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Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez top newcomers on 2017 Hall of Fame ballot

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Hall of Fame ballots for the 2017 induction class have been mailed out to the Baseball Writers Association of America voters and the names on the ballot were released to the public this morning. The top newcomers: Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez. There are 19 new candidates in all. There are, of course, several holdovers too.

The newcomers, in alphabetical order:

Casey Blake
Pat Burrell
Orlando Cabrera
Mike Cameron
J.D. Drew
Carlos Guillen
Vladimir Guerrero
Derrek Lee
Melvin Mora
Magglio Ordonez
Jorge Posada
Manny Ramirez
Edgar Renteria
Arthur Rhodes
Ivan Rodriguez
Freddy Sanchez
Matt Stairs
Jason Varitek
Tim Wakefield

Guerrero and Rodriguez, each frequently referred to as future-Hall-of-Famers, should each get a substantial number of votes. Guerrero may even make it in on his first ballot, though there is a lot of congestion in terms of holdovers, as we’ll see below. I suspect Pudge will have to wait a bit, though his first year support should be strong. Manny Ramirez would, based on his production, be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but multiple suspensions due to performance enhancing drugs will almost certainly doom his candidacy for the foreseeable future.

None of the other new names will likely get substantial consideration, though I do expect Jorge Posada and possibly Jason Varitek to hang around on the ballot for several years. Beyond that, we’re dealing primary with one-and-done guys, with some “he was a good guy, so I’ll vote for him” votes being scattered around.

The top holdover voters from 2016 are Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Trevor Hoffman, and Curt Schilling with no one else getting above 50% support in last year’s tally. The holdovers in alphabetical order, with 2016 support in parenthesis:

Jeff Bagwell (71.6%)
Barry Bonds (44.3%)
Roger Clemens (45/2%)
Trevor Hoffman (67.3%)
Jeff Kent (16.6%)
Edgar Martinez (43.4%)
Fred McGriff (20.9%)
Mike Mussina (43.0%)
Tim Raines (69.8%)
Curt Schilling (52.3%)
Gary Sheffield (11.6%)
Lee Smith (34.1%)
Sammy Sosa (7%)
Billy Wagner (10.5%)
Larry Walker (15.5%)

There are a ton of Hall of Fame-worthy players here, but many of them are simply not getting the sort of support one would assume they’d receive given what they did in their careers. Some of that is for obvious reasons, with Bonds, Clemens and Sosa being shunned as PED users, bet it alleged or confirmed. Others’ lack of support is somewhat more inexplicable and, I suspect, with voters simply being unable to accept the the starts of the 90s and 2000s compare with players of the more distant past. We all have some trouble contextualizing, I suppose, but the recent Hall of Fame candidates have suffered due to that shortcoming more than their predecessors ever did.

I presume Bagwell will make it this year and I believe Raines will be a close call in this, his final year on the ballot. Hoffman seems a likely inductee one day too, though it’s unclear if the new candidates this year will prevent him getting past the necessary 75% this time around. Anyone who dips below 5% on the ballot falls off.

Voters must return ballots with a Dec. 31 or earlier postmark. Results will be announced at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, on MLB Network.

 

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Tigers 13, Orioles 8: Leonys Martin hit a grand slam out of the leadoff spot and the two-slot hitter, Jeimer Candelario, drove in three via a two-run homer and an RBI single. They play for the Tigers, by the way. Figure a lot of you were not aware of that. Heck, outside of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos, figure most of us don’t know most of the guys on the Tigers anymore. You do know that Manny Machado plays for the Orioles. Know that he hit two homers in a losing cause. Know that, given how the Orioles are doing these days, he won’t be with the Orioles too much longer, I reckon.

Cubs 8, Cardinals 5: Chicago built an early 6-1 lead on a bunch of singles and sac flies and stuff and Jason Heyward capped the Cubs scoring with a two-run homer in the fifth. Jon Lester allowed only an unearned run over six. Every Cubs starter had at least one hit. Anthony Rizzo had three. Heyward, Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez had two a piece. After the game Joe Maddon said:

“This is so much fun to watch. Keep your launch angles, keep your exit velocities, give me a good at-bat. Seeing inside the ball, using the whole field. With that you’ll see better situational hitting, better batting average. That’s just good hitting.”

Without looking, I’m going to guess that the Cubs’ eight-run outburst was, at least in part, a function of good launch angles and exit velocities. Not that Maddon would be the first person to engage in the fallacy of assuming mutual exclusivity where it does not exist.

Astros 9, Mariners 2: Charlie Morton tossed seven shutout innings, dropping his ERA down to 0.72 in his three wins. He has also struck out 33 guys in 25 innings and has walked only six. At this rate he’s going to be in a three-way race with two of his teammates — Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander — for the Cy Young. Seattle dropped three of four in the series and, as a team, went 15-for-100 against Dallas KeuchelLance McCullers Jr., Cole and Morton.

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 3: Aaron Judge homered and, while the Jays threatened late when David Robertson couldn’t find the strike zone and loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth, but he got out of the jam with only one run scoring. Judge — who a lot of you wise acres thought would struggle this year now that everyone is ready for him — is hitting .339/.481/.629 and is on a 48-homer, 152-walk pace. So, yeah.

Phillies 7, Pirates 0: OK, I think Jake Arrieta has finally finished his late spring training. Here he tossed seven shutout innings, allowing only one hit and striking out ten. Rhys Hoskins homered, Odubel Herrera singled in runs in the second and the fifth, J.P. Crawford and Cesar Hernandez knocked in runs on singles as well. More importantly, look at the photo on the top of this post and acknowledge how spiffy Philly looked in these blues. Their only fault is that teams that do this should, like the White Sox the other day, wear the blues on the road as originally intended.

Braves 12, Mets 4: Matt Wisler was called up from Triple-A to make a spot start. Guessing he’s going to get a bit more than that after allowing only two hits in seven innings. Matt Harvey, meanwhile, allowed six runs in six innings and after the game Mickey Calloway would not commit to him making his next scheduled start. He’s just not the guy he used to be. Preston Tucker drove in five with a bases loaded double and a two-run double. Kurt Suzuki had three hits and drove in three runs, including a two-run homer. The Braves offense leads the NL in runs scored. We were all expecting that heading into the season, yes?

Brewers 12, Marlins 3: It was close until the sixth, when Milwaukee put up a seven-spot. Lorenzo Cain homered, doubled twice and scored four times and Ryan Braun hit a pinch-hit, three-run homer. Those three runs gave him 1,000 RBI on his career. Lewis Brinson — who came over to the Marlins from the Brewers in the offseason trade for Christian Yelich — hit his first two career homers.

Diamondbacks 3, Giants 1: Zack Greinke held the punchless Giants to one run over seven innings, with a Brandon Belt homer being his only blemish. The Snakes got homers from Ketel Marte and A.J. Pollock. The Giants have scored only 51 runs in 18 games. That’s the lowest run total in baseball, tied with the Royals, who have only played 16 games. It ain’t 2014 anymore, is it?

Red Sox 8, Angels 2: And the Red Sox never lost again. Homers from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi. Eight runs on 14 hits against six pitchers. A fine outing from Eduardo Rodriguez. Seven wins in a row and, heck, even though it covers the whole season, 16 of 18 for Boston.