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MLB — Everything you need to know on Hall of Fame announcement day

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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.

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Rockies’ Bud Black says situation with Nolan Arenado and front office will work itself out

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DENVER — There was left-hander Kyle Freeland discussing his new, pause-free delivery. And there was shortstop Trevor Story hinting at agreeing to a $27.5 million, two-year deal that he really wasn’t at liberty to discuss since it’s not official yet.

But there was no Nolan Arenado. And there was no media availability with general manager Jeff Bridich, either, during the Colorado Rockies fan fest Saturday at Coors Field.

Manager Bud Black recently reached out to Arenado, who said this week he felt a level of “disrespect” from the front office in the wake of trade rumors and the team not being active in player acquisition this winter.

Black left a message.

Still, he fully believes that once the Rockies get to spring training, the situation will work itself out.

“Things are going to be fine,” Black said. “Players, they stay united. … It’s a group of players that is pretty bonded, pretty united.”

The notion that Arenado could be dealt began to bubble last month at the winter meetings in San Diego.

Black didn’t pay the speculation any heed then — or now. He says he hears those sorts of rumors “all the time.”

“I’ve learned that if something is really close to happening, or really serious, somebody who’s really in the know, sort of tells me,” he said. “That never really happened.”

Freeland’s view of the Arenado situation is this — focus on the mound.

“Everything that’s going on with that, it’s between him and Jeff,” the Denver native said. “Nolan’s the kind of guy that no matter what the situation is, he’s going to show up on time ready to play every single day.”

Freeland is looking to bounce back following a season where he went 3-11 with a 6.73 ERA and included a stint in the minor leagues to work on his mechanics. This after finishing fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting in 2018.

He overhauled his delivery and eliminated the pause.

“Back to a more natural, old-fashioned type of delivery,” Freeland explained. “It’s more of one fluid motion to allow myself to repeat my mechanics easier and more often.”

On hand for fan fest was All-Star outfielder David Dahl, who’s hoping to rebound from another season interrupted by injuries. He missed time in ’19 with an abdominal strain and then a high right ankle sprain.

“It’s been freakish injuries,” he said. “I’m hoping it’s all behind me.”

Dahl downplayed the Arenado situation and how the team is dealing with it.

“I love Nolan,” he said. “I can’t really speak for Nolan right now. Right now, my focus is getting ready for the season and helping the team however I can.”

As for Story, he showed up to the park on the heels of a financially lucrative new deal — one that’s still waiting for the ink to dry. The All-Star shortstop had 35 home runs and 23 stolen bases last season. He also set career highs in runs (111), batting average (.294) and on-base percentage (.363).

For this upcoming season, among his goals are to steal more bases and be more of a vocal leader.

“Leading by example is more natural for me,” the 27-year-old Story said. “But I think it’s a total evolution of me trying to be the player I want to be.”

The Rockies tumbled to 71-91 last season under weighty expectations after making the postseason in 2017 and ’18.

Since the season ended, they’ve made no splashy free agent pickups. They’re sticking with a similar core.

Any message to the fans?

“We feel good about us and feel the fans should, too,” Story said.

Asked if he was worried about the rift between Arenado and the front office spilling into spring training or even affecting the team, Story responded: “Whatever happens, we’ll do a good job of handling it. … We’re just worried about our clubhouse and trying to win games. We’re all pros here and we’ll continue that way.”

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Dodger fan club makes plans to boo Astros at Angels’ home opener

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LOS ANGELES — A group of Los Angeles Dodgers fans is making plans to vent its frustration at the Houston Astros about baseball’s sign-stealing scandal.

Houston and the Dodgers don’t play each other during the upcoming regular season, so Pantone 294 is snapping up tickets to the Los Angeles Angels‘ home opener against the Astros on April 3 in Anaheim, the Los Angeles Times reported. The group regularly organizes trips to support the Dodgers on the road.

“Spirits are great, man,” utilityman Kike Hernandez said Saturday about the fans. “Positive vibes.”

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner joined several of his teammates in expressing frustration at the Astros for stealing signs during the 2017 season, when Houston beat them in seven games in the World Series.

“It sucks for the fans as well,” Turner said during the team’s annual FanFest at Dodger Stadium. “It sucks for a lot of people.”

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Jacob DeGrom, Pete Alonso ‘ready to go’ as Mets’ new manager Luis Rojas prepares for spring training

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New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom pitched for new manager Luis Rojas in the minor leagues, as the two-time Cy Young Award winner was preparing his skillset for the majors.

So you can imagine deGrom’s enthusiasm, after New York’s rollercoaster offseason, that spring training is almost here and that there will be a familiar face captaining it.

“He knows the game of baseball really well,” deGrom said. “He communicates really well with everybody. You ask every guy in there that has been around him. Just a good baseball guy and a really good person.”

The Mets could use that type of steadying force after a dizzying four-month spell. After firing manager Mickey Callaway in October, the Mets hired Carlos Beltran to replace him in November, only to part ways with Beltran in January. Finally, with the sign-stealing scandal simmering a bit, and the roster all but set for spring training, New York ultimately ended up with Rojas.

“Our main focus,” deGrom said, “is on what we need to do.”

The Rojas hire was, by far, the top talking point among the Mets on Saturday at the organization’s annual Fan Fest. While several members of the team were asked about the sign-stealing scandal, and Beltran’s role in it, it was clear the Mets are focused on their new manager and building off the momentum of last season’s finish.

“He definitely is looking out for your best interest. Like I said in the minor leagues, his goal was player development,” deGrom said. “Even talking to him last year, you can tell that is still his mindset. He wants you to be your best. Any time someone can get that out of players, it will definitely help the team.”

Pete Alonso, last season’s National League Rookie of the Year, also played for Rojas in the minors, long before becoming first Met to lead the majors outright in home runs with 53. He’s just enthused with the Mets’ choice.

“I think the stuff that happened with Carlos was very unfortunate. He’s very knowledgeable about the game,” Alonso said. “But I think Luis is going to do an absolute excellent job.”

On Friday, New York general manager Brodie Van Wagenen introduced Rojas, 38, by framing the huge expectations of a team led by deGrom and Alonso. “We have a collection of major league players,” Van Wagenen said, “that are talented and built to win right now.”

The Mets finished in third place in the National League East last season. At 86-76, they fell behind two playoff teams in their division, the Washington Nationals, who won the World Series, and the Atlanta Braves, who won the East. New York shook a ho-hum start with a summer flurry that vaulted the Mets into wild-card contention. Ultimately, they finished three games behind the final berth, before Callaway was let go.

“The way we played in the second half, we pretty much have the same group of guys coming back, so we’re excited,” deGrom said. “Looking forward to spring and getting things going. Just being around the guys, being up here for one day, it was like we never left. Just the vibe you get from them and everybody is excited so I think we’re ready to go.”

It’s now up to Rojas, New York’s fourth manager in less than three years, to harness that energy.

“Just kind of seeing him manage a game, dude never loses his cool, never hits the panic button. He’s always so prepared,” Alonso said. “He doesn’t just use his knowledge of the game, he uses his instincts very, very well. He’s paid his dues managing in the minor leagues.”

Rojas is the son of former Montreal Expos and San Francisco Giants manager Felipe Alou and the brother of former big league outfielder Moises Alou, who spent his final two pro seasons with the Mets from 2007-08. Rojas was minor league manager for eight years, Rojas has worked in the organization since 2007.

“My relationship with the guys on the team is a strong one. I feel very secure with how this relationship is gonna be with our roster,” Rojas said Friday. “We’re here to win. I know them, but it’s even better that they know me. I think that’s gonna help us.”

Van Wagenen concurs.

“The equity that he built, not only with the players but the organization and the coaches, was significant in terms of ultimately choosing him,” Van Wagenen said. “The players understand his voice. They know when he says something that it has purpose. He doesn’t waste a whole lot of words.”

DeGrom, who has clearly developed into a voice for the players, could not stress enough at Fen Fest how optimistic the clubhouse will be with Rojas at the helm.

“Everybody in that room knows what they need to do to get ready and I think everybody was comfortable with Luis,” he said. “Everybody knows him so I think that made it a little bit easier honestly.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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