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.
Yankees tie franchise record with 12th straight win vs. Red Sox
But in the past two years, it has certainly turned into a one-sided affair.
The Yankees pummeled the Red Sox 8-0 on Saturday night for their 12th consecutive victory over their AL East rivals, tying a franchise record. The Yankees have won 12 straight games vs. Boston and 17 of the last 18 games between the clubs since July 28, 2019.
“It’s probably a little bit fluky, a little aberration,” said manager Aaron Boone when addressing the franchise’s record-tying streak. “Obviously, [the Red Sox] haven’t quite been the same team this year with some of the guys they’ve lost and some of the guys in their pitching staff that they’ve lost due to injury.
“And this year I know we’ve played them at some times when we’ve been playing really well. We’ve stolen a couple wins from them, like late last night. Last year, we caught them at a good time at the end of the year. Look, it’s always fun beating those guys. We obviously respect who they are and all the great games we’ve had to play against them, but … enjoy it while it lasts.”
The Yankees’ current win streak against Boston is their longest since winning 12 straight from Aug. 16, 1952 to April 23, 1953. It’s only the third time in franchise history that the Yankees have won 12 straight games against the Red Sox (also May 27-Aug 23, 1936).
J.A. Happ, who worked eight scoreless innings to earn his second win of the season, said the Yankees were mindful of the winning streak and hoped to set a new record on Sunday when they play their last game of the season at Fenway Park.
“I know we have a good team and we’re playing well,” Happ said. “We are aware of that number [12 straight], excited to get out there tomorrow and try to take the nod [set the record] there. We recognized it tonight that we could tie it.”
“We’re focused on trying to put ourselves in a really good position for the playoffs, and winning [Sunday] would set the record — and that’s going to be really cool thing if we do,” added outfielder Clint Frazier, who went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs.
The Yankees have now won a season-high 10 straight games, matching their longest winning streak since June 2012. During their current streak, the Bronx Bombers have hit 29 home runs and have outscored opponents 85-25.
At 31-21, the Yankees clinched their 28th consecutive winning record since 1993, the second-longest stretch in MLB history behind only their own streak of 39 straight winning seasons from 1926-64. The Yankees’ “magic number” to clinch a postseason berth currently stands at one.
Minnesota Twins’ Josh Donaldson says MLB umps have ‘no accountability’
Two days after his ejection at home plate, Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson lashed out at Major League Baseball’s umpires, saying there’s “no accountability” with the group and that the umps “don’t care.”
“[If] the umpire consistently isn’t doing [his] job correctly, that’s affecting our careers, that’s affecting our success,” Donaldson told reporters on Saturday in a video call, according to a transcription by the Star Tribune. “At the end of the day, there’s no reprimand, no accountability for the guys that are making the decision. As a matter of fact, they don’t care. They don’t care at all, most of them. They just want to get the game over with, for the most part, and it’s pretty sad because guys are making six figures a year and there’s no accountability.”
Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time Thursday in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox. With Minnesota trailing 3-2, Bellino called a strike when the 2015 American League MVP checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch from Reynaldo Lopez.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli went out to speak with Bellino, and Donaldson homered down the left-field line on the next offering. After rounding the bases, Donaldson kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it.
Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson, realizing he had missed home plate, returned to the plate to touch it and then argued as he kicked more dirt on it.
Donaldson also had argued with Bellino on a 1-1 breaking ball in the first inning that appeared to be high but was called a strike, leading to a strikeout.
“It doesn’t matter to them,” Donaldson told reporters on Saturday. “They don’t realize we’re playing for our families, we’re playing for our livelihood.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Longtime baseball pro scout Gary Hughes dies at 79
SAN FRANCISCO — Gary Hughes, a beloved professional scout for numerous big league organizations during a 54-year career, has died in Northern California after a battle with cancer. He was 79.
Hughes was a regular at Bay Area ballparks in recent years working for the Red Sox and Diamondbacks. Arizona announced his death in a statement Saturday, saying he passed earlier in the day.
“Gary Hughes was the quintessential baseball man,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “He coached at various levels. He scouted. He developed players. And he helped put together major league rosters.”
Hughes had lived for years in the scenic coastal city of Santa Cruz.
“Gary’s impact on the game of baseball was exceeded only by the number of friends he made throughout it,” the Diamondbacks said. “He was a member of the Giants, Mariners, Mets, Yankees, Expos, Marlins, Rockies, Reds, Cubs and Red Sox organizations before joining the D-backs and it was an honor to have a legend like him be part of our family for two seasons.”
A member of the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame, Hughes always was a popular figure when he turned up before games with a briefcase and a big grin, ready to work or share his baseball knowledge with genuine care and love for the game.
“He scouted me in high school, I’ve known Gary for that long,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said immediately after a win against the San Francisco Giants when told of Hughes’ death. “I consider him a friend, a good friend. I knew he was struggling some, I knew he went into hospice. It’s awful.”
During his years with the Cubs, Hughes was Jim Hendry’s right-hand man assisting in many matters — even handling media duties at the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, in December 2006 when Hendry was rushed to the hospital.
Hughes was thrilled to share tales of his days scouting baseball players who became NFL stars: John Elway and John Lynch before they picked football instead.
“They threw away the mold after Gary,” longtime executive Tony Siegle said. “He was always at the right place at the right time. Gary set a standard for helping to make teams win. There will never be another like him.”
Hughes worked as the Expos’ scouting director and Marlins assistant general manager. In Montreal, he helped acquire catcher Jerry Goff from Seattle in 1990. Jerry is father to star Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Hughes was thrilled when Jared Goff reached the Super Bowl in February 2019.
“More than anything, he was a tremendous person, a great storyteller and a friend to everyone whose path he crossed,” the Diamondbacks said. “He will be missed by so many and our thoughts are with his family including his sons, Sam and (Michael) `Rock,’ who carry on his legacy in the game.”
On Aug. 21, 2017, Hughes made sure to get down to the field to greet Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell on the Brewers’ manager’s birthday. Hughes’ son, Michael “Rock” Hughes, longtime Marlins visiting clubhouse manager, is married to Counsell’s sister.
Another son, Sam, is the Yankees’ national crosschecker.
“Gary was one of the game’s great personalities and became one of the all-time greats in the world of scouting,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “He started with the Yankees in 1978, his first full-time scouting job for nine years. He had a heavy hand in multiple world championships for many teams but most importantly he was an amazing person and a tremendous father. He will be dearly missed.”
Hughes was born on Feb. 2, 1941.
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