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.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.