Gone and mostly forgotten: Beck, McLemore passed over on HOF ballot

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rod beck.jpgOK, so I’m probably pretty unique in this regard, but one of my favorite things to do upon the annual release of the Hall of Fame ballot is to check who didn’t make the cut. Fortunately, this has become a lot easier with Baseball-Reference’s final year pages
New qualifiers for this year’s ballot last played in 2004. Chosen for inclusion were Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile. So let’s see who was passed over from the 2004 list:
Rod Beck: Easily the biggest surprise, given his 286 career saves and sudden passing at age 38 in 2007. Beck was a three-time All-Star and he ranks 24th on the all-time saves list. Mike Jackson clearly had the better career of the two out of the pen, but given the notoriety each enjoyed during his career, it’s pretty stunning that Jackson, who never made an All-Star team, was chosen over him.
Mark McLemore: Played 19 seasons, which matches Galarraga, Larkin and McGriff for the most in the class. McLemore spent much of his mid-20s in the minors, but he was pretty much a regular from 1993-2001 and he certainly could have continued his career as a role player beyond 2004 had he wanted to. Hit .259/.349/.341 with 272 career steals.
Dave Burba: Burba finished 115-87, compared to 114-96 for Reynolds. His candidacy also should have gotten a huge boost by his 3-0 record and 2.14 ERA in 21 postseason innings.
John Vander Wal: Sadly, Vander Wal was 33 before anyone figured out he might be worth trying as a regular. One of the game’s best pinch-hitters during the first half of his career, he got 300 at-bats in his career just three times, yet he posted OPSs of 972, 806 and 818 in those seasons, which came at ages 34, 35 and 37. He finished up at .261/.351/.441 in 2,751 at-bats.
Brent Mayne: While he was a reliable part-time catcher for 15 years, Mayne will always be best remembered for getting a victory in an extra-inning game against the Braves in 2000. He worked a scoreless 12th for the Rockies, and he became the first position player to pick up a win in 32 years when Colorado scored in the bottom of the frame.
Mike Fetters: Entertaining and usually effective, Fetters and his intimidating stare lasted 16 years and combined on a 3.86 ERA and 100 saves in 620 appearances.
Todd Van Poppel: One of the most hyped prospects of all-time, Van Poppel did manage to get 11 seasons in despite being known as a bust throughout his career. He had a couple of nice years out of the pen with the Cubs in 2000 and ’01, but he finished up 40-52 with a 5.58 ERA.
Notables not qualifying for the ballot because they didn’t play 10 seasons include Rey Ordonez, Darren Dreifort, Billy Koch and Doug Glanville.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.