Looking ahead to next year’s Hall of Fame ballot

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With last night’s Hall of Fame voting announcement behind us, let’s look ahead to 2019’s ballot, shall we?

After yesterday’s vote there one guy clearly banging on the door: Edgar Martinez, who got 70.4% of the vote. Bill discussed his Hall of Fame case and his prospects for induction last night. Very little in life is guaranteed, but I like Edgar’s chances next year, which will be his final year on the ballot.

Also moving up was Mike Mussina, who notched 63.5% in his fifth go-around. As we’ve argued at length here in the past, Mussina is well-deserving of the honor of election. Seeing him jump around 12% from last year to this year is encouraging, and it’s not unreasonable to think that this is a platform year, as it were, from which he will ultimately ascend. If not next year, he seems poised to be elected soon.

Also back in 2019 will be this group, all of whom are polling over 50%: Roger Clemens (57.3%), Barry Bonds (56.4% ) and Curt Schilling (51.2% ). Bonds and Clemens creeped up slightly this year from last, but there seems to something of a hard ceiling on their candidacies. Schilling has yo-yo’d over the past three years, almost all due to his odious political and social comments, but he’s back on the upswing. Still, he’s a a pitcher’s whose merits are as good as Mussina’s, so it’s hard not to think that him trailing Mussina the way he is is a function of a hard resistance to him on the part of some voters. All three of these controversial figures will be on the ballot for the seventh time next year.

The bright side for Martinez, Mussina, Bonds, Clemens and Schilling is that the new class of eligibles, while formidable, is not quite as formidable next year as the new classes of the past few years have been. Let’s take a preliminary look at the folks we’ll be arguing about next December:

Mariano Rivera: When I said “very little in life is guaranteed” a few minutes ago, Mo’s candidacy was part of the “very little.” Feel free to wager your house, your children and your three favorite body parts on Rivera getting inducted in his first year. The only question will be how close to unanimous the vote will be for history’s greatest closer.

Roy Halladay: His peak was among the all-time greatest — Halladay’s 62.4 bWAR from ages 25-34 ranks as the 10th best ever among pitchers and everyone else in the top 16 on that list is a Hall of Famer — and that should be enough to overcome the fact that his career ended early due to shoulder problems, preventing him from compiling more wins, strikeouts and innings. Sadly, his induction will be a posthumous one. Perversely, I suspect his tragic death will likely cause his vote total to be higher than it might’ve been on the first go-around if he had lived.

Andy Pettitte: As I wrote a year ago, Pettitte’s Hall of Fame case is going to be a hot mess. Every weird, subjective and controversial measure of Hall of Fame candidates applies to Pettitte in one way or another. Pitcher wins, intangible “dominance” and “fear.” Postseason excellence vs. regular season excellence. Whether he was a “good guy” and how much the media liked him. The quality of his teammates and the number of rings he won. PEDs above all else.  Almost EVERYTHING that will be cited in Pettitte’s favor has, at one point or another, been cited as a reason AGAINST another guy’s case and almost everything against Pettitte, I suspect, will be attempted to be explained away or distinguished by voters who just liked the guy or prefer his narrative over that which can be found on his page on Baseball-Reference.com. All of which will obscure the fact that, yeah, Pettitte actually does have a good argument to be inducted, though not the best case. Buckle up, it’ll be a bumpy ride.

Todd Helton: Gaudy numbers which will almost be entirely dismissed because he played in Coors Field. If Larry Walker, a superior candidate, is not getting voter love, Helton will not either.

Miguel Tejada: A nod to a few very nice seasons, but he’ll get almost no voter love.

Lance Berkman: Very, very good himself, but almost all of his career comps are guys who have fallen short of Hall of Fame consideration or who eventually will. Jim Edmonds without the defensive value? Dick Allen without the media hatred? Jason Giambi without the PED associations? I just can’t see it.

Roy Oswalt: The only guy on next year’s ballot who was once awarded a bulldozer as a contractual incentive.

Kevin Youkilis: The Greek God of Walks leads the guys first made famous by appearing in “Moneyball” onto the ballot. He will quickly walk off the ballot too, of course. He only played ten seasons in the bigs. That’s sort of amazing to me. I feel like he played longer.

Michael Young: Something of a bizarro Steve Garvey. Like Garvey, he was an excellent player when he played, but who was probably not quite as good as his reputation and, with distance, it’s pretty easy to see that he was not a Hall of Famer. The bizarro part: (a) when he played he was MORE respected by his teammates and LESS by the national press; and (b) since he retired his public persona has improved greatly whereas Garvey’s went into the crapper.

Derek Lowe: While Rivera will rightfully waltz into the Hall, Lowe does provide a reminder that we overrate relief pitchers. As a closer in Boston, he put up a couple of amazing seasons that, one presumes, he could’ve continued to replicate for years and which would’ve eventually placed him in serious Hall of Fame contention. The Sox rightfully moved him to the rotation, however, where he was really good for a long time but not Hall of Fame good. A TON of merely good closers couldn’t make it as starters and a ton of merely good starters could be dominant closers if given the chance. I don’t think people have their minds around that concept. I don’t think many care to try.

There will be a handful of other “oh man, has that guy been retired for five full seasons now?” dudes, almost all of whom will be one-and-done candidates and almost all of whom will make us feel old.

Rest up now, folks. We begin yelling about all of this stuff once again next fall.

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rays 6, Marlins 4: A pinch-hit, walkoff grand slam from Daniel Robertson completed a stunning last-inning comeback for the Rays, who trailed 4-1 from the second inning all the way until the ninth. The blast, in addition to being cool as hell, salvaged a win in the series for the Rays, denying the Marlins the sweep. Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer struck out 13 in six innings, but he allowed four runs — three earned — on eight hits.

Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 1: Zack Greinke was outstanding, striking out 13 and allowing only one run on two hits over eight innings of work. Backing him up was a two-run triple and a bases-loaded walk from Nick Ahmed, a two-run single from Jeff Mathis and an RBI double from Steven Souza, not necessarily in that order. Not in that order at all, in fact. I just listed them that way because that’s the order in which they interested me. Beware of unreliable narrators, dudes. It’s a classic trope, but one which still snookers the noobs.

Padres 10, Phillies 2; Phillies 5, Padres 0: In the first game Freddy Galvis had his second straight three-hit game against his old club in a row, Travis Jankowski and Wil Myers each had two RBI and the Padres rattled off 15 hits. In the second game Vince Velasquez took a no-hitter into the sixth and ended up allowing only two hits over seven shutout innings as the Phillies earn the split in the twin bill.

Fun Padres note: yesterday, for whatever reason, some random Padres fan went back and found a tweet I made two years ago about Padres general manager A.J. Preller. The tweet came in the wake of that scandal in which Preller was caught hiding players’ medical information from other clubs in the course of transactions.  In it I said that it may be difficult for other GMs to trust Preller in deals in the future and that because of that the Padres should fire him. For what it’s worth, I thought they should’ve fired him for dishonesty regardless, though they obviously did not.

Anyway, the person who found my tweet retweeted it and several other Padres fans responded back to me yesterday afternoon with mockery, noting that Preller subsequently received a contract extension and that the Padres have a great deal of top prospects in their system. Nowhere, however, did any of those people note that the Padres currently have the worst record in the National League and are working on their eighth straight losing season and their ninth in their last ten. And that it isn’t even close, as they have not won even 80 games in any of those losing seasons and aren’t likely to this year either. But yep, they sure got me with that tweet. I feel totally owned.

Pirates 9, Reds 2: It was 6-0 Buccos after two and 8-0 after four and by then the Pirates were thinking about their super short flight up to Cleveland and the Reds were thinking about catching up on whatever Sunday night prestige TV everyone is into at the moment. I don’t watch much of that and I lose track of that stuff, but “Better Call Saul” is coming back in a couple of weeks and that’s my jam. Anyway, Corey Dickerson homered for the fourth time in three days — he was 4-for-5 on the afternoon — and Starlin Marte went back-to-back with him during Pittsburgh’s four-run second frame. Gregory Polanco and Sean Rodriguez also went deep as the Pirates sweep the Reds for the first time in nearly five years which does not seem like it should be right at all but, yep, it is.

Royals 5, Twins 3: Here’s something Vegas was not taking prop bets on: Drew Butera hitting an inside-the-park homer. A tiebreaking, three-run inside-the-park home run, that is. Which, yes, was given a HUGE assist by an ill-advised attempt to make a diving catch by the center fielder and some backup by the right fielder that was apparently called in via regular U.S. Mail, but let’s not take this away from Butera:

The Royals took three in a row from the Twins and in doing so completed their first series sweep in just under a year, which does not seem like it should be right at all but, yep, it is.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 4: The O’s led 4-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth but a pair of two-run homers — from Randal Grichuk and Yangervis Solarte — changed that pretty quickly. J.A. Happ‘s latest audition for would-be trade partners went well (5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 9K). John Axford‘s did not (1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB), but hey, he vultured a win.

Red Sox 9, Tigers 1: Red Sox recaps feel the same every day. They won. They scored a lot of runs. They got a great pitching performance. Yawn. It’s, like, the banality of dominance or something. Sure, they lost on Saturday and only scored one run in a 1-0 win on Friday, but I didn’t recap those. Perception is everything. Anyway, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a three-run homer and Chris Sale cruised through six, striking out nine Tigers and not allowing a run. Andrew Benintendi and Eduardo Nunez each knocked in a couple.

Rangers 5, Indians 0: It was the Rougned Odor show as the Rangers’ second baseman knocked in the first three runs of the game via a single, a sac fly and a homer. Ryan Rua‘s two-run homer accounted for the other two Texas runs as Yovani Gallardo tossed six shutout innings and the pen covered the rest. Also: first pitch temperature was 102 degrees and it went up to 108 as the game wore on. I’m firmly on the record thinking that the Rangers are ripping taxpayers off in getting them to build them a new ballpark when they have a pretty new one already, but boy howdy do they need that air conditioned one to get finished because this is simply ridiculous.

Dodgers 11, Brewers 2: Matt Kemp smacked two solo homers and had three hits and scored three runs in all and Chris Taylor drove in three as L.A. blows out Milwaukee to take two of three in the series. Manny Machado had a couple of hits and drove in his first run as a Dodger. He finished his first weekend in blue 5-for-13 with a double and a couple of walks. The Brewers played atrocious defense too. Maybe Ryan Braun isn’t a first baseman? Just a thought.

Cubs 7, Cardinals 2: Jose Quintana allowed two runs on six hits and, most significantly, did not allow a home run to Matt Carpenter, and that’s more than opposing pitchers from the last six games against the Cardinals could say. Really, the dude has been on fire. So on fire that the Cubs played a three-man infield against him in the first, moving Kris Bryant to the outfield out of respect for Carpenter’s 12-at-bat streak of hitting for extras bases. My dude laid down a bunt single. Respect:

That was it for the Cards, though. It was competitive for most of the game but Kyle Schwarber hit a tiebreaking homer with two out in the sixth inning and the Chicago broke it wide open with three runs in the eighth, helping them take three of five from the Cards.

Mariners 8, White Sox 2: Ryon Healy hit two three-run homers in this one — one in the first inning, one in the eighth — as the Mariners win in a romp. The other two runs came in the course of a five-run first inning via a bases-loaded walk drawn by Kyle Seager and a Denard Span sac fly. Healy is far from a complete player — he has 20 homers on the season but he hits for poor contact and seems to hate walks like de Havilland hates Fontaine — but it sure was a hell of an afternoon for the big lug.

Angels 14, Astros 5: Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler and Kole Calhoun all went deep, with Calhoun driving in three as the Angels salvage the final game of a three-game set with Houston. Trout’s first inning single ended a streak of 16 plate appearances without a hit. Trout slumping is . . . weird and unsettling. Andrew Heaney allowed one run over six.

Athletics 6, Giants 5: Matt Chapman singled in Marcus Semien in the bottom of the 10th for a walkoff win. The win also gave Jeurys Familia his first win in his first game as an Oakland Athletic after he pitched two scoreless innings. This after only arriving in Oakland about an hour before the game began after catching a 7 a.m. flight from New York. Between that and no longer having to be a New York Met, things are looking pretty good for him these days.

Nationals 6, Braves 2: Anthony Rendon doubled in two in the first and Bryce Harper homered and drove in two as the Nats split two games with the Braves in a rain-shortened series. Saturday’s game was postponed and this one was delayed almost two hours at the outset and featured an hour and a half delay in the middle of it. Nothing like a steamy late July day in Washington. Besides, as Nats manager Dave Martinez noted after the game, they made the most of it:

“It’s part of it. We play outdoors. But the boys hung in there. They were all pretty loose in the clubhouse, honestly. Watching Shark Week. So, it was good.”

Live every week like it’s shark week.

Mets vs. Yankees — POSTPONED:

Another rainy day in New York City
Softly sweet, so silently it falls
As crosstown traffic crawls

Memories in my way in New York City
Tender, tough, too tragic to be true
And nothing i can do

City workers cheer
The taxis disappear
Another rainy day in New York City