What can we learn from the Hall of Fame voting this year?

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I’m not one of those people who go crazy at the actual vote totals. You’re either in or you’re out, and if someone got 53.4% of the vote as opposed to 66.2% I’m not going to blow a gasket.

That said, there are a lot of things we can learn from the vote totals. So, in the interests of observation and science, let’s see what this year’s ballot really means:

  • For all of the ink spilled in his name, Jack Morris got only a slight bump in Hall balloting from last year, going up to 53.5%  from 52.3% in 2010.  While it’s true that most players who get 50% of the vote eventually get in, one would think that Morris would get a bigger bump.  If he doesn’t make huge strides next year, he may be blotted out by the Maddux-Glavine-Pedro-Johnson conga line that will come in a few years. Oh, and he’s going to fall off the ballot in three years regardless, so he had better enlist a good campaign team;
  • Barry Larkin seems to be on a strong course toward election. 62.1% in his first year of eligibility is strong. Next year’s class is weak.  I think he gets the call in 2012.
  • How does Robbie Alomar go from 73% to 90% in one year?  The only real explanation is that there was a huge penalty placed on him for not being what some consider a traditional first-ballot guy.  Which just goes to show that, no matter what the actual Hall voting rules say — and they specifically say that there is no special designation for “first ballot” guys — voters will read their own rules into the process.
  • Edgar Martinez got only 32.9% of the vote. I guess that tells us what the electorate thinks of the DH.
  • Mark McGwire — who for years was implored by voters to “come clean,” came clean in 2010.  He was rewarded with a reduction in his vote totals, going from 23.7% in 2010 to 19.8% this year.
  • Jeff Bagwell — who has been lambasted for, well, nothing — only received 41.7% of the vote despite being — arguably — the best first baseman in National League history.  Not a terrible vote for a first-timer, as many who have gone on to election began with vote totals in the 40% range, but far below where he should have been. Really, he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
  • Other PED-associated players were killed: Rafael Palmeiro only got 11%. Kevin Brown fell clear off the ballot with 2.1%.  I don’t think that either of them would be slam dunk guys anyway, but their vote totals — and the totals for Bagwell and McGwire — suggest that other players tied — or in Bagwell’s case, erroneously-tied — to steroids are going to face a bloodbath.  Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens get on the ballot in two years.  They’re going to get creamed and that’s going to make all of the little Jeff Bagwell and Bert Blyleven arguments seem like pleasantries exchanged over tea and cucumber sandwiches.
  • B.J. Surhoff got two votes. Wow.  Benito Santiago and Brett Boone got one. Double wow.

There’s a lot more that can be mined from that data.  The vote totals are here.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.