Craig Calcaterra

Cooperstown

The Hall of Fame electorate has been reduced by 20%

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In late July the Hall of Fame delivered some very good, albeit long overdue news: BBWAA members who were more than 10 years removed from actively covering the game would no longer be allowed to vote for the Hall of Fame.

Prior to the move, once a writer was eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame — with said eligibility coming after 10 years of BBWAA membership — they got that vote for life. This meant that a great many voters who were no longer covering baseball, including many who never really covered baseball in a meaningful way, got a vote. Editors who oversaw baseball writers for a time. People who covered baseball for a few minutes during the Carter Administration but later went on to do other things. It didn’t matter. At the same time, active BBWAA members who were totally engaged with the game and who possessed a thorough knowledge of its history had no vote if they hadn’t been in the club for a decade. It made no sense.

While those BBWAA members without ten years still can’t vote, at least now the dead wood is out. At least in theory. In any event, the Hall of Fame announced today that, as a result of the change, the voting pool has been cut by about 20 percent. Specifically, it estimated 475 ballots would be mailed for the upcoming election. Last year about 600 ballots were mailed and 549 were cast.

This year Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman are the top new candidates for election. I suspect that the change will have zero effect for Griffey, who will be about as close to a unanimous choice as any ballplayer can be (note: there has never been a unanimous choice). Hoffman could see some benefit in that, in theory, the rule change will eliminate more older voters, many of whom may be less amenable to vote for a relief pitcher who plied his trade in an era of specialization.

The backlog could be helped as well. Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines all drew over 50 percent last year but fell short of the required 75 percent needed for election. If you believe that Piazza and Bagwell were dinged by PED suspicions, and if you think that older, less-engaged voters are more likely to harbor such suspicions, their totals should go up. The same could apply to Raines insofar as the merits of his Hall case tend to be less obvious to a certain stripe of voter. Possibly older ones who are less prone to dig deeply into the numbers and prefer to look at more traditional milestones. Not that Raines’ case requires a microscope to appreciate, but that’s another conversation.

These are all broad generalizations of course, and it’s quite possible they’re unfair generalizations. We don’t know how every single voter votes or which voters are being deprived of the franchise. Maybe the culling of the electorate changes things, maybe it does not. But whatever happens, it’s a good move aimed at arriving at a better, more engaged electorate.

LCS schedule announced: Cubs and Mets are the prime time players

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Major League Baseball just released the start times for all of the games in the League Championship Series. And it’s pretty clear that, when it comes to scheduling, Chicago and New York are MLB’s kind of towns.

For the most part, when the ALCS and NLCS teams are in action, the NLCS gets featured in prime time with the AL relegated to the 4pm EDT slot. The only exception: next Saturday, if those games are necessary:

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I suppose some people will see some sort of regional bias in all of this, but a lot of biases make sense. Toronto is a huge city, of course, but US broadcasters like Fox and TBS don’t broadcast up there and don’t get any benefit of Canadian ratings. The other part of the calculation is simple math:

  • New York Metropolitan Statistical Area: 20,092,883;
  • Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area: 9,554,558
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area: 2,071,133

It’s a business, eyeballs mean money and no matter how much people talk about how much they miss daytime baseball, the fact is that ratings are always, always, always better for night games.

Crazy bat-flipping KBO player Hwang Jae-gyun may come to MLB

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This story from Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reports that infielder Hwang Jae-gyun wishes to be posted to play in Major League Baseball.

Hwang hit .290/.350/.521 with 26 homers and 97 RBI in 144 games for the Lotte Giants this year. For his career he has a line of .280/.343/.417 in nine seasons. The third baseman/shortstop turned 28 over the summer.

How that translates to the majors is tough to say. KBO has a reputation for being a heavy offense league which inflates numbers. Our most recent point of comparison, of course, is Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang, who is three months older than Hwang. He hit .298/.383/.504 in nine KBO seasons, with his peak season coming in 2014 when he hit an amazing .356/.439/.739 with 40 homers in only 117 games. Despite those gaudy totals, from a projection perspective, evaluators figured he’d be a fairly useful MLB bench player at best, primarily because of his defensive value and some occasional pop. He ended up getting 467 plate appearances for the Pirates and exceeding everyone’s expectations by hitting .287/.355/.461 with 15 homers before having his season ended by injury.

In reality, the small handful of players who played in both the majors and KBO is no basis for solid projections (a washed-up Luke Scott of all people hit pretty well in the KBO before being kicked off his team). But given Hwang’s apparent defensive versatility, his age and the recent good experience the Pirates had with Kang, it would not be surprising to see him in the bigs next season.

And if he does make it and hits some homers, be prepared for some more grousing about Respecting the Game:

 

I, for one, can’t wait.