Random nuggets from the Hall of Fame voting results

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Fun things — and some not so fun things — from today’s voting results beyond the names we talked about already:

  • Falling off the ballot because they didn’t receive 5%: Bernie Williams, Kenny Lofton, Sandy Alomar Jr.,Julio Franco, David Wells, Steve Finley, Shawn Green, Aaron Sele, Jeff Cirillo,Royce Clayton, Jeff Conine, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Klesko, Jose Mesa, Reggie Sanders, Mike Stanton, Todd Walker, Rondell White, Woody Williams. Lofton deserved longer consideration. I really don’t think any of the other guys have an argument.
  • Earning a vote for reasons that are clear only to the person who cast it: Aaron Sele. Really, who thinks Aaron Sele deserved a vote? For that matter, on what planet does Sandy Alomar, Jr. get 16 votes?
  • Fun but sad: Curt Schilling only got 38.8% of the vote, which was a travesty. But hey, Schilling’s number was 38, so it was kinda appropriate.
  • Gainers among the guys who actually stand a chance one day: Raines and Bagwell. Raines jumped from 48.7% to 52.2%. Bagwell from 56.0% to 59.6%. I think they’ll eventually make it, but it may take a few years.
  • Sorry, you missed your window: Fred McGriff, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell. McGriff went from 23.9% in 2012 to 20.7% in 2013. Smith went from 50.6% to 47.8%. Trammell went from 36.8% to 33.6%. Each of those guys would require a Jack Morris-style surge in order to make it but they’re going in the wrong direction and time is running out.
  • The holdover PED guys: Mark McGwire sunk from 19.5% to 16.9%. Rafael Palmeiro went from 12.6% to 8.8%. It’s never gonna happen and Palmeiro may fall off next year.
  • A guy with time and little support who may yet have a shot: Larry Walker. He only has 21.6%, down from 22.9% last year. But I feel like we haven’t had a big conversation about him yet and he could very well see a Tim Raines-style jump in voter consciousness once the PED stuff begins to settle down in a couple of years.

There’s a lot more fun to be gleaned from the results. Check them out at the BBWAA site. Assuming Geocities isn’t down, anyway.

Game 6: This is why the Astros traded for Justin Verlander

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Houston’s pitching has not been their biggest problem as they’ve watched their 2-0 series lead turn in to a 3-2 series deficit. It has not been good, mind you — Charlie Morton got rocked in Game 3, the bullpen collapsed on Game 4 and Dallas Keuchel was suddenly mortal in Game 5 — but even then it’s not been the biggest concern. The real problem has been the lack of offense.

The Astros led the majors in runs (896), batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging (.478) during the regular season and were second to the Yankees in homers. Despite that, they have scored just nine runs and have hit only one homer. The team’s ALCS batting line, those two wins included, is .147/.234/.213. As such, facing off against Luis Severino and a rested Yankees bullpen tonight can’t give them a ton of confidence.

They do have one thing going for them, however: Justin Verlander. The same Justin Verlander who received only two runs of support in Game 2 of the series but made it hold up thanks to his 124-pitch, 13-strikeout complete game victory. You can’t really expect a starter to do that sort of thing two times in a row, but that’s what the Astros acquired him for at the end of August. In a league where there are vanishingly few horses a team can ride to victory, Verlander stands as one of the few remaining old school aces. Expect A.J. Hinch to keep the bit in Verlander’s mouth for as long as this game is close and, even then, maybe an inning longer.

Is there any reason for optimism regarding the Astros’ lineup? Sure, of course. They didn’t suddenly all forget how to hit. Every team goes through a stretch of 3-5 games where the hits don’t seem to fall. There may, possibly, be some reason for hope in the man they’re facing too. Severino lasted only four innings in Game 2, having been removed early after taking a ground ball off his left wrist. Severino said he was fine and wished that Joe Girardi hadn’t taken him out, but (a) he was acting a little odd, shaking his arm out like he was trying to shake off some pain; and (b) starting pitchers almost always lie and say they’re better than they are. I’m certain Severino is healthy enough to go, but there’s at least a small chance that he’s vulnerable, somehow. At the very least Astros hitters can walk to the plate convincing themselves of it. Any edge you can either get or imagine, right?

Game 6 seems like it will have to be a matter of a small edge one way or another for both teams, really. The Yankees are rolling, but their assignment tonight is a tough one as they try to chase a guy who fancies himself — and has often shown himself — to be a rare throwback to those 1960s and 1970s aces who only seem to get better as the ballgame goes on. The Astros, meanwhile, are tasked with solving a young, fireballing stuff monster who has something to prove after his early exit in Game 2 and, even if he can’t prove it, a corps of relief aces who are among the most formidable in baseball. Add to that the notion that Major League Baseball, Fox and most commentators and casual fans outside of Houston want to see the 12th Yankees-Dodgers World Series matchup and the Astros have to be thinking everything’s against them.

Which is OK, though, right? Ballplayers love it when no one believes in them. That’s not better than six or seven runs of support, but the Astros will take anything they can get at the moment.