From Brilliant Reader William:
Yo Joe! You have written a lot in the past about the Hall of Fame voting process, and I've been wondering: Is there any chance Jeter or Mariano get 100% of the Hall of Vote? Was wondering if you think these guys, or any other players playing today, have a shot. Joe:
I say this with the caveat that I think it’s ludicrous that players like Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Mike Schmidt, Greg Maddux, George Brett and others DID NOT get into the Hall unanimously ...
To me Maddux had the best shot at unanimity we will likely see. For one thing: Great pitchers seem to get higher vote totals than hitters. The top two vote-getters ever are Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan. For another, Maddux was the antidote to the negative feelings many still carry about the steroid era. I could not come up with a single legitimate reason why anyone would not vote for Maddux (other than, perhaps, because they had 10 others they wanted to to vote for and left Maddux off knowing he was a lock for election). Still, he fell 16 short of 100%.
It is insulting to Mariano or Jeter to explain WHY they won’t get 100% because there’s no viable reason. They are both dead-lock Hall of Famers. But people can always find reasons. People can say that Rivera pitched only 1,115 regular season innings and no closer should be the first unanimous choice. People can say that Jeter was overrated in many ways and Ripken, who had every bit as good a case and perhaps a better one, was not a unanimous choice. But these are excuses. Somewhere along the way the whole “nobody has ever been voted in unanimously” became a THING, and now I can’t see anyone breaking that cycle, stupid as it may be.
From Brilliant Reader Brian:
Yo Joe! How do you think closers would be used if the save stat was for 2 or less run situations as opposed to 3? In theory that's 1/3 of closer use now removed so do you think closers would be used more or less in non-save situations such as tie games on the road or before the 9th inning. Do you think that this would make the save a more valuable stat since it only would include much closer games?
I don’t know if it would make the save that much more valuable or viable as a statistic but I do feel strongly that if the line was two runs instead of three that closers would be used differently. I have written several times that the fascinating thing about the save statistic is not how it has measured baseball performance (it does this pretty poorly) but how it has CHANGED it. To me an even more interesting question is: What if a pitcher needed to pitch TWO innings to get a save? Would closers be used for two innings now? I say yes. And it would be a different game.
From Brilliant Reader Tracy:
When the Bills-Bears game went into overtime last Sunday, I had a brilliant idea. If the NFL wants to get creative, they should borrow an idea from soccer and go to 25-yard field goals in the event of a tie.
The kicker (!) would be that, like soccer, a player can’t repeat. I think this would add a certain entertainment value, seeing a nose tackle or blocking back have to kick from 25 yards.
I’m for anything that could lead to us seeing offensive linemen kick field goals.
I have thought about this one: What if the league cut roster size or changed the basic rules enough that teams were NOT ALLOWED to have specialist kickers? Say, the only person who could kick a field goal or extra point was someone already on the field for the play before. That would definitely make the extra point and field goals more exciting again — kickers are so automatic these days that the extra point now feels pointless, and any field goal inside 40 yards is boring.
From Brilliant Reader Mark:
Yo Joe! A friend of mine and I used to have this argument all the time…Ruth’s 1920 and '21 seasons were incredible as you well know. He shattered the .350-50-150 barrier, and in fact would do it a couple of more times in his career. So this was a long time ago, when baseball was of course all white. I know it is hard to compare players, but is it even possible for a batter to do this in todays game with all the specialty pitching? if so who is your best pick to pull it off? Joe:
Let’s quickly break it down. The 50 homer part is easy — that happens fairly often.
The .350 batting average is hard. Very hard. I’ve been thinking a lot about the decline in batting averages — not only league-wide but also for the top players. The last 10 years, only five players have hit .350 while getting 600 plate appearances in a season (you would need AT LEAST that many to get 150 RBIs). They are:
Joe Mauer, 2009: .365 Ichiro, 2009: .352 Albert Pujols, 2008, .357 Magglio Ordonez, 2007: .363 Ichiro, .2007: .363.
Obviously Mauer and Ichiro don’t have nearly the power to hit 50 homer runs. Ordonez hit 28 homers and 54 doubles. Pujols hit 37 homers and 44 doubles. It’s POSSIBLE I suppose for a player to combine the average and homers but it hasn’t happened since Mantle in 1956 — even Bonds didn’t do it, and Larry Walker fell just short in 1997 when Coors Field was kind of a joke.
Then, there are the RBIs. Only three players since 2000 — A-Rod in 2007, Miguel Tejada in 2004, Sammy Sosa in 2001 — have had 150 RBIs in a season.
Could it be done? Yes, I think so, in a magical season. Miggy Cabrera, assuming he gets healthy and regains his home run stroke, could do it. Mike Trout, I suppose, could do it in the right conditions. And, hey, I’m dying to see what Kris Bryant can do. But as strikeouts continue to go up, I just don’t see a .350, 50, 150 season anytime soon.
From Brilliant Reader J Alex:
1: I hate the Royals, and I mean, really, really, really, hate the Royals, which is hard for me to admit because (as a Cleveland fan) I want to support any and all small market teams; in short I can feel Kansas City's pain. However, their rise drives me nuts. I don't think they're well run, they have a terrible manager, and I get the infuriating feeling that they stole all the hype from the Tribe after we came back in 2013, and 2014. I have to say, the only team I hate more than the Royals is the Tigers. 2: That being said, I think it's a good story. However, I don't think the Royals are built to last beyond 2014. So my question is: which AL Central team is best poised to compete in 2015? The Indians have this weird young core which seems to underperform every year, the Tigers have all the money, and Kansas City has some great young talent.
How could anyone hate the Royals? It’s like hating Charlie Brown.
I do think Cleveland — with those four really good starters — is the team in the division with the best chance of compete with Detroit in 2015. I will say, though, I’m kind of interested in that White Sox team.
From Brilliant Reader Melody:
Yo Joe! I'm assuming you're not a fan of teams selling their stadium names to large corporations. It's sad for many reasons, including a disconnect between the stadium name and the local area, as stadiums were often named for physical features of the area or important local individuals. I know you've been to far more ballparks than I have-- if you could re-name each one that's sold its name, what would you choose? Joe:
All right, Melody, I’ll bite. Here’s what I’d call each stadium — mostly I would go old school:
Baltimore: Camden Yards. Toronto: Skydome. New York: Yankee Stadium 2.0 (or 3.0, really) Tampa Bay: Demolished. Boston: Fenway Park.
Kansas City: Royals Stadium (It’s what Ewing Kauffman wanted — though Kauffman Stadium is fine). Detroit: Tiger Stadium. Cleveland: The Jake. Chicago: Comiskey Park. Minnesota: Mauer Metropolitan.
Los Angeles Angels: Anaheim Stadium. Oakland: Demolished. Seattle: Nirvana Park. Houston: The AstroPark. Texas: Ballpark at Arlington.
Washington: Big Train Memorial. Atlanta: Aaron Park (In Suburbia). Miami: Cirque Du Double Play. New York Mets: Shea Stadium. Philadelphia: Veteran’s Stadium.
St. Louis: Busch Stadium. Pittsburgh: Three Rivers Stadium. Milwaukee: Aaron Park (Not in Suburbia) Cincinnati: The Great American Ballpark. I like this name because it is SO ironic — it is so NOT the great American ballpark. Chicago: Wrigley Field.
Los Angeles: Dodger Stadium. San Francisco: Candlestick Park. Great name. San Diego: Jack Murphy Stadium. Arizona: It should change names every year. Colorado: Mile High. I think everything in Denver should be called Mile High.