My Mock Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

January 7, 2014

1. RHP Greg Maddux - There are Hall of Fame voters out there that will not check the box next to Greg Maddux’s name. Those voters are, as my dad used to say, “A few cans short of a six-pack.”

2. LHP Tom Glavine - 300 wins & elite command, enough said.

3. RHP Mike Mussina - When you look at Mussina’s career numbers next to Tom Glavine’s, they compare favorably. Mussina has a slightly better Wins Above Replacement (83-81.4) and a better ERA+ (123-118). Mussina also pitched his entire career in the American League East, a ferocious division. Mussina’s a no doubter when you look at his entire case.

4. DH Frank Thomas - 521 homers is just about enough for me to put him in but the career OBP of .419 seals it.

5. C Mike Piazza - Best power-hitting catcher of all-time. He gets dinged for his defensive flaws but he’s clearly a Hall of Famer. Piazza is one of the best opposite field power hitters ever at any position. I would’ve loved to have gotten the reaction of Ted Williams to Piazza’s induction. Williams famously gave Piazza some pre-draft lessons and gave him his stamp of approval. Remember, Piazza was selected in the 62nd round by the Dodgers as a favor to Tommy Lasorda, a friend of the Piazza family. The 62nd round doesn’t even exist anymore! How about that journey from Round 62 to being on the Hall of Fame ballot?

6. 1B Jeff Bagwell - From the Houston Astros: “Among all MLB players from 1991-2005, Bagwell ranked second in RBI, third in runs scored, hits, extra-base hits and walks and was fifth in homers and games played.” Also, Bagwell’s WAR of 79.5 is only behind Barry Bonds on the ballot.

7. 2B Craig Biggio - 3,000 hits is enough for me. He’s also first in hits in MLB over the span of his career (1988-2007).

8. OF Tim Raines - From Joe Posnanski’s outstanding piece on the Hall of Fame voting (LINK HERE): “Here’s a simple argument for Raines: In a career that was almost identical in length to his contemporary Tony Gwynn, Raines reached base just 18 fewer times and he scored 200 more runs. If Gwynn is a slam dunk Hall of Famer (and he is) then Tim Raines belongs in the Hall of Fame as well.”

I realize that Raines & Larry Walker aren’t much different when you look at WAR. I’d vote for Walker too, just not this year with a ten-player limit.

Those are my eight locks. Why no Bonds or Clemens yet? Strategically, I’m voting to get players inducted into Cooperstown. Given the plethora of qualified players on the ballot, I made a decision to use my ten votes to try and get the ballot cleared as fast as possible to induct a large number of players next year as well. I just don’t think Bonds or Clemens will get near 60%, much less 75%. Raines got 52.5% last year & I think he’s got a real shot at clearing 65% this year. I can’t justify leaving a deserving player that is that close to induction off the ballot. Also, I gave strong consideration to the length of time a player has been on the ballot even if I didn’t think they’d clear the 75% threshold for induction. Therefore, my next vote goes to:

9. SS Alan Trammell - He had a career WAR of 70.3, which is ahead of Hall of Famers Barry Larkin, Ernie Banks & Lou Boudreau among others. I hope to see both he & Lou Whitaker (74.8 WAR) both enshrined in the near future.

There was one last player that I just couldn’t leave off the ballot for any reason.

10. RHP Curt Schilling - “Everything I hear Jack Morris was supposed to be…is what Curt Schilling actually was.” – Brian Kenny. Frankly, it’s the most persuasive argument I’ve heard for any candidate this year. Schilling’s post-season success takes a close case and puts it way over the line for induction. I fear that he’ll be punished for saying what’s on his mind and for being a below average businessman (Lots of those out there, myself included).

Would also vote for: Lee Smith & his 478 saves, Larry Walker, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez (the best pure strike zone manager I’ve seen in my lifetime).

Next year’s locks: Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson

Would re-evaluate in the future: Mark McGwire

Finally, here are my predictions of the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot results:

IN: Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Biggio, Piazza.

Over 50%: Bagwell, Raines, Jack Morris (Yeah, that career ERA of 3.90 & the low Career WAR of 39 is too much for me to vote for Morris).

I suspect Bonds & Clemens will fall just shy of 50%. Mike Mussina’s number will be shockingly low (20-30%). Rafael Palmeiro falls off the ballot with less than 5% of the vote.

All numbers cited are from Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.

Early NL All-Star Ballot

April 26, 2013

Let’s dispense with the formalities and get right to the action:

1B: Paul Goldschmidt – AZ

2B: Brandon Phillips – CIN

3B: Todd Frazier – CIN

SS: Troy Tulowitzki – COL

C: Yadier Molina – STL

OF: Shin Soo Choo – CIN, Bryce Harper – WASH, Justin Upton – ATL

The toughest position was the outfield. Ryan Braun & all of the Rockie outfielders are deserving as well. Choo has really added an edge to the Reds and he’s such a complete player. I think we’ll look back at that move being the key one of the off-season when it’s all said and done this year. Harper & Upton are both on fire and I’m glad we put to bed all that garbage about Upton not being a winning player, etc, etc. I think the Diamondbacks did a real disservice to themselves by knocking him and deflating his trade value before the move was made.

Todd Frazier was a guy I was wrong about when I scouted. I only got a brief look and saw the same flawed swing his older brother had. Combine that with an affirming opinion I trusted and I didn’t do as much digging as I should have. It’s the one judgment I regret the most because it would’ve been the easiest mistake to avoid. What an asset he’s been to that club in Cincinnati and he’s clearly having a great time playing there.

Finally, I took Molina over Buck because I’d be surprised if Buck’s hot streak lasted into May & I think the world of Molina’s all-around game. I knew he’d be a plus receiver but he’s been able to demonstrate he’s a consistent .300 hitter as well. If he earned a few more walks, he’d be the perfect catcher.

Next up on my hit list of blog posts is a piece about opportunity costs relating to control of young players as well as my All-Star pitcher selections.

One last thing, don’t be shocked if Anthony Rendon works his way into the playoff roster for the Nats, should they get there. The general impression is that they’re a bat short (and perhaps a `pen arm short as well) right now. This major league stint of Rendon’s during Zimmerman’s DL stay lets the front office take his temperature, so to speak, and gives them an idea of where they stand moving forward. Fans tend to put a lot of stock in pre-season predictions but the truth is that MLB rosters are more fluid than people think. Mid-season adjustments are often the difference between October baseball & October golf.

Early All-Star Ballot: AL Position Players

April 25, 2013

I admit it. I’m a sucker for All-Star voting. I get near the 25-vote limit each year & I enjoy the ten-minute distraction it provides. Like Coach Parcells, I reserve the right to change my mind in subsequent ballots. Also, #SmallSampleSize applies here.

That being said, here’s my first ballot of the 2013 MLB season:

AL:

1B: Chris Davis – BAL

2B: Robinson Cano – NYY

3B: Miguel Cabrera – DET

SS: Jed Lowrie – OAK (Not much else there at SS)

C: A.J. Pierzynski – TX

OF: Mike Trout – LAA, Adam Jones – BAL, Coco Crisp – OAK

DH: Mark Reynolds – CLE

Toughest omission was Prince Fielder at first base, but I had to give the early nod to Davis as his adjustments at the plate have been too strong to ignore. Coco Crisp has been playing his best baseball, perhaps ever, in April. I felt very good about that vote. And Mark Reynolds…who doesn’t love the light tower power? Given his hot & cold track record, I felt getting him a vote while he’s hot was the right thing to do. Last ballot thought is that A.J. Pierzynski’s signing has really solidified the Ranger lineup & pitching staff. What was once a gaping weakness is now a glaring strength.

Will be back tomorrow with the NL, in an attempt to get myself back into regular blogging & knock the rust off.

One final thought though…I have been so pleased to see the wave of kindness that’s enveloped Boston since the Marathon. There’s a really good vibe in town right now & I hope that people keep that perspective.

Fantasy Baseball Strategy Guide

March 9, 2012

This is written more for fantasy newcomers and is a slightly edited version that I sent to a new friend last week.

At certain positions (3B/2B), the difference between the #3 guy and the #10 isn’t much at all, where at others…it is (SS). Identifying where you can’t wait is the real secret of a draft. Ideally, you’re trying to get the most value out of every pick you make. So, if there’s very little difference between the 9th third baseman and the 3rd one…why not wait?

1. Strong outfielders are in short supply. Get an elite one (or two) if you can. Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez, and a step down like McCutchen, Ellsbury, Justin Upton ( 5 category guys), guys like that. When you’re playing fantasy baseball, either roto or head-to head, place a priority on filling out as many categories as possible whenever you pick. That leads me to my next point, which is…

2. One category players like closers and SB guys have their place, just not early on. It’s much better to try and get 4-5 guys that steal 15-25 bases to go along with power numbers than waste a top fifty pick on Michael Bourn.

Besides, you could steal someone like Dee Gordon (SS-LAD) later and get a huge SB total if you miss out on the elite SS (Tulo, Reyes, Hanley). To use the closer example, if you get 90% of Rivera’s saves or more in round 15 instead of round 5…that’s a great deal.

3. SS & C are the toughest elite power positions.

4. You can wait on a 2B/3B. Guys like Jason Kipnis/Dustin Ackley and even ARod and Kevin Youkilis can be had a little later than usual.

5. Lean towards American League hitters and National League pitchers. This doesn’t matter that much for closers but make life easier for yourself. Get NL pitchers that have to face 6-7 good hitters in a lineup vs. AL pitchers that see 7-9 good ones.

6. Be careful of your WHIP (walks + hits/innings pitched). It’ll creep up on you and blow up if you’re not careful.

7. Values: Josh Johnson back from injury, Gio Gonzalez (moved to the NL), your guy Paul Goldschmidt, Sergio Santos in TOR, Emilio Bonifacio (multi-position 3b/ss/of & cheap SB’s), 3B Mike Moustakas (elite power ceiling and will play a ton…can be had late in most leagues), Jair Jurrjens, Jason Kipnis and yes, Adam Dunn.

8. Watch out for guys with inning limits like Stephen Strasburg. Guys like Matt Moore & Chris Sale are better buys even though they’re fifth starters because they’re not limited.

9. Injuries to avoid: Grady Sizemore, Scott Sizemore, AJ Burnett, Ryan Howard (back in June?), Carl Crawford.

10. When looking at numbers on most any site, you’re better to look at 2011 stats than 2012 projections some intern wrote. When you do look at 2011 numbers, take into account players like Kipnis & Goldschmidt that had limited at-bats in their first taste of major league baseball. Those players almost always get undervalued.

Two links that may help:

http://games.espn.go.com/frontpage/flbdraftkit

http://rotoworld.com/teams/depth-charts/mlb.aspx

Fantasy Baseball Part One : Undervalued Players

March 5, 2012

Have gotten a few requests for some fantasy baseball advice, so here we go!! Let’s take a look a a group of undervalued players!

1. 3B Kevin Youkilis – Boston
Until last year, Youkilis’ OPS had gone up every season. He was a consensus top 30 player in drafts last year. He’s in the midst of a loaded offensive lineup and is healthy and ready to go again. So, why is he ranked 11th among third basemen by ESPN’s projections? He’ll go in drafts around the 5th round.

2. SP Josh Johnson – Miami
Yeah, remember the guy that dominated MLB in 2010 (2.30 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and a K per IP) and was off to a better start in 2011 (60 IP, 56K, 1.64 ERA, 0.98 WHIP)? He’s back, healthy and ready to roll. I was able to snag him for my squad at #81 overall (9th pick in round #7 in a 12 team league). That’s phenomenal value.

3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona
This kind of power upside doesn’t come along very often. Goldschmidt has .300-30-100 potential and is in the midst of a pretty good lineup. Looks like a nice utility player option in round 8/9.

4. OF/1B Yonder Alonso – San Diego
Yes, playing in Petco Park will dampen Alonso’s homer total. However, this guy is a premier hitter in my mind. He’ll hit and get on base at high clips and will knock in more runs than a player you can get in round twenty or beyond should. If you’re in a keeper league, this is EXACTLY the kind of player you should target. Young with playing time with elite upside.

5. RHP Jair Jurrjens – Atlanta
Yes, he had recurring knee issues last year. The Atlanta GM has said publicly that Jurrjens would have been ready to go in October. He had an ERA under three (2.96), a WHIP of 1.22, 13 wins and 90 K’s in 152 innings. That’s a lot of production for a player you can get in round 15 or so. I got him in round 17 twice this weekend.

6. RHP Alexi Ogando – Texas
Yes, Ogando faded in the second half of 2011 (ERA of 4.48 vs 2.92 before the All-Star break). When you look at it, an ERA of 3.51 over 169 innings as a first-year starter in Texas is great!! I was able to get him in round 18 of two Yahoo drafts Saturday (12 team leagues).

Next up, a strategy guide for drafts on Tuesday!

NFL Draft: WR Thoughts

February 27, 2012

As a NFL fan, I like to try my hand at draft analysis like so many other draft-niks out there. As my beloved Patriots are rumored to be in the market for a wideout, let’s take a peek at that position for the 2012 NFL Draft.

The Elite:
Justin Blackmon – Oklahoma State
Alshon Jeffrey – S. Carolina
Michael Floyd – Notre Dame

Justin Blackmon has drawn many comparisons to Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions and his dominance at the college level will ensure that Blackmon goes in the top ten overall picks, probably the top five. However, the wideouts aren’t really similar physically. Johnson has about four inches and twenty-five pounds on Blackmon.

Blackmon is a two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award. Over his last two years at Oklahoma State, Blackmon has caught 223 passes for 3,187 yards and 36 touchdowns…all with opposition defenses keying on him.

Floyd is a practiced route runner, possesses great hands and can play inside or outside. He combines the physical profile of a bigger target with the speed and quickness of a smaller wideout. He’s ready to contribute day one in the NFL.

Jeffrey had a down year (49-762-8 TD) compared to 2010 (88-1517-9 TD) but SC’s QB situation was lacking this year with all the Garcia drama. Jeffrey is 6’4″, 229 and is a prototype big target WR.

For me, Blackmon and Floyd are as safe as it gets. I would strongly suspect that the Eagles would be all over Floyd at #15 if they decide to rid themselves of the DeSean Jackson nonsense. The Bears at #19 make sense too, as do the Browns at 22 if they keep that selection.

Stock rising:
Kendall Wright from Baylor really helped himself this year with the spotlight on due to Griffin III. He’s a real playmaker and adjusts well on the fly. Also has top shelf hand-eye coordination. He’ll be there late in round one, I think. Hard not to love him.

For me, this is the play of the year by Wright:

Play with your eyes up!! Talk about field vision…look where his eyes are at reading this play. Involved mentally without having the ball thrown to him, the speed to bring it home and the quickness to find the football. And look at the corner running behind Wright…the kid is maxed out effort-wise. Wright is gliding, making it look easy.

And since Sunday’s combine, Stephen Hill’s stock has been rising. Since he played in a run-heavy system at Georgia Tech, there’s a lot less film to look at of him making plays (just 28 catches last season). However, he stood out athletically in the testing (4.30 40 yard dash) and as a pass catcher in the drills. Also, the fact that Demaryius Thomas has turned out well will help Hill.

Stock falling:
Jarius Wright & Joe Adams from Arkansas had down days against elite corners along the way in the SEC….cough cough LSU & Alabama. That really hurt their stock price. Adams rebounded with a great all-around day in the Senior Bowl but both have a lot of questions to answer. Webb has that inside speed component so many teams like to go along with great vision as a returner.

Under the radar: A.J. Jenkins from Illinois.

I think that three years down the road, Jenkins is the guy who is undervalued. He’s looking straight at the third round but has big play ability and would flourish immediately in the right system. At Illinois, with all the coverage focused on him, Jenkins put up 90 catches for 1,276 yards and 8 touchdowns in the Big Ten. The next best pass catcher on the team caught 26 balls for 226 yards and one touchdown. I’d be surprised if he didn’t creep up into the back half of the second round.

X-Factor: Mohamed Sanu – Rutgers
There are days I see Sanu and think he’s phenomenal and on others, he disappears. He was awesome against a talented North Carolina squad (13-119, TD) and this catch:

Are you serious??

Now, here are his days against Pitt, West Virginia & Cincinnati (all with good corners to match-up with)
Pitt : 2-27, 0 TD
West Virginia: 5-48, TD
Cincinnati: 6-38, 0 TD

You can make the case that he racked it up against poor competition. There’s going to be a TON of film watched on him by scouts trying to figure out which guy they’re getting. And to further stir the pot, his college coach in now in Tampa Bay. Would he take him at the top of round two??

The next couple of posts will be baseball related but we’ll take a peek at the cornerback class next time we go NFL.

The true pivotal player for the Tigers (not Prince Fielder)…

January 26, 2012

Wasn’t it great to see Prince Fielder with his Tiger hat today?? Adding his bat will replace the loss of Victor Martinez and should add some more production on top of what they lost. And who knows, perhaps Martinez can get back in time for the post-season?? However, the real key to Detroit’s success may be in the hands of RHP Rick Porcello. Take a peek at Porcello’s splits by month from 2011:

APRIL: 5 GS, 4.25 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .303 BAA
MAY: 4 GS, 3.52 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, .217 BAA
JUNE: 6 GS, 6.97 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, .343 BAA
JULY: 5 GS, 3.06 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .240 BAA
AUGUST: 6 GS, 6.82 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, .353 BAA
SEPTEMBER: 5 GS, 3.55 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .258 BAA

I mean, talk about up and down!?! The Tigers have a strong staff with Verlander, Scherzer and Fister aboard. Leaving the possible arrival of top prospect Jacob Turner aside, if the strong Rick Porcello shows up and stays for the season – look out American League!

MLB Thoughts – Recent Acquisitions

December 26, 2011

1. The Padres netted a phenomenal hitter in Yonder Alonso and a very promising young catcher in Grandal. Expect deals from the Padres involving 1B Anthony Rizzo in the short-term and Nick Hundley in the long-term (next off-season). I’m sure the organization had questions about Latos and his shoulder going forward, not to mention what potential arbitration awards would be.

Alonso was spectacular to watch when I first saw him in the Cape League. He has tremendous strike zone judgment and was impossible to fool with the same pitch twice. Defensively, he’s just not a left fielder. Plant him at first and leave him there.

For the Reds, a rotation led by Cueto and Latos will challenge for the NL Central crown. Just look at what’s happened within the division. In St. Louis, Chris Carpenter is 37 at the end of April and Adam Wainwright is coming off Tommy John surgery. Yes, it’ll be about sixteen months since the injury on Opening Day 2012 but he’ll still need time to round into shape and get the feel of his pitches back. And some guy named Albert Pujols left Saint Louis for L.A.

Prince Fielder will leave Milwaukee and the Brewers may get a taste of life without Ryan Braun (50 game suspension pending). Talk about lowering the octane levels in that gas tank! That leaves an opening for Cincinnati. They’ve had a taste of the playoffs and the move for Latos sends a clear signal that GM Walt Jocketty believes that the club is ready to make a run. We’ll see who they get to close and whether Zach Cozart can handle everyday duties at shortstop but this club doesn’t have many holes.

2. The Red Sox got a lot (read: a solid, back end bullpen arm) for a guy who can’t hit righties (.214 avg & .296 OBP in 529 AB) and a pitcher that’s clearly not ready for prime-time in Kyle Weiland (7.66 ERA in 24 2/3IP).

With Lowrie, if you take a smaller sample size of 2011 only, he hit .210 with a .277 OBP. People remember how hot he got over a stretch in 2010 but the numbers aren’t lying here. And when you throw in his defensive liabilities (15 errors in 82 games at SS & 3B), it’s hard to see where the value is as an everyday player.

Weiland could develop into a good bullpen arm but he’s got to get more consistent with his command and his movement. He was really easy to hit in the majors last year. That cutter was particularly shaky.

3. With all the talk about Yu Darvish & the Rangers, one aspect is being overlooked. Not only would Darvish have to adjust to life in America, he’d have to shift from pitching at home in a dome to the intense heat of Arlington, Texas. Every baseball observer should take notice when Nolan Ryan stakes $51.7 million dollars on a young man’s pitching ability. Don’t be surprised if the Rangers protect their investment as the marathon that is the MLB season moves on in 2012.

4. GM Mike Rizzo of the Nationals will be discussed in ten years as one of the best general managers in the game. The man is a winner with a fierce competitive streak. Make no mistake, the move to get LHP Gio Gonzalez is a bid to win the National League East. With the four years of control the Nationals have, it’s a sound investment as well.

Very few people remember what the price for Pedro Martinez was. Very few remember what the price the Yankees paid for Roger Clemens was or what the Reds gave up for Tom Seaver. If you can get the ace, give up the prospects and go from there.

Quick NFL thoughts

November 30, 2011

1. Every time the 49ers win, the chances that Mike Singletary ever gets a head coaching job in the NFL get smaller and smaller.

2. I’m assuming the Jaguars end up in Los Angeles. The question is, will the Bucs end up there as well?? Given the team’s track record with blackouts and the effect of the recession in the Tampa area, would the Glazer family get in on a two-team stadium deal in Los Angeles.

And if two teams move to L.A., would the Chiefs consider moving out of the AFC West in a realignment?? Obviously, I’m assuming the Rams would move out of the NFC West as well.

3. I’m starting to think that an AFC team can’t win the Super Bowl. Green Bay looks fantastic and New Orleans would be a bad match-up for most of the top AFC teams. I’d be curious to see how a healthy Houston team would fare against the Saints. They’ve seen each other a lot during training camp (`08, `09 & `10) with the exception of this past camp with the time restrictions thanks to the lockout. If Matt Schaub can’t come back, we may end up with a situation where the NFC Championship Game ends up being the de facto Super Bowl.

4. Next year’s NFL Draft looks like a big year for quarterbacks. Here’s a partial list of potential draftees:

Andrew Luck – Stanford (redshirt junior)
Matt Barkley – USC (Junior)
Robert Griffin III – Baylor
Case Keenum – Houston
Landry Jones – Oklahoma (Redshirt junior)
Ryan Tannehill – Texas A&M
Kellen Moore – Boise State
E.J. Manuel – Florida State (Redshirt junior)
Kirk Cousins – Michigan State
Russell Wilson – Wisconsin
Ryan Lindley – San Diego State
Brandon Weeden – Oklahoma State

There’s a lot to choose from there.

5. Speaking of the draft, right now the bottom six teams are:
1. Indianapolis – 0 wins (Should we just give Peyton the MVP??)
2/3. St. Louis & Minnesota – 2 wins
4/5/6 – Jacksonville, Miami & Carolina – 3 wins

St. Louis, Jacksonville, Minnesota and Carolina have drafted QB’s in the past two years. The Indianapolis decision regarding Peyton Manning’s future is monumental. Miami’s new coach and perhaps new GM will surely take a QB in Round One. Arizona, Washington, Seattle, Kansas City and Cleveland could also be in the market with a pick between 5-15 in round one. It’s gonna be a heck of an off-season.

Quick World Series Prediction

October 19, 2011

Texas in 7. St. Louis has an edge in the front of the rotation with Carpenter & Garcia but I love Texas’ bullpen with Feliz at the end and Ogando able to come in and eat 3-4 innings when needed. Texas has the edge on offense. Given what happened last year in San Francisco, those hitters are hungry for redemption. I think they get it in a tight, back and forth series.


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