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Writers didn't want to induct anybody into the Hall of Fame this year, a decision with no small consequences.

The writers struck out looking. They were lobbed a fat pitch over the heart of the plate and they failed to even take a swing at it. Defenders will note, correctly, that it isn’t the ninth inning. But it was the last at-bat of the eighth, and they face an exceedingly difficult challenge in coming back to win this thing.

The biggest takeaway is that there is a sizable contingent of voters who will refuse to vote for any player, no matter how qualified, if there’s the barest taint of steroids on him, up to and including “playing the majority of his career after 1993.” Many will cast this as a referendum on Bonds and Clemens, two of the sports’ greatest stars who ended up in legal hot water over the use of performance-enhancing drugs. But a litany of deserving players, including Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza, and others, have been punished too, with little more than hearsay to incriminate them. This was a well stocked ballot, filled with newcomers with impressive resumes and a handful of players (like Raines and Trammell) who have been sadly overlooked. It’s easy for even a seasoned analyst to find himself having to trim his list to meet the 10-player limit established by the voting process.

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AChange.org petition to ask the Hall of Fame Board of Directors to change their voting process

I know the results from the latest Hall of Fame voting aren’t in yet, but it’s already clear that the process is deeply flawed. It was always imperfect, but its flaws are now deep, possibly mortal. The voting process is not equipped to handle the messy challenges of our day, and the Hall of Fame is suffering as a result.

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A look at contemporary accounts from Mike Piazza's early career.

With the Hall of Fame announcement scheduled for this week, now is a good time to look back at the early careers of some of this year's most talked-about nominees. (And with the early exit polls looking as they do, it might be nice to remember just how great some of these players were.) Let's take a look back at some contemporary accounts of Mike Piazza's at-one-time obvious Hall of Fame career.

It's a famous story now that Piazza was drafted in the 62nd round and only as a favor to Los Angeles manager (and Piazza's godfather) Tommy Lasorda. It's a catchy story, after all. A man drafted that low isn't expected to amount to much of anything, let alone become a twelve-time All-Star or the career leader in home runs for a catcher. Today, for example, the draft doesn't even go to 62 rounds.

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Was Mike Piazza one of the best defensive catchers ever? How does catcher defense age? What effect do managers have on their pitching staffs, and do former catchers really make the best skippers? And how good was Leo Mazzone, really?

The best pitcher handlers since 1948
As I promised a couple of weeks ago, I’m going to take a look at the catchers who were best at handling their pitching staffs going back to 1948, the first year for which sufficient Retrosheet data is available.

I won’t describe my methods again here, since you can look at my previous article if you need a refresher. Suffice it to say that a With-Or-Without-You approach has been used here, and that the effect of the pitcher, batter, ballpark, and defense has been removed in order to evaluate that of the catcher.

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February 21, 2012 3:00 am

Western Front: Runs? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Runs!


Geoff Young

Given their overturned offense, will the 2012 Giants be able to improve their won-loss record from 2011?

Not long ago, while discussing the anemic offense of last year's Mariners, we noted that 10 MLB teams scored fewer than four runs per game in 2011. Only two of those teams finished with a winning record. The San Francisco Giants represented the most extreme case; they won 86 games despite having the National League's worst offense.

That got me to thinking: How often has the team with the NL's worst offense finished with a winning record? The answer may come as a surprise.

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Everything you ever wanted to know about the lost art of pinch running, past, present, and future.

With the help of Mat Kovach and Retrosheet, pinch running statistics in the last 50 years have now been compiled, along with leaderboards for seasons, lifetime, and most times removed, along with team and manager statistics. (E-mail me if you want this.) In compiling all this information, a few things jump out from the statistics, and so here are the highlights of pinch running statistics.

Motorin': The Best of the Best

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August 10, 2006 12:00 am

A Night at Shea


Alex Belth

Guest writer Alex Belth caught last night's Padres-Mets game, and details Mike Piazza's second game at Shea with the Friars.

It was an uncommonly pleasant night in New York, absolutely ideal for a game in mid-May or June, never mind August. The air was clean, with little to no humidity. A steady breeze swept through the open ballpark for the duration of the evening. There were more Piazza jerseys in the crowd than any other current Met, and the Padres' catcher, rounder in the face since he left New York, received ovations whenever he stepped onto the field. A crowd just shy of 50,000 came to their feet when Piazza led off the second inning. Pedro Martinez dispatched him on four pitches, catching him looking at a beautiful curve ball for strike three--and Piazza was showered with cheers as he returned to the dugout.

But the fun was just starting. Piazza threw the fans for a loop in the bottom of the inning when Endy Chavez reached first base. Two middle-aged men with New York accents straight out of Damon Runyon sat in field box seats down the third base line. One said, "This guy is running here. They can steal all day off Piazza." Sure enough, Chavez took off for second, but to the surprise of nearly every paying customer in the joint, Piazza's throw nailed him by plenty.

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Derek catches a SoCal interleague Father's Day special, and gets his take on Bartolo Colon's return to action.

The Angels, on the other hand, are in last place, six games out of first place in the AL West, and six games under .500. The team has made the postseason three out of the last four years, but now stands in the awkward position of trying to decide if it's time to fish or cut bait. All season long, prospects who seem to be the future of this franchise have gotten call-ups to fill in or back up when the big club's veterans have faltered. Already, guys like Howie Kendrick (#5 on our top prospects list) Kendry Morales (#26 on our list) and Erick Aybar (#50) have gotten time on the major league roster. Only Morales has seen significant playing time in The Show, but the question lingering over the Angels' season has been when do you give up, deal the veterans, and put things in the prospects' hands?

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November 7, 2001 12:00 am

Staff Ballots


Baseball Prospectus

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The full results of the voting are in.

Welcome to the festivities!

We're here to announce the winners of the 8th Annual Internet Baseball Awards. Over 700 knowledgeable cyberspace baseball fans - a new record - participated in this effort to select the baseball players whose 1999 seasons were most deserving of honors.

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Placed LHP Allen Watson on the 15-day DL (strained elbow); recalled 3B/1B Frank Bolick from Vancouver. [5/24]

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