Hall of Fame projection: Larkin makes it, no one else

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Every year Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times projects the results of the Hall of Fame vote. Not just who goes in, but the exact percentage of the vote each candidate gets. He’s pretty good at it:  In the past four years he has made predictions for 63 candidates. Fifty of those candidates have come within five percentage points of the actual vote, and 22 have come within one percentage point of the BBWAA result.  Last year his margin for error was 2.4 percent.

His column for this year is up, and it breaks down thusly:

Barry Larkin: 82%
Jack Morris: 65%
Jeff Bagwell: 54%
Lee Smith: 52%
Tim Raines: 52%
Edgar Martinez: 39%
Alan Trammell: 32%

No one else is over 30 percent. He has Bernie Williams at 12 percent, which would keep him on the ballot. He’s be the only new candidate this year to stick around for next.  All of the usual holdovers like Dale Murphy, Mark McGwire and friends are north of that.

There is considerable precedent for guys who get over 50% of the vote to eventually make it in, so if Jaffe is right, it bodes well for Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines.  Jack Morris’ surge to from 54 percent to 65 percent would be notable, but one wonders if the extremely crowded ballot next year would allow for him to make it over the top.

Anyway, check out Jaffe’s column, which explains how he gets where he gets with these predictions and explains the curious dynamics of a Hall of Fame candidate’s journey from ballot newbie to Hall of Famer.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.