Is baseball experiencing an outbreak of anxiety disorders, or is it something else?

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The Wall Street Journal takes note of all of the anxiety cases this year:

Three professional baseball players have landed on the disabled list
this season for a problem they can’t ice, bandage or have surgically
repaired: anxiety . . . Baseball’s anxious include Detroit pitcher
Dontrelle Willis, St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Khalil Greene and
Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto, who all spent weeks on the
disabled list spring for mental-health issues. Mr. Willis, who returned
to the lineup in May, was placed on disabled status again in mid-June
for anxiety.

I’m not sure what to make of all of the anxiety problems this year, but
part of me thinks that not all of them are technically social anxiety
disorders. Rather, I suspect that they’re all lumped together as
“anxiety disorders” because Zack Greinke sort of made the term “anxiety
disorder” acceptable in baseball circles by going through and
subsequently overcoming what he went though, whereas depression or any
number of other specific neurosis remain new and scary in this
historically-conservative world. Don’t get me wrong; by all accounts,
Votto and Khalil Greene’s situations were serious, and I’m not
dismissing them. I’m just saying that, based on what they’ve revealed
about their problems, things like depression or any number of other
neurosis seem plausible too. Ultimately my point here isn’t to diagnose
anything (I’m not qualified to do that). It’s just to suggest that
maybe what’s happening is a greater willingness among baseball players
to be up front about psychological problems in general as opposed to
their being some sudden and inexplicable outbreak of social anxiety
disorder. If so, that’s a very good thing.

That said, I and others have voiced some skepticism about Willis,
mostly because (a) even after his alleged diagnosis he said he felt
great and that his only problem was that he couldn’t pitch; and (b) the
“anxiety” only seemed to come up when the Tigers needed to move Willis
off the active roster to bring in a productive player. I think there
have been a lot of disabled list shenanigans this year–amazingly,
Boston’s Dice-K got injured at just the perfect time to solve the Red
Sox’ roster logjam — and it wouldn’t surprise me if Willis’ were
another example of it.

Jorge Posada highlights 16 one-and-done players on Hall of Fame ballot

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24:  Jorge Posada addresses the media during a press conference to announces his retirement from the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on January 24, 2012 in the Bronx borough of  New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada received only 17 total votes (3.8 percent) on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. Unfortunately, he is one of 16 players who fell short of the five percent vote threshold and is no longer eligible on the ballot. The other players are Magglio Ordonez (three votes, 0.7 percent), Edgar Renteria (two, 0.5 percent), Jason Varitek (two, 0.5 percent), Tim Wakefield (one, 0.2 percent), Casey Blake (zero), Pat Burrell (zero), Orlando Cabrera (zero), Mike Cameron (zero), J.D. Drew (zero), Carlos Guillen (zero), Derrek Lee (zero), Melvin Mora (zero), Arthur Rhodes (zero), Freddy Sanchez (zero), and Matt Stairs (zero).

Posada, 45, helped the Yankees win four World Series championships from 1998-2000 as well as 2009. He made the American League All-Star team five times, won five Silver Sluggers, and had a top-three AL MVP Award finish. Posada also hit 20 or more homers in eight seasons, finished with a career adjusted OPS (a.k.a. OPS+) of 121, and accrued 42.7 Wins Above Replacement in his 17-year career according to Baseball Reference.

While Posada’s OPS+ and WAR are lacking compared to other Hall of Famers — he was 18th of 34 eligible players in JAWS, Jay Jaffe’s WAR-based Hall of Fame metric — catchers simply have not put up the same kind of numbers that players at other positions have. That’s likely because catching is such a physically demanding position and often results in injuries and shortened careers. It is, perhaps, not an adjustment voters have thought to make when considering Posada’s eligibility.

Furthermore, Posada’s quick ouster is somewhat due to the crowded ballot. Most voters had a hard time figuring out which 10 players to vote for. Had Posada been on the ballot in a different era, writers likely would have found it easier to justify voting for him.

Posada joins Kenny Lofton in the “unjustly one-and-done” group.

Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez Elected to the Hall of Fame

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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The 2017 induction class of the Baseball Hall of Fame was announced Wednesday evening and we have three inductees: Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez. Raines and Bagwell had to wait a good long while to get the call. Rodriguez is in on his first year of eligibility. But nowhere on the plaque will it say how long it took. All that matters now is that three of the greatest players of their respective generations finally have a place in Cooperstown.

Players must be named on 75% of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s ballots to get in. Raines was named on 86% of the ballots. Bagwell was named on 86.2%. Rodriguez was named on 76%. Non-inductees with significant vote totals include Trevor Hoffman at 74% and Vladimir Guerrero at  71.7%. The full results can be seen here.

Others not making the cut but still alive for next year, with vote totals in parenthesis: Edgar Martinez (58.6); Roger Clemens (54.1); Barry Bonds (53.8); Mike Mussina (51.8); Curt Schilling (45.0); Manny Ramirez (23.8); Larry Walker (21.9); Fred McGriff (21.7); Jeff Kent (16.7); Gary Sheffield (13.3%); Billy Wagner (10.2); and Sammy Sosa (8.6). Making his final appearance on the ballot was Lee Smith, who received 34.2% of the vote in his last year of eligibility. He will now be the business of the Veterans Committee.

Players who fell off the ballot due to not having the requisite 5% to stay on: Jorge Posada; Magglio Ordoñez; Edgar Renteria; Jason Varitek; Tim Wakefield; Casey Blake; Pat Burrell; Orlando Cabrera; Mike Cameron; J.D. Drew; Carlos Guillen; Derrek Lee; Melvin Mora; Arthur Rhodes; Freddy Sanchez; and Matt Stairs

We’ll have continued updates on today’s Hall of Fame vote throughout the evening and in the coming days. In the meantime, congratulations to this year’s inductees, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez!