The votes have been counted and Andre Dawson is the only candidate to get elected to the Hall of Fame. This is an epic fail on the part of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Bert Blyleven received 74.2 percent. Barry Larkin 51.6. Alomar 73.7. All three of them deserved entrance. Larkin and Alomar no doubt will soon. Based on the mental gymnastics so many voters have made to exclude Blyleven, however, he may never make it. This has to be a bitter pill for him to swallow.
As for Andre Dawson, the Hawk may not have been everyone’s definition of a Hall of Famer due to his low on-base percentage — in fact, he now has the lowest OBP and batting average of any Hall of Fame outfielder — but he hit for power, had a cannon arm, and until the Olympic Stadium turf took its toll on his knees, he was an excellent centerfielder. He won an MVP award in 1987 on the power of a then unfathomable 49 home runs. A quiet, dignified player in his career and since he retired, Andre Dawson’s statistics may not dazzle compared to other Hall of Famers, but he definitely classes the place up.
But I don’t think it takes away from Dawson’s honor to note that, objectively speaking, he was perhaps the least deserving of enshrinement thank Larkin, Alomar and Blyleven.
We’ll have more on this as the day goes on, of course. For now: shame on you BBWAA. Shame on you.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.