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Tag:Jeff Bagwell
Posted on: January 9, 2012 3:19 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 4:34 pm
 

2012 Baseball Hall of Fame voting breakdown



By Matt Snyder


Barry Larkin was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with 86.4 percent of the vote. The results of the BBWAA votes were revealed Monday afternoon, and Larkin was the only player garnering the required 75 percent of the vote for enshrinement.

There were 573 total ballots, but nine were left blank. Players may remain on the ballot for 15 years, unless they fall below the five percent barrier in voting. Those who get less than five percent of the vote will be removed from the ballot prior to next year's vote.

Here's a total breakdown of how the voting went for the other 26 candidates. First, these guys will remain on the ballot moving forward:

Jack Morris - 382 votes (66.7 percent)
Jeff Bagwell - 321 (56)
Lee Smith - 290 (50.6)
Tim Raines - 279 (48.7)
Edgar Martinez - 209 (36.5)
Alan Trammell - 211 (36.8)
Fred McGriff - 137 (23.9)
Larry Walker - 131 (22.9)
Mark McGwire - 112 (19.5)
Don Mattingly - 102 (17.8)
Dale Murphy - 83 (14.5)
Rafael Palmeiro - 72 (12.6)
Bernie Williams - 55 (9.6)

Hall of Fame ballot
Now, the following players will be removed from the ballot, as they didn't get five percent of the vote:

Juan Gonzalez - 23 votes (four percent)
Vinny Castilla - 6 (1)
Tim Salmon - 5 (0.9)
Bill Mueller - 4 (0.5)
Brad Radke - 2 (0.3)
Javy Lopez - 1 (0.2)
Eric Young - 1 (0.2)
Jeromy Burnitz - 0
Brian Jordan - 0
Terry Mulholland - 0
Phil Nevin - 0
Ruben Sierra - 0
Tony Womack - 0

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:57 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 3:52 pm
 

2013 Hall class to raise questions

Barry Bonds

By C. Trent Rosecrans

If steroids have clouded the Hall of Fame voting the last few years, a hurricane is coming in 2013. 

While the Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor for a baseball player, we all know there's a difference between the Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays Hall of Famers and the Phil Rizzuto, Andre Dawson, Jim Rice Hall of Famers. While Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro were probably better than the later group, they certainly don't belong with the former. That changes next year.

Hall of Fame coverage

In December, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America that are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame will receive their ballot and on that ballot will be baseball's career home run leader and perhaps its greatest pitcher. While most voters agonize over their votes and research each and every name in front of them, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens shouldn't take time. In a perfect world, a world where the only considerations are on the Baseball-Reference.com page, more time would be spent putting ink to paper than actually breaking down the candidacy of Bonds and Clemens.

This, as we know, is not a perfect world. And the Hall of Fame debate, which has always been hotly contested, takes on a different debate with the class of 2013. For the first time not only will Bonds and Clemens be eligible for the Hall, so too will Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza. While Sosa and Piazza aren't in the same class as Bonds and Clemens, they do have 1,036 homers between them and without allegations of steroid use, they'd be no-doubters as well.

As long as the Hall doesn't have any guidelines for the voting bloc, there will be a mixture of four types of voters when it comes to steroids:

1. Hardline no: These are the folks who don't vote for Bagwell. If there's even a rumor about a player having a zit on their back, these defenders of the Hall will keep a player out.

2. Proof only: Here's where it gets tricky -- some voters want hard evidence before they keep a player out. But what's the line here? Is it a failed test like Palmeiro? Or is it overwhelming evidence such as the cases against Bonds and Clemens? And then what about the Mitchell Report? Is that good enough? And then there's other ties, like Sammy Sosa, who was never suspended and not in the Mitchell Report, but just about everyone suspects he used.

3. Worthy before PEDs: Then there's the "he was a Hall of Famer before steroids." This is the argument you can use to OK Bonds and Clemens, while rejecting the likes of McGwire and Sosa. This, though, assumes you can tell when a player started using steroids just by their head growth or some other assumed symptom.

4. Numbers voters: Finally there are those who say the only thing we know is the results that were on the field. We don't know the extent of steroid use during the so-called steroid era or how much the results were changed by their usage or even who exactly did or did not use them. 

In the end, the results are likely to say more about the voting bloc than the players themselves -- and as many people who get upset about the voting every year will get louder next year as the steroid question will divide almost all baseball fans. Here's a quick look at the new players who will be on the 2013 ballot:

Craig Biggio -- Biggio finished his career with 3,060 hits and nearly 300 home runs (291). The seven-time All-Star put up a career line of .281/.363/.433. He started his career at catcher before moving to second base and was the face of the Astros, playing 20 years in Houston. And despite his close association with Bagwell during their playing days, he hasn't been associated with Bagwell's alleged steroid use. In the end, his squeaky-clean image could do as much to aid his Hall candidacy as his numbers.

Barry BondsBarry Bonds -- And this is where it gets real. Bonds has more home runs (762) in the history of the game, had a career OPS of 1.051. A seven-time MVP, Bonds may be the best hitter in the history of the game. And then there's Game of Shadows and BALCO -- the baggage surrounding Bonds is as big as his batting helmet. The common belief is Bonds didn't start using steroids until seeing the hoopla around Sosa and McGwire in 1998, and by that time he already had three MVPs under his belt. A great player and future Hall of Famer before the 1998 season, he hit 351 home runs from 1999-2007, breaking McGwire's single-season mark with 73 home runs in 2001.

Roger Clemens -- Like Bonds, Clemens had a Hall of Fame career before suspicion of steroids. Clemens had three Cy Young Awards in his first eight seasons, before going on to win four more later in his career. Clemens finished his carer with a 354-184 mark, a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third all-time after Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.

Steve Finley -- The outfielder had a solid 19-year career, picking up 2,548 hits, 304 home runs and 320 stolen bases, to go along with five Gold Gloves. A fine career, but not a Hall-worthy one.

Julio Franco -- Franco's a better candidate for Ripley's Believe It or Not than the Hall of Fame. Franco played his last game at the reported age of 49 in 2007. In his 23 seasons, he hit .298/.365/.417, collecting 2,586 hits. In addition to his 23 seasons in the big leagues, he had two years in Japan, another in Korea and played his last season in Mexico. A three-time All-Star, he also won a batting title in 1991 with a .341 average. He won't be voted into the Hall, but he had one amazing career.

Roberto Hernandez -- A closer, Hernandez finished his career with 326 saves and a 3.45 ERA. He had a good career, but is unlikely to stay on the ballot more than one year.

Kenny Lofton -- Because Lofton played in the steroid era, his talents may be under-appreciated. A leadoff man, Lofton finished with a .299/.372/.423 line, stole 622 bases and had 2,428 hits. He also had 130 homers, winning four Gold Gloves and appearing in six All-Star Games. A premier defensive player, Lofton has a better case than you'd think at first glance.

Jose Mesa -- Mesa's numbers are just a tick below Hernandez's, finishing with 321 saves and a 4.36 ERA.

Mike PiazzaMike Piazza -- If there are whispers, but no proof, that Bagwell used steroids, there are shouts that Piazza did, despite the same lack of hard evidence. The best offensive catcher of the modern era, Piazza had 427 home runs and hit .308/.377/.545 in his 16 seasons. He wasn't considered a good catcher, but that was beside the point -- Piazza was a middle of the order presence. Without steroids involved in the discussion, there's no discussion of whether he's in or not. But that's not the world we live in.

Curt Schilling -- Jack Morris' candidacy has been built largely on his postseason exploits -- and with all due respect to Morris, he can't hold a candle to Schilling's postseason accomplishments. Morris was 7-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 13 postseason starts. Schilling was 11-2 with a 2.23 in 19 postseason starts, winning four of his seven World Series starts. In 20 years in the big leagues, Schilling was 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA, but that was done in a much better offensive era than Morris' 3.90 ERA. Injuries throughout his career kept his career numbers down, but his candidacy will be heavily debated from both sides -- and in a rarity, it may be an old-fashioned baseball debate, not one about steroids.

Sammy Sosa -- Sosa will likely be remembered as much for his sudden inability to speak English when facing Congress as his 609 home runs. He's the only player to hit 60 or more home runs in three different seasons, but he didn't lead the league in homers in any of those three seasons. He reportedly tested positive during the 2003 PED survey test. On sheer numbers, he's tough to pass up, but with the steroid question, he's unlikely to get in.

David Wells -- Wells no doubt got bigger throughout his career, but the belief is he did it the old fashioned way -- by eating. Never small, Wells went 239-157 for nine different teams in parts of 21 seasons, but his 4.13 ERA will make him easy to keep out of the Hall of Fame. He was 10-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 27 postseason games and 17 starts.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:10 am
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The whispers and suspicions of steroid use have already seem to keep one player with no-doubt, sure-fire numbers out of the Hall of Fame. Despite a lack of concrete evidence or failed drug test, Jeff Bagwell and his 449 home run, career OPS+ of 149 and 79.9 WAR is left outside of Cooperstown and will likely still be on the outside after results of this year's balloting are announced on Tuesday.

Hall of Fame coverage

Next year's ballot will have the greater test of what the use of performance enhancing drugs means to the Hall of Fame -- if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens can't get into the Hall because of their ties to PEDs, it's unlikely anyone will.

But we've seen Bonds and Clemens in federal court. Mark McGwire admitted his use and Rafael Palmeiro tested positive. The only test Bagwell has failed is the eyeball test. And that mark has kept him out of Cooperstown. It's unlikely he'll be the last to fail that test.

As we continue the look at the future of the Hall of Fame and the candidacy of players active today, there's no more interesting category than the asterisk guys -- some who have tested positive for PEDs, some who have been rumored to have used them, some who have been suspected and some who just don't pass the eyeball test.

Ryan Braun -- No matter what happens in Braun's appeal or the rest of his career, he will always wear the scarlet letter of a failed drug test on his chest. Braun isn't the first MVP winner to be linked to steroids, but he is the first to fail a test in the same year he won the MVP.

At 28, Braun's exploits on the field are yet to be Hall-worthy, but like Bagwell he already has a Rookie of the Year trophy, as well as an MVP by the time he turned 27. There's nothing in Braun's Baseball-Reference.com page that suggests he won't someday have a case to be enshrined in Cooperstown. In his first five years in the big leagues, he's averaged more than 30 homers a season, finished in the top 5 in MVP voting twice, bringing home the trophy this year. In each of his first five seasons, he's earned MVP votes and he's seemingly getting better and better every season.  If it weren't for the news of his failed MVP test, he'd certainly be on Saturday's list instead of this one.

Jason Giambi -- A very good player with a good career, Giambi will instead be defined as one of the poster children for the steroid era. Even without the asterisk, Giambi's bid for the Hall would be difficult. Even playing in an offensive era, Giambi was an exception offensive player, putting up a .281/.404/.525 line through the 2011 season, hitting 428 home runs. 

In the minds of many, Giambi's case is shut by his performance with the Yankees, where he failed to meet expectations after signing a seven-year, $120 million deal before the 2002 season. The Yankees didn't win a World Series during his tenure with the team, appearing in just one World Series. And then there's the fact the team won a World Series the year after he left.

And then there's the steroids. Giambi reportedly admitted to using steroids during the offseason from 2001 to 2003 and also using human growth hormone in 2003. Giambi's best seasons -- from 1999 to 2003 -- are suspect in the timing of his use of steroids.

Manny Ramirez -- One of the best pure hitters in the history of the game, Ramirez was a controversial figure before being suspended twice for failing drug tests. While there are reasonable objections to Rafael Palmeiro's case as a mere compiler of stats and milestones, Ramirez was a force of nature on the field and an enigma off of it.

Ramirez, who is attempting to play in 2012, has 555 career homers and a .996 career OPS. With 2,574 hits, 1,831 RBI, 1,544 runs and a .312/.411/.585 line, not to mention a stretch of eight consecutive seasons where he finished in the top 10 of MVP voting and two World Series rings, Ramirez was a transcendent talent. He will be remembered by any fan of baseball, he just won't be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Alex Rodriguez -- Rodriguez's case will be much like Barry Bonds -- there's no question he's one of the elite players in the history of the game, but there are also the steroid questions. Rodriguez admitted to using steroids from 2001 to 2003 while he was with the Rangers.

Like Bonds, there will be those who say Rodriguez was a Hall of Fame talent before he allegedly used steroids. And like Bonds, he may finish his career as the career leader in home runs. But unlike Bonds, Rodriguez has admitted to his use of steroids. If Bonds gets in, Rodriguez has a chance. If Bonds doesn't, he doesn't.

Ivan Rodriguez -- Jose Canseco claimed to have personally injected Rodriguez with steroids while the two were teammates in Texas, which is more indictment than anything that has been pinned on Bagwell.

What's different, perhaps, about Rodriguez is that the shadow of steroids is often cast on home run hitters, and while Rodriguez was a very good offensive player -- hitting .296/.334/.464 with 311 home runs and 2,844 hits -- during his career, his defense has always been his calling card. Rodriguez is on the short list with Johnny Bench as the best defensive catcher in the history of the game -- and has caught 201 more games than any other player in the history of the game. While steroids may not have helped him throw out 46 percent of baserunners during his career, if he did use them, they would certainly help his day-to-day recovery and dealing with rigors of catching so many games.

Without the spectre of steroids, Rodriguez is a first-ballot, no-doubt Hall of Famer. But that's not the world we live in. There are voters who, right or wrong, refuse to vote for anyone with a hint of steroid abuse on their resume, and Rodriguez has that, along with the rest.

Miguel Tejada -- Even without steroid accusations, Tejada would be a borderline Hall of Fame selection at best. With his name in the Mitchell Report and connected to Palmeiro's fall, there's probably zero chance he gets in.

Tejada will go down as one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball history, hitting .285/.336/.457 with 2,362 hits and 304 home runs in parts of 15 seasons, winning the MVP in 2002 and finishing in the top 20 six other times. Only Cal Ripken Jr. (345) and Rodriguez (344) have hit more than Tejada's 291 homers as a shortstop.

On the other hand, Tejada at his best was a below-average defensive shortstop and his career OPS+ is 108 and his (Baseball-Reference.com) WAR is 42.5, 22nd among active players behind the likes of Bobby Abreu, Mike Cameron and J.D. Drew. Tejada is unlikely to earn a plaque in Cooperstown, and steroids are probably only part of the reason.

Coming Monday: 2012 Hall of Fame inductee(s) announced
Monday: Looking ahead at the 2013 first-year eligibles
Monday: Looking at the '14, '15 and '16 first-year eligibles 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 12:45 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 1:18 pm
 

Getting to know the 2012 Hall of Fame candidates

By Matt Snyder

One week from today we will learn who -- if anyone -- will join Ron Santo in the 2012 Baseball Hall of Fame class. The Baseball Writers Association of America votes have all been mailed in, as a Dec. 31st or earlier postmark is required. Everyone who has been a member of the BBWAA for at least 10 years has a chance to vote. Players receiving 75 percent of the vote will be inducted.

Here's a complete look, in alphabetical order, at who the BBWAA voters were given to consider:

Jeff Bagwell -- He won the Rookie of the Year in 1991 and the MVP in 1994. The four-time All-Star garnered MVP votes in 10 of his 15 seasons. He ended his career with more than 1,500 runs and RBI while hitting 449 homers. His .948 OPS is outstanding, resulting in an OPS-plus of 149. Bagwell received 41.7 percent of the vote last season, his first on the ballot.

Jeromy Burnitz -- The one-time All-Star received MVP votes three times. He hit 315 home runs with an .826 career OPS.

Vinny Castilla -- A two-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger, Castilla hit 320 home runs and drove home 1,105 runs in his 16-year career. He hit at least 40 homers three straight seasons, 1996-98.

Juan Gonzalez -- Juan Gone is one of the few players in major-league history to win two MVP awards, as he took home the honors in both 1996 and 1998. He finished in the top 10 of MVP voting three other seasons. He finished with 434 home runs and 1,404 RBI, having accrued at least 35 homers and 100 RBI in seven of his 17 seasons.

Brian Jordan -- The former NFL player hit .282 during his 15-year career, making the All-Star team in 1999. He was also a very good defensive outfielder.

Barry Larkin -- The 12-time All-Star is the most likely player to be inducted this year. He received 62.1 percent of the vote last year and doesn't really face any stiff competition from first-timers this year. He won one MVP, three Gold Gloves and nine Silver Sluggers. He also stole 379 bases while hitting 198 homers, 441 doubles and 76 triples.

Javy Lopez -- The long-time Braves catcher hit 260 home runs in his 15-year career, making three All-Star teams. He finished fifth in MVP voting and garnered a Silver Slugger after his 2003 season, in which he hit 43 homers and drove in 109 runs.

Edgar Martinez -- The seven-time All-Star is one of the greatest designated hitters of all-time. He hit .312 with a .418 OBP and .515 slugging throughout his career, all of which are outstanding. Martinez actually ranks 64th in baseball history with 66.9 offensive Wins Above Replacement (oWAR) and 34th all-time in OPS. His 514 doubles rank him 45th. But Martinez only received 32.9 percent of the vote last season, a step backward from the 36.2 percent he got in his first try. The issue is him not playing defense. We'll see how that shakes out in the coming years, but it's a huge stretch to believe he gets in this year.

Don Mattingly -- Donnie Baseball is just treading water, having received between 9.9 and 28.2 percent of the vote in his 11 years on the ballot. Longevity seems to be the issue, as he played just 14 seasons and was out of baseball by age 35. The six-time All-Star finished in the top seven of MVP voting four straight times and racked up 1,099 RBI and 1,007 runs, along with nine Gold Gloves.

Fred McGriff -- Did Crime Dog fall seven home runs short of induction? He hit 493 in his 19-year career and received only 17.9 percent of the vote last year. The five-time All-Star also racked up 1,550 RBI and a nice .886 OPS (good for a 134 OPS-plus).

Mark McGwire -- Twelve All-Star Games. One Rookie of the Year. A whopping 583 home runs. A staggering .982 OPS and 162 OPS-plus. Five top-10 MVP finishes. A World Series ring and a Gold Glove. And yet Big Mac hasn't been able to top the 23.7 percent barrier in Hall of Fame voting due to his connection to using performance-enhancing drugs during his career. The question here isn't anywhere close to performance. It's all about the performance-enhancement. If you believe he should be excluded, that's why. If you don't care about the use, you believe he should be inducted into the Hall. Period.

Jack Morris -- Morris has worked his way up to 53.5 percent of the vote as of last time around, his 12th on the ballot. Players only get 15 chances, so he's running out. Morris won 254 games and three World Series rings in his career. He finished in the top five of Cy Young voting five times and struck out 2,478 hitters. His 3.90 career ERA seems to be hurting him, though.

Bill Mueller -- Mueller won the batting title in 2003 and had a nice 11-year career.

Terry Mulholland -- He stuck around for 20 seasons, racking up over 2,500 innings pitched with 46 complete games and 10 shutouts. He was 124-142 with a 4.41 ERA.

Dale Murphy -- The seven-time All-Star and two-time MVP hit 398 homers and ended with an .815 OPS (121 OPS-plus). He also won five Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers. He hasn't been able to garner strong support with the BBWAA, though, as he had just 12.6 percent of the vote last season, his 13th on the ballot.

Phil Nevin -- The one-time All-Star hit 208 career home runs with an .814 OPS (114 OPS-plus) in his 12-year career.

Rafael Palmeiro -- Much like McGwire, Palmeiro's on-field numbers are surefire Hall material. It's not even a discussion. Unlike McGwire, however, Palmeiro failed a league-sanctioned drug test. He got only 11 percent of the vote last year.

Brad Radke -- In 12 seasons, Radke went 148-139 with a 4.22 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. He made the All-Star team in 1998.

Tim Raines -- Raines was a seven-time All-Star who hit .294 with a .385 OBP in his career. He compiled more than 2,500 hits and 1,500 runs in his 23-year career and ranks fifth all-time with 808 stolen bases. Several advanced stats loved Raines, as he ranked in the top 10 in his league in WAR seven times. Raines got 37.5 percent of the vote last season, the third straight season he's made a decent-sized jump in votes (he got 22.6 percent in 2009).

Tim Salmon -- The 1993 Rookie of the Year hit 299 homers in his 14-year career, netting MVP votes three times. He had an .884 OPS (128 OPS-plus).

Ruben Sierra -- In 20 seasons, Sierra racked up 2,152 hits, 306 homers and four All-Star appearances.

Lee Smith -- With 478 career saves, Smith was the all-time leader for a stretch, but both Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera have breezed past him, into the 600s. Smith was a seven-time All-Star and had a career 3.03 ERA.

Alan Trammell -- My colleague Scott Miller made his case for Trammell.

Larry Walker -- A five-time All-Star, seven-time Gold Glover and the 1997 MVP, Walker hit .313 with a .965 OPS (140 OPS-plus) in his 17-year career. He ended with 383 homers and over 1,300 runs and RBI. He's in the top 100 ever in WAR and 16th of all-time in OPS. Did his 10 years in hitter-friendly Colorado hurt Walker with the voting? Looks like it. He only got 20.3 percent of the vote last year.

Bernie Williams -- Five All-Star games, four Gold Gloves and a career .297 batting average look good for the long-time Yankee center fielder. He hit 287 homers and scored over 1,300 runs to go with an .858 OPS (125 OPS-plus).

Tony Womack -- The one-time All-Star hit .273/.317/.356 in his 13-year career with 363 stolen bases.

Eric Young -- EY lasted 15 seasons, racking up 465 steals and 996 runs with a .359 OBP. He made one All-Star team.

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Posted on: November 30, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Weak Hall ballot good news for Larkin

Barry Larkin

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Get your indignation ready, as the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot has been mailed to the voting member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. 

The 13 new players on the ballot this season are Bernie Williams, Bill Mueller, Ruben Sierra, Vinny Castilla, Tim Salmon, Javy Lopez, Tony Womack, Terry Mulholland, Brad Radke, Jeromy Burnitz, Brian Jordan, Eric Young and Phil Nevin. None of those really seem to have much of a chance to earn the 75 percent necessary to gain enshrinement, which is good news for Barry Larkin.

Hall of Fame

Last year Roberto Alomoar (90 percent) and Bert Blyleven (79.7 percent) got in, leaving Larkin as the highest vote-getter not to reach 75 percent. Larkin received 361 votes (62.1 percent) in his second year of eligibility, while Jack Morris (53.5 percent) was the only other player to receive at least 50 percent of the votes.

Larkin's strong showing in 2011 suggests he could get the requisite bump in his third year to get to 75 percent, but it could be close.

Players not elected can stay on the ballot for as many as 15 years, as long as they receive at least five percent of the vote.

In addition to the newcomers, Larkin and Morris, the other players on the ballot are Jeff Bagwell, Juan Gonzalez, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker.

Members of the BBWAA with 10 or more years of continuous active membership are eligible to vote, including CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler and Scott Miller.

Next year's ballot will bring more conversation and controversy, as the biggest names of the steroid era appear on the ballot, including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa, in addition to Curt Schilling and Craig Biggio. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 7:07 pm
 

Rookie award may not predict future success

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rookie of the Year awards are unique among baseball awards in that they are somewhat less about an individual year's performance as much as they are for the hope of better things to come. A Rookie of the Year win is a footnote on any Hall of Fame argument, not a bullet point. Meanwhile, any Hall of Fame argument will start with MVP wins for position players and Cy Young trophies for starting pitchers. If you have those, you have an argument, and if you won Rookie of the Year, that's nice.

Rookie of the Year
Miller
The Rookie of the Year award voting went exactly as Scott Miller predicted.
Read>>
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No, Rookie of the Year is something to dream on -- there's the potential and what a player could become based upon a solid rookie year.

Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel may end up being the best players of the 2010 rookie class, but it wouldn't be a real shock if they don't.

With that in mind, I wanted to look back on the past Rookie of the Year winners and what players had the best careers after winning the award and which ones peaked in their first year. Because this particular argument needs time for perspective, I've broken up the last 20 years in five-year increments. Below are the winners of the awards each year for both leagues, as well as their Wins Above Replacement (from Baseball-Reference.com) for both their rookie year and their career, as well as a decision on the best player in retrospect, the worst and the best duo from one year.

 

2006-2010 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2010 Neftali Feliz 2.3 5.0 Buster Posey 3.1 4.4
2009 Andrew Bailey  3.9 7.2  Chris Coghlan 2.1 2.8
2008 Evan Longoria  3.8 24.1 Geovany Soto 4.1 10.1
2007 Dustin Pedroia  4.3 24.3 Ryan Braun  1.5 21.8
2006 Justin Verlander  3.7 27.2 Hanley Ramirez  5.2 29.3

Best: This is where we need perspective -- and time. Right now it looks like you could go with any of six candidates -- Justin Verlander (AL 2006), Hanley Ramirez (NL 2006), Dustin Pedroia (AL 2007), Ryan Braun (NL 2007), Evan Longoria (AL 2008) and Buster Posey (NL 2010). In 10 years this may be easier to pick, but right now it's just way too close to call. Of the group, Ramirez has the highest career WAR.

Worst: Again, this is still way too early to call, but Chris Coghlan (NL 2009) may take this dubious honor. There's plenty of time for him to turn it around, but he finished 2011 hitting .230 at Triple-A New Orleans.

Best duo: Another toss-up -- 2006 had Ramirez and Verlander, while 2007 featured Pedroia and Braun. Check back in 10 years and this may seem to be an easier choice, but right now it's too close to call.



2001-2005 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2005 Huston Street 3.2 10.7 Ryan Howard 2.4 23.1
2004 Bobby Crosby 1.4 5.0 Jason Bay  2.2 19.7
2003  Angel Berroa 4.0 3.3 Dontrelle Willis 3.7 13.0
2002 Eric Hinske  4.0 10.3 Jason Jennings 1.7 7.4
2001 Ichiro Suzuki 7.6 54.5 Albert Pujols 6.9 88.7

Best: Albert Pujols (NL 2001). He may be the best player of our generation and best right-handed hitter of all time. With apologies to Ichiro Suzuki (AL 2001) and Ryan Howard (NL 2005), it's Pujols and it's not close.

Worst: Oh, Angel Berroa (AL 2003). Acquired in the deal that sent Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to Oakland, Berroa last appeared in the big leagues in 2009. The Royals shortstop won the award over Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli and Hideki Matsui, earning the scorn of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. 

Best duo: Pujols and Suzuki would be a heck of a Hall of Fame class, not to mention a rookie class. Suzuki won not only the Rookie of the Year in 2001, he also took home the American League MVP.

 

1996-2000 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
2000 Kazuhiro Sasaki 1.5 4.0 Rafael Furcal 3.6 33.1
1999 Carlos Beltran  4.4 60.8 Scott Williamson  2.7 8.2
1998  Ben Grieve 2.5 6.7 Kerry Wood 3.7 24.9
1997 Nomar Garciaparra  5.9 42.5  Scott Rolen 4.5 66.2
1996 Derek Jeter 2.6 70.4  Todd Hollandsworth 1.3 6.5

Best: Scott Rolen (NL 1997) and Carlos Beltran (AL 1999) have had fantastic careers, but Derek Jeter (AL 1996) is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a baseball icon. Jeter also has the highest career WAR among the group of rookies.

Worst: This one is tough, if you guy by WAR, it's Kazuhiro Sasaki (AL 2000), who had just a 4.0 career WAR. However, Sasaki was 32 when he started in the United States and played just four seasons in the majors. In addition to his Rookie of the Year, he made the All-Star team in 2001 and 2002, recording 129 saves in four seasons. I'm going to take Ben Grieve (AL 1998) slightly over Todd Hollandsworth (NL 1996) based solely on Hollandsworth holding on longer (12 years to nine) and finding his late-career niche as a pinch hitter, while Grieve did appear in the majors after his 30th birthday -- and just 17 after his 29th birthday.

Best duo: How about Rolen and Nomar Garciaparra (AL 1997)? Garciapparra never quite lived up to the rival to Alex Rodriguez and Jeter as the greatest shortstop of his generation, but he was in the conversation for a time there. While each year from 1996-2000 had at least one pretty good pick, 1997 was the only one to produce two players that finished with double-digit career WAR.



1991-1996 Rookie of the Year
Year AL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR NL ROY ROY WAR Career WAR
1995 Marty Cordova 3.0 6.4 Hideo Nomo 4.5 50.6
1994  Bob Hamelin 2.5 2.4 Raul Mondesi  2.2 27.2
1993  Tim Salmon 5.2 37.6  Mike Piazza 7.0 59.1 
1992 Pat Listach  4.5 3.9  Eric Karros 0.3 9.0
1991  Chuck Knoblauch 2.3 41.2 Jeff Bagwell 4.7 79.9

Best: WAR likes Jeff Bagwell (NL 1991), the Hall of Fame will like Mike Piazza (1993). Either way, it's tough to go wrong. Unlike the Hall of Fame voters, I'll take Bagwell over Piazza, but can see both sides of the argument. I"m in the camp that Bagwell is one of the more underrated players of his generation. 

Worst: Yet again, the award goes to a Royal. Bob Hamelin (AL 1994) had a 2.5 WAR in his rookie year and 2.4 for his career. Pat Listach (AL 1992) also has a lower career WAR (3.9) than single-season WAR for his rookie season (3.9), but the be speckled Hamelin did less in his career than Listach, even if most of Listach's value came from his rookie season.

Best duo: Again it comes down to the 1993 choices (Piazza, Tim Salmon) and 1991 (Bagwell, Chuck Knoblauch), with 1991 taking the crown. Knoblauch and Salmon both had good careers, with Knoblauch winning four rings and Salmon one. Knoblacuh was a four-time All-Star, Salmon never appeared in the game. Knoblauch also won a Gold Glove, despite his woes throwing later in his career. Going by WAR, the 1991 duo beats the 1993 pair, 121.1-96.7.

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Posted on: April 8, 2011 6:08 pm
 

No call from the Hall coming for Manny

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Manny RamirezManny Ramirez, meet Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Pete Rose and Joe Jackson -- you guys will forever be known as Hall of Shamers with Hall of Fame numbers.

In January, the Baseball Writers Association of America sent a clear message when Palmeiro received just 11 percent of the vote, despite having both 3,020 hits and 569 home runs. He is the only eligible player with 3,000 hits not in the Hall of Fame (noting Rose is not eligible). And of the 25 players with 500 career home runs, 17 are eligible for the Hall of Fame with only Palmeiro and McGwire are not in the Hall.

Ramirez doesn't have 3,000 hits, but his 555 career homers and .312/.411/.585 slash line and 154 OPS+ over 19 seasons appealed to the more stat-orientated voters, while his "presence" and "fear he put in pitchers" appeal to those who apply the eye test to voting. 

Add to his numbers, he also hit 29 postseason home runs and was the 2004 World Series MVP as the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino, so he even wins the Jack Morris voters over.

However, the activist voters have kept out not only Palmeiro, who like Ramirez, served a suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, out of the Hall of Fame, but also those assumed to have taken PEDs (McGwire) and even  those that only had the slightest rumors of PEDs attached to their name (Jeff Bagwell).

It seemed like even the constant excuse making that "Manny being Manny" was even going to get him some votes from those who wouldn't excuse Palmeiro or McGwire's transgressions and make his candidacy at least interesting when his name finally appeared on the ballot.

I called up one voter who had covered Ramirez today to ask him if this changes his vote. Well, it didn't change it, but did solidify it.

"I would have had a hard time reconciling his first suspension -- I know the argument that it's so widespread and you don't know who did and who didn't -- to me, he was caught and he was clearly cheating at the time, not only was it illegal and against the rules," the voter said. "I would have had a hard time voting for him before today. The fact that it happened again, I wouldn't vote for him now. It solidifies my feeling. WIth the steroids out of the question, he was a no-doubt Hall of Famer. He was one of the two or three best hitters I'd ever seen, but I won't vote for him now."

This voter, it should be noted, did vote for Bagwell but not McGwire or Palmeiro.

In the end, Ramirez may end up being one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball history, but he'll end up busted instead of with a bust in Cooperstown.

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Posted on: January 5, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2011 5:33 am
 

Blyleven debate ended with trip to HOF

Bert Blyleven This year's Hall of Fame vote signals the end of the great Bert Blyleven debate, as the right-hander finally got in to the Hall of Fame.

It was long a debate that had grown old and, thankfully for Blyleven, ended in what is his rightful place in Cooperstown.

Blyleven's case shows the power of the internet and its influence on what is a membership slow to movement, the BBWAA electorate. Blyleven started with 17 percent of the vote in his first year of the vote and 15 percent in the second, all the way to more than the required 75 percent this season, his 14th year on the ballot.

Maybe that's a bit of hope for the likes of Barry Larkin, Tim Raines and Alan Trammell, but the "was he good enough" debate has officially become passé.

With the exclusion of Jeff Bagwell and Rafael Palmeiro, the BBWAA voters are now voting on morality over baseball.

I'm as big of a supporter of the BBWAA and its election as anyone you'll find without a vote. In its defense, I offer only the Gold Gloves (voted on by coaches and managers), All-Star starters (fans) and the Veteran's Committee for the Hall of Fame which has kept Marvin Miller out. But on this latest test, the BBWAA voters have failed.

Jeff Bagwell has no-doubt Hall of Fame numbers, he also has the aura so many ask for in their voting. When he was at the plate, he didn't look out of place in Cooperstown. Instead, he's on the outside because of suspicions, not facts. As journalists, we are supposed to write what we can prove. Nobody has been able to prove anything about Bagwell other than what he produced on the field.

Jeff Bagwell For too many writers, the voting is based too much on their own insecurities for how they did their job. They wish they'd been able to break the big story -- or even look good in retrospect by throwing out a suspicion -- and are using that to now stand a ground, despite having no ground on which to stand.

Things will get even more interesting next year, as those focused on the Blyleven case will shift their focus to the suspected steroid users. There's no real compelling first-year eligible players next season (Bernie Williams, who will not be elected, is the biggest new name on the ballot), so it seems like the year that Larkin will be enshrined and we could even see great gains by the likes of Trammell and Raines. But that won't be the story.

Instead, we'll be looking at Palmeiro and Bagwell as test cases for the 2013 first-year nominees in Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa. If this year's voting is a guide, the Hall of Fame will be without some of its greatest players in the next 20 years. Bonds and Clemens, in the discussion for the greatest of all time, could be left in the cold with Pete Rose signing autographs outside the Hall of Fame instead of having their picture hanging in it.

As Rose has found, a simple admission of guilt won't do. The voters want to serve as judge and jury, sentencing some of the best players of all time to a future without the Hall of Fame. Mark McGwire was judged for the first time since he admitted his steroid use last January. He went from 128 votes (23.5 percent) of the votes in his first year of eligibility in 2007 to 128 votes (23.7 percent) last season. This year his vote total went down, to 19.8 percent. Palmeiro -- one of just four players with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs -- garnered just 11 percent of the vote, while "whispers" kept Bagwell to 41.7 percent.

As tiresome as the Blyleven/Jack Morris debate had become it's about to get more contentious.

Here's the final voting
Name Votes Pct.
Roberto Alomar 523 90.0%
Bert Blyleven 463 79.7%
Barry Larkin 361 62.1%
Jack Morris 311 53.5%
Lee Smith 263 45.3%
Jeff Bagwell 242 41.7%
Tim Raines 218 37.5%
Edgar Martinez 191 32.9%
Alan Trammell 141 24.3%
Larry Walker 118 20.3%
Mark McGwire 115 19.8%
Fred McGriff 104 17.9%
Dave Parker 89 15.3%
Don Mattingly 79 13.6%
Dale Murphy 73 12.6%
Rafael Palmeiro 64 11.0%
Juan Gonzalez 30 5.2%
Harold Baines 28 4.8%
John Franco 27 4.6%
Kevin Brown 12 2.1%
Tino Martinez 6 1.0%
Marquis Grissom 4 0.7%
Al Leiter 4 0.7%
John Olerud 4 0.7%
B.J. Surhoff 2 0.3%
Bret Boone 1 0.2%
Benito Santiago 1 0.2%
Carlos Baerga 0 0.0%
Lenny Harris 0 0.0%
Bobby Higginson 0 0.0%
Charles Johnson 0 0.0%
Raul Mondesi 0 0.0%
Kirk Rueter 0 0.0%



-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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