Congratulations to Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2016 has been announced, and there are two new members: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza. Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Trevor Hoffman all received more than 67% of the vote, which suggests that they have a good chance of getting in next year.

Frankly, I think that there were at least ten people on the ballot who deserve to get in, and arguably more than that. Mac was a Big-Hall guy, and after being on this site for a while I became more comfortable with that, too. I would have voted for Griffey, Raines, Piazza, Bagwell, Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Alan Trammell, and if I had had an eleventh vote, you could have persuaded me to vote for Larry Walker. (I’m a member of the IBWAA, and I voted for him there, because Raines, Bagwell, and Piazza had already been elected in previous years.)

Voters are demanding a much higher caliber of player nowadays than they used to even a few years ago. Players like Trammell and Mark McGwire, who fell off the ballot because this was their last year of eligibility. Or like Kevin Brown and Lou Whitaker, who fell off the ballot in their first years of eligibility, 2011 and 2001. This despite the fact that they were all at least as good as — if not demonstrably better than — recent inductees like Dave Winfield, Andre Dawson, and Jim Rice, to say nothing of a special case like Kirby Puckett, or relievers like Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter. And even Rice, Winfield, and Dawson had far better careers than the vast glut of players from the first half of the 20th century elected by the Veterans Committee, like High Pockets Kelly and Freddie Lindstrom and Jesse Haines and Rube Marquard.

The Hall of Fame logjam is serious: next year, Ivan Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero will all appear on the ballot for the first time, next to eight holdovers who got more than 40% of the vote, all of whom have a serious chance of making it in some day: Bagwell, Raines, Hoffman, Schilling, Clemens, Bonds, Martinez, and Mussina. (I’d support the candidacies of all but Hoffman.) Hoffman, Raines, and Bagwell are all very likely to make it next year, because of the number of votes they got this year. Ivan Rodriguez strikes me as a mortal lock, but I felt the same way about Piazza and he didn’t get in until his fourth try. And it is actually quite rare for four players to get elected in one year, though it happened last year.

So I really don’t know. I think Guerrero and Manny will hang around the ballot for a while, with Guerrero eventually getting in and Manny never quite making it. I think the same will be true for Edgar Martinez, Curt Schilling, and Mike Mussina. At some point, eventually, it seems likely that Clemens and Bonds will make it, if for no other reason than that they are very probably the best pitcher and hitter of our lifetimes. But it’ll take a long time for all of that to shake out, and every year there are more and more deserving players who get added to the list.

44 thoughts on “Congratulations to Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr.”

  1. Pudge Rodriguez should be first ballot because he is in the conversation for GOAT at his position

  2. Would have loved to see Raines in there. Fell in love with baseball because of those expo’s teams that wouldn’t have been there without him.

    As an aside, just got finished reading this from BP. very encouraging, but I wonder what our future plans are at SS with Swanson & Albies, or does one move to 2b?

  3. I am very much of the opinion that it’s too soon to talk about moving a kid until he’s in the high minors and perceived as very nearly ready to contribute. Albies is still about two years away, and Swanson is still about one year away. (That’s not to say that they won’t get cups of coffee, just that they shouldn’t be major league starters until at least then.)

    Having too many incredibly good young shortstops is a very good problem to have.

  4. (Or, if you listen to the guys at BPro, who are smart, Albies is one year away and Swanson is two years away. Either way, it’ll be 2018 at the earliest before they’re both ready to start in the Atlanta major league lineup, so there won’t necessarily be a positional conflict until then, especially if they keep being promoted one level apart in our minors.)

  5. This time a couple years ago, we were worried about having Peraza and Simmons at the same position. And moving Peraza to CF would have created an issue with the Artist Formerly Known as BJ. Boy how things can change.

  6. I don’t know, Alex. I’m not sure why it’s a big deal that some players don’t get in until their 4th or 5th or 6th year. Nothing wrong with taking your time about something.

    Edit: The Bonds/Clemens thing is a whole different beast, and stands aside from my comment.

  7. I don’t think it’s a particularly big deal, I just wouldn’t have thought the voters would need a lot of convincing about Piazza. (Although I’m sure many of them refuse to vote for him because of the “backne” thing.)

  8. No, nor Bagwell or Schilling. But I think they’ll both get voted in over the next couple years. I think the Hall of Fame needs to have them, but I don’t care too much if someone else doesn’t.

  9. Well the big deal is with obvious HOF guys like Clemens, Bonds, Bagwell, Piazza, Raines and Schilling if you could clear those guys early rather than having them stick around you wouldn’t have people like Buster Olney refusing to vote because he can’t vote for everyone he believes should be in. In 2017 I would strongly consider: Raines, Bagwell, Schilling, Mussina, Edgar, Walker, Bonds, Clemens, McGriff, Sheffield and newcomers IRod, Vlad and Manny so that’s 13 not to mention many will vote for and could make a decent case for Hoffman, Wagner, Kent, L Smith, Sosa and newcomer Posada. Would’ve strongly considered Edmonds had he remained eligible but he couldn’t even get 5%.

  10. @Edward

    The 2015 Bizzaro Braves showed up in Google Sheets, so I took a gander back through. I’m really disappointed that the Braves didn’t sign Gordon Glimmerskin this offseason. We’d be on the way to October.

    Gordon Glimmerskin would be a fantastic name for a baseball player.

  11. I recall the University of Texas having kicker named Dusty Magnum. Since vigilantes and porn actors generally use pseudonyms, I feel like ‘Texas football player’ was his only option.

  12. @11, Of the players you listed as ‘obvious’ I think the term only applies to Piazza, though I acknowledge Schilling and Bagwell are awfully close.

    Bonds and Clemens are NOT obvious–for obvious reasons. They are obviously incredible players, but until the Hall of Fame writers come to a greater consensus about the purpose of the Hall and the nature of the honor it is absolutely fitting that neither of them has been elected. They’d be on my ballot–but I don’t think anyone who doesn’t want to elect them because they cheated is taking an unreasonable stance.

    Tim Raines is a strong candidate, but he’s no slam-dunk. By which I mean that I don’t think it’s the log-jam that’s preventing his election. I mean, what percentage of the writers voted for 10 candidates, and of those how many didn’t vote for Tim Raines?

    Here’s a look at next year’s ballot. I could see myself voting for 9 or 10 players, but the list of who is ‘obvious’ or ‘extremely strong’ drops off after 4 or 5 of them. So the writers can take some time and persuade each other about the un-obvious ones. No big deal!

  13. Raines may be something like Blyleven: his rate stats were otherworldly, but he was overshadowed in his own time and even more so in retrospect, as the biggest players he played against sucked all the oxygen out of the HOF voting debates. Raines got seven All-Star nods, which indicates that he was recognized as a very good player in his heyday, but he never finished higher than fifth in the MVP race, which suggests that he was never perceived as one of the very best players in baseball.

    The comparison with Tony Gwynn is instructive, of course. Their careers were of roughly equal value (Gwynn was worth 68.8 rWAR, Raines 69.1) and length (Gwynn was from 1982-2001, Raines from 1979-2002); they got on base at roughly equivalent rates (Gwynn’s OBP was .388, Raines’s was .385), and they both played corner outfield. But Gwynn was famous because he won batting title after batting title. Even after they retired, Gwynn was by far the more famous, because of his gaudy batting averages.

  14. The Shelby Miller trade just keeps getting better! Apparently, the DBacks had also been contemplating trading Enciarte (but not Swanson or Blair) to the Nats for Gio Gonzalez but chose the Braves’ offer instead.

    In essence, the Braves not only pulled off a great trade with Arizona, but they also deprived the Nationals of an opportunity to fill their CF vacancy (Span became a FA, just signed with the Giants).

    The thing of it is, I don’t think there’s all that much difference in value between the two pitchers. Miller and Gonzalez are very different – Miller is younger, right-handed, and has a better prospect pedigree. That said, Gonzalez strikes out more batters than Miller and despite having a rep for bad control that prevents him from going deep into games, his K/BB rate is superior to Miller and he’s hit 190 – 200 IP over a full season four times. In fact, Gio has averaged more IP per start than Miller over his career (but not in 2015). Gio’s career ERA of 3.62 tracks well with his underlying FIP/xFIP. Miller has a large career ERA edge – his is 3.22 – but his FIP/xFIP are markedly higher, in the 3.8 – 4 range. Few pitchers can consistently beat their FIP/xFIP, and many who seem to have that skill (hi, Matt Cain!) are liable to lose it at any point.

    Miller has 3 years of arb control remaining – MLBTR estimates he’ll make $4.9M in 2016. If we assume that’s roughly accurate and his awards follow the 40/60/80 rule, he’ll make $5/$7.5/$10 before FA, for a total of $22.5M. Gio Gonzalez is under contract for 2016 at $12M, with team options for 2017 and 2018 at $12M each – so Gio would cost about $14M extra between 2016-18.

    If I were running the DBacks, I would definitely rather have Shelby than Gio, but not at the additional cost of Swanson and Blair. It’s especially foolish for the SP-needy DBacks to trade Blair, who (while he doesn’t seem to have a high ceiling per scouts) has been very good in the minors and appears near ready for a shot at the big leagues.

  15. Maybe Braves should trade Inciarte for Gio? Then we are ML pitching equal and added Swanson and Blair.

  16. One of the Braves non roster invitees is Willians Astudillo. He is a catcher. I’m really pulling for him to make the team along with Williams Perez. It would be so great to have Williams pitching to Willians.

  17. From ESPN:
    With Johnson addition, Who’s out?

    The Atlanta Braves reportedly have agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with Chris Johnson. Will the signing accelerate the Braves ongoing effort to part ways with either Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn?

    Obviously a typo, but my heart sank for a second. Not funny, guys. Not funny.

  18. For those interested:

    Former Braves relief pitcher (1966-67) Jay Ritchie passed away last weekend.
    In an era when relief pitchers still tended to be washed up starters or guys no one knew where to slot, he was a long/short reliever. With quite a fastball, his claim to fame is pitching to 28 consecutive batters without giving up a hit. (This occurred over a 12 days in May 1967). He struck out 90 in 117.2 innings over the two seasons (really 1 1/2 ) with Atlanta.

  19. Willians Astudillo
    had once asked the way to Amarillo
    recorded the song
    but then said baseball is where i williangly belong.

  20. @30- Battle of the Willses.

    Joey Terds apparently claimed by Baltimore. I didn’t even know he’d been waived.

  21. Drew Storen for Ben Revere straight up, apparently.

    Revere always brings to mind the 2012-13 offseason, where all three of the top NL East teams at the time acquired new center fielders. The Braves, of course, won a bidding war for Melvin Upton (beating out the Phillies, which in retrospect should have been a warning sign right there). The Phils, having missed out on Upton, traded for Revere, and the Nats got Denard Span. I’ve always kind of wondered what things would have been like if those destinations had gotten shuffled around. Upton would have fit right in on the overpaid, declining Phils, and Span or Revere would have been a boon for the Braves in those years (assuming they still could have gotten Justin Upton without his brother in town — he had no-trade protection at that time). Now, two years later, all three players have moved on…

    I’d always kind of mentally categorized Revere as a disappointment, but he’s been a decent player over the last couple of years. I guess being tasked with trying to salvage that sinking Phils squad was too much for a non-elite player like him.

  22. Revere has a talent for playing just well enough that you don’t have to bench him. If he hit .270 you’d have to get him out of there.

  23. Twitter

    Since 2010 #Nationals Ben Revere has swung and missed 351 times (2497 ABs)… In 2015 there was 11 players that swung & missed 351+ times.

  24. That’s interesting — the Phillies got Ben Revere from the Twins right after the Nats got Denard Span from the Twins. Now the Nats are trading down for him. He’s not awful, but he isn’t good. He can fly but isn’t a very good defensive outfielder because he doesn’t take great routes and doesn’t have a good first step. He doesn’t really walk and he doesn’t really hit for power. Pretty much the only thing he does is hit for average. That ain’t a lot. He’s a good fourth outfielder, which is what I assume he’ll be on the Nats, since if I were in their position I’d rather start Michael Taylor. But he isn’t a first-division starter.

  25. We need a gift this year. An Aaron Hang, John Burkett, Charles Thomas, AJ Pierzynski, Chris Hammond, or even players like Brandon Beachy or Kris Medlen who were not heralded as prospects to have a big season for us. Maybe Adonis is that guy.

  26. Adonis did have a .790 OPS with the Braves last year, with 10HRs in 1/3 of a season’s worth of PAs. He’s capable of hitting 25…with an OBP under .300

  27. I dunno that the Braves really need a miracle fluke season from anyone. I’d much rather a fringy player like Peterson or Adonis or one of the pitchers cement himself as a legitimate major league piece going forward than having an amazing one-of season that ultimately ends up hardly moving the needle.

  28. I thought it was understood that we wanted younger players like Peterson (or “younger” from an American baseball perspective like Garcia/Olivera) to develop into major leaguers. I’m also hoping that someone unexpected becomes a 3 WAR player to supplement all of the development I’m sure we’ll see this year.

    This is something that’s puzzling me. It’s fairly well understood that our bullpen, especially after Grilli went down, was one of the worst in the league, and yet we went 28-18 in one-run games and over-performed our Pythag. I wonder if we’ll see a correction on our one-run record but an improvement in our bullpen and see no net improvement on our won-loss record in regards to our bullpen.

  29. That could happen…or it could be that a team without bullpen depth is particularly prone to horrifying blowouts, thus sending pythag out of whack.

  30. Believe it or not, our bullpen looked like it would be decent at the beginning of last year, but lack of depth killed us. I think we have quite a bit more depth this year.

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