The Posey and Heyward omitters speak

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Yasushi Kikuchi, the writer who left Buster Posey off his Rookie of the Year ballot, explains himself:

Kikuchi said he left Posey off his ballot because of the late-May promotion. “Obviously it was a tough decision,” Kikuchi said. “To me, Rookie of the Year is the best rookie player throughout the whole season. “On the other hand, I know Buster had a very big impact for the Giants. I know how important his role was to contribute to the Giants winning the championship.”

Like I said before, though I don’t agree with it, I at least understand how someone can have a thought process that goes “the players who were there all season get more credit.”  It’s a crude way to go about things, and in this case I think such an approach steered Kikuchi into the ditch, but I see what happened, and that’s about as much as you can ask.

Dejan Kovacevic is the guy who left Heyward off the ballot.  He did have Posey first, however, so we should probably keep things in perspective.  As for his inclusion of Pirates Neil Walker and Jose Tabata, Dejan has been defending himself on Twitter this afternoon.  Some of his comments, edited slightly for clarity:

Felt very firmly about Posey, thus chose him 1st. Felt Walker/Tabata had strong years, comparable to rest of class . . . Neither Walker nor Tabata is off-the-board choice, as seen from list of NL rookies with 400 PA, ranked by OPS.

At that point Dejan linked to this leaderboard. I guess I understand what he’s saying about Walker and Tabata not being “off the board,” but it’s worth noting that they’re lower on the board in nearly every significant category — including the one he cited, OPS — than Jason Heyward was.  Dejan goes on:

[I] Obviously saw way more of Walker/Tabata than others, but that also gave perspective on them performing at high level in poor lineup/setting . . . Feeling always has been with voting that broadest variety of perspectives bring best results. Few can argue final overall tally, I’d think . . . No one else cast a vote for Walker, an easy-to-make case for a top-three ROY performer. That, to me, underscores importance of local views . . . Local writers will see/appreciate things a player can do that others might not. That counts, for a player’s good facets and bad . . . Felt firmly that my first-hand view of Walker/Tabata merited their ROY votes. I also respect right of anyone to disagree/vote differently.

I appreciate Dejan defending his votes, and — if you look at some of the replies to specific questions to others in his Twitter feed — him being very gracious and polite about it.

Still, while the explanation is welcome, it doesn’t do much to persuade me, to put it lightly. Not that he’s trying to persuade me or anyone else of course. It’s his vote and if he wanted to tell us all to pound salt, he could do so. I disagree with him and think he whiffed badly in this instance, but the same can be said for a lot of these votes, and we’re not entitled to an explanation, even if we want one.

With respect to both Kikuchi and Kovacevic:  the only serious question I ever have when I see an outlier awards vote is whether there was any funny business. Was someone trying to make a political point, or were they not taking their task seriously. While I think Kovacevic saw the vote through black and gold colored glasses, I don’t see any way you can accuse him of funny business here. Same goes for Kikuchi whose vote was principled, even if misguidedly so. In either case, anyone saying silly things like their votes should be taken away (Really Jon?) is off base.

But at the same time, I’m not going to simply wave my hand and say that “everyone is entitled to their opinion.” I mean, they are, but that doesn’t make their opinion unassailable. Opinions can be wrong if they’re based on bad facts and poor reasoning, and in this case, I think Kikuchi and Kovacevic’s were.

Nationals acquire Derek Norris from Padres

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 01:  Derek Norris #3 of the San Diego Padres prepares to bat against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning of a MLB game at Chase Field on October 1, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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According to an official team announcement, the Nationals have acquired catcher Derek Norris from the Padres in exchange for right-hander Pedro Avila.

Norris, 27, batted a career-low .186/.225/.328 in 458 PA with the Padres in 2016. He hit career highs with 14 home runs and nine stolen bases, but his dismal production rate through the second half of the season spelled the end of his time in a starting role in San Diego. Norris’ departure from the Padres also confirms 24-year-old Austin Hedges‘ spot on the roster, as reported by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell:

Heading to San Diego is 19-year-old right-handed starter Pedro Avila, who was acquired by the Nationals as an international free agent in 2014. The 19-year-old spent his first season in Single-A Hagerstown and went 7-7 with a 3.48 ERA and 2.42 K/BB rate in 93 innings.

Breaking Down the Today’s Game Hall of Fame ballot: Bud Selig

Bud Selig
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On Monday, December 5, the Today’s Game committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame — the replacement for the Veterans Committee which covers the years 1988-2016 — will vote on candidates for the 2017 induction class. This week we are looking at the ten candidates, one-by-one, to assess their Hall worthiness. The final candidate: Bud Selig. 

The case for his induction:

Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, in January 2015, as Bud Selig was stepping down after 20+ years as baseball’s commissioner, I wrote a column claiming that he was “The Greatest Commissioner in Baseball History.” I stand by that assessment.

Which is not to say that he was perfect or that he was, in an absolute sense, good. He was simply better than all of the other commissioners, most of whom weren’t worth a tinker’s damn.

More important to that analysis than his historical comps, however, was that when people talk about how good or bad a commissioner was, they’re usually judging him by their own, subjective terms, not the terms of the commissioner’s employment. Contrary to popular belief, the commissioner is not a president, governor or mayor of baseball. He is not elected by nor answerable to the fans or the public. He may play up all of the trappings of political leadership because it makes him seem important and noble and serves to justify the power he wields, but in reality the commissioner of baseball is merely the Chairman of the Board for Baseball, Inc., answerable to anywhere between 16 and 30 owners depending on what time in baseball history he happend to serve.

People hate being reminded of that. They want to say Bud Selig was a failure because he did things they did not like, but that’s beside the point. He did things his employers liked and did them better than most others who preceded him. In the process he made a lot of people very rich, including all of the other owners, broadcast executives, players, agents and just about anyone else who holds a stake in baseball. His transgressions — discussed below — were real, but they were not considered deal breakers for anyone to whom Selig actually owed a duty. He may have betrayed you or me and he may have done things that harmed our love of baseball, but it was never his job to make us happy. Sorry I had to tell you that so bluntly, but it’s better you heard it from a friend.

So, the case for Bud: he did his job the way he was supposed to and he grew the game and made his employers rich. That’s not an inspiring case, but it’s the case we have.

The case against his induction:

Personally, I don’t think any commissioner should be in the Hall of Fame, but as we noted with the other executives, that ship has sailed. Bowie Kuhn is in the Hall of Fame for Pete’s sake and he bungled just about everything that came his way. Hall of Fame induction for a commissioner is a gold watch. A lifetime achievement award.

It may also be worth noting that he’s on the Hall of Fame board for crying out loud, so he has a blatant conflict of interest here, what with having been part of selecting or approving the very people who will vote for him on Monday. Based on what we’re seeing in other arenas, however, I suppose we’re over things like conflicts of interest in late 2016 America, so that gets us nowhere.

Still, let’s not pretend that Bud Selig was not an accomplice and, according to many, a ringleader of a literal criminal conspiracy that harmed people’s livelihoods and, in turn, compromised the product on the field. Let us not pretend he did not launch a disastrous, cynical and greed-inspired labor war that cost us the 1994 season and World Series. Let us not pretend that he did not turn the ownership ranks into a secret society open only to those who know the secret knock, rewarding those inside the club, however incompetent, and destroying entire franchises. Let us not pretend that he did not willfully turn a blind eye to steroid and performance enhancing drug use in the game, knowing that the resulting dingers helped boost fan interest and revenue, only to then turn around and vilify and scapegoat the players who used those drugs in a comically grandstanding and self-serving manner.

Should all of that be held against him? Absolutely. Will they be? I seriously, seriously doubt it.

Would I vote for him?

We hear from BBWAA voters so very often that to withhold a Hall of Fame vote from someone is not a “punishment” as much as it is a mere denial of the highest honor. We hear that withholding a vote does not deny a player’s greatness, just a place in the Hall. If that’s the case I see no problem withholding a vote from Selig, even if he was the greatest commissioner. Yes, he was great, but he also did a lot of stuff which brought ignominy to the game and which actively harmed people. Many, many players have been effectively barred from entering the Hall of Fame for far lesser transgressions. Bud Selig is not, in my view, worthy of baseball’s highest honor.

Will the Committee vote for him?

It’s a mortal lock. Baseball loves nothing more than patting Bud Selig on the back. He made everyone involved with it quite wealthy. I’d place the odds of him making it in on Monday’s vote at 100%.