Joe Posnanski’s BBWAA Hall of Fame project

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Posnanski makes a good point: there really are two Hall of Fames. (1) the BBWAA Hall of Fame, consisting of players voted in by the writers; and (2) the other Hall of Fame, consisting of managers, umpires, old timers, deadballers and players that the BBWAA didn’t think made the cut, voted in by various incarnations of the Veterans Committee and other ad hoc electorates set up from time to time over the past 70 or 80 years.

This is significant inasmuch as, if you argue what Hall of Fame standards are, you have to acknowledge that you are talking about two very, very different standards. With the BBWAA standard, I think we can all agree, being considerably higher than that of the various Veterans Committees.  To that end, Posnanski is taking the next couple of days to try to isolate the BBWAA Hall of Fame standard:

I’ll go through the BBWAA inductees — position by position using WAR to see where the BBWAA standard is — and then look and how the players on this year’s ballot match up. Like I say, I’ve been pretty surprised. It won’t change my voting because, like I said, I’m a big Hall guy. But I do think it might help clarify what happened this year with the BBWAA. I think the steroid mess was only a part of it.

He starts with first basemen here, and begins with talking about why and how he’s using WAR.

Overall I think this is worth doing because, however satisfying it is for us to say things like “how can you not let Player X in the Hall when Player Y is already in,” it’s a little disingenuous to do so when X is being considered by the tougher-grading BBWAA and Y was admitted to the Hall by Frankie Frisch’s crazy-permissive Veteran’s Committee in the 70s or whatever.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.