Nate Silver looks at the Hall of Fame voting

38 Comments

Nate Silver — with a strong assist from @leokitty, who has compiled a spreadsheet of public Hall of Fame votes — gives those public Hall of Fame votes the old Nate Silver treatment in his latest post.

Specifically, he looks for patterns among voters who did and didn’t vote for Barry Bonds and/or Roger Clemens in an attempt to see what that means for others on the ballot. The upshot: while Bonds and Clemens represent a clear and unambiguous case of voters weighing in on the steroid era for good or for ill, the suction is taking guys like Bagwell and Piazza down with them.  Which, if you’re not yet sick of my Hall of Fame posts here, you’re well aware of.

Silver notes, however, that that suction, well, sucks, because it’s based on some pretty crude and inaccurate stereotyping by the electorate. Because — based on the sorts of players who have been suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, it makes little sense to simply assume use by the big guys and assume that the little guys were clean:

Among these players are the utility infielder Neifi Perez, who hit 64 home runs in a 12-year career, the slap-hitting outfielder Jorge Piedra, and a substantial number of pitchers. The incidence of performance-enhancing drug use seems to be fairly randomly distributed between stars and benchwarmers, players at different positions and those with different skills.

Some writers seem to think they can profile steroid users, and some otherwise-deserving players seem likely to be denied a place in Cooperstown because of it.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.