Pete Abraham’s Hall of Fame ballot

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Like I said yesterday, I’m not going to go over every voter’s Hall of Fame ballot.  But we did touch on Pete Abraham’s Hall of Fame methodology last week, so now that he has released his ballot, it’s worth a look.

Pete has Roberto Almomar, Bert Blyleven, Barry Larkin, Alan Trammell and Tim Raines.  Damn fine slate if you ask me. I’d vote for every one of them.

Pete leaves off Bagwell. Rather than leave it oblique like some have, he simply discounts home run totals from the 90s due to the offensive inflation of the decade.

I get that, but I think there’s more to Bagwell’s case than home runs.  He was a considerably better hitter than, say, Rafael Palmeiro. And unlike Palmeiro and others, Bagwell played in the toughest hitters’ park in baseball for many, many years in the Houston Astrodome. Pete is not engaged in that “let’s see if he was found to be a PED user” game I wondered about yesterday, as he is quite clear on the subject when he discusses McGwire and Palmeiro.  I take Pete at his word that this is a performance-based vote, not a suspicion-based vote and thus I have no problem with it. He’s not supporting anyone inferior to Bagwell here.

Another omission is Edgar Martinez. Pete’s reasoning: “he was primarily a DH and as such, his offensive numbers had to be overwhelming to a point where you had no choice but to vote for him.”  I’m not sure if we’ll ever see a DH with a case like Martinez’s though, so it may be a defacto ban on DHs for Pete.  He does label it a tough call, however, and it’s possible that he’ll change his mind. Or not.  Either way, he states his standard and explains his vote and that’s all one can ask.

Nice ballot. Nice explanations. Let’s see more.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.