Rosenthal: BBWAA membership is too bloated

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Ken Rosenthal doesn’t mince any words when it comes to the Hall of Fame electorate:

Our membership is too bloated, too riddled with voters who do not take
the process seriously enough to educate themselves properly . . . Virtually every voter I know is honored to participate in the process.
Virtually every voter I know considers the ballot a tremendous
responsibility. It’s the voters I don’t know — the ones I never see at
ballparks — who worry me. I fear that some do not give the candidates
the consideration they deserve.

The BBWAA has done a fine job in
recent years of adding Web-based writers, including several whose work
is strongly influenced by sabermetrics. The next step is to go the
other way, trim the fat from the membership, purge those who do not
study the game closely enough to warrant Hall of Fame votes.

The other day I was talking to someone about my “the BBWAA should be ashamed of itself” talk. His response was that it was a bit harsh for me to paint with such a wide bush because, after all, most writers did vote for Blyleven and most did vote for Alomar.  My response: you’re right, you can’t tar all the writers. But you can do is tar the organization collectively due to the fact that the electorate is simply too bloated and way too many votes are cast by people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing.

I’m glad to see that Ken Rosenthal (and Pete Abraham and other working baseball writers) feels the same way.  As Rosenthal notes, you have a lot of editors and assistant editors who get a vote, most of whom don’t have watching, researching and/or writing about baseball anywhere in their job description.  There is at least one political cartoonist in there.  It’s a cast of hundreds too many.

The BBWAA has managed to get the postseason awards pretty close to perfect the past couple of years using an electorate of people who actually watch and write a lot about baseball. That’s probably too small a pool to handle something as large as Hall of Fame voting, but I’m thinking that the ideal voting group should be a lot closer in size and expertise to the awards voters than it is to the current anyone-who-once-arguably-wrote-about-baseball-and-is-not-yet-dead crowd.

UPDATEBuster goes one better: After noting that there’s an inherent conflict of interest involved in writers voting in the first place, he argues the writers shouldn’t vote at all. Make the Hall of Fame come up with their own committee since it’s their thing anyway.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.