Alcides Escobar has "the eye of the tiger"

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The Brewers are quite excited by the season their young shortstop Alcides Escobar had down in Venezuela this winter. He hit .393 and won the batting title.  But it’s not just the hitting that impresses them:

Club officials were particularly impressed that Escobar – a noted
free-swinger – drew 14 walks in 45 games to finish with a .440 on-base
percentage.
“I’m really happy for him,” said Nichols. “He had the eye of the tiger down there.”

Let’s not get too excited. His Venezuelan walk totals translate to roughly 50 walks over the course of a 162 game season, which isn’t much better than he did in AAA last year (though an improvement over his partial season MLB rates).  Fifty walks in the bigs last season would have ranked roughly 95th out of 154 qualifiers, which is Yadier Molina territory. And, just like you figure he won’t hit .390 in the majors this year, you can figure he won’t walk 50 times here either.

So, sure, be happy that there was some improvement, and be excited about a guy who looks like he’s poised for stardom someday soon, but don’t count on Escobar living up to that “eye of the tiger” stuff for some time.

The 2019 Hall of Fame Class will be announced this evening

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This year’s Hall of Fame ballot was released just over two months ago. This evening at 6:15 PM Eastern, all of the arguing stops. Well, actually, it doesn’t stop, because it never stops. Not really. It just transforms into something more pointless, because as of then, the 2019 Hall of Fame class will be officially announced live on MLB Network.

The entire ballot can be found here. Two weeks ago I went through it, candidate-by-candidate, in order to determine who I would vote for if, in fact, I had a vote. For what it’s worth, I ended up with Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, Manny Ramirez. and Scott Rolen.

No, not all of those guys will be elected. I strongly suspect we’ll get three, with an outside chance at a fourth. Based on the best Hall of Fame voting tracker out there, Mariano Rivera is a lock. So too, it seems, is Roy Halladay. Edgar Martinez — on the ballot for is tenth and final time — likewise seems to have the support to finally make it. He was 20 votes short last year and, so far, he has picked up more than 20 new votes among voters who have revealed their ballots. Assuming that previous Martinez voters who have not released their ballots do not backtrack — a safe assumption — Edgar should, at long last, finally make it into Cooperstown.

The last guy who, at present, is trending above the required 75% is Mike Mussina who, at present, is included on 81% of public ballots. There is a tendency for the non-public voters to be stingier with their support, however, so there’s a pretty decent chance that Mussina will fall just under the threshold and will find himself back on the ballot next year. A jump from last year’s 63.5% support to something in the 70s, however, would bode very well for his 2020 chances. If he somehow makes it this year’s class will rival last year’s four-person BBWAA-elected class as one of the better ones in living memory.

Who will join Harold Baines and Lee Smith on the stage in Cooperstown in July? We find out this evening, just after 6 PM.