Filling Out the Hall of Fame's Player Ballot
PLUS: HALL'S CLASS OF 2024 COULD BE DOUBLE LAST YEAR'S SIZE
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Did you know…
Despite winning 100 games in four straight 162-game seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers have won only one world championship in a complete campaign since 1988 . .
The Toronto Blue Jays have not won a single playoff game since 2016 . . .
New Boston baseball operations chief Craig Breslow is determined to help the Red Sox end their two-year sojourn in the AL East basement plus nine non-playoff seasons in the last 14 years . . .
The Yankees and Dodgers have the most combined regular-season wins since 2013 but only one world championship (2020 Dodgers) between them . . .
After spending wildly and entering 2023 with high hopes, the San Diego Padres not only missed the post-season but went 2-12 in extra innings and 9-23 in one-run games — despite the presence of powerhouse lefty closer Josh Hader . . .
The Seattle Mariners, with one post-season appearance since 2001, remain the only one of the 30 clubs that has never won a pennant . . .
NL Central questions: can the Cubs reach the playoffs in a 162-game season for the first time since 2018 or the Cardinals overcome their worst winning percentage since 1995?
The Perfect Hall of Fame Player Ballot
By Dan Epstein
Every baseball player’s goal is to win the World Series each year. Winning is the point of the game. Yet when the weather turns cold, we, the baseball commentariat, have some of our most fraught, hand-wringing arguments over players who can no longer win any games or championships because they retired at least five years ago.
Nothing encapsulates baseball fandom like Hall of Fame voting. It’s nerdy and pedantic in all the wonderful ways we love. Try to explain the pros and cons of, say, Joe Mauer’s candidacy to someone who doesn’t follow the sport.
“Well, he and Josh Gibson are the only catchers to earn three batting titles and he won the 2009 MVP, but had limited production after 30, although his JAWS score ranks seventh all time among catchers, even though his dWAR may have underappreciated his defensive value based on what we know about pitch framing in hindsight…” You could go on and on, but you’ve already lost them.
This doesn’t diminish its importance. Rather, it becomes all the more special because of how much we care about it. The love and detail we invest into the minutiae of baseball’s history and heroes breathe magic into the Hall.
The IBWAA does Hall of Fame voting its own way. Our process is similar to the BBWAA’s, but with a few key differences:
Every IBWAA member can vote. There’s no 10-year waiting period or vetting process. Everyone is welcome to join the IBWAA and become eligible to submit a Hall of Fame ballot immediately.
We allow voters to select up to 12 names, whereas the BBWAA caps it at 10.
We are (mostly) different people! There are some overlapping members of both the IBWAA and BBWAA, but by and large we’re a different group with our own opinions.
Most of the time, the result is the same. We elected Scott Rolen last year, just as the BBWAA did. For better or worse, the IBWAA inducted Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in 2018, and of course the BBWAA has not.
The beauty of the Hall of Fame is its process. Hundreds of baseball writers, experts, stakeholders, and fans who all witnessed and evaluated the same players come to vastly differing opinions of greatness. You are unlikely to find many other ballots that match yours exactly. Each individual ballot is a spark on flint. All of them collectively keep the flame lit. The perfect ballot is your own, precisely because it isn’t anyone else’s. It’s perfect because I disagree.
This is the perfect ballot. Because it’s mine.
Daniel R. Epstein serves as co-director of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. His writing is typically found at Baseball Prospectus, Forbes SportsMoney, and Off the Bench Baseball.
Eras Committee Vote Sunday Should Start Ball Rolling on Larger Induction Class For Hall of Fame
By Dan Schlossberg
Nothing generates more controversy in baseball than membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Even experienced attorneys could make solid arguments about who should be in and who should be out.
Two days from now, the half of the Baseball Eras Committee that votes on non-players should give the Class of 2024 a healthy boost.
After only two men — one from the writers and one from the veterans — were picked last year, the panel that votes Sunday could double the number of inductees.
Leading contenders include former managers Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella, Davey Johnson, and Cito Gaston, with long-time executive Hank Peters also a strong candidate.
The Class of 2014 had three managers, all selected unanimously, in Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Tony La Russa. If history repeats, Leyland, Piniella, and Johnson all have better-than-even chances of success, with the underrated Gaston close behind.
So does umpire Joe West, who officiated more games than anyone in baseball history. Fellow ump Ed Montague and former player, broadcaster, and National League president Bill White also merit consideration.
To win election, a candidate must receive 75 per cent of the vote, or 12 votes from the 16-member panel.
More Class of 2024 members will be picked by the Baseball Writers Association of America next month. Top contenders are holdovers Todd Helton, who missed by a handful of votes last year; slugger Gary Sheffield, in his final try despite 509 home runs; 10-time Gold Glove center fielder Andruw Jones; and flame-throwing lefty closer Billy Wagner. Any of them could be joined by Adrián Beltré, Joe Mauer, and Chase Utley, all of whom could gain entry on the first ballot.
Not to be overlooked are Carlos Beltrán and Alex Rodriguez, both great players whose careers were tarnished by scandals.
No matter what happens, the Class of 2024 is virtually certain to be double — or maybe triple — the two-man class enshrined earlier this year. For that, Cooperstown hotels, restaurants, and businesses will be thrilled. And so will fans of a larger Hall.
There are currently 342 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame but only two players elected by the writers in the last two years.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is a donor to the Baseball Hall of Fame and a writer for its Memories & Dreams magazine. He has also hosted Inducted Weekend trips for Sports Travel and Tours, official tour operator of the Hall of Fame. E.mail him via email@example.com.
With all the hoopla about Yoshinobu Yamamato jumping from Japan to the majors for an astronomical price at age 25, could he be the best pitching import outside of Shohei Ohtani?
Hideo Nomo had two no-hitters — one in each league — among his 123 wins during a 12-year sojourn in the States and even hurled the only hitless game in Coors Field history.
Yu Darvish got a record $51.7 million posting fee plus a six-year, $60 million contract from Texas in 2011 and has posted a 3.59 ERA and averaged 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings while pitching for four clubs in six seasons since but is now 36 . . .
Kodai Senga, second in voting for 2023 NL Rookie of the Year, went 12-7 with a 2.98 ERA for the New York Mets and is now projected as possible ace of the staff . . .
Free agent Kenta Maeda, 35, signed with the Dodgers in 2016 (eight years, $25 million plus bonuses) and had a 3.92 ERA with Minnesota and Los Angeles in 155 starts before signing with Detroit for 2024 . . .
Masahiro Tanaka, who battled elbow issues for his seven-year stay in the Bronx, went 78-46 with a 3.74 ERA and was a two-time All-Star before returning to Japan . . .
Hiroki Kuroda had a 3.45 ERA over seven seasons with the Yankees and Dodgers even though he was 33 when he arrived from Japan . . .
Unlike Tanaka, Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa were basically busts with the Yankees.
Know Your Editors
HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Benjamin Chase [firstname.lastname@example.org] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [email@example.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [firstname.lastname@example.org] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.