Albert Pujols poised for bounce-back year

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MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols will be ready for Opening Day after having off-season surgery on his right knee. The word “certain” appears in the headline, referring to the probability of Pujols appearing in the Opening Day lineup. Pujols should see some spring training action by the middle of the month if all goes according to plan.

Pujols hit 30 home runs with a .285 average, .343 on-base percentage, and .516 slugging percentage — all career lows for the veteran, entering his 13th year. However, it was mostly just his April that dragged him down. During the first month, he didn’t hit a single homer and posted a .570 OPS. He hit his first homer of the season on May 6, and from that point until the end of the season, he posted a .934 OPS, a number more in line with our expectations.

Some have soured on Pujols, citing his age (33) and vanishing unintentional walk rate, which fell to five percent last year after hovering between nine and 11 percent through 2010. Given what he did after April last year, though, there is no doubt he can continue being one of the best hitters in baseball.

The Hall of Fame rejected the BBWAA vote to make ballots public

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Last year, at the Winter Meetings, the BBWAA voted overwhelmingly to make Hall of Fame ballots public beginning with this year’s election. Their decision was a long-demanded one, and it served to make a process that has often frustrated fans — and many voters — more transparent.

Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweeted a few minutes ago, however, that at some point since last December, the Hall of Fame rejected the BBWAA’s vote. Writers may continue to release their own ballots, but their votes will not automatically be made public.

I don’t know what the rationale could possibly be for the Hall of Fame. If I had to guess, I’d say that the less-active BBWAA voters who either voted against that change or who weren’t present for it because they don’t go to the Winter Meetings complained about it. It’s likewise possible that the Hall simply doesn’t want anyone talking about the votes and voters so as not to take attention away from the honorees and the institution, but that train left the station years ago. If the Hall doesn’t want people talking about votes and voters, they’d have to change the whole thing to some star chamber kind of process in which the voters themselves aren’t even known and no one discusses it publicly until after the results are released.

Oh well. There’s a lot the Hall of Fame does that doesn’t make a ton of sense. Add this to the list.