Japanese female knuckleballer makes debut against men

Will a woman ever play in the majors? Don’t ask major league executives about it.

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There’s a story up by Pat Borzi of espnW about the possibility of a woman making the major leagues.  The most interesting passage in the whole piece, however, has little to do with the chances of that actually occurring on the merits but which is quite telling about it happening in reality. After reviewing the views of Justine Siegal, Bill Mike Veeck and Dan Duquette, all of whom feel/felt that we will see a woman in the majors one day, Borzi notes:

It’s difficult to find anyone in MLB who agrees with Siegal, Veeck or Duquette. Of the nine MLB executives, scouts and players contacted by espnW, only three agreed to talk about the subject. None was willing to be quoted. One considered a woman playing in the majors unlikely, and the other two rejected it out of hand.

If people in front offices are so weirded out about the concept that they won’t even offer a speculative quote, how likely is it that anyone will go to the mat for a putative woman prospect if and when it comes time to consider advancing her in the system? Assuming someone would even go out on a limb to draft her? Bunch of cowards.

Anyway, this topic comes up every couple of years, and my take each time has remained more or less the same:

  • I’d love to see it, because you know that ballplayers would say all kinds of stupid things if it happened, and ballplayers saying stupid things makes for great blogging;
  • If we do see it, I agree with Duquette that it will most likely take the form of a knuckleballer with a deceptive motion like Eri Yoshida (though it should be noted that Yoshida didn’t fare well in Independent ball); but
  • We probably won’t see it outside of the independent leagues any time soon, if ever, because baseball is a really damn conservative institution that, at least in this day and age, isn’t all that willing to take chances.

None of this, it should be noted, represents my opinion on whether a woman could be successful in professional baseball. I don’t know nearly enough about scouting and player development and physiology to say with any kind of certainty if a woman could do it.

On a purely biological level there is no getting around the fact that human beings exhibit at least some degree of sexual dimorphism. At the same time, there are outliers, as any guy who has been totally killed during a pickup basketball game against a backup point guard from their high school girl’s team can attest.  Um, not that that happened to me. Repeatedly.

When I think about the subject, part of me looks at out-of-shape major leaguers and thinks “man, there HAS to be a dozen women who could do what that slob can do.” Then part of me looks at any given knuckleballer and thinks that, well, yeah, they still have to have a serviceable get-me-over pitch, and even most men can’t dial it up enough to get that done.

Maybe it happens someday. I hope it does because it would be an absolutely astounding achievement (and not just for dumb bloggy reasons as mentioned above).

But really, executives: you can’t even talk about it?

(thanks to Paperlions for the heads up)

Jorge Posada highlights 16 one-and-done players on Hall of Fame ballot

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24:  Jorge Posada addresses the media during a press conference to announces his retirement from the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on January 24, 2012 in the Bronx borough of  New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada received only 17 total votes (3.8 percent) on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. Unfortunately, he is one of 16 players who fell short of the five percent vote threshold and is no longer eligible on the ballot. The other players are Magglio Ordonez (three votes, 0.7 percent), Edgar Renteria (two, 0.5 percent), Jason Varitek (two, 0.5 percent), Tim Wakefield (one, 0.2 percent), Casey Blake (zero), Pat Burrell (zero), Orlando Cabrera (zero), Mike Cameron (zero), J.D. Drew (zero), Carlos Guillen (zero), Derrek Lee (zero), Melvin Mora (zero), Arthur Rhodes (zero), Freddy Sanchez (zero), and Matt Stairs (zero).

Posada, 45, helped the Yankees win four World Series championships from 1998-2000 as well as 2009. He made the American League All-Star team five times, won five Silver Sluggers, and had a top-three AL MVP Award finish. Posada also hit 20 or more homers in eight seasons, finished with a career adjusted OPS (a.k.a. OPS+) of 121, and accrued 42.7 Wins Above Replacement in his 17-year career according to Baseball Reference.

While Posada’s OPS+ and WAR are lacking compared to other Hall of Famers — he was 18th of 34 eligible players in JAWS, Jay Jaffe’s WAR-based Hall of Fame metric — catchers simply have not put up the same kind of numbers that players at other positions have. That’s likely because catching is such a physically demanding position and often results in injuries and shortened careers. It is, perhaps, not an adjustment voters have thought to make when considering Posada’s eligibility.

Furthermore, Posada’s quick ouster is somewhat due to the crowded ballot. Most voters had a hard time figuring out which 10 players to vote for. Had Posada been on the ballot in a different era, writers likely would have found it easier to justify voting for him.

Posada joins Kenny Lofton in the “unjustly one-and-done” group.

Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez Elected to the Hall of Fame

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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The 2017 induction class of the Baseball Hall of Fame was announced Wednesday evening and we have three inductees: Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez. Raines and Bagwell had to wait a good long while to get the call. Rodriguez is in on his first year of eligibility. But nowhere on the plaque will it say how long it took. All that matters now is that three of the greatest players of their respective generations finally have a place in Cooperstown.

Players must be named on 75% of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s ballots to get in. Raines was named on 86% of the ballots. Bagwell was named on 86.2%. Rodriguez was named on 76%. Non-inductees with significant vote totals include Trevor Hoffman at 74% and Vladimir Guerrero at  71.7%. The full results can be seen here.

Others not making the cut but still alive for next year, with vote totals in parenthesis: Edgar Martinez (58.6); Roger Clemens (54.1); Barry Bonds (53.8); Mike Mussina (51.8); Curt Schilling (45.0); Manny Ramirez (23.8); Larry Walker (21.9); Fred McGriff (21.7); Jeff Kent (16.7); Gary Sheffield (13.3%); Billy Wagner (10.2); and Sammy Sosa (8.6). Making his final appearance on the ballot was Lee Smith, who received 34.2% of the vote in his last year of eligibility. He will now be the business of the Veterans Committee.

Players who fell off the ballot due to not having the requisite 5% to stay on: Jorge Posada; Magglio Ordoñez; Edgar Renteria; Jason Varitek; Tim Wakefield; Casey Blake; Pat Burrell; Orlando Cabrera; Mike Cameron; J.D. Drew; Carlos Guillen; Derrek Lee; Melvin Mora; Arthur Rhodes; Freddy Sanchez; and Matt Stairs

We’ll have continued updates on today’s Hall of Fame vote throughout the evening and in the coming days. In the meantime, congratulations to this year’s inductees, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez!