2017 Today’s Game Era Committee Ballot @ SI.com

Part of my ongoing effort to catalog my Hall of Fame-related coverage at SI.com for this site.

Hall of Fame reorganizes era-based committees (July 2016)

This past July (during the Hall of Fame’s Induction Weekend festivities), the institution announced what amounts to a redistricting. Instead of candidates being divided into three chronological eras—the Pre-Integration Era (1871–1946), Golden Era (’47–72), and Expansion Era (’73 onward)—to be voted upon in a triennial cycle, they’ve now been separated into four eras to be voted upon with differing frequencies within a ten-year cycle, because the earlier eras have been more thoroughly picked over by past committees, often to the Hall’s detriment. Besides the Today’s Game Era (for candidates whose greatest contribution came from 1988 onward), the other three eras are Early Baseball (1871–1949), Golden Days (’50–69) and Modern Baseball (’70–87).

..As I noted in July, while the focus on more recent eras is laudable, the years chosen as dividing lines create some questions with regards to classifying candidates, even when the stated goal is to do so by the era in which each player had the greatest impact. That’s less of an issue with this slate than the Modern Baseball one, though if you’re wondering why Jack Morris—whose 1991 World Series Game 7 shutout stands as his signature moment—isn’t on this ballot, it’s because the bulk of his career (’77–95) and major accomplishments came prior to ’88. From among the 10 candidates on the Today’s Game slate…

Part 1: Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser

Part 2: Mark McGwire

Part 3: Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella (as managers)

Part 4: Bud Selig

Part 5: John Schuerholz, George Steinbrenner

Results: Schuerholz, Selig elected

2016 Pre-Integration Committee Ballot @ SI.com

Part of my ongoing effort to catalog my Hall of Fame-related coverage at SI.com for this site.

Given the timing (which was more than three weeks ahead of last year’s post-World Series release), only the most charitable reading can counter the inference that the Hall isn’t exactly bursting with pride over this election. Not because there are glaring faults with its candidates, but because the era-based process means shining yet another spotlight on the game’s interminable all-white period, and because the process itself hardly looks like a winner, particularly with the institution having apparently closed the book on candidates from the Negro Leagues. At a time when Major League Baseball is justifiably coming under fire for its lack of diversity among managers and general managers, it’s difficult to miss the fact that the three-for-one split of the Veterans Committee starting with the 2012 induction year has produced a lack of color…

Part 1: Doc Adams, Sam Breadon, Bill Dahlen, Wes Ferrell,

Part 2: Garry Hermann, Marty Marion, Frank McCormick, Harry Stovey, Chris von der Ahe, Bucky Walters

Results (another shutout).

‘Tis the Season for Hall Chatter

With the 2017 World Series — a thriller or a crusher, depending upon your point of view, won by the Astros in seven games over the Dodgers — in the books, I wrote a piece for SI.com checking in on the progress towards Cooperstown of nine players we saw in the postseason, many of whom I was asked about on Twitter or elsewhere during the October. By team: the Astros’ Justin Verlander, Carlos Beltran and Jose Altuve; the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw and Chase Utley; the Yankees’ CC Sabathia; the Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia; the Diamondbacks’ Zack Greinke; and the Twins’ Joe Mauer.

Here’s the Beltran one:

Carlos Beltran, Astros
69.8/44.3/57.1 (8th among CF)
Average HOF CF: 71.2/44.6/57.9

One of the top postseason players of his time (.307/.412/.609 with 16 homers in 256 PA), Beltran was reduced to an afterthought this October, going 3-for-20 in part-time duty overall and 0-for-3 in the World Series. That follows a sub-replacement level season in which he hit just 231/.283/.383 with 14 homers, 84 OPS+, and -0.6 WAR.

But even if the end of the line is near, Beltran did a fair bit in 2015–16 to shore up his Hall of Fame credentials after a dismal 2014 with the Yankees. With 2,725 career hits, 435 homers and 312 steals (with a record 86.4% success rate), not to mention nine All-Star appearances and three Gold Gloves, he’s got a good case on the traditional merits alone. He’s one of 18 outfielders with at least 2,500 hits and 400 homers; 13 are enshrined, and Vladimir Guerrero will make it 14 either this year or next after receiving 71.7% of the vote last year. The other three besides Beltran are Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield, all kept out by PED connections, while Beltran’s record in that area is clean. Add to that his eighth-place ranking among centerfielders in JAWS, less than one point below the standard, and again, his excellent postseason line, and he looks to be in good shape among an electorate that grows more savvy towards advanced stats with every passing year.

Now that the 2017 season is over, I’ll have plenty on the Hall of Fame beat, starting with the 2018 Modern Era Committee ballot (out November 6), covering candidates whose primary contributions came in the 1870-87 period, and the 2018 BBWAA ballot (out November 20), which features newcomers Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Jim Thome and Scott Rolen, along with top holdovers Trevor Hoffman, Vlad Guerrero and Edgar Martinez. And of course, I’ll be touting The Cooperstown Casebook as an ideal holiday gift!