As I’ve noted several times, my Hall of Fame thing isn’t necessarily voters getting “the right ballot.” It’s just about having an actual coherent philosophy and approach and maintaining some level of intellectual consistency about yourself. For example, Ken Rosenthal and I differ sharply about PED users in the Hall of Fame, but his Hall of Fame ballot is still rigorous and defensible and consistent with his stated beliefs despite looking pretty different from my hypothetical ballot. I’m accused of being Hall of Fame Thought Police, but all I really ask is that you not be a blithering idiot about it.
Here’s a good example of how that all works: Noted idiot Dan Shaughnessy blithered his Hall of Fame ballot over the weekend. My stomach is not strong enough to get into it blow-by-blow, but Jason Collette gave it a good going-over. It’s worth your time, if for no other reason than the insane level of slapdashery on display.
This year Shaugnessy voted for Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux. That leaves five empty slots, suggesting that he does not believe anyone else on the ballot is worthy. Which would be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that, as Collette notes, Shaughnessy voted for Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell, and Curt Schilling last year.
Why no Raines and Trammell this year? It’s not because they got crowded out — there’s plenty of room left on Shaughnessy’s ballot — it’s because Shaugnessy doesn’t give enough of a crap about his vote to even look at what he did last year or to maintain even a shred of intellectual consistency about it. For all of the stuff we hear from writers about the honor and responsibility of a Hall of Fame vote and for all of the stuff we hear about how much they agonize over such an important task, one of the most noted sportswriters of the past 30 years dashes his ballot the hell off in about five minutes.
What a process.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP