Raines, Bagwell, and Rodriguez voted into Hall of Fame, Posada drops off the ballot

Raines. (Ron Frehm/AP)
Raines. (Ron Frehm/AP)

There are three new members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Wednesday night it was announced Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez have been voted into Cooperstown by the BBWAA this year. Bagwell received 86.2% of the vote while Raines and Rodriguez received 86.0% and 76.0%, respectively. Trevor Hoffman fell five votes shy of induction. The full voting results are at the BBWAA’s site.

Bagwell, who was on the ballot for the seventh time, retired as a career .297/.408/.540 (149 wRC+) hitter with 449 home runs and 202 stolen bases. His 1994 MVP season, during which he hit .368/.451/.750 (205 wRC+) with 39 home runs and 116 RBI in 110 games around the work stoppage, is the 24th best offensive season in history in terms of OPS+. To put it another way, it’s the eighth best offensive season by someone other than Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, or Babe Ruth.

Unlike Bagwell, who spent his entire career in the NL with the Astros, Raines did suit up for the Yankees. He was a platoon player for the 1996-98 teams and won a pair of World Series rings. Raines spent most of his career with the Expos and was a career .294/.385/.425 (125 wRC+) hitter with 170 home runs and 808 steals, the fifth most all-time. This was Raines’ tenth and final year on the Hall of Fame ballot. He received only 24.3% of the vote in his first year, which is crazy.

“Tim Raines was one of the greatest leadoff hitters to ever play the game. Period,” said Joe Girardi in a statement. “He was a game-changer whose numbers speak for themselves. For me personally, he was a treasured teammate and someone people always seemed to gravitated toward. Everyone loved the Rock, except opposing pitchers and catchers.”

“Tim Raines was by far one of my favorite teammates,” added Derek Jeter. He taught me how to be a professional and more importantly to enjoy the game and have fun every day. Congratulations Rock.”

Rodriguez, another former Yankee, was on the ballot for the first time. He was a career .296/.334/.464 (104 wRC+) hitter — remember the days when that batting line was only 4% better than average? good times — who finished with 2,844 hits and 311 home runs. Rodriguez also caught more games (2,427) than anyone in baseball history. He spent a few forgettable months with the Yankees in 2008.

The most notable ex-Yankee on the ballot was Jorge Posada, who received only 3.8% of the vote and will drop off the ballot going forward. That’s a damn shame. I don’t necessarily think Posada is a Hall of Famer, he’s borderline, but I was hoping he’d stick around on the ballot for a few more years. Alas. Other former Yankees on the ballot include Roger Clemens (54.1%), Mike Mussina (51.8%), Lee Smith (34.2%), and Gary Sheffield (13.3%). Moose is gaining support.

Looking ahead to next year, notable former Yankees Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon will join the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. Andruw Jones too, though he was only a Yankee briefly. Clemens, Mussina, and Sheffield will still be on the ballot as well. In two years the Yankees will get their next Hall of Famer, when Mariano Rivera joins the ballot. Andy Pettitte too, but only Rivera is a shoo-in. Jeter hits the ballot the following year.

It’s looking more and more likely Jorge Posada will fall off the Hall of Fame ballot this year

Team Jorge. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Hip hip. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

One week from today, the National Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2017 will be announced during a live MLB Network broadcast. At this point Tim Raines, who is on the ballot for the tenth and final time, seems to be a lock for induction, as does Jeff Bagwell. He’s on the ballot for the seventh time. Trevor Hoffman, Vlad Guerrero, and Ivan Rodriguez are all on the bubble as well.

Among the 34 players on the ballot this year is Jorge Posada, the first member of the (groan) Core Four to be eligible for Hall of Fame induction. Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte hit the ballot in two years, Derek Jeter the year after that. Bernie Williams, the fifth member of the Core Four, was on the Hall of Fame ballot in both 2012 and 2013. He received 9.6% of the vote the first year and 3.3% the second year, which is why he dropped off.

Players need to appear on 75% of the submitted ballots to be elected into Cooperstown. They also need to receive at least 5% of the vote to remain on the ballot another year. Bernie didn’t in 2013, so he dropped off. So it goes. Posada, it seems, is on a similar path. Current voting results indicate he’s in real danger of slipping off the ballot in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility.

According to the Hall of Fame public ballot tracker, which is the product of the hard work by man of the people Ryan Thibodaux, shows Posada has appeared on only 4.2% of the public Hall of Fame ballots as of this writing. He’s already been mathematically eliminated from received the 75% necessary for induction this year, not that I expected him to get in anyway. Jorge is very much a borderline candidate. Borderline at best, really.

So far 185 ballots have been made public — those are from voters who posted their ballot on social media, in their newspaper, on a blog, whatever — while six others were sent to Thibodaux anonymously. That makes up roughly 44% of the voting body. Posada needs 14 more votes to clear the 5% threshold and remain on the ballot another year. We’re still waiting on ballots from many New York voters, which could help Posada, though historically players have received less support from private ballots than public ballots. It’s a long shot.

Now, I don’t think it would be some kind of grave injustice if Posada doesn’t make it into the Hall of Fame. Hardly. He’s one of my all-time favorite players, but I recognize him as a borderline candidate. Posada was unquestionably one of the best catchers of his era and one of the best in Yankees history, though you have to squint your eyes a bit to really see his Hall of Fame case. It comes down to his offense, because Jorge wasn’t a great (or even good) defender.

Among catchers with at least 5,000 career plate appearances, Posada is 12th all-time in OPS+ (121) and 14th all-time in wRC+ (123). He’s ninth in OBP (.374) and eighth in SLG (.474). As a catcher only, meaning ignoring time as a DH and all that, Posada is seventh all-time in homers (246) and sixth in extra-base hits (599). He’s also first in walks (818) and ninth in times in base (2,356). Posada hit .279/.380/.487 as a catcher. That’s pretty awesome.

There’s no question Posada, a career .273/.374/.474 (123 wRC+) hitter overall, was far better than the average catcher offensively. Far, far better. The question is whether the 12th or 14th or whatever best hitting catcher of all-time is worthy of being inducted into Cooperstown. For the vast majority of Hall of Fame voters this year, the answer has been no. Being part of four World Series titles teams (technically five, but Posada wasn’t exactly a key component of the 1996 Yankees) hasn’t helped his case much.

The fact the ballot is stuffed isn’t helping matters either. Of the 191 ballots on Thibodaux’s tracker, a whopping 110 voted for the maximum ten players. It’s really easy to come up with about 12 players worthy of Hall of Fame votes this year, but there’s only room on the ballot for ten, so inevitably a few deserving players get left out in the cold. Posada’s an easy one to cast aside. Heck, if I had a ballot, I’m pretty sure Jorge wouldn’t be among my “top” ten players, though I haven’t put a ton of thought into it.

Posada’s best shot at getting into the Hall of Fame was always going involve a long stint on the ballot with a gradual increase in support each year. Perhaps a Rich Lederer/Bert Blyleven, Jonah Keri/Tim Raines style campaign would have been necessary. The longer he stayed on the ballot, the more voters would consider him and realize how great he truly was. That was the plan. (As an added bonus, the longer the stayed on the ballot, the more unclogged it would get it.)

In all likelihood Posada is going to fall off the Hall of Fame ballot this year, his first year of eligibility. That stinks. At least Bernie stuck around for a second year. Posada is one of the greatest Yankees ever and no one will ever wear No. 20 in pinstripes again. Most players couldn’t dream of having his career. Jorge seems destined to be overlooked as one of the greatest catchers in baseball history, which is kinda fitting I guess, because I always felt he was a bit underappreciated during his playing career.

George Steinbrenner not elected into Hall of Fame by Today’s Game Era Committee

(AP)
(AP)

Earlier tonight, the Today’s Game Era Committee announced former commissioner Bud Selig and longtime executive John Schuerholz have been voted into the Hall of Fame. George Steinbrenner was one of eight others on the ballot who did not receive enough votes for induction.

The Today’s Game Era Committee is one of four new Hall of Fame committees. They’re the descendant of the old Veterans Committee. Each of the four committees — Early Baseball (1871-1949), Golden Days (1950-69), Modern Baseball (1970-87), Today’s Game (1988-16) — meets every few years.

Each committee consists of 16 members (Hall of Famers, executives, media) and 12 votes are needed for induction into the Hall of Fame. Steinbrenner received five. For shame. Schuerholz, the long time Royals and Braves general manager, was voted in unanimously. Selig received 15 votes.

Steinbrenner was been up for Hall of Fame induction several times over the years. He purchased the Yankees in 1973 and brought the franchise back to prominence. There’s no doubt Steinbrenner was polarizing. He was also a key figure in baseball for over 30 years. Is that enough to get into the Hall of Fame? Apparently not.

Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Mark McGwire, and Lou Piniella were also on the Today’s Game ballot this year. The BBWAA’s Hall of Fame selections will be announced next month.

Jorge Posada among newcomers on ’17 Hall of Fame ballot

Count 'em. (Getty)
Count ’em. (Getty)

For the first time ever, a member of the Core Four (groan) is eligible for the Hall of Fame. Longtime Yankees catcher Jorge Posada is one of 19 newcomers on the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. The BBWAA officially released the 34-player class of Cooperstown hopefuls earlier today. Here’s the ballot.

Posada played his entire career with the Yankees and is one of the best hitting catchers in baseball history. He retired as a career .273/.374/.474 (121 OPS+) hitter with 275 home runs in parts of 17 seasons from 1995-2011. During his peak from 2000-07, Posada hit .283/.389/.492 (130 OPS+) and averaged 23 homers and 136 games caught per season. He won five World Series rings too, though he wasn’t exactly an integral part of the 1996 team.

Among the other first time eligible players joining the Hall of Fame ballot this year are Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, and Vlad Guerrero. Manny won’t get in because he was suspended not once, but twice for performance-enhancing drugs as a player. Rodriguez never tested positive but there was plenty of suspicion. Vlad? With Vlad it’s a question of whether his career warrants induction, not PEDs.

In addition to Posada and Rodriguez, other players on the ballot with ties to the Yankees are Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Tim Raines, Gary Sheffield, and Lee Smith. Fred McGriff is also on the ballot. He never played for the Yankees because they traded him as a minor leaguer, but they did draft him. Raines is on the ballot for the tenth and final time, so this is his last chance to get in.

My guess is Rodriguez, Raines, Jeff Bagwell, and Trevor Hoffman get in this year with Vlad falling just short. Raines, Bagwell, and Hoffman all came close to getting in last year and I expect them to get over the hump this time around. Posada’s case is borderline, and while I don’t think he’ll get in, he’ll no doubt receive enough votes to remain on the ballot going forward.

As a reminder, players need to receive 75% of the vote for induction and 5% to remain on the ballot another year. The Hall of Fame voters have to send in their ballots by the end of the year. The 2017 Hall of Fame class will be announced during a live MLB Network broadcast on Wednesday, January 18th.

Hip, Hip: Previewing the Hall of Fame Case for Jorge Posada

It's a Jorge Posada kind of day. (Chris Trotman/Getty)
It’s a Jorge Posada kind of day. (Chris Trotman/Getty)

I would not have realized this without Mike mentioning it in a post last week, but Jorge Posada will be up for induction into the Hall of Fame during the next round of elections. He last played in 2011, a season that was humbling for him to say the least. His career ended on a positive note, though, as he was one of the few Yankees to show up during the ALDS against Detroit; in that disaster series, Jorge hit .429/.579/.571, notching six hits in the five game set. Amazingly enough, he didn’t drive a single run home in the series. Regardless of the ugly times in 2011, it wrapped up a fantastic career that deserves its share of inspection.

Posada’s Major League career started in earnest in 1997, when he played in 60 games and racked up 224 PAs for the Yanks; it got fully rolling in 1998, when his playing time jumped up and he played in 111 games and went to the plate 409 times. 1999 was rather similar; he played in 112 games and had 437 PA. 2000 was Jorge’s real breakout. Amassing 624 PA across 151 games, Posada raked, hitting .287/.417/.527 with 28 homers and an OPS+ of 139 (.405 wOBA; 140 wRC+). It started a string of four straight All Star Game appearances and four straight Silver Slugger awards. All told, Posada made it to five All Star Games and won five Silver Slugger awards (2000-3, 2007) and had a career line of .274/.374/.474/.848, good for a 121 OPS+ and a .367/123 wOBA/wRC+.

(Photo via NY Daily News)
(Photo via NY Daily News)

If we judge a player by the company he kept, then Posada was nothing short of an offensive leader at his position. His only offensive “sin” during his career was that he was not, in fact, Mike Piazza. Among catchers with at least 5000 PA from 1995-2011, Posada ranks second to Piazza in wOBA; wRC+; and home runs. He’s third in fWAR (44.3) behind Ivan Rodriguez (60.3–whom Posada outhit by 19 points in wOBA and 16 in wRC+) and Piazza (51.2).

Doubtlessly, Jorge Posada was the AL’s best offensive catcher for the years of his career; hitters like Mike Napoli and Joe Mauer definitely caught up to him in the later years of his career, but Posada’s offensive longevity and consistency were marvelous. Only twice–1999 and 2011–did Posada fail to hit at a league average rate, and that’s not adjusting for his position. Eight times, he notched marks at least 20% better than league average.

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)
(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

But in the end, it probably wasn’t enough. Jorge wasn’t as good a hitter as Mike Piazza and he wasn’t as good a catcher as Ivan Rodriguez. He falls somewhere in the middle there, which definitely hurts him. This isn’t to say that his numbers are necessarily Hall-Worthy, but to say Posada was anything short of the second best offensive catcher of his time is unfair. The other big slight against him is another over which he had no control. Posada appeared in games for the Yankees staring in 1995, but wasn’t the full time catcher until 2000. Those years of being a part time player robbed him of the counting stats that a lot of voters take into consideration. Regardless, Posada managed to club 275 homers and drive in over 1,000 runs in his career, good marks for anyone, let alone a catcher. had he received more consistent playing time before 1998-2000, his candidacy might be more than something to dream on.

Considering the fate we just saw Jim Edmonds suffer–falling off the ballot ungraciously and undeservingly after just one appearance–it’s not likely that Posada sticks around very long. That wouldn’t be a big injustice or a travesty or anything, but as a player we feel a lot of emotional connection with, it’ll be a touch sad to see Jorge–like his teammate Bernie Williams–disappear from the ballot easily. In the end, though, it doesn’t change anything about the man and the player Jorge Posada was for the Yankees for so many years. It’s years too late, but thanks for the great career, Jorge. A retired number in Monument Park isn’t Cooperstown, but it’s a damn fine consolation prize.

Thoughts prior to the 2016 Hall of Fame announcement

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Later tonight the 2016 Hall of Fame class will be announced. A couple of former Yankees are on the ballot — Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, etc. — though I don’t think any of them will get in this year. I wasn’t planning to write anything about the Hall of Fame, but then some stuff popped in my head, and, well, here we are.

1. I don’t think I’ve ever cared less about the Hall of Fame than I do right now, and that’s a shame. All of the focus these days is on guys with performance-enhancing drug ties, and we end up having the same inane arguments year after year. Remember when we used to spend time arguing about borderline candidates instead? That was so much more fun. I’d rather argue over whether Larry Walker is a Hall of Famer. Or Fred McGriff. Or Edgar Martinez. That used to be fun because fans are passionate and the internet allows you to seek out smart folks to debate with. Now everyone spends their time ballot shaming because someone didn’t vote for a player for PED reasons. This isn’t good for baseball.

2. I’m not sure who decided keeping a player out of the Hall of Fame is an appropriate punishment for PEDs, but I think it’s garbage. I watched Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire race to the home run record in 1998 and it was the coolest thing ever. They helped save baseball following the 1994 strike and pushed the league into an era of unprecedented prosperity. And now the Hall of Fame voters — full disclosure here: I’m in the BBWAA and am on track to have a Hall of Fame vote in nine years — are basically trying to tell me my memories of that era as a fan don’t matter because McGwire cheated and Sosa and whoever else may have as well? Get outta here. Players cheat. They always have cheated and they always will cheat. That’s just the way it is. The baseball I remember and fell in love with as a kid is no more tainted than any other era in the game’s history.

3. All of this PED nonsense can be avoided if the Hall of Fame just comes out and makes some sort of ruling on how to treat these players. If there’s hard evidence a player used PEDs — a failed test, an admission, etc. — then vote as you see fit. If there’s no hard evidence, the player is to be assumed clean. Boom. There’s the solution right there. Maybe not that exact standard but something along those lines. Something to provide clear guidance. That would help move things along. Instead we have this ridiculous ongoing PED issue and some of the greatest ballplayers in the history of baseball are being left out of the club built specifically for the greatest ballplayers in the history of baseball.

(AP)
(AP)

4. Know what’s crazy? Jorge Posada will be on the Hall of Fame ballot next year. It still feels like he just retired, but Jorge hasn’t played in four years now. Geez. The Core Four is a dumb nickname — oh hi Bernie Williams and David Cone and everyone else, sorry but you weren’t important enough for a catchy nickname — but Posada will be the first member of the Core Four to hit the Hall of Fame ballot, and that’s going to be a big deal. (Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte will appear on the ballot for the first time in 2019 while Derek Jeter will follow in 2020.) I’m curious to see what kind of support Posada gets when the time comes. He was one of the best hitting catchers of his generation and also an important piece of the most recent Yankees dynasty. I think it’s fair to say Posada is a borderline candidate. He seems like someone who might fall into Edgar Martinez cult hero status.

5. I guess I might as well close with a prediction: I’ll say both Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza get in tonight while Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines fall just short. American hero @NotMrTibbs is collecting all the public ballots, and right now both Bagwell and Raines are over the 75% needed for induction. The non-public ballots have historically dragged everyone’s voting percentage down — I guess the voters who don’t make their ballots public are small Hall guys — so I think Bagwell and Raines will fall just short of the threshold. We’ll see. In the words of Marc Topkin, “the Hall is a museum to tell the story of the game’s best and most successful players, not a cathedral to deify those deemed worthy by arbitrary holier-than-thou standards.” One day all of the best players will get in. I think.

Ken Griffey Jr. headlines newcomers on 2015 Hall of Fame ballot

The first baseball crushed my soul. (SportsLifer.com)
The first time baseball crushed my soul. (SportsLifer.com)

The 2015 Hall of Fame ballot was officially released by the BBWAA today. As a reminder, a player must have played at least ten seasons and be retired for at least five seasons to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. This year’s ballot runs 32 players deep: 15 newcomers and 17 holdovers. The full ballot is at the BBWAA’s site.

Headlining those 15 newcomers is Ken Griffey Jr., who looks to me like the only lock for induction this year. Other notable newcomers include Trevor Hoffman, Jim Edmonds, and Billy Wagner. Mike Lowell, who only wore pinstripes briefly, and Randy Winn (!) are the only newcomers with ties to the Yankees.

Among the notable holdovers on the Hall of Fame ballot are Jeff Bagwell (55.7% of the vote last year), Barry Bonds (36.8%), Roger Clemens (37.5%), Mike Mussina (24.6%), Mike Piazza (69.9%), and Tim Raines (55.0%). Players need to appear on 75% of the ballots — there are 475 voters this year — for induction. Piazza has gradually inched closer in recent years and could get over the hump this winter.

Fred McGriff, Lee Smith, and Gary Sheffield join Clemens, Mussina, and Raines as holdovers on the Hall of Fame ballot with ties to the Yankees. Guys like Clemens and Bonds will never get into Cooperstown due to the various performance-enhancing drug allegations. Alex Rodriguez likely awaits the same fate.

The ballots are due by December 21st and the voting results will be announced on January 6th. At this very moment, my guess is only Griffey and Piazza get this winter.