 to 6.41. He also threw one pitch all the way to the backstop.
Rockies righty Peter Lambert gave up eight runs and nine hits over three innings as his ERA soared from 1.50 to 6.00. He threw two pitches to the backstop. Lambert chipped in on offense with a pair of RBI singles.
Inside the numbers of the wacky Padres-Rockies series
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