If I Had a Vote in the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame Election

If I Had a Vote in the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame Election
23 Dec
2015
Not in Hall of Fame

Index

As we gear up for the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting and announcements, the overriding question is: Have we returned to normal?

To put that into perspective, how's this for abnormal? In 2013, with a ballot overstuffed with Hall of Fame-caliber candidates (I counted 14), not one candidate was elected to the Hall. Adding to the debacle was the first appearance on a Hall of Fame ballot by Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both of whom brought the bubbling issue of players suspected or confirmed of having used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to an apoplectic, moralistic boil.

At least the 2014 vote by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) elected three players to the Hall: Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Frank Thomas, each elected in his first year of eligibility. The first two were pitchers who were not power pitchers but who instead worked by craft and guile (and who just happened to be career 300-game winners), while hulking, slugging Thomas was an outspoken critic of PEDs and an advocate for stricter drug testing. In other words, and in case it had not been clear in previous years, Hall of Fame voting was also a referendum on PEDs.

That viewpoint was reinforced as Rafael Palmeiro, only the fourth hitter in Major League history to combine at least 3000 hits with at least 500 home runs, failed to garner at least five percent of the vote needed to remain on the ballot. In his fourth ballot appearance, Palmeiro netted just 25 votes, or 4.4 percent of the total, as his Hall of Fame fate now lies with a future Expansion Era Committee (or whatever a veterans committee of the future is going to be called); Palmeiro's best showing on a BBWAA ballot was 12.6 percent in 2012.

By the way, the first three members of the 3000-hit-and-500-home run club, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murray, were all elected in their first year of eligibility. Could it be that once Palmeiro joined the club, the novelty had worn off? Not likely. And let's recall that during the 2015 regular season, Alex Rodriguez joined this elite club when he collected his 3000th hit, but as Rodriguez is the owner of the longest single suspension for violating drug policy, his fate on a future BBWAA ballot does not look promising given the current PEDs opprobrium. Or does it? We'll explore that below.

In any event, the 2015 vote elected four candidates into the Hall of Fame: Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz. Johnson, Martinez, and Smoltz were elected in their first year of eligibility while Biggio, a member of the 3000-hit club, had to wait two years before getting the nod, with the 2014 vote being particularly galling—Biggio collected 74.8 percent of the vote, two votes shy of election.

Those four 2015 inductees, which marked only the fifth time since voting began in 1936 that the writers had voted for four or more candidates in a single year, helped to alleviate the other pressing issue with the ballot—the logjam of qualified candidates that has persisted for the last few years and that could still be an issue over the next few years.

And what has the board of directors of the Baseball Hall of Fame done to address the perceived issues with the ballot? Last year the board introduced two changes. The first was the prohibition regarding a voter's transferring his or her ballot to another person or entity under penalty of a lifetime ban from voting on a Hall of Fame ballot (for more on why it did that, Google "Dan le Batard Deadspin"). The second change reduced the length of time a candidate can remain on a Hall of Fame ballot from 15 years to 10 years. (Candidates must still collect at least five percent of the vote in any given year to remain on the ballot, and candidates at or past the ten-year mark when the change was enacted have been grandfathered to the previous 15-year limitation.)

This year, the BBWAA proposed increasing the number of candidates a voter could select from 10 to 12. The proposal was an acknowledgement of the crowded ballot, and although it was merely an incremental change, the board rejected the proposal anyway. However, the board did implement one change: It declared that voters who have not actively written about baseball within the last 10 years are now ineligible to vote. This is a positive step as criticism has been ongoing, even among fellow voters, that voters who are distanced from the sport are not qualified to evaluate legacy; the action reduces the voting pool from a little less than 600 to 475.

Reducing eligibility length and refusing to increase the number of candidates who can be voted upon could alleviate ballot logjam—but not necessarily in a positive manner: Candidates, particularly qualified ones, could simply be eliminated from the ballot through term limitation, leaving the question of legacy determination to a future Expansion Era Committee—in essence, tossing the problem over the wall to the next bunch of guys, who have a checkered track record in the legacy department in any case.

But with the election of seven Hall of Famers in the last two years, have we managed to break some of that logjam on the ballot? Put another way, are we returning to "normal," with "normal" referring to many previous years in which there were at most a handful of truly qualified candidates, over whom voters did not have to spend sleepless nights wondering whom to include and whom to exclude? And if voting statistics from the past two years are any indication, voters are looking hard at candidates: In 2014, about 50 percent of the ballots cast had all ten voting slots filled, while in 2015 that percentage rose a tick to 51 percent, with voters averaging 8.4 candidates per ballot. So, will the 2016 ballot be any easier than in recent years?

Probably not. Although the 2016 ballot contains only one first-timer whose Hall of Fame candidacy is hardly in question, Ken Griffey, Jr., and only one first-timer whose election should be a foregone conclusion but may not turn out to be, Trevor Hoffman, and only two first-timers who are seriously on the bubble, Jim Edmonds and Billy Wagner, there is the nagging issue of the 17 holdovers from previous ballots. Several of those holdovers are qualified for the Hall of Fame—with two of those, Mark McGwire and Alan Trammell, on a BBWAA ballot for the final time, and two more, Tim Raines and Lee Smith, facing that fate next year if they don't get elected this year (or, improbably, receive less than five percent of the vote this year).

No, although the results of the 2014 and 2015 ballots went a long way toward easing the ballot logjam, it will take similar results for the next couple of years at least to winnow that ballot to a "normal" state. Of course, many voters have simplified the process by simply eliminating any player with known or suspected associations with PEDs, which would alleviate the logjam significantly even if it does nothing to address the PEDs issue beyond arbitrary and possibly misguided punishment.

Roger Clemens
Will Roger Clemens remain a poster child for performance-enhancing drugs on the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot?

With that in mind, let's examine what the 475 BBWAA voters had to contemplate—and complete—by December 21, with the results to be announced on January 6, 2016.

Candidates for the 2016 Hall of Fame Ballot

For the 2016 ballot, there are 32 total candidates, 17 returning candidates from previous ballots and 15 first-time-eligible candidates. The returning candidates have garnered at least five percent of the vote last year (the minimum percentage required to remain eligible) and they have not exceeded their 10th year on the ballot; the exceptions are Lee Smith and Alan Trammell, both of whom had been grandfathered as a result of last year's rule change from 15 years to 10 years, although this is Trammell's final year on the ballot regardless of the outcome. Last year, Don Mattingly faced his 15th and final year on a BBWAA ballot.

The remaining returning candidates are Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, and Larry Walker.

The 15 first-time candidates are Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Luis Castillo, David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds, Troy Glaus, Ken Griffey, Jr., Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Hampton, Trevor Hoffman, Jason Kendall, Mike Lowell, Mike Sweeney, Billy Wagner, and Randy Winn.

The following two tables list the 32 candidates on the 2016 ballot, first the 25 position players, and then the 7 pitchers. They are ranked by their career Wins Above Replacement from Baseball Reference (bWAR) along with other representative qualitative statistics (explained below each table).

Here are the 25 position players on the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot, ranked by bWAR. First-time candidates are marked in bold italic.

Position Players on the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot, Ranked by bWAR

Position Player

Slash Line

wOBA

bWAR

fWAR

OPS+

wRC+

Bonds, Barry

.298/.444/.607

.435

162.4

164.0

182

173

Griffey, Jr., Ken

.284/.370/.538

.384

83.6

77.7

136

131

Bagwell, Jeff

.297/.408/.540

.405

79.6

80.3

149

149

Walker, Larry

.313/.400/.565

.412

72.6

68.9

141

140

Trammell, Alan

.285/.352/.415

.343

70.4

63.7

110

111

Raines, Tim

.294/.385/.425

.361

69.1

66.4

123

125

Martinez, Edgar

.312/.418/.515

.405

68.3

65.6

147

147

McGwire, Mark

.263/.394/.588

.415

62.0

66.3

163

157

Edmonds, Jim

.284/.376/.527

.385

60.3

64.5

132

132

Sheffield, Gary

.292/.393/.514

.391

60.2

62.4

140

141

Piazza, Mike

.308/.377/.545

.390

59.4

63.5

143

140

Sosa, Sammy

.273/.344/.534

.370

58.4

60.3

128

124

Kent, Jeff

.290/.356/.500

.367

55.2

56.4

123

123

McGriff, Fred

.284/.377/.509

.383

52.4

57.1

134

134

Garciaparra, Nomar

.313/.361/.521

.376

44.2

41.5

124

124

Kendall, Jason

.288/.366/.378

.334

41.5

39.8

95

99

Glaus, Troy

.254/.358/.489

.365

37.9

34.4

119

120

Castillo, Luis

.290/.368/.351

.327

28.9

28.4

92

97

Winn, Randy

.284/.343/.416

.333

27.5

28.1

99

100

Grudzielanek, Mark

.289/.332/.393

.320

26.3

23.2

90

91

Anderson, Garret

.293/.324/.461

.334

25.6

24.0

102

100

Lowell, Mike

.279/.342/.464

.346

24.8

26.0

108

108

Sweeney, Mike

.297/.366/.486

.366

24.7

21.1

118

117

Eckstein, David

.280/.345/.355

.316

20.8

16.8

87

92

Ausmus, Brad

.251/.325/.344

.299

16.4

17.2

75

76

Slash Line: Grouping of the player's career batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
wOBA: Weighted on-base average as calculated by FanGraphs. Weighs singles, extra-base hits, walks, and hits by pitch; generally, .400 is excellent and .320 is league-average.
bWAR: Career Wins Above Replacement as calculated by Baseball Reference.
fWAR: Career Wins Above Replacement as calculated by FanGraphs.
OPS+: Career on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, league- and park-adjusted, as calculated by Baseball Reference. Positively indexed to 100, with a 100 OPS+ indicating a league-average player, and values above 100 indicating the degrees better a player is than a league-average player.
wRC+: Career weighted Runs Created, league- and park-adjusted, as calculated by FanGraphs. Positively indexed to 100, with a 100 wRC+ indicating a league-average player, and values above 100 indicating the degrees better a player is than a league-average player.

Here are the seven pitchers on the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot, ranked by bWAR. First-time candidates are marked in bold italic.

Pitchers on the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot, Ranked by bWAR

Pitcher

W-L (S), ERA

bWAR

fWAR

ERA+

ERA–

FIP–-

Clemens, Roger

354–184, 3.12

140.3

139.5

143

70

70

Mussina, Mike

270–153, 3.68

83.0

82.5

123

82

81

Schilling, Curt

216–146 (22), 3.46

79.9

83.2

127

80

74

Smith, Lee

71–92 (478), 3.03

29.6

27.3

132

76

74

Hoffman, Trevor

61–75 (601), 2.87

28.0

26.1

141

71

73

Wagner, Billy

47–40 (422), 2.31

27.7

24.2

187

54

63

Hampton, Mike

148–115 (1), 4.06

20.8

28.0

107

94

99

W-L (S), ERA: Grouping of the pitcher's career win-loss record (and career saves, if applicable) and career earned run average (ERA).
bWAR: Career Wins Above Replacement as calculated by Baseball Reference.
fWAR: Career Wins Above Replacement as calculated by FanGraphs.
ERA+: Career ERA, league- and park-adjusted, as calculated by Baseball Reference. Positively indexed to 100, with a 100 ERA+ indicating a league-average pitcher, and values above 100 indicating the degrees better a pitcher is than a league-average pitcher.
ERA-: Career ERA, league- and park-adjusted, as calculated by FanGraphs. Negatively indexed to 100, with a 100 ERA- indicating a league-average pitcher, and values below 100 indicating the degrees better a pitcher is than a league-average pitcher.
FIP-: Fielding-independent pitching, a pitcher's ERA with his fielders' impact factored out, league- and park-adjusted, as calculated by FanGraphs. Negatively indexed to 100, with a 100 FIP- indicating a league-average pitcher, and values below 100 indicating the degrees better a pitcher is than a league-average pitcher.

The table below combines both position players and pitchers into a ranking by bWAR with their fWAR values also listed. First-time candidates are marked in bold italic.

All 2015 Hall of Fame Candidates, Ranked by bWAR

Rank

Player

bWAR

fWAR

1

Bonds, Barry

162.4

164.0

2

Clemens, Roger

140.3

139.5

3

Griffey, Jr., Ken

83.6

77.7

4

Mussina, Mike

83.0

82.5

5

Schilling, Curt

79.9

83.2

6

Bagwell, Jeff

79.5

80.3

7

Walker, Larry

72.6

69.0

8

Trammell, Alan

70.3

63.7

9

Raines, Tim

69.1

66.4

10

Martinez, Edgar

68.3

65.6

11

McGwire, Mark

62.0

66.3

12

Edmonds, Jim

60.3

64.5

13

Sheffield, Gary

60.2

62.4

14

Piazza, Mike

59.2

63.6

15

Sosa, Sammy

58.4

60.4

16

Kent, Jeff

55.2

56.6

17

McGriff, Fred

52.6

57.2

18

Garciaparra, Nomar

44.2

41.5

19

Kendall, Jason

41.5

39.8

20

Glaus, Troy

37.9

34.4

21

Smith, Lee

29.6

27.3

22

Castillo, Luis

28.9

28.4

23

Hoffman, Trevor

28.0

26.1

24

Wagner, Billy

27.7

24.2

25

Winn, Randy

27.5

28.1

26

Grudzielanek, Mark

26.3

23.2

27

Anderson, Garret

25.6

24.0

28

Lowell, Mike

24.8

26.0

29

Sweeney, Mike

24.7

21.1

30

Hampton, Mike

20.8

28.0

31

Eckstein, David

20.8

16.8

32

Ausmus, Brad

16.4

17.2


As with previous assessments that use WAR as a ranking tool, WAR is not the be-all-and-end-all statistic although it is a fair assessment of player value: It measures a player's contribution to his team's wins, and it is the only qualitative statistic that enables comparison between position players and pitchers.

As a rough rule of thumb, position players and starting pitchers with a bWAR of 60 or more typically garner serious consideration for the Hall while relief pitchers generate the same consideration at 25 or more. Players with a bWAR of between 50 and 60 do tend to sit on the bubble, with many other factors deciding whether they are legitimate Hall of Famers. But on another packed ballot that allows 10 choices at most—this year, as in previous years, voters face some hard decisions that will need to encompass several aspects of a player' career.

Barry Bonds
Off the charts statistically, will Barry Bonds watch his Hall of Fame chances disappear like one of his home run blasts?

So even if, realistically, the bottom half of this year's ballot as ranked by bWAR is simply discarded, it still illustrates how in recent years it has been an honor just to make it onto a Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. It has become increasingly hard just to get onto the ballot.

Who Is Not on the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot?

Some of the more memorable 2016 first-time eligibles who didn't make the ballot include outfielder José Guillén, who played for ten teams in his 14-year career and became known as a rental player with pop, which included his temper, while he had been named in the Mitchell Report as a suspected user of performance-enhancing drugs. Also eligible this year was Bengie Molina, the first of the catching Molina brothers to make the Major Leagues, a two-time Gold Glover who once hit a home run but did not score the run—the dinger was initially ruled not a home run, but when the call was overturned Molina had already been lifted for a pinch-runner and was declared ineligible to return to the game. Molina is also the only MLB catcher ever to hit for the cycle and hit a grand slam in the same game—and for the notoriously slow-footed Molina to have hit that triple for the cycle is an event in itself.

The first South Korean-born player in Major League Baseball history, pitcher Chan Ho Park won 124 games in his MLB career, the most by any Asian-born pitcher. Park made further history when in late 2001 he gave up a pair of gopher balls to Barry Bonds that first tied, and then broke, Mark McGwire's single-season home run record. Two years earlier, Park surrendered a pair of grand slams in the same inning to Fernando Tatis, the only batter ever to hit two grand slams in the same frame. Speaking of Tatis, guess who had been left off this year's ballot—and guess what his crowning moment was?

Relief pitcher Scot Shields is emblematic of the disconnect the Hall of Fame is facing in evaluating role players, who are becoming more prominent in an age of specialization. Sports Illustrated dubbed Shields "Setup Man of the Decade" although Shields's 155 career holds, not an official Major League Baseball statistic, carry almost no weight. Finally, hot-tempered Jeff Weaver led the league in hits by pitch three times, posting double-digit totals eight times, while his career 124 beanballs is tied for 45th all-time. Weaver did face younger brother Jared once, though, with Jeff outpitching his star sibling in a 2009 interleague game.

Would any of these players have made a ballot in a "slow" year with few likely Hall of Fame candidates? Maybe, but their ultimate fate would have been the same as our next group.

The 2016 One-and-Dones

As has been the case for the overstuffed ballots during the last few years, players with fine although not superstar careers have been almost automatically dismissed, much like the string of contestants trotted out to try to unseat Ken Jennings during his historic 74-game winning streak on the television game show Jeopardy!

The following candidates, on the ballot for the first time, are not viable candidates for the Hall of Fame, but their inclusion on the ballot as an acknowledgement of their ability to thrive in the high talent compression of contemporary Major League Baseball is warranted, and they deserve a mention as they are unlikely to be seen again.

A three-time All-Star who placed third in National League vote for Rookie of the Year in 1996, Jason Kendall belied the stereotype of the slow-footed, heavy-hitting catcher: He notched 2161 of his 8702 plate appearances in the leadoff spot and posted career slash line of .288/.366/.378 playing primarily for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In addition, Kendall stole 20 or more bases in a season three years in a row, and his 189 career swipes as a catcher are second only to Roger Bresnahan in the modern era; meanwhile, he drew 721 career bases on ball against only 686 strikeouts, an unusual ratio in his free-swinging, fireballing era. Moreover, he got plunked by a baseball 20 or more times in a season five times, including a league-leading 31 in 1998, while his 254 beanings are fifth all-time. Kendall was an adequate defender susceptible to the stolen base, with his 29 percent caught-stealing ratio a tick below the league's 30 percent during his career, although as a catcher he is second in putouts (13019),fifth in games caught (2025), and eleventh in double plays turned (148).

Power-hitting third baseman Troy Glaus hit 40 or more home runs in back-to-back seasons, including a league-leading 47 in 2000, and he hit 25 or more dingers in seven of his 13 big-league seasons while driving in 90 or more runs six times and 100 or more four times. Glaus was integral to the then-Anaheim Angels' storied 2002 postseason as he was named the World Series Most Valuable Player as the Angels defeated the San Francisco Giants in seven games; Glaus posted a .385/.467/.846 slash line as he smashed three home runs and drove in eight runs. However, injuries plagued Glaus throughout his career—also plaguing him is his mention in the 2007 Mitchell Report on players associated with performance-enhancing drugs.

As a second baseman, Luis Castillo flashed a number of tools in his 15-year career. A three-time Gold Glove fielder, one who set the current record for second baseman for most consecutive games played without committing an error (143), Castillo also led the league in stolen bases twice, finishing with 370, good for 93rd all time, while posting a career .290/.368/.351 slash line as he scored 1001 runs. Castillo spent his first 10 years with the then-Florida Marlins, winning the World Series with them in 2003 while managing not to be sold off or traded in the fire sale the following season. He was a sure-handed if not ambitious fielder as his range factors against the league found him sticking close to home.

Randy Winn's 99 career OPS+ is right about league-average, which describes this outfielder who toiled for five different clubs in his 13-year career to a tee: Winn filled a lineup spot dependably—from 2001 to 2009 he averaged 639 plate appearances—while showing some power and speed. His 1759 career hits included 367 doubles and 110 home runs as he stole 215 bases, swiping 20 or more four times, and provided solid defense at all three outfield spots—for his career, Winn is 47 runs above average in Total Zone and 37 runs above average in defensive runs saved—although he was more effective at the corners. With the San Francisco Giants in 2005, Winn hit for the cycle.

Another reliable lineup filler, Mark Grudzielanek plugged up the middle infield, primarily second base, for six teams although, unfortunately, by the time he arrived in Chicago to play for the Cubs in 2003 and 2004, announcer Harry Caray was already dead and thus unable to slaughter Grudzielanek's name on a daily basis. Grudzielanek made his only All-Star roster in 1996 as he posted a .306/.340/.397 slash line while hitting 34 doubles and stealing 33 bases, his career high. In 1997, Grudzielanek led the NL in doubles with 54 while his 25 stolen bases was the last time he swiped 20 or more. During his stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1998 to 2002, Grudzielanek was moved to second base full-time by 2001, which coincided with his career-high in home runs, 13. Grudzielanek's 391 doubles rank 200th all-time.

A lineup fixture for the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 15 of his 17 years in the majors, Garret Anderson holds a passel of team records for career statistics, and on the surface Anderson looks impressive. He was the runner-up to Marty Cordova for the American League Rookie of the Year in 1995, and for 13 years, from 1996 to 2008, Anderson camped in left field and in the middle of the Angels' batting lineup, winning a World Series ring in 2002, the season in which led the majors in doubles with a career-high 56 as he finished fourth in MVP voting. But Garret Anderson's statistical record is deceptive, as I concluded last year in an examination of borderline candidates appearing on upcoming Hall of Fame ballots. He compiled a quantitatively impressive record including 2529 hits, 522 doubles, and 287 home runs, but that is what he did: compile. However, qualitatively, Garret Anderson generated a 102 OPS+ and 100 wRC+, indicating a league-average hitter—not an insult, but not a superlative, either.

The pinnacle of Mike Lowell's career must be the 2007 season, in which the third baseman placed fifth in MVP voting, his highest showing, with a .324/.378/.501 slash line during the regular campaign, establishing career highs in hits (191) and runs batted in (120) as he helped to carry the Boston Red Sox into the postseason. In the playoffs, Lowell's impressive World Series performance—a.400/.500/.800 slash line with three doubles, one home run, four RBI, three walks, and one stolen base—earned him Series MVP honors. Lowell had helped the Florida Marlins to their 2003 World Series victory with a .276/.350/.530 slash line, 32 long balls, a career high, and 105 runs driven in during the regular season. Lowell won a Gold Glove in 2005 with the Marlins, and he had six years in which he hit 20 or more homers, finishing with 223.

Mike Sweeney came up to the Kansas City Royals in 1995 as a catcher before moving to first base and then to designated hitter, which has always been Sweeney's strength. He sports a career .299/.366/.486 slash line, good for a 118 OPS+, but has been a liability in the field. Nevertheless, Sweeney had been beloved in Kansas City, where for a seven-year stretch from 1999 to 2005 he posted a .313/.383/.521 line built from, on average per year, 156 hits, 33 doubles, 23 home runs, and 54 walks (against just 55 strikeouts) while scoring 81 runs and driving in 97—this for a woeful Royals team that had one winning season during that span. As one of the Royals' few bright lights, Sweeney was named to five All-Star teams between 2000 and 2005.

Another Mike, Mike Hampton, hit nearly as well as the other two Mikes—a noteworthy feat as Hampton was a starting pitcher who won five consecutive Silver Slugger Awards. Moreover, with the Houston Astros in 1999, Hampton was runner-up to no less than the Arizona Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson for the National League's Cy Young Award as Hampton led the NL in wins (22) and winning percentage (.846). Dealt to the New York Mets the following season, Hampton's pitching helped the Mets into the World Series as he was named the NL Championship Series Most Valuable Player, pitching a three-hit, Game Five shutout that clinched the series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Then Hampton signed a contract with the Colorado Rockies that up to that point had been the largest deal in MLB history. But Coors Field was a boon only to Hampton's hitting, and then injuries hampered Hampton before he retired in 2011. As a hitter, Hampton posted a .246/.294/.356 slash line with 178 hits, 22 doubles, and 16 home runs while scoring 97 runs and knocking in 79.

Currently the manager for the Detroit Tigers, Brad Ausmus may come under Hall of Fame consideration decades in the future (provided his 2015 results do not indicate a continuing trend). Certainly as a catcher with an outstanding tactical and strategic grasp of the game—and a degree in government from Dartmouth College—Ausmus was one of the best defensive catchers of his era whose winning "just" three Gold Gloves belies his all-time rankings: He is third in putouts (12839), seventh in games caught (1938), 25th in double plays turned (130), 57th in assists (956), and 62nd in defensive WAR (18.3; Baseball Reference version) among all positions. As a hitter, Ausmus was a terrific defender although he did make his only All-Star squad in 1999 when he established career highs in several offensive categories. Ausmus also stole 102 bases (at a 65.8 percent clip) in his career, with five seasons of 10 or more swipes.

And then there's David Eckstein, at five feet, six inches and 170 pounds truly a David among the Goliaths of the Steroids Era. An adequate defender in the middle infield, Eckstein was the typical pesky table-setter with a .284/.349/.358 slash line in 4241 plate appearances as a leadoff hitter, but although he hit just 35 home runs in 5705 total plate appearances, he led the majors in grand slams with three in 2002. And in one respect, Eckstein's name could be shortened to just "Stein," as in the kid from The Bad News Bears: Eckstein led the American League in hits by pitch during his first two seasons and retired with 143, 24th all-time. Eckstein won two World Series rings, one with the Angels in 2002, and one with the St. Louis Cardinals four years later as he was named the Series Most Valuable Player as he posted a .364/.391/.500 slash line with three doubles and four runs driven in, striking out just once in 23 plate appearances.

Again, none of the one-and-dones would attract much notice even on a light ballot—as noted above, Anderson's compiling would invite some polite discussion—but on the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot, as with ballots from the past few years, they are thankful just to be included.


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Last modified on Thursday, 12 May 2016 00:49

Comments   

0 #1 Committee Chairman 2015-12-25 00:10
We have to get you a ballot!!!!!

Brilliant as always!
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