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December 8, 2010

One-Hoppers

Joining the Club

by Jay Jaffe

Shortly after 10 AM on Tuesday, Christina Kahrl called me from the Winter Meetings in Orlando to relay the news that I’ve been voted into the Baseball Writers Association of America. "Congratulations!" she said and got an earful of stunned silence, so she said it again.

"I'm in?"

"You're in!"

I was aware that BP had nominated me for membership, had been aware for an entire year that this was a possibility, but I never let myself dwell on it too long, just in case it didn't happen — a natural defense mechanism based upon so many credential requests turned down over the years. I spent most of Tuesday on cloud nine, happy to share the news with family and friends, and gratified by the outpouring of well-wishes from those who reached out via my blog and Twitter as well as here. Even so, I was soon back at work, frenetically pounding out a piece on the latest turn in the Dodgers' case as I tried to maintain some kind of focus during what is invariably my busiest time of year. One brief celebration with close friends and a much-needed good night's sleep later, I'm happy to report that I'm still on cloud nine.

There is a fair bit of of irony in my joining the very institution I've spent so much of the past 10 years (seven at BP) critiquing and occasionally ridiculing, particularly when it comes to the area of expertise that brought me here, namely the Hall of Fame voting. But it's also important to note that the BBWAA has evolved, too. In the time that I've been writing about the Hall, we've seen Bert Blyleven go from ballot afterthought to likely inductee, and in the time since the BBWAA began admitting web-based writers — just three short years ago — we've seen the AL Cy Young award go to Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez despite lower win totals than better-supported candidates on better teams.

It's still tough to believe that it was just two years ago that colleagues Christina Kahrl and Will Carroll gained entry to the BBWAA, along with BP alum Keith Law and longstanding friend of BP Rob Neyer. So I'll reiterate today what I said yesterday: I'm standing on the shoulders of giants in reaching this plateau, and I'm deeply grateful for the support and encouragement of all of my colleagues at Baseball Prospectus, past and present, in helping me get here. I'd also like to thank those within this little niche of web-based baseball analysis – both at BP and beyond – who gained admission before me and showed that the world would not end if VORP, WARP and other advanced metrics entered awards discussions, nor if we ourselves entered major league press boxes and clubhouses to expand the sphere of our work.

And thank you, dear readers. I offer my most heartfelt thanks and gratitude to you for reading me here, and at Pinstriped Bible, and at my own Futility Infielder site. Without your feedback and encouragement, I’d have never gotten very far down this path. In the past day and a half, I've been overwhelmed by the reminder that so many of you are out there, and that you care, and I’m incredibly touched by your well-wishes. Rest assured that so long as I am a member of the BBWAA — long enough, I hope, to gain the privilege of filling out a Hall of Fame ballot — I will remember the humble roots from which that privilege sprouted, and the examples of those who blazed this unlikely trail before me.

Meanwhile, congratulations are certainly in order to fellow BBWAA entrant and BP colleague David Laurila, who's either too busy reporting from the winter meetings or too modest to bask in his own moment of well-deserved glory, or both. David's intrepidness in tracking down his interview subjects is a trait I envy and would do well to cultivate. Now that he's got even more access than before, I expect more great Q&A's from him, and I'm proud to join the ranks of the organization alongside him.

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jay's other articles. You can contact Jay by clicking here

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