MLB Hot Stove / Offseason / Lockout 2021-2022

The HOF ballot is out. This will be an interesting one to watch. Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and Schilling appear for the final time. David Oriz and ARod are the most controversial first timers. Is someone less lazy than me going to make a poll in the game room for the SDMB vote?

I repeated some of my comments from last year to save time.

Bobby Abreu (3rd Year)

Bobby got MVP votes in 7 different seasons, but never higher than 12th, which I think sums up his qualifications; he was a really, really good player, but he never quite had the level of highlight I’d want in a Hall of Famer. He wouldn’t be the worst player ever inducted but he is a longshot and I’m fine with that.

His numbers are significantly increased by playing in a high offense era. He was no better a player than, say, Reggie Smith.

Barry Bonds (10th year)

Can we just elect him and be done with it? If he doesn’t get in this year (and he likely will not) he will just be elected by some committee in the future.

Mark Buerhle (2nd year)

Buehrle rhymes with “Burly,” giving him one of the most accurately physical-description names in baseball history, as if Randy Johnson had been named Randy Tallandskinny.

Bill James once described some pitcher as have the landscape of a Hall of Fame career but non of the highlights. That was 30 years ago so he wasn’t talking about Mark but he could have been. Buehrle has all the landscape; he was a very good pitcher for a long time, won a World Series, made All Star games, but never had the 22-5 Cy Young season.

Roger Clemens (10th year)

See Barry Bonds. Their both being in their tenth year of eligibility, I think, harms their chances.

Carl Crawford (1st year)

Crawford, it’s easily forgotten, was a legitimately awesome player when he was on and through his age 28 season he looked like he might well be a Hall of Famer someday. He then ceased being a great player more or less the instant he pulled on a Red Sox uniform.

Prince Fielder (1st year)

The fattest really good player in baseball history. I know his Dad was fat, but Cecil didn’t really get fat until his 30s, while Prince arrived in the majors quite rotund and was over 300 pounds before he was 30. Dude could sure hit – he remains the youngest player to ever hit 50 bombs in a season – but was done at 32, and, surprisingly, not due to a weight-related injury, but a problem with his neck.

Todd Helton (4th year)

Helton’s total career value in WAR is about the same as Bobby Abreu’s, but his peak is higher. If I had a choice between them I’d vote for Helton. I will not be upset if he makes it or if he doesn’t.

Tim Hudson (1st year)

I’m not saying I’d vote for Tim Hudson, but there are a number of Hall of Fame pitchers who weren’t as good as he was. He won 222 games with a high winning percentage and it wasn’t a fluke, he was really that good. He would’ve needed a few more quality years to be a serious candidate; given that he was usually healthy in a 17 year career, that just goes to show you how hard a standard this is. Like Buehrle, has has a lot of landscape but not a lot in the way of highlights, no big Cy Young season.

Torii Hunter (1st)

About as good a player as you can ask a guy to be who doesn’t draw walks. He really was a fantastic outfielder and he hit 20-30 home runs a year like clockwork. 3-4 seasons short of being a Hall of Famer.

Hunter played in 48 postseason games and not a single one was in a World Series, which might be a record. I can’t figure out how to confirm that. It’s easy to find career regular season games with no World Series – on that list Hunter is 13th, way behind the leader, Rafael Palmiero. Obviously, whomever the record holder is, it’s a recent player.

Andruw Jones (4th, 19.4%)

A very polarizing candidate; some people insist he’s a no-questions-asked Hall of Famer and others think he’s a meh candidate. I lean towards the latter but he really was a hell of a player for awhile. Had he not fallen apart after age 29 he might have been an inner circle choice. He did fall apart, though, in part because he started gaining weight.

Much of his candidacy is based on the analytical conclusion that he was a center fielder of supernatural ability. I dunno; I watched him play a lot and he didn’t strike me as being any better than other great defensive players I’ve seen. I found an article that says:

“Using the Baseball-Reference numbers, he saved 234.7 runs defensively over his career. That’s 50 runs better than the great Willie Mays and 30 better than right fielder Roberto Clemente.”

Well, okay, but that’s bullshit. We don’t have zone data and whatnot from the days of Willie Mays so how can we be sure of how he compared? It’s not really possible for any defensive player to be super elite from before the time we had a full picture of their numbers. Literally every person whoever saw Tris Speaker play centerfield said he was the best they’d ever seen. Speaker shows in WAR as being average at best. I don’t buy it. I love sabermetrics but a lot of arguments based on it seem based on what the observer wishes was true and ignoring logical counterarguments.

Jeff Kent (9th)

Kent hit 377 home runs, the most of anyone who was primarily a second baseman, and drove in 1518 RBI, which is third and the most since integration. He also played for many winning teams and won an MVP Award. If he’d accomplished something like that in a career that started and ended 30 years before it had, I think he’d be in the Hall of Fame; he doesn’t appear to be a serious candidate at making it now, which I think is a combination of modern metrics and the fact the ballot has usually been really stacked.

Tim Lincecum

Awesome until he got hurt very young. Lincecum was very small for a pitcher, which is negatively correlated with durability.

Juston Morneau

Won the 2006 MVP Award for… some reason. That makes him one of three Canadians to win an MVP Award, along with Joey Votto and Larry Walker, both of whom are way, way greater players.

Joe Nathan

People love closers. Nathan was good at it but he pitched 923 innings in his whole career.

David Ortiz

I would vote for him in a heartbeat.

Ortiz had a reputation for being a huge clutch hitter, but for most of his career his “clutch” numbers were basically the same as his normal numbers. In 2005, however, his clutch numbers were so ludicrously, stupidly amazing that I honestly think he deserved the MVP Award.

Jonathan Papelbon

Another closer who career value was roughly equal to what Marcus Stroman’s career has been worth so far.

Andy Pettite (4th)

I’d vote for him. Pettite won a lot of games, is the winningest postseason pitcher ever, and his 3.85 ERA is better than it looks at first glance, because he was in a high offense era. I can understand why someone wouldn’t want to though, and not just because of HGH.

AJ Pierzynski

Never really a great player but he stuck around for 19 years. Only eight catchers have caught more games. Three are Hall of Famers:
Pudge (Ivan) – 2427
Pudge (Carlton) – 2226
Boone -2225
Yadier – 2107 and counting
Gary Carter – 2056
Kendall – 2025
Tony Pena – 1950
Brad Ausmus - 1938

Manny Ramirez (6th)

Sort of a sub-Barry Bonds, left out because of steroids. Obviously he should be in the Hall of Fame. Had a technically perfect swing; you cannot swing a baseball bat better than he did. Manny hit 29 homers in the playoffs, the most ever; he hit home runs at a higher rate in the playoffs than he did in the regular season.

Manny was an awful outfielder. When he got to Boston, a common Boston excuse for him was that he really knew how to play the Monster. That’s actually true, but the number of times a guy has to make a unique play off the monster isn’t as many as you might think, the number of times an unfamiliar outfielder messes it up is really quite small (they’re major leaguers, after all, and it’s not like they don’t know about it) and of course half your games are on the road; his understanding of that one kind of play didn’t come anywhere near to making up for his dreadful fielding. Anyway his hitting made up for it and then some.

A-Rod (1st)

Duh, but of course they’ll leave him out. He sucks on “Shark Tank.”

Scott Rolen (5th)

Another sabermetric darling. He is similar to Ron Santo, and Santo is in the Hall so Rolen likely will be someday too, even if he has to wait for some committee to do it. I could not care less.

Curt Schilling (10th)

Schilling might have made it but has apparently now said he doesn’t want to be elected in a fit of pique, and since he’s a shithead anyway, the writers will oblige him. Nobody wants him at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Gary Sheffield (8th)

Sheff knew his way around a batter’s box. In his career he only struck out 1171 times in a long career, against 1475 walks; he, Todd Helton and Barry Bonds are the only power hitters in recent history I can think of with more walks than strikeouts. There must be a couple of others, but it’s not a common achievement anymore. Sheffield is, obviously, a long shot to make it now.
Sheffield had 100-RBI seasons with five teams, which has got to be a record.

Sammy Sosa (10th)

I’m this way this way on Sammy; right now I think I’d vote for him, but he isn’t gonna make it.
The ten most similar players to Sammy Sosa by Similarity Score are nine Hall of Famers and Gary Sheffield. The problem is that none of them are really very similar; #1 is Jim Thome, who is really only vaguely similar. #2 is Mike Schmidt, who is nothing at all like Sammy Sosa. Sammy’s career, statistically, is really unlike anyone else’s in his shape and composition; it’s hard to make a good comparison.

Sammy made it to MLB at age 20. I don’t know how to figure out the exact numbers, but I have no doubt at all that if you studied it you would find the likelihood of a guy being a great player increases a LOT the younger he makes his debut. It’s not that debuting young helps him be great; it’s just that if a guy can even just not embarrass himself at a young age, he has a chance to be a monster when he’s 27.

Mark Teixeira

Only made three All Star games, which surprised me. Not a Hall of Famer.

Omar Vizquel (5th)

I don’t think Vizquel is a Hall of Famer, and honestly I don’t think he’s very close. The fact is, though, that players LIKE Vizquel are in, so he’ll likely get it someday too.

Bill Wagner (7th)

I think Wagner is even further from being qualified than Vizquel. He was a great pitcher as long as it wasn’t the playoffs, but he only pitched 903 innings.

Yanks trade away Tyler Wade. I think that’s a bad idea, guys like him are handy to have on the bench. He can play anywhere but catch or pitch and has good speed.

Barry Bonds (10th year)

Can we just elect him and be done with it? If he doesn’t get in this year (and he likely will not) he will just be elected by some committee in the future.

Do you think so? That the veterans committee will vote him in? I don’t know, a lot of players seem to be really salty about the PEDs.

You know, the real disappointing thing is that Bonds and Clemens are sure-thing HOFers without PEDs. A guy like Sosa, on the other hand, was actually kind of a terrible hitter and then BAM! all of a sudden he’s hitting 60 home runs a year. That not withstanding, the 600 career HRs alone is reason enough for me. I get that the entirety of his career is kind of meh, but if you’re top 10 all time in home runs, you’re a HOFer.

As time passes, it becomes less about subjectivity and more about objective facts. The hullaballoo about steroids around a guy who was never actually suspended for it will become less important.

Former relief ace Doug Jones has died of complications from COVID-19.

Jones couldn’t throw a baseball through a sheet of paper; he was the slowest-throwing MLB pitcher I can remember who was not a knuckleball pitcher, but he had great command and stuff.

An odd thing I just now noticed is that in his entire career Jones never got a single vote in Cy Young voting (which is mildly surprising, especially his 1992 season) but he got MVP votes in four different seasons. That’s weird.

Remember hearing Doug Jones had like 4 different changeups and the slowest one would take a lunch break on the way to the plate. And yet, for a junk pitcher, he had a respectable 7 K/9 over his career.

Well, there’s my “feel really old suddenly” moment for the month. Never would have guessed he was eligible already,

Hu burned out fast. Just barely made the 10-year minimum.

The Veterans Committees (there are several now, for different eras) are comprised of HoF members (which I imagine means players, for the most part), baseball executives, and media members. So, even if the former players wouldn’t vote for Bonds, they’re only a portion of the committee.

And, really, was only particularly good for the first five of those seasons. Of his ten seasons, his bWAR for his first five seasons totals 24.5; for the last five seasons, it was -4.6.

Like I said in my summary, he was small, and small pitchers don’t tend to last. As much as I love Marcus Stroman I don’t want the Jays to bring him back because I’m really suspicious of the long term health prospects of one of the shortest pitchers in recent major league history.

Truth. I also remember reading, back when he was a dominant pitcher, about the unorthodox pitching motion he had (the result of training from his father), and speculation that it could lead to injury problems down the road.

Mark Buehrle might not be a hall of famer, but he sure was reliable. He was used primarily in relief in his first year, but in the following fifteen seasons he made 30+ starts in all of them. That would be 200+ innings in all of those fifteen seasons too, but he only pitched 198.2 innings in his final year. The slacker.

For voters who are hardcore on PEDs, this could well be a blank ballot year. Schilling has the numbers, but I’m prepared to think the worst of him. He was adamantly anit-steroids, but then again so was Rafael Palmeiro.

Schilling is a borderline candidate, probably falling on the side of deserving a HOF plaque. But it’s his politics and personality that have kept him out, and now he’s thrown a tantrum and says he doesn’t want inducted anyway.

As for the veterans committee eventually inducting Bonds, Clemens and others. I don’t know, man. If it ever happens it will probably won’t be at least until current players are on the committee. Just can’t see Bonds’ contemporaries electing him.

Here’s the early ball era list:

Is there really a need to consider anyone from the early years? There’s been years to look at them and decide they’re a Hall of Famer.

Some of these players are deserving - Dahlen, O"Neil, and Donaldson should be in - but yeah, they’re all dead.

Cardinals sign Steven Matz, Mets owner throws a fit.

No idea what went on there, but the headline for that story contradicts the subhead, which is not what Cohen actually said. His ire was directed at the agent, not Matz.

The agent said it was a “tough decision”, which probably means that it got complicated adding up the financial details.

The Mets also got outfield help in Starling Marte and Eduardo Escobar, plus someone named Mark Canha, who according to ESPN “slashed .231/.358/.387 for the Oakland Athletics last season”. That’s more like feeble poking than slashing, but middle of the pack based on the Mets’ offensive output in 2021.

Oh, and the Red Sox signed a (relative) bargain mediocre starting pitcher, Michael Wacha, 3-5 with an ERA over 5 last year. Any fans expecting they’d chase big names on the free agent market have been brought back to reality.

Canha is very useful in that he can play any position. On the other hand, he’s 33 and his hitting fell off in 2021 so I can see why the A’s were willing to let him go.