Dave Parker: Hall of Fame afterthought

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Dave Parker AP.jpgBuster Olney doesn’t actually endorse Dave Parker’s Hall of Fame candidacy, but he does throw out a morsel to chew on, courtesy of the ESPN stats department:

If you go on the idea of a player being a dominant player in his era being an important qualification: Dave Parker finished in the top five of the MVP voting five times. That may not qualify as prolonged dominance, but it’s still impressive. Twenty three players have ranked in the top five of the MVP voting at least five times.

Of those 23 players, Barry Bonds (12 times), Albert Pujols (8 times), Frank Thomas (7 times), Alex Rodriguez (6 times), David Ortiz (5 times), Ken Griffey Jr. (5 times) and Pete Rose (5 times) are not currently eligible for the Hall of Fame. Of the other 16 players, 15 of them are in the Hall of Fame.

Interesting, but such a standalone stat approaches meaningless. Parker played for a team that won a lot during his prime, so his MVP vote numbers are going to be higher than many other players to begin with. And while MVP votes are nice, they could simply be a function of Parker being overrated. One of those top five finishes was 1986 when he had an .807 OPS. The votes were no doubt due to his RBI total, which was a function of Eric Davis and Buddy Bell hitting in front of Parker most of the year, getting on base at an excellent clip.

While Parker’s prime was nice, it was short, and then drugs and weight problems blew up most of the rest of his career. If that hadn’t happened, sure, we’d be having a different conversation right now. But it did, and as a result, Parker had less overall career value than Jim Rice did, and Jim Rice shouldn’t have made the Hall of Fame himself.

Whether the writers’ failure to come anywhere near electing Parker is an appreciation of Parker’s less-than-compelling Hall of Fame case or, alternatively, punishment for Parker’s getting caught up in the cocaine trials of the 1980s is an open, though, probably irrelevant question.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.