Only one middle infielder passes the revamped JAWS' standards for Hall of Fame induction.
The past year has been a great one for JAWS, the Hall of Fame evaluation system whose creation marked my first contribution to Baseball Prospectus back in 2004 (I didn't name it until the next go-round). In 2011, two overly qualified candidates for whom I've advocated for the better part of a decade were finally elected. In January, Bert Blylevenreceived 79.7 percentof the Baseball Writers of America vote, becoming the first player ever to gain entry on his 14th ballot. In December, the late Ron Santoreceived 93.8 percent of the vote from the Golden Era committee, a bittersweet result given his passing just a year ago but a vindication of what we've known here for years, that he too was worthy of a bronze plaque.
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How well do the players on the Golden Era ballot stack up to Hall of Fame standards?
The Hall of Fame's Golden Era ballot has been out since November 3, offering 10 familiar names from the 1947-1972 era for Cooperstown consideration. This isn't the Veterans Committee anymore; when last year's reforms were announced, the words "Veterans Committee" were conspicuously omitted from all press releases. Rather, it's the second of three Era Committees to get its turn at bat, following last year's Expansion Era Committee, which voted on players from the 1973-1989 period and managers, umpires, and executives from 1973 to the present. Theoretically, next year’s panel will consider candidates from the Pre-Integration period (1871-1946), but the Hall has changed the rules so often lately that all bets are off.
A series of questionable moves, bloopers, and blown calls to the bullpen were pertinent in the outcome of Game Five.
Given not only his history but the clinic in bullpen management that Tony La Russa put on in the NLCS, it’s difficult to believe that he could wind up botching a situation as badly as he did in the eighth inning of Monday's Game Five of the World Series. But thanks to a miscommunication between the Cardinals' dugout and their bullpen, a manager who has spent his career chasing the platoon advantage ad nauseam was left with lefty Marc Rzepczynski facing righty Mike Napoli with the bases loaded and one out. Meanwhile, the pitcher he wanted to face the Rangers' best hitter at the game’s pivotal moment wasn't even warmed up. Napoli, whose three-run homer had broken the game open the night before, pounded a double off the right-center field wall, breaking a 2-2 tie and helping the Rangers take a 3-2 lead in the Series.
Craig Counsell has been in a bit of a slump lately. Okay, maybe that undersells it a little. Counsell is 0 for his last 45 at-bats. His last hit came a couple months back, on June 10. Another hitless at-bat will tie him with Bill Bergen of the 1909 Brooklyn Superbas for the longestknown streak of hitless at-bats by a position player.
In his fifth Asian Equation column, Michael looks at the relievers who have enjoyed modest success--and failure--making the move from Japan to America.
The last group in my analysis of the player’s who have migrated to MLB from Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) are the relievers, the least appreciated members of a successful baseball team. Yet, of all NPB imports, they have been the most numerous (explaining the length of this article, for which I apologize in advance) and the cheapest. Diminished quality is the most obvious reason for these extremes, since starters who don’t meet MLB standards get shifted to the bullpen, and lesser talents also keep salaries down. Additionally, the typical NPB pitcher’s arsenal matches well with an MLB reliever’s skillset.
As I discussed in my last Asian Equation article, NPB is a breaking ball league, which translates better to relief than starting. A good breaking ball might fool major league hitters the first or second time they see it in a game, but it probably won’t the third or fourth time. As an illustration, here’s how batter OPS rises against two of the biggest NPB starting-pitcher busts as compared with three current MLB pitchers: the best, the most mediocre, and an old junkballer. While MLB batters’ performance improves against each pitcher the more times they see him in a game, the change is far more dramatic with Matsuzaka and Kawakami.
One Hall of Fame-caliber outfielder is taking his act to the Bay area, while a questionable Hall case may be looking at his release papers.
The Carlos Beltran era of Mets history came to an unceremonious end on Thursday, when the Mets and Giants agreed on a trade that that sent the resurgent slugger to the Bay Area in exchange for pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. On his way out of town, Beltran has been cast as a symbol of the Omar Minaya regime's failures; as news of the trade broke, more than one national writer returned to his 2006 National League Championship Series-ending strikeout as a frozen moment that defines not only his legacy in Queens, but also some weakness of character. Hardly a farewell befitting a Hall of Fame-caliber player.