Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Ed Farmer 1949 to 1920

Ed Farmer was a hero of mine from childhood and for a few minutes in 2004 I was a hero of his. The former White Sox pitcher and raidio announce passed away on April 1st of this year. Hear his what his former radio partner Ed Rooney had to say about working with Ed. Here is a video from last year where farmer relected on his life in baseball.
 For Christmas 2003 my wife got me tickets to Sox Fest, an annual White Sox fan event held each January. The Sox had just hired Ozzie Guillen to manage their squad and I was very excited about meeting  the players and attending some of the panel discussions. During the panel discussions fans were able to go to the microphone and ask questions. During a White Sox media panel discussion I asked Ed Farmer, whon was a incredible advocate for organ donation and a recipient of a kidney from one of his brothers to talk a little about that. In asking my question I related that I had donated a kidney and appreciated his advocacy for organ donation. This is when Farmer turned the tables on me. I remember him saying something like let's hear it for this guy, he's a true hero. There in the middle of Sox Fest I got an ovation from a bunch of Sox Fan strangers.

 From all I've read and herad about Farmer,this was his way. Heexcelled at relating to people on a personal level. After the panel He talked with me for about 5 minutes even though other people were waiting to talk with Him. Farmer would often address his radio audience as his friends and he seemed to truly  treat and deem  each person he encountered as a friend.

 Farmer grew up on the south side of Chicago in Evergreen Park and was a life long Sox fan.He pitched in the big leagues from 1971 to 1983 in what some have called a nomic career,  splitting 11 seasons between 8 teams. Farmer was  a career long reliever with the occasional start.  He appeared in 370 games starting only 21 times ( 4 in his first season, 4 in his final season with 13 in between).

Prior to 1979 Farmer would fluctuate between the minors and the big clubs.  This changed when Farmer came back to the south side for arguably his best 3 seasons.  He filled the role of a closer for the Chisox with 54 of his 75 lifetime saves in a Sox uniform.  He had 30 of those saves in 1980 where he earned his first and only all star appearance. 

After Farmer  stopped playing he worked a short time as a scout and then in the White Sox front office and in 1991 started in the radio booth in a limited capacity.  In 1992 he became the full time color commentator aside play by play man John Rooney.  When Rooney left in 2005 after the world championship season, Farmer became the play by play announcer.  In total nearly 30 years behind the microphone.

In August of 1999 I brought our young adult group from church to a Sox game.  I had ordered the tickets in advance and had to go into the office to pick them up. While waiting for the tickets A tall lean tanned man strolled into the office talking with a few people on his way to the elevator. It took me a while to realize that this was Farmio.  In retrospect I should not have been surprised.  He displayed all the warmth , good humor and boyish exuberance that seemed to be his only gear.

I am confident that White Sox baseball will start again after the shelter in place lifts  and that games will again be broadcasted on e achieved on and off the field.  The few times I saw Farmer in person I was always taken aback about how tall he was.  At 6'5 He's nearly a half foot taller than myself and I'm no slouch.  Now I realized that he had to be that tall because his personality , zeal , and love for the game  would not fit in a smaller package.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

2019 Hall of Fame - If I had a ballot

In just a few hours the Hall of Fame will reveal the results of the Baseball Writers of America Association (BBWAA) ballot selections for who will be inducted into Cooperstown this summer, .  This year 35 players are on the ballot and  The BBWAA allows writers to vote for a many as 10 of these candidates.  I am not a member of the BBWAA but I do like to pretend i'm one each year at this time.  Since The Writers association nor the hall of fame control my process I imagine what would happen if I had only 13 votes and then 12 and then down until I get to my OUB (Official Unofficial Ballot this year it will be 5 6 or maybe even 7.  As I write this I have not yet decided what the cutoff will be so I'll be as surprised as you will.  I then continue until I'm pretending I can only vote for 1 player this year.  In effect you get a ranking of who I think the 13 players most worthy of enshrinement are.

For 2019 ballot, I must say that there are many more players worthy of the Hall of Fame who have more impressive numbers than my 13th pick.  However,  the only number I was concerned about was 2005.  That is the year Jon Garland helped pitch the White Sox on to winning their first world series since 1917.  That gets him a vote in my book.

My 12th vote last year has a lot in common with my 12th vote this year.  Actually, they are the same person.  Gary Sheffield has the pedigree of a hall of famer yet like last year there are too many questions for me to really consider him further.

If I was advised that I could only vote for 11 players this year my 11th vote would be for Lance Berkman.  Berkman is probably the Killer B who will not B inducted into C town.  I thought his career  was worthy of some mention and 11 seems  appropriate.

As I state most years, I am a Chicago guy and I see my role as a Chicago guy to bring Chicago players to the attention of those who may not have seen them play regularly. If I were allowed to vote for exactly 10 players, my 10th vote would go to Freddy Garcia.  But not for the reason I just mentioned.  No for the reason I placed Garland 13th.  Freddy won the most important White Sox game in my life time that's reason enough for voting for him here.

It seems that Mike Mussina is going to make into Cooperstown.  He will probably make it this year or next in his 6th or 7th year on the ballot.  Last year I placed him 11th on my ballot and this year he is up to 9th.  To me he's a perennial fence sitter when it comes to enshrinement, it's a good thing for him that many of the actual voters don't view his career as I do,

I placed Jeff Kent 10th last year  and bump him up to 8th this year. To quote myself ...   " Kent is a very good player but I see him ultimately missing out of enshrinement to Cooperstown".

 If I was told I could vote for 7 and only 7 HOF candidates this year my 7th vote would go to Todd Helton. He has the highest career batting average of anyone on this years ballot at .316.  Sure he played his whole career in homer friendly Colorado but he still batted .287 on the road with 142 of his 369 homers when out of town.  I was very close to putting him on my OUB.

Speaking of which, If I was told that I could vote for as many or as few players on this years ballot  that I thought were worthy of enshrinement, I would vote for six players.  The 6th would be Roy Halladay.  As mentioned at the outset, I spent some time equivocating on this selection. equivocation being a euphemism on my part for over thinking. My over thinking went like this , When I first hear Halladay's name I don't instantly think hall of famer, and since he died recently am I just giving him a sympathy vote.  No.  The truth his his numbers speak well of him and his 2 Cy Youngs one in each league 7 years apart speak of his dominance.  This makes the late Mr. Halladay,  the first of 7 players on my official unofficial ballot (OUB)

If I could vote for only 5 players this year, my 5th vote would go to Larry Walker. Like Halladay,   Walker has not always been on my HOF radar.  As I mentioned last year when he was the 6th player on my ballot and my oub was 5, He has been going up in my estimation each year he has been HOF elgible.

If I could only vote for one Nickname to be included in the Hall of Fame this year it would have to be the Crime Dog.  This year Fred McGriff in his last year of eligibility get's a bite on my ballot.  If i could vote for only 5 players He would be 5th (jumping up from 7th last year.  Truth is I still think Walker more worthy than McGriff but have McGriff ahead this year since it is his last time on the ballot.

While votes nine through four are kind of Cooperstown fence sitters, I have no mixed feelings whatsoever about my final 3 votes.  2 of which were on my OUB last year and one is in his first year of eligibility.

If I was told that I could only vite for 3 players this year my third vote would go to Omar Vizquel. Vizquel was my 5th choice last year and is a player who is more than just the sum of his stats.  I saw Vizquel play many times against and for my beloved White Sox and have seen what a game changing shortstop he was. 

If it was decided that only 2 players could adorn my 2018 ballot, The 2nd name on that ballot would be Edgar Martinez.  (Edgar was 4 on my list of players last year.) I am one of the few people I know who thought Harold Baines should be in the Hall of Fame. With Baines now in the Hall of Fame, there is no earthly reason that Edgar should not be there as well.  Consider this he has a .312 lifetime batting average and hit .312 on the road.  He has a..515 career slugging percentage and slugged .514 on the road.  What consistency! He may have been a designated hitter,  but boy did he live up to that designation!

If I could vote for only 1 player on this years ballot.  It would be Juan Pierre because he played for both teams and was well liked by both teams which is a hall of fame achievement in my book.

I'm sorry my mind or my computer were just hacked.  No offense to Juan,  but if I had only one vote and even just 1/10th of my marbles that vote would have to go to Mariano Rivera in his 1st year on the ballot.  The most dominant relief pitcher in both the regular and post season.  Yes I hate the Yankees but only because of their greatness.  Rivera enhanced that greatness and is deserving of being on 100% of the ballots.

This year I think that 3 or 4 players will make the HOF.  Rivera and Martinez are perfect bookends, 2 positions that HOF voters aren't sure about in their 1st and last years of eligibility. In my mind they are locks.  I think either Mussina or Halladay or possibly both will also make it this year.  I am pretty sure Rivera will not be on every ballot because there are some writers opposed to a 100%ballot and some writers opposed to relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame.  So it's the perfect storm of stupidity that will keep Rivera away from ballot perfection.   The announcement is just minutes away, (procrastinate much?) So let's go see if I was right.  

Monday, January 21, 2019

2019 HOF- First year on the ballot.

There are 20 players appearing on the HOF ballot for the first time this year. Last year there were 19 players on the ballot first time.  Two were elected into the hall of fame from that ballot.  3 received enough votes to be back on the ballot this year. 8 received some votes but not enough for future consideration. 6 failed to receive any votes at all.  If those percentages  hold this year 2 of the players on the ballot this year will be inducted. 3 more will remain on the ballot. 9 will receive some votes but not enough to stay on the ballot and again 6 of the players will receive no votes at all.  As you peruse the list, you can decide in your own mind which players will end up where after the announcement is made next week.

Rick Ankiel - Pitcher Outfielder - 1999-2013 Cardinals 7  Nationals 2 Royals, Mets, Braves, Astros,  1. 

One of the 10 youngest players in the national league in 1999 and 2000 with the Cardinals.  2nd in NL Rookie of the year voting in 2000. Transitioned to outfield in 2007

Jason Bay - Outfielder 2003-2013 Pirates 6 Mets 3 Red Sox 2   Padres Mariners 1 Bay was the 2004 rookie of the year with Pirates in 2004 (3 time rookie of the month) with the Pirates he was also 1 time rookie of the month in 2006 and 4 time nl player of the month between 2005 and 2007.  In 2011 he was 1 time nl player of the month with the Mets.  In addition to those accolades he was a 2 time NL all star (2005 2006 Pirates) and 1 time AL all star in 2009 with the Red Sox, The same year he won his only silver slugger award.

Lance Berkman 1999-2013 Outfielder First Baseman Astros 12 Cardinals 2 Rangers Yankees 1 Berkman was a 6 time all star 5 times with the Astros and once  with the Cardinals in 2011 the same year he was voted NL comeback player of the year. 4 times while with the Astros. Berkman finished in the top 5 in MVP voting (3rd in 2002 and 2006 and 5th in 2001 and 2008) Among all players on the 2019 Hall of fame ballot Berkman ranks in the top 5 in slugging pct with a life time .537 putting him in the top 50 of all time and has top 100 career numbers in walks and home runs. Berkman has been in 2 world series in 2005 as a member of the Houston Astros and in 2001 as a member of the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.  He has a .410 World Series batting average a slugging percentage of .564 16 hits 4 for extra bases 11 RBI and 9 runs scored.

Freddy Garcia Pitcher 1999-2013 Mariners 6 White Sox 5 Yankees 2 Braves Phillies Orioles Tigers 1 Garcia won the 2001 Al Pitching title came in 3rd in Cy Young voting that year which was also the front part of back to back All star appearance for the mariners.  He was 1 time player of the month for seattle in 2003.  Garcia pitched and won game 4 of the 2005 World Series for the White Sox against the Houston Astros who originally signed him some 12 years earlier as an amateur free agent.

Jon Garland Pitcher  2000 to 2013 White Sox 8 Dodgers 2 Diamondback Padres Rockies Angels 1 When Freddy Garcia's eventual rotation mate got to the White Sox in 200 youngest player in the American League He was the 4th youngest in 2001.  2005 was the White Sox and Garland's big year.  He started hot winning April AL pitcher of the month.  Pitched  a scoreless inning in the all star game helping the White Sox win home field advantage as the American League team in the World Series.  He went 18-10 with a 3.43 ERA finishing 6th in the AL Cy Young voting. Garland pitched twice in the post season in 2005 allowing 2 earn runs in a complete game win against the Angels in the ALCs and allowing 2 more earned Runs in 7 innings  game 3 of the World Series which the Sox eventually won 7-5 in 14 innings.

Travis Haffner Designated Hitter First Baseman 2002 to 2013 Indians 10 Rangers Yankees 1 Pronk was 5th in AL MVP voting in 2005 and was a 1 time AL player of the month in 2005 and 2006 for the Indians.

Roy Halladay Pitcher 1998 to 2013 Blue Jays 12 Phillies 4 Roy Halladay is the only deceased player on the BBWWA ballot this year having died at the age 40 in November of 2017. Halladay won the Cy Young award and Sporting News pitcher of the year awards twice,  Once with the Jays in 2003 and again with the Phillies in 2010. Halladay was in the top 5 in Cy young voting 5 other times in his career,  An 8 time all star playing in 4 games with Toronto and 2 with Philadelphia.  He was the starting  all star hurler on 2 occasions once for each team.

Todd Helton First Baseman 1997 to 2013 Rockies 17. Todd Helton played his entire career
 for one team.  While playing for that team he put up career numbers in the top 100 all time in batting average, hits, total bases, home runs, runs batted in and runs scored.  In addition his career numbers for  slugging percentage and walks are in the top 50 for all time and his number for doubles in the top 25. This offensive prowess would probably make him a hall of famer the first time on the ballot except for the fact that the one team plays in homer friendly Coors Field.  Helton won the NL Batting title and the Hank aaron award in 2000.  A 5 time all star with 3 gold gloves and 4 Silver sluggers who batted .333 in his only World Series in 2007.

Ted Lilly Pitcher 1999 to 2013 Dodgers Cubs 4 Yankees Blue Jays 3 Athletics 2 Expos(Nationals) 1 Lilly, a two time all stars (Cubs, Jays) who neither won nor competed for any major accolades or awards as a starting pitcher.

Derek Lowe 1997 to 2013 Pitcher Red Sox 8 Dodgers 4 Braves 3 Rangers Indians Yankees Mariners 1 Lowe a 2 time all star for the Red Sox where he was also a 2002 player of the week and player of the month. In 2004 he won an Alds game an Alcs game and a world Series game helping the Red Sox break the curse of the Bambino. He signed as a frre agent to the Dodgers in earl 2005 where he was a nl player of the month in 2006 and again a nl player of the month in 2010 with the Braves.

Darren Oliver Pitcher 1993 to 2013 Rangers 10 Angels 3 Cardinals Blue Jays 2 Mets Rockies Red Sox Marlins Astros 1 Oliver in his last 4 seasons was one of the 10 oldest players in the American League from 7th oldest in 2010 to 2nd oldest in 2013.

Roy Oswalt Pitcher 2001 to 2013 Astros 10 Phillies 2 Rockies Rangers 1 Oswalt was a 3 time all star with the Astros 1 time rookie of the month in 2001 and 1 time pitcher of the month in 2002 and 2006 and one time player of the week in 2004 and 2008

Andy Petitte Pitcher 1995 to 2013 Yankees 15 Astros 3 3 time all star for the Yankees.  5 times in the top 5 Cy young voting 2nd 1996, 4th 2000 5th 1997 Yankees  5th 2005 Astros.  Petite pitched in 8 World Series the Yankees were 5-2 and the Astros 0-1 2001 Alcs mvp.  career leader for post seasons wins 18
Juan Pierre Outfielder 2000 to 2013 Marlins 4 Rockies Dodgers 3 White Sox 2 Phillie Cubs 1 Pierre's 614 stolen bases is the 18th best all time.  He hit .333 as the Marlins won the 2003 World Series. 

Placido Polanco Infielder 1998 to 2013  Phillies 7 Cardinals Tigers 5 Marlins 1 2 time all star (Tigers and Phillies) 2006 ALCS MVP with Tigers 3 time Phillies Gold Glover

Mariano Rivera Pitcher 1995 to 2013 Yankees 19 13 time all star 2013 Al All Star MVP  1999 WS MVP 2003 AL ALCS MVP 2013 AL comeback player of the year 5 time AL Rolaids Relief winner 1 time Babe Ruth Award winner 3 time delivery man of the year award Career Leader in Saves 652 and post season saves 42.  .70 post season ERA is career leader. 

Miguel Tejada Infielder 1997 to 2013 AThletics 7 Orioles 5 Astros 2 Royals Giants Padres 1 6 all star appearances 4 AL (3 Orioles 1 Start 2005 All Star Mvp, 1 Athletics) 2 NL Astros 2002 Al MVP with Athletics 2  silver slugger awards as Oriole.

Vernon Wells Center Fielder 1999 to 2013 Blue Jays 12 Angels 2 Yankees 1 3 time All Star 3 time gold glove winner 1 time silver slugger all with Toronto. Started 2006 All Star Game. Wells played 1731 games without a playoff appearance 2nd only to Adam Dunn in the Wild Card era. 

Kevin Youkilis, Infielder 2004 to 2013 Red Sox 9 Yankees White Sox 1 3 time all star 2008 Hank Aaron award winner 2007 Gold Glove winner 1 time al rookie of the month 1 time player of the week with Red Sox 2008 and White Sox 2012

Michael Young Infielder 2000 to 2013 Rangers 13 Dodgers Phillies 1 7 all star games started 2009 won 2006 all star mvp won 2005 al batting title and 1 gold glove award.Tomorrow I will post my final installment of hall of fame commentary including my Official Unofficial Ballot.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

2019 HOF Returning Players

On Tuesday January 22nd the bbwaa will make their announcement as to who they voted in for the 2019 class of baseball's hall of fame.  As I do each year I will review the returning players to the ballot.  This year I am introducing a section called final thoughts in which I address my thoughts on pplayers appearing on the ballot for their fianl year of eligibility.

The players returning from last years ballot listed from the highest percentage of votes received to lowest are ...

Edgar Martinez 70.4% of the vote in 2018. 10th and final year on the  ballot   Edgar's  highest % came in 2018. Final Thoughts: He is considered likely for HOF inclusion this year.  

Mike Mussina 63.5%  of the vote in 2018.  6th year on ballot  Mussina's highest % came in 2018.

Roger Clemens   57.3 % of the vote in 2018. 7th year on the ballot,   Clemens  received his highest %   in 2018,

Barry Bonds  56.4% of the vote in 2018. 7th  year on the ballot,  Bonds received his highest %  in 2018.

Curt Schilling 45% of the vote in 2017. 6th year on the ballot,    Schillings highest % was 52.3 in 2016

Omar Vizquel 37.0% of vote 2nd year on the ballot

Larry Walker 34.1% of the vote in 2018. 9th year on the ballot . Larryreceived his highest percentage of the vote in 2018.

Fred McGriff  23.2 % of the vote in 2018.  10th and final  year on the ballot. Fred's  highest %  was 23.9 in 2012, his 3rd year on the ballot. Final Thoughts: While I consider the Crime Dog a border line hall of famer, most voters have not.  He hasn't ever gotten 1/4 of the writers vote and needs 3/4 for inclusion.  Harold Baines making it to Hall through  the veteran's committee should increase McGriffs vote total, but it wont triple it. 

Manny Ramirez 3nd year on the ballot, voters were just being voters last year when the put Manny on only 22% of their ballots.  Manny's highes total was in 2017   receiving  23.8% of  votes on his inaugural ballot.

Jeff  Kent 14.5%  of the vote in 2018. 6th year on the ballot  . 2017 was Kent's highest total to date, receiving 16.7% on his 5th year on the ballot.

Gary Sheffield 11.1% of the vote in 2018. 5th year on ballot. Gary's highest was 13.3% in 2017 his 4th year on the ballot.

Like Sheffield, Billy Wagner received 11.1 % of the vote in 2018.  This is his 3rd year on the ballot.
2017 was his highest percantage of the vote.

Scott Rolen received 10.2 % of the vote in 2018.. It is his 2nd year on the ballot

Sammy Sosa wnt down to 7.8% of the vote in 2018.  This is his 7th year on the ballot.   In 2012 Sammy received 12.5%, his highest percentage in his first year of consideration.

Andruw Jones  received 7.3% of the vote in 2018. It is 2nd year on the ballot. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

2018 HOF Voting in Review

In 2018 there were 33 former players on the ballot of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) for consideration into Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown New York.  Fourteen had appeared on the 2017 ballot failing to receive at least 75 % of the vote.  Nineteen were appearing for the first time.  No players were on the ballot for their final year of eligibility.  None of the returning player received less than 5% of the vote.  This means that of the 33 players on the ballot they were either elected to the Hall with 75% or more of the vote (4 players), received less than 75% but more than 25% of the vote and have returned to the 2019 ballot ( 15 players), or received lass than 5% of the vote in their initial year and are not on the ballot for 2019 (14 players)

The 4 players who were inducted into the hall of fame on July 29th 2019 were ...
(Ihave includerd teir hall of fame induction speeches as an added bonus)
Chipper Jones

Vladimir Guerrero

Jim Thome

Trevor Hoffman


8 of the 14 players who failed to receive 5% of the vote did receive at least one vote.  These players were Carlos Lee,  Livan Hernandez, Kerry Wood, Chris Carpenter, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Johan Santana and Jamie Moyer.  The 6 who received no votes were Carlos Zambrano, Orlando Hudson, Jason Isringhausen , Aubrey Huff, Kevin Millwood and Brad Lidge.  

I will begin my 2019 HOF coverage in earnest with my next post featuring the 15 players returning to the ballot in 2019. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Closing the book on 2009

In a few weeks, the 2019 announcements for who the BBWAA selected into the Hall of Fame will be made.  Today begins my first installment into Hall of Fame coverage.  Today and tomorrow I will be looking backward before I look ahead,  In 2018 the book was closed on the Hall of Fame nominees from 2009 the truth is the book was closed long before that due ti the unique circumstances of the 2009 election.

There were 23 names on the 2009 ballot 13 returning to the ballot from previous years and ten on the ballot for the first time.  Due to the unique circumstances, I mentioned above all ten of these new players did not return to the ballot in 2010.  Nine failed to receive 5% of the vote and were taken off subsequent ballots and one was elected on his first ballot and also removed from subsequent ballots.

Ricky Henderson was the player to make the Hall on his first ballot that year receiving 94.8 percent of the vote.  Jim Rice was on the other end of the spectrum that year receiving 76.4 % of the vote in his 15th and final year of eligibility (Eligibility has since been switched to 10 years)

The remaining 12 who returned to the ballot in 2009 came back to the ballot in 2010.  3 of those players were eventually voted into the Hall of fame during their time of eligibility (Andre Dawson 2010 9th year of eligibility, Bert Blyleven 2011 14th year of eligibility, Tim Raines 2017 1oth and final year of eligibility) 4 more players were not elected by the writers but since elected by the veterans committee these are Jack Morris 2018 Alan Trammell 2018 and as I mentioned yesterday Harold Baines 2019 and Lee Smith 2019.  So unless there is further action done by the veterans committee a total of 9 of the 23 candidates for enshrinement in 2009 are in Cooperstown.

Tommy John was on the ballot for the 15th and final time in 2009 receiving 31.7% of the vote, his highest percentage, but not even 1/2 of what was needed for enshrinement.

 Dave Parker, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy all returned to the ballot in 2010 but all eventually dropped out without ever receiving the votes needed for enshrinement.

The Class of 2009 who appeared on the ballot for their first and only time were (listed in order of votes received)

Rickey Henderson 511 Votes (94.8%)
Mark Grace  22 votes (4.1%)
David Cone 21 Votes (3.9%)
Matt Williams 7 votes (1.3%)
Mo Vaughn 6 Votes (1.1%)
Jay Bell 2 Votes (.4%)
Jesse Orosco 1 Vote (.2%)
Greg Vaughn 0 votes
Ron Gant 0 votes
Dan Pleasac 0 votes.

The book has closed on 2009 Hall of Fame wise,  Tomorrow we will look back at the 2018 bbwaa hall of fame process before we open the book on 2019 on Friday.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Baines and Smith make all my unofficial HOF balloting official

Lee Smith HOF 2019

I was driving home from work on December  when I got floored by unexpected good news.  I was working an overnight weekend job for the holidays and turned my radio on while driving past all the mopes on their way to work. The national news was on and the last story was about the baseball Hall of Fame.  Harold Baines and Lee Smith were both selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the modern era committee. 
Harold Baines HOF 2019

 This came as both a delight and surprise to me.  Since I began this blog in 2009 there has been no greater advocate to HOF consideration and inclusion for Baines and Smith than myself  Each year in these very pages I pretend I have a vote for the Hall.  Go back into the archives and each year you will see me eloquently persuade the inclusion of either gentleman into the Hall.

Harold Baines  began his career with the White Sox in 1980 and finished his career there as well in 2001.  He had 3 stints with them 1980 to 1989, 1996 and 1997 and then came back in 2000 and retired in 2001.  He also played for the Baltimore Orioles 3 separate times (1993-1995,1997-1998, &2000) In between He played for the Rangers , Athletics and Indians.  Baines was predominantly a right fielder in his first 7 years in the Majors.  From 1988 to 1992 he transitioned to designated hitter  playing some outfield. From 1993 on he was used exclusively as a DH with the exception of one game in right field for the Sox in 1997.

In 1980 while Baines was starting his HOF career on the south side of Chicago, Lee Smith began his HOF journey on the North side with the Cubs.  He played for the Cubs from 1980 to 1987 and then played for the Red Sox from 1988 to 1990, In 1990 he went to St. Louis and was there until mid 1993 when he finished the year with the Yankees. In 1994 He and Baines were teammates in Baltimore.  He finished his career with stints for the angels (1995-1996) Reds (1996) before finishing up with the Expos in 1997.  Smith was a reliever for the vast majority of his career finishing 802 games and earning 478 saves.

I have read several places that Baines and Smith belong in the Hall of Very Good and not the Hall of Fame.  This just does not hold up.  The truth is that they are both Hall of fame caliber in their positions of Designated Hitter and Relief Pitcher.   In baseball reference,com they rank players in similarity.  4 of the 5 players most similar to Baines, Tony Perez, Al Kaline,  Billy Williams & Andre Dawson are Hall of Famers.  Lee Smith best comps to Trevor Hoffman who made the HOF last year and Mariano Rivera, a lock to do so this year. 

Congratulations to both Baines and Smith I look forward to your future enshrinement.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

If the playoffs started today. . .

The baseball season is somewhere between 1/3 and 1/4 finished.  My team (The White Sox ) are the worst team in the majors and for that reason and others I have not been paying a lot of attention to the season.  What I like to do from time to time is look at the current  regular season like it just ended for the year and extrapolate what would happen if the playoffs began today.

The current playoff format is this.  The  3 division champions are seeded (put in order) based on their record and the teams with the next best records would be the wild card teams.  The 2 wild card teams would play each other in a 1 game series then the wild card winner would play the # 1 seed in a 5 game format and the #2 and #3 teams would play each other.  The winners of the divisional series face off in a championship series which is best of 7 games.  these 3 series (wild card, divisional and League championship) take place simultaneously in the American and National leagues.  The winners of the NLCS and ALCS then match up in a best of 7 World Series.

If the playoffs were to start today, the records at the end of yesterday would determine the playoff pairing.

In the American League the seeding would be

1. New York Yankees East Division 31-13 .705
2.Houston Astros West Division 30-18 .625
3. Cleveland Indians Central Division 22-23 .489

Wild Card 1 Boston Red Sox 32-15 .681
Wild Card 2 Seattle Mariners 27-19 .587

A quick perusal of those records and you see that the Red Sox have the 2nd best record in the American league and yet they are only a wild card.  You may also see that the Res Sox and the Mariners' both have a much better record than the Indians yet the Indians are a better seed, There are actually 2 more teams (Angels and Athletics) who have a better record than the Indians and they are not even in the playoffs.  That is because none of those 4 teams play in the A.L. Central and the Indians are the best team currently in that division despite their losing record. As for the Red Sox they may have the 2nd best record in the AL but the team with the best record (The Yankees) is in the Eastern Division with them. 

If the playoffs were today The Yankees would host a 5 game series against thee winner of the wild card game between the Red Sox and The Mariners.  The winner of that series would then play in the league championship series against the winner of the Houston Astros and the Cleveland Indian series. 

In the National League the seeding stacks up like this ...

1. Atlanta Braves East Division 28-18 .609
2. Milwaukee Brewers Central Division 29-19 .604
3. Colorado Rockies West Division 26-22 .542

Wild Card 1 Philadelphia Phillies 27-18 .600
Wild Card 2 St. Louis Cardinals 26-19 .578

4 mores  teams the Cubs, Pirates, Mets and Nationals all have records better than the Rockies but if the playoffs began today they would not make it because none of them play in the N.L. West.

The Braves would hos the Phillies - Cardinals Wild Card winner and the winner there would play the Brewers Rockies winner with that winner heading to the World Series. 

From time to time I will come back here and tell you the playoff match ups if the Playoffs began today.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

2018 Hall of Fame If I had a ballot

Tomorrow baseball's Hall of Fame will reveal the results of the Baseball Writers of America Association (BBWAA) ballot as to who will make it to the Hall of fame this year.  This is my 3rd and favoritr annual installment where I pretend that I am a member of that august institution and that my opinion really matters.  The BBWAA allows writers to vote for a many as 10 candidates of eligible  players (this year it is 33).  I like to rank the players how I would vote for them if I were given allowed 13 votes until I was allowed only one vote.  I then reveal how many and who I would vote for if I were choosing just base on who I thought was hall of fame worthy.

If I were allowed 13 votes, unlucky 13 would go to someone who had his share of both good and bad luck in his career, Kerry Wood.  Wood debuted for the Cubs on April 12, 1998 Easter Sunday.  It was the day after I got married.  Shortly after that he had a 20 strikeout game on his was to being Rookie of the Year.  His injury plagued career had him make the transition from starter to reliever and the injuries kept him from the Hall of Fame type career we imagined for him in those early years.  However, I think that he is deserving of a mention, so I give it to him here.

Last year my 11th vote went to Gary Sheffield, this year he has dropped to 12th.  Sheffield's name has generated much debate amongst writers and fans on his worthiness for the Hall.  Last year I said there were too many question marks about Sheffield to consider him higher than 11th.  So it should not be surprising at all that he'd drop a notch this year.

In 2016 in his 3rd year of Eligibility, I placed Mike Mussina 11th on my ballot.  Last year je went up to 9th.  I have moved him back down to 11th this year.  A lot of people I respect think this is a hall of fame pitcher,  1/2 way through the ballot process, I do not.

If I were allowed to vote for exactly 10 players, my 10th vote would go to Jeff Kent.  10th is exactly where I placed Kent last year.  To me Kent is a very good player but I see him ultimately missing out of enshrinement to Cooperstown.

I am a Chicago guy and I see my role as a Chicago guy to bring Chicago players to the attention of those who may not have seen them play regularly.  With that in mind, my 9th vote goes to Carlos Lee.  Not only does he have one of the greatest nicknames of all time, El Caballo was a pure power hitter and a joy to watch.  He's been wavering for me between 8th and eleventh but his early years for the White Sox have him sticking out at 9th.  

Last year Trevor Hoffman was unlucky 13th on my Hall of Fame list.  Why he was so low could be summed up in two words: Lee Smith.  Smith was  'on his fifteenth and final year on the ballot and as my Brother in Law famously said some years ago 'If Lee Smith doesn't get in ain't nobody should get in."  The BBWAA decided that Smith is not hall of fame worthy, so in my logic if Smith the superior reliever is not worthy neither is Hoffman.  Fortunately for Hoffman my logic is not being followed by the writers.  This year I've relented a little and placed Hoffman 8th on my list.

Like last year, My 7th choice on a 7 player ballot would be Fred McGriff.  Like Carlos Lee, McGriff has a Hall of fame nickname, but The Crime Dog for me is just on the outside  edge of the Hall of Fame.  I will give him a hard and long look next year in his final go round and perhaps even the benefit of the doubt on next year's ballot. 

If I could vote for only 6 players on the 2018 ballot.  Larry Walker would be that 6th player.  Larry has been going up in my estimation over the past few years (He was my 8th choice last year.)  I think at least in my mind , the time is coming that writers should consider his solid case for enshrinement.

If I could vote for as many or as few players in the Hall of Fame this year as I thought were truly deserving of such an honor, that number would be 5.  My Official Unofficial Ballot (OUB) would contain 5 names, the 5th name would be Omar Vizquel.  Vizquel is among 3 players on the ballot for the first time this year who are also on my OUB.  Some say Vizquel just does not have the offensive stats to garner enshrinement in Cooperstown.  Those who say that don't understand what an awesome shortstop and student of the game he was.  I say he is very deserving of Cooperstown and I plan to plead his case for as long as it takes to get him there.

If it was decided that only 4 players could adorn my 2018 ballot, The 4tth name on that ballot would be Edgar Martinez.  (Edgar was 5th on my list of players last year.)  I have changed my tune on Edgar over the past few years as many official voters have so I think if not this year Martinez should make it to Cooperstown very soon.

If I was given a HOF ballot and told to vote for only 3 players, the 4th player would be Vladimir Guerrero.  He was 4th on my OUB  in his first year of eligibility and my gut said he would not be a 1st ballot hall of famer.  My gut is saying this year that he will be a 2nd ballot one.

If I could only vote for 2 players this year, my 2nd vote would go to Chipper Jones.  Jones played only for Atlanta for his distinguished career and is extremely deserving of being enshrined his first chance out of the gate.

My wife is convinced that Jim Thome ruined the White Sox.  No matter what I say to her, I cannot talk her out of such foolishness.  That being said there is no kind of foolishness that can keep the pride of Peoria, Illinois out of the Hall of Fame.  The 2006 comeback player of the year with the White Sox is who I would vote for this year even If I could only vote for one player.

Whew!!! That was a lot of fun but also hard work.  Now a little bit more guesswork.  I think that tomorrow 4 or 5 players will be announced as getting 75 % or more of the votes needed for enshrinement.  If it is 5 that will be tied with the most ever with the original Hall of fame class that included Babe Ruth.  If it were 5 , I think it will be Vladimir Guerrero , Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones,  Edgar Martinez and Jim Thome.  If it is 4, and I think it will be 4, Martinez would just narrowly miss out.  

2018 HOF - first timers

There are 19 players appearing on the HOF ballot for the first time this year.  There is a good chance for the majority of these players that it will be their only year on the ballot.  Some may have the great honor of being first ballot hall of famers, while others may not get the 5% of the vote need to be a sophomore sensation.  There should be a handful of players who won't even garner a single vote.

Here is a brief overview of the 19 on the ballot for the first time in 18.

Chris Carpenter - Pitcher 1997 to 2012 St Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays. 
Carpenter was a 3 time all star (all with the Cardinals) and the 2005 NL Cy Young winner He helped the Cardinals to World Series championships in 2006 and 2011.

Johnny Damon - Outfielder 1995 to 2012 Kansac City Royals, Oakland A's, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees,
Damon was a 2 time all star with the Red Sox in 2002 and 2005 and helped the Bo sox break the curse of the bambino in 2004 and win the World Series.  Johnny had 408 total stolen bases in his career (2nd among everyone on HOF ballot, tops among 1st timers) In 2000 with the Royals,  Damon led the American league in both runs scored (136) and  stolen bases (46).  In 2009 Damon got his 2nd world series ring while with the Yankees.

Livan Hernandez 1996 to 2012 Florida Marlins, San Francisco Giants, Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, Arizona D-Backs, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies, New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, World Series and NLCS MVP in 1997 with the Marlins.

Orlando Hudson 2nd Baseman 2002 to 2012 Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona D-backs, LA Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, 2 time all start (2007 Diamondbacks, 2009 Dodgers) 4 time gold glove winner
Aubrey Huff IF/OF/DH 2000 to 2012 Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants, won the 2008 Silver Slugger Award td Edgar Martinez Award with Baltimore Orioles.  Won world Series with Giants in 2010 and again in 2012

Jason Isringhausen Pitcherr 1995 to 2012 (Mets, Cardinals, A's Rays, ANgels 2 time all star (A's Cardinals)

Andruw Jones centerfilelder 1996 to 2012 (Braves, Dodgers, Rangers, Whitesox Yankees) 5 time all star (braves) 10 time gold glove  1 time silver slugger award  2005 Hank AAoron award and 2005 sporting news player of the yerar award.

Chipper Jones third baseman 1993 to 2012 Braves 8 time all star,  2 time silver slugger,  won world series in 1995, 1999 NL MVP, 20008 NL Batting Title

Carlos Lee LF 1999 - 2012 White Sox, Breweres Rangers, Astros, Marlins 3x all star (brewews 2 Astros 1) 2 time silver slugger

Brad Lidge Pitcher 2002-2012 Astros, Phillies, Nationals  2time alls star (astros, phillies) World Series champion 2008 with Phillies, 2008 Rolaids Relief, 2008 deliverman of the years 2008 comeback player of the year.

Hideki Matsui Left Fielder 2003 - 2012 Yankees, Angels, A's Rays 2x all star Yankees, 1999 World Series champion with Yankees also 1999 World Series MVP

Kevin Millwood Pitcher 1997 to 2012 Braves, Indians, Phillies, rangers. Orioles, Rockies, Mariners All star with Braves, Led  AL in 2005 with Indians

Jamie Moyer Pitcher 1986 to 2012 Cubs, Rangers , Cardinals, Orioles, Red Sox, Mariners, Phillies, Rockies, All Star with Mariners, Won 2008 World Series with Phillies

Scott Rolen 3rd Baseman 1996 to 2012 Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays Reds 1997 NL Rookie of the year Phillies, 7 time all Star (Phillies 1 Cardinals 4 Reds 2) 8 time Gold Glove 1 time Silver Slugger 2006 World Series Champs w Cardinals

Johann Santanna Pitcher 2000 to 2012 Twins,Mets 4 time all star (Twins 3, Mets 1) Cy Young 2004 & 2006 with Twins 2 time al leader era I time nl era leader 3 time al strikeout leader I time AL Wins leader won pitching triple crown 2006.One time gold glove winner

Jim Thome FB/DH  1991 to 2012 Indians, Phillies White Sox Dodgers, Twins, Orioles 5 time all star (Indians 3 , Phillies 1 , White Sox 1) 1 time silver slugger, 2002 Roberto Clemente award, 2004 Lou Gherig  and 2006 Comeback player of the year award

Omar Vizquel ss 1989 to 2012 Mariners Indians Giants Rangers White Sox Blue Jays 3 time all star(Indians) 11 time Gold Glove winner

Kerry Wood Pitcher 1998 to 2012 Cubs, Indians Yankees 2 time all star (Cubs) 1998 NL Rookie of the Year Led  league in strikeouts in 2003

Carlos Zambrano Pitcher 2001 to 2012 Cubs, Marlins 3 time all star (Cubs) 3 time silver slugger