mcgwire-101020

The best Hall of Fame column I’ve read so far

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It’s Ken Davidoff’s.  And while I really like his selections — Roberto Alomar, Jeff Bagwell, Bert Blyleven, Kevin Brown, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker — I like his reasoning and explanation better.

Among many other bits of goodness, Davidoff points out how important the five-year waiting period is for players. He does this by noting that, as many other have noted, Kevin Brown was a tremendous ass while he played, but how in five years it was a lot easier to separate that from the consideration of his Hall case. It’s understandable when guys in the media get miffed at players who make it hard for them to do their job. It’s not cool when that is held against the player forever. Davidoff seems to get this better than most.

Also nice: Davidoff’s take on how to weigh the contributions of power hitters in the high-octane 90s. Money quote:

There’s concern that we’re going to honor every hitter fortunate enough to go deep a few times over the last 20 years or so. I don’t view it that way. Thanks to comparable stats like WAR and OPS+, we can measure players against their contemporaries and act accordingly.

There are many voters who have basically thrown their hands up in frustration, seemingly unable to tell the difference between the Jeff Bagwells and the Rico Brognas of the world. Davidoff puts lie to that silly notion.  He also once again deftly explains his stance on PED use and the Hall, which he did last year when he first voted for McGwire.

Like I’ve said before: it’s not helpful to say that any BBWAA member’s votes are wrong or stupid or what have you. It is helpful to critique approaches, however. Though my ballot wouldn’t be exactly like Davidoff’s — I’d be inclined to wait on Brown and Walker — his approach is unassailable.

Nice work, Ken.

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.