McAdam: One writer's Hall of Fame criteria

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McAdam: One writer's Hall of Fame criteria

It's become fashionable in some BBWAA circles to lament the fact that voters for the Hall of Fame are limited to 10 players on the ballot annually.

If these voters had their way, Cooperstown would be building an annex every few years to accommodate all the immortals judged worthy of entrance.

Sorry, but I find such a stance laughable. The notion that more than 10 players on the current ballot are deserving of recognition as all-time greats, among the best to ever play the game, is beyond my comprehension.

Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That's both the beauty and the curse, I suppose, of surveying more than 500 eligible voters each December.

When it comes to voting for the Hall, I tend to fall on the other end of the spectrum. In more than a dozen years of voting, only once did I vote for more than three players in any one year. (That was in 1999 when I voted for Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount, George Brett and Carlton Fisk).

In other words, I am considered a "small Hall'' voter, as opposed to some of my colleagues who would be classified as "large Hall'' voters. My approach isn't meant to be punitive in any way. I merely believe the standards for Cooperstown should be set -- and remain -- very high. Others are more inclusive. Viva la difference.

Most years, I have voted for, on average, two players. Once, I returned a blank ballot (1998) and nearly did so again this time before I had a change of heart.

Among the newcomers -- led by Bernie Williams -- there was no one I gave any strong consideration. And given the fact that, a year ago, I voted only for Roberto Alomar, there were no holdovers for whom I felt compelled to vote.

Upon further review, however, I changed that.

After giving some consideration to voting for Jeff Bagwell in his first year of eligibility, I ultimately passed on him. Bagwell has been suspected of PED use and that was enough for me to exclude him from my ballot.

But the more I thought about it, the more that decision seemed wrong. After all, Bagwell was not mentioned in the Mitchell Report. He wasn't implicated by our great moral arbiter, Jose Canseco. He has no links to other notorious steroid-era figures such as Kurt Radomski or Brian McNamara. And he didn't lie to Congress or a grand jury.

The case against Bagwell, such as it is, is that he hit four homers at Double A, then "blossomed'' into a slugger when he reached the major leagues.

But there's no evidence whatsoever that Bagwell ever used PEDs. Baseball history is full of players who, for a variety of reasons, perform far better at the major leagues than they did in the minors.

Taken on his numbers alone, Bagwell is very much a worthy Cooperstown candidate.

In 15 full seasons, he hit 449 home runs, or precisely one shy of avergaging exactly 30 homers for his career. He sported a career .408 on-base percentage and a career slugging percentage of .540 for an OPS of .948.

He had double-figures in steals 10 times and scored 100 or more runs nine times, including a staggering 152 runs in 2000, the most for a player since 1936. In fact, he's one of just 22 players since World War II to accumulate both 1,500 runs scored and 1,500 RBI in his career.

Bagwell was also a terrific defender, regularly among the league leaders for assists and putouts at his position.

In short, Bagwell's numbers unequivocally make him a Hall of Famer. The lone black mark -- if you can call it that -- is his rumored involvement with PEDs, though there's not a shred of hard, actual evidence to support that.

Here are the rest of the most talked-about candidates and my reason(s) for not giving them my vote:

JACK MORRIS: Morris was a horse and a terrific big game pitcher (think no further than Game 7 in 1991). But his 3.90 ERA, compiled almost entirely before the steroid era, would be the highest of any starter in the Hall. Clutch? Yes. Dependable? You bet. But all-time great? I don't think so.

BARRY LARKIN: Of all the players I didn't vote for on this ballot, Larkin represented the toughest omission. He hit .295 for his career, which is quite good for a shortstop. But --- and this is where it gets tough to quantify -- I view Larkin as a very good player, but one who nonetheless falls shy of Hall of Fame status. At no time during his career did I consider Larkin one of the very best players in the game.

ALAN TRAMMELL: Like Larkin, he spent his entire career with one team and like Larkin, was incredibly consistent. But in 20 seasons, he finished in the Top 10 for MVP voting just three times and in the Top 5 just once. To me, that's a few great seasons and a lot of good-to-very-good ones, leaving him shy of all-time status.

TIM RAINES: For a period -- say, from 1982-1987 -- Raines was a spectacular player, a leadoff hitter whose talent and numbers compare favorably with Rickey Henderson. But for a player who was supposed to be such a terrific table-setter and baserunner, Raines scored more than 81 runs exactly twice in his final 14 seasons. Sorry, but his period of dominance was way too short for me.

Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz's first inning 'part of the game'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz's first inning 'part of the game'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Boston Red Sox’ 6-2 loss to the Texas Rangers:

 

QUOTES

 

“In the first inning there really weren’t a whole lot of balls that were really hit hard. They were just hit where we weren’t . . . Regardless of it being a mistake, its balls that just seemed to find some holes. They put some good at-bats together, and, yeah, that’s part of the game.”Clay Buchholz on what happened in his 3-run first inning.

“Yeah, he’s tired. He needs a day. There’s no other way to put it.”John Farrell on Xander Bogaerts’ struggling in the series.

“We get a little momentum after the [Bryce] Brentz homerun and then unfortunately give it right back.”Farrell said about Boston losing momentum in the sixth inning with Prince Fielder’s two-run homerun off of Buchholz.

“It’s a matter of settling in and commanding the baseball to quality locations.”Farrell said on Buchholz have immense trouble in the first inning through his last two starts.

“Based on this series it’s a struggle. We get 12+ innings out of a rotation . . . we’re finding ourselves in some holes. That’s not the script you’re trying to draw up.”Farrell on the state of the Red Sox rotation following the series in Texas.

“It’s always special. One thing you’ll never forget.” - Bryce Brentz on his first Major League homerun.

 

NOTES

* Xander Bogaerts finished the series 1-12, and has seen his average drop to .344, falling behind Houston’s José Altuve.

* The Red Sox are now four games behind the Orioles in second place and only lead the Blue Jays by one game. That’s the farthest back the Red Sox have been since the seventh game of the season.

* Clay Buchholz’s less than spectacular outing was his longest since May 26th – his last start before being pulled from the starting rotation. 

* Prince Fielder hit two homeruns off Boston pitching in the series for his sixth and seventh of the year. Those are his first home runs since 6/11. The series against the Red Sox was his first in which he launched more than one homerun in the series.

 

 

STARS

1) Martin Perez

Perez kept Boston off balance all day, scattering six hits and two walks in his six-inning start. The lefty only had two punch-outs, but he kept the ball on the ground -- which is what he does best.

2) Prince Fielder

With Texas talking about sitting him in the series Fielder launched his second homerun of the series in his 2-3 performance. The two-run long ball was the different in the game being a close contest down the stretch.

3) Adrian Beltre

The ex-Red Sox third baseman had another strong game, lacing two RBI singles in the game. His first RBI base hit came in Texas’ three-run onslaught in the first frame.

First impressions: Red Sox happy to get out of Texas

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First impressions: Red Sox happy to get out of Texas

First impressions of the Red Sox 6-2 loss to Texas

 

Clay Buchholz needs to figure out his first inning struggles.

He put together another decent outing -- but they’ve both been all for not thanks to terrible first innings.

Buchholz had the same issue prior to his sentence to the bullpen. But he needs to make an adjustment. David Price, Steven Wright and Rick Porcello have all had to deal with some level of adversity and handled it in some capacity -- so it’s time for Buchholz to do the same.

If he minimizes the damage to one run -- never mind a scoreless first frame -- Boston has a decent chance to win his starts once in a while.

No matter what, Buchholz needs to put out max effort in the first inning of his next start -- no excuses.

 

Don’t look now, but Buchholz was the best Boston starting pitcher of the Texas series.

That’s not saying much with the way Wright and Price’s nights wound up, but he was the best starter.

Obviously five runs (four earned) in 5.1 innings isn’t a good outing, but the bullpen at least had a chance to catch its breath -- compared to Friday and Saturday’s games.

Buchholz still has to do much better for Boston if he wants to remain the fifth starter.

 

Xander Bogaerts’ defense is slipping a bit.

The shortstop has had errors in consecutive games for the first time in 2016 -- both leading to Texas runs.

The 23-year-old shortstop has only sat out one game this year, so it’s fair to assume fatigue is setting in.

Even if that’s not the case, John Farrell should consider giving Bogaerts a day off soon to move past his fielding problems.

 

Buchholz took away the little momentum Boston found in the fourth.

Although Bogaerts didn’t help with the error, Buchholz almost instantly gave back the run Boston scored in the top of the sixth. Which is something Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and David Price have all dealt with -- and overcome.

Just another reason Dave Dombrowski needs to keep working for a fifth starter.

Because there’s no way coming out of any series Boston should have its best effort from a starting pitcher be a five-inning five-run (one unearned) outing.

Other starters have to pick up the slack when Wright has an occasional subpar outing. While Price has been on late and Porcello is reliable, Boston hasn’t had that from anyone else.