The ten vote limit on Hall of Fame ballots is a real problem

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If I had to bet I’d say that two players make the Hall of Fame this year: Jack Morris and Craig Biggio. But it would not shock me at all if no one made it in.

One big reason is the anti-PED people with ballots. Another big reason, and one that hurts those who are not suspected of PED use more than the PED users, is the ten-vote limit the BBWAA places on the ballot. ESPN’s Jim Caple notes just how vexing a problem this is:

Since the Hall of Fame began, the maximum number of players for whom a writer can vote has been 10. The number of teams has almost doubled in that span, which means the number of potential Hall of Fame candidates has also nearly doubled. Actually, when you consider that African-American, Latino and other minority players weren’t allowed to play when the Hall of Fame opened, Hall-caliber candidates have likely more than doubled.

And yet, the maximum remains 10. For no apparent reason. Is it any wonder so many writers have trouble with the game’s advanced metrics?

The fallout of the 10-player maximum is that I no longer can simply vote for the players I think belong in the Hall of Fame. I now have to vote with an agenda, just like a politician.

Caple’s potential ballot is massive, and includes a lot of people you or I may not vote for. But the problem is that he does not get the option to make such choices, and as a result has to leave off people who he thinks are genuinely worthy.

Makes very little sense to begin with, and now that we have potential first-ballot guys like Clemens and Bonds hanging around for years, clogging up the ballot, it makes the problem even worse.

Yankees acquire James Paxton from Mariners

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The Yankees announced that the club has acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners in exchange for three prospects: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a solid return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worries about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field, and Paxton’s durability. Paxton has made more than 20 starts in a season just twice in his career — the last two years (24 and 28). The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.