MLB – EARLY 2016-17 OFFSEASON PREVIEW, PART 2

Earlier in the week, I broke down some interesting matters that baseball teams are facing this early offseason and defined how each would affect the coming 2017 season.

In this column, I will review the end of season MLB Awards and then set the table for a Hall of Fame discussion.

MLB Awards

The 2016 MLB season yielded a bounty of memorable moments, perhaps more than any other time in recent history.

So much so that as a baseball fan, I may have enough recall to keep me satiated over the next 135 days until the 2017 season officially starts (April 3).

But, before I put 2016 to rest, it is important to digest which players the BBWAA thought were the cream of the crop this year:

  • AL MVP: Mike Trout, OF (Angels)

    • No arguments here. Trout’s numbers were ridiculous and no one else came close.
    • .991 OPS, 29 HRs, 100 RBIs, 123 R, 30 SB, 10.6 WAR (Next closest WAR was 9.6).
    • Trout received 19 – 1st place votes from 30 members of the BBWAA; Mookie Betts (Boston) had 9.
    • This is Trout’s 2nd AL MVP Award (2014). Only 14 other players in baseball history have multiple MVP Awards.
    • He also received a Silver Slugger Award this season.
  • NL MVP: Kris Bryant, 3B (Cubs)

    • It’s amazing what this 24-year-old has already accomplished. He is the 1st player to win the College Player of the Year (2013), Minor League Player of the Year (2014), Rookie of the Year (2015) and MVP (2016) in consecutive seasons.
    • He recently joked “it’s all downhill from there”.
    • 939 OPS, 39 HRs, 102 RBIs, 121 R, 8 SB, 176 H, 603 AB, 7.7 WAR.
    • Bryant received 29 – 1st place votes from 30 BBWAA members; Daniel Murphy (Nats) had… ahem… 1.
  • AL CY: Rick Porcello (Red Sox)

    • This was a controversial pick. Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander had 14 – 1st place votes compared with Porcello’s 8.  But, the vote for this award is a cumulative total (from 1st – 5th) place.  Porcello (137) edged out Verlander (132) by 5 total points.  (2nd closest vote since 1970).
    • Nonetheless, Porcello had a great year: 22-4; 3.15 ERA, 33 GS, 3 CG, 223 IP, 189 SO, 32 BB. In 27 of 33 starts, he allowed 3ERs or fewer.
    • The first AL CY for a Red Sox pitcher since 2000 (Pedro Martinez).
  • NL CY YOUNG: Max Scherzer (Nationals)

    • The 2nd CY for Scherzer (AL – 2013).
    • 20-7, 2.96 ERA, 34 GS, 1 IP, 284 SO, 56 BB.
    • He averaged 11.2 SO per 9 innings and had best SO-BB ratio in NL.
    • Scherzer is the most durable pitcher in the league and has been over the course of his career. And, he keeps getter stronger with age.  At age 32 in 2016, he pitched more innings than any other year in his career and more than any other player in the league.
    • Scherzer received 25 – 1st place votes; the closest were 2 players to receive 2.
  • AL MOY: Terry Francona (Indians)

    • His 2nd Manager of the Year Award (AL – 2013) in 4 years.
    • Only the 2nd Cleveland Manager to win the award (Eric Wedge – 2007).
    • It’s so deserving and great to see an “old-school” style of manager have great success. Indians President Chris Antonetti nailed Francona’s assets this week when he said coach had “passion, work ethic, determination, collaboration, humility and team-first approach”.
  • NL MOY: Dave Roberts (Dodgers)

    • 44 years old; Rookie season as LA Manager. Joe Maddon (Cubs) was in 2nd place behind Roberts who received 16 – 1st place votes.
    • The last Dodger Manager to win the award was Tom Lasorda (1983 & 1988).
    • Back in Dec 2015, I scouted Roberts when he was first hired by the Dodgers organization and I liked what I saw. I had a feeling he would succeed based on the type of player he was (overachiever for small size due to “grit” & “passion”).  As I foresaw, he brought this team together and helped them rise to their potential.  They did the same for him too.
  • AL ROY: Michael Fulmer (Tigers)

    • Starting pitcher: 11-7, 3.06 ERA, 159 IP, 132 SO, 42 BB.
    • Personally, I’m not a fan of a pitcher winning the Rookie of the Year Award. They have their own category (CY).  And, most starters generally appear less than 30 games a year.  In Fulmer’s case, he started 26 games.  So, I’m not sure why the BBWAA were near unanimous for Fulmer over Yankees DH/C Gary Sanchez who played in 53 games and lit the sky up with 20 HRs in his 1st 51 career games.  If NY made it to the postseason after the departures of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller & Carlos Beltran, I have a feeling momentum would have swung Sanchez’s way for this award.
  • NL ROY: Corey Seager (Dodgers)

    • Seager is Dodgers’ 17th winner of the award (a record).
    • Teammates think the 22-year-old SS will be “one of the best players in the game” one day. He petered out by the NLCS, but was consistent during the season and became a spark plug that inspired the other batters in the lineup.
    • .308 BA, 105 R, 193 H, 40 2B, 26 HR, 72 RBIs, .512 SLG, .877 OPS, 57 multi-hit games.
    • Silver Slugger Award; 3rd in MVP Voting.

Hall of Fame “Eras Committees” –  10 names for 2017

If you weren’t aware, there are actually two ways to get in to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The first way is what most people recognize:  Eligible players are elected in by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). A final ballot typically includes 25–40 candidates and each writer may vote for up to 10 players. Any player named on 75% or more of all ballots cast is elected.

The second way is lesser known:  Players who have been passed over by the BBWAA as well as worthy managers, executives and umpires can be considered by what is known as the “Eras Committees” (f/k/a the Veterans Committee).  165 individuals have been elected in through this process since 1937 who may have been overlooked in the past.

The Eras Committees include 4 separate “electorates” by era to create its ballot (below) and comprises 16 members each who are current Hall of Famers, executives, and media:

  1. Today’s Game (1988 to Present) – Vote twice every 5 years (2016, 2018, 2021, 2023);
  2. Modern Baseball (1970 – 1987) – Vote twice every 5 years (2017, 2019, 1022, 2024);
  3. Golden Days (1950 – 1969) – Vote once every 5 years (2020, 2025);
  4. Early Baseball (1871 – 1949) – Vote once every 10 years (2020, 2030).

The criteria for these voters is the same as for the BBWAA ballot (at least 75% votes needed to get in) and they are guided by the infamous integrity clause: “shall consider all candidates and voting shall be based upon the individual’s record, ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the game.”

If you are wondering, no – this committee is not open to players on Major League Baseball’s “ineligible” players like Pete Rose.   

So, in early October of this year, it was announced that the “Today’s Game” Era Committee’s ballot was cast and will be reviewed and voted upon Dec 5, 2016 at the Baseball Winter Meetings. The following individuals are currently being considered for the HOF Class of 2017 under that committee:

  1. Harold Baines (player)
  2. Albert Belle (player)
  3. Will Clark (player)
  4. Orel Hershiser (player)
  5. Davey Johnson (manager)
  6. Mark McGwire (player)
  7. Lou Piniella (manager)
  8. John Schuerholz (executive)
  9. Bud Selig (executive)
  10. George Steinbrenner (executive)

All of these individuals seem worthy, but I would especially like to see Mark McGwire make it into the Hall this way.

By letting in a player who has admitted to PED use, it could open the door for other players previously implicated by steroids to get into the Hall of Fame.

Since there is no possibility of determining the value of steroids on any player’s outcome, especially not for someone like McGwire who is insanely talented, I personally don’t think we should continue to deny him and/or other players their rightful place in the history of baseball based on speculation.

Ok, the steroids probably helped McGwire get bigger and stronger and heal faster.  But, by how much?

Isn’t it possible he could have had the same record(s) if he hadn’t have used PEDs?

We’ll never know.

So, why do we continue to crucify these players?

Certainly, we shouldn’t exclude eligible candidates who may be merely suspected of using steroids but have no proof that those players actually used them.

Miraculously, Mike Piazza’s entry in to the Hall via the BBWAA last year despite the rumors that he used steroids may have a positive outcome for future similar players.

But for those players like McGwire who have admitted using steroids, the Eras Committee may be their ticket(s) in.

Of course, the integrity clause is still in play, but the Eras Committees have a reputation for lower standards than the BBWAA.   The good news is that any player who first hits their ballot may remain in perpetuity.  So, there will be many others chances for McGwire and players like him.

All eyes will be on the Today’s Game Committee decision on Dec 5…

 

 

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