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A Saber-Slanted Baseball Community



Updated: 2018-01-17T09:00:01-05:00

 



Finding glimmers for a new Pirates window of winning

2018-01-17T09:00:01-05:00

They got out of the doldrums in 2013, but with this reset, PIttsburgh needs to find new stars to build around. The PIttsburgh Pirates trading away Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen could rightly be seen as a white flag being displayed by the organization. Cole and Cutch were supposed to pair up to lead the Pirates to the promised land, the ace challenging for Cy Youngs and leading the pitching staff to dominance while the star center fielder won MVPs and paced the offense. For a brief moment at least, this was the case. McCutchen earned a top-five MVP vote from 2013-15, winning the award in 2013. That 98-win season included Cole finishing 4th in Cy Young voting, and was supposed to be a beginning of contention, not the peak before a steep fall. It was the Pirates third winning season in a row after two decades of losing. Now, only two years later, a new losing streak has been born. Cole was sent to Houston, shortly followed by McCutchen being traded to San Francisco. Pittsburgh is at a crossroads. When can they get back to winning again? On paper, the Pirates did do everything right. Maybe their players’ timing could have been a bit better, but McCutchen is the age he is, no matter how much more ideal his being two or three years younger would be. Aside from Cole and Cutch, the Pirates planned to have a collection of good young talent that would all grow together and flourish at the right time and challenge for division titles and pennants. Gregory Polanco is still just 25, Starling Marte is 27, Josh Bell is only 24. This is what a core of players you build around is supposed to be - a dazzling collection of outfield talent and a big, powerful first baseman. Unfortunately, the development has stalled: This isn’t a death knell of course, but for all three of these guys the luster has kind of worn off. Marte has the steroid suspension that makes one question the pair of great seasons immediately prior, Polanco has parts of good season surrounded by subpar stretches, and Josh Bell simply has yet to show the power expected from his position. To be clear, I don’t think those guys all stink, and it’s all over for the Pirates. Particularly Bell - he’s going to be 25 and has been an above average offensive player so far. He hits the ball decently hard - 87.7 mph exit velocity in 2017 - and has a big frame with room to bulk up. They also have some decent arms on the staff, even with Cole leaving. Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl and Tyler Glasnow are all still under 25, and all have very solid stuff even if the numbers aren’t there yet: Fastball velocity isn’t everything - Cole regularly tops 97 MPH but has yet to consistently realize his scouted potential despite that - but it’s a good starting point, and allows for some wiggle room while a pitcher matures. Only two of these youngsters struck out more than 20 percent of hitters he saw this past year, but again, they have time to grow. With all that hard throwing talent, it’s Trevor WIlliams with his league average fastball that was the best of the bunch in 2017. Which says something, though we’re not sure what. Maybe that not having the raw stuff forces early development of secondary pitches? That could be something. So the Pirates have some potential still. They’re still young, and if Taillon or Glasnow in particular realize their potential at least one of them could become the ace Cole teased. If another pitcher breaks through, that’s the bones of a strong rotation. Bell could flesh out and become a legit 30 home run guy in a couple years. And maybe Polanco could figure it out. Marte on the other hand, maybe not. He’s running out of rope, and post suspension was not good. But the other issue is, the Pirates don’t have a big-time guy in the farm system - a Lindor or Correa or Seager - to hope to be the capstone on a second rebuild. Their best pitching prospect, Mitch Keller, was 15th in Baseball America’s mid-season rankings, and their best positional prospect, Austin Meadows, has talent but keeps getting hurt. They need things to go rig[...]



The Pittsburgh Pirates trade Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros

2018-01-15T10:00:01-05:00

The Pirates finally pulled off the trade, but they should have held on to Cole for a better return. “I believe that it is very unlikely that we will see a trade this lopsided again anytime soon. Front offices are too smart nowadays. They understand player value.“ That was written at the end of my trade retrospective of the Wil Myers trade. That take didn’t even last a week! While the Gerrit Cole trade does not rise to that level, it is certainly an uneven exchange of talent. After a false alarm about a week ago, the Pirates traded Cole to the Houston Astros in return for Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz, Colin Moran, and Jason Martin. A Houston rotation that ranked in the top five in runs allowed and DRA just got better and now has a ridiculous level of depth. The Pirates were not even able to get a player that is likely to land on a top-100 prospect list when the updated rankings are released. The PIrates chose Cole with the number one overall pick in 2011. As a high velocity pitcher with good secondary stuff, he was seen as having ‘ace’ upside. He debuted in June 2013 and missed time due to injury in 2014, so he did not pitch a full season until 2015. Although he was not an ace that season, he was very good. He had a 3.07 RA9, 24.3 K%, and 5.3 BB%, all of which are career bests. The 2016 season saw Cole struggle with injuries, and he made only 21 starts. He was by no means bad, but his run average shot up to a 4.42 RA9 and his strikeout rate dropped below 20 percent. What is especially disappointing is that Cole made 33 start last season and barely amassed more value than he did in his injury plagued 2016 season. His strikeout rate rose back up to his career rate, but he lost all ability to keep the ball in the park. Going into the 2017 season, Cole had a career 1.5 HR%, but that number more than doubled in 2017 to 3.7 percent. His homer to fly ball ratio was also over double his career rate. Even the lively ball does not explain that trend. With the quality and depth of the Astros’ rotation, Cole’s impact will be minimal if he is no better than he was in 2017. The team might be a win or two better. That in addition to the depth they are getting is a great return for the lower level prospects that they are parting with. I can’t imagine that Cole will be anywhere close to that homer prone in 2018, but it appears that it depressed his trade value considerably. Cole is a mid-rotation starter with top of the rotation upside and two years left on his rookie contract. He is making only $6.75 million in 2018 and will probably barely crack $10 million in 2019. At this level of compensation, a trade should have included at least one blue chip prospect. The Pirates could not even get a player that projects to me more than an everyday regular. That potential everyday player is Colin Moran. Of the prospects included in this trade, Moran ranked the highest at Baseball Prospectus, though still only at ninth in the system. No other player included in this trade was ranked. Moran raked in Triple A, hitting .301/.369/.532, but he repeated the level and he played in the Pacific Coast League, which is a hitter’s paradise. Both his bat and his glove will make playing third base a challenge. If he has to move to first base, he is really going to be in trouble, as it’s doubtful he has the bad to justify being at first. With the Pirates having a need at third base and the Astros being set there with Alex Bregman, Moran was a perfect fit for this trade. He just shouldn’t be the player headlining it. In a way, Musgrove resembles Wade Davis in the sense that he was terrible as a starter (career 5.46 RA9) but outstanding as a reliever (career 1.26 RA9). The Pirates are really going to need their pitching coach Ray Searage to work his magic in order to get Musgrove to be a viable starter. It is unlikely to happen, but this trade is going to work out even more poorly for the Pirates if they can’t get quality starting pitching from it. Michael Feliz is a reliever who has struck out a t[...]



The greatest shortened seasons of all time: 1900-1909

2018-01-11T11:00:01-05:00

I begin a new series here at Beyond The Box Score. Here at Beyond The Box Score, I am beginning a new series. Over the next few weeks, I will look at the best injury-shortened seasons by decade from 1900 to the present. Using WAR, I will analyze all the best injury-shortened ideas and consider what they could have been. Like almost all of my article ideas, this article began with a baseball-related rabbit hole. You probably won’t believe it, but this series started with the trade of Yangervis Solarte to the Blue Jays. After seeing this news, I began researching Blue Jays infielders and came to Troy Tulowitzki’s FanGraphs player page. In 2014, while he was still with the Rockies, Tulowitzki posted 5.3 fWAR in just 91 games, having his season cut short with a hip injury. Had “Tulo” finished the season, he may have won the MVP award. This inspired me to dive into baseball history — where, I’ll admit, I’m not the best at recalling myself — and “remember” some of the best short seasons in Major League Baseball history. (You’ll have to wait a few weeks before you get to see where Tulowitzki’s 2014 season ranks among the players of his decade.) Fair or not, I’m considering only seasons in which the player missed at least 40 percent of his team’s games. MLB began playing a 140-game schedule in 1900 before upping to 154 in 1904 (with an odd 140-game season in 1919) and again to today’s 162-game season in 1962. For 140-game era players, this allows them to play up to 84 games; 154-game era players can play up to 92 games; 162-game era players can play up to 97 games. Yes, 40 percent is a completely arbitrary number, but I wanted to allow players to have the time to accumulate enough fWAR to really have made an impact, all the while having them miss a significant amount of time. That’s how I settled on 40 percent, rather than 50 percent or even 60 percent. Eligibility aside, games played differences within the rankings will be alleviated by using WAR/600, or how much WAR the player would have been worth in a 600-plate appearance season. As a result, I am forced to establish a minimum number of plate appearances to become eligible, too. This I am setting at 100, which would require players to have played in approximately 33 games (at a minimum) to work. Of course, players will be omitted if it was determined that their missed games were due to a circumstance other than injury (i.e. military service, demotion to the minor leagues, etc.). For historical players, I will use the information that I have available to me, but just note that it’s likely some of these players missed time to something other than injury, especially the older ones. All tie-breakers will be settled by which player played more games. With the rules finally laid out, I present to you the best injury-shortened seasons from 1900 to 1909. 10. 1902 Davy Jones, 3.0 fWAR in 79 games, 5.1 fWAR/600 Davy Jones had a law degree while in the Major Leagues. As the Chicago Tribune wrote in 1902, “He signed so many contracts last winter that a half dozen lawyers could not have made a worse tangle.” Unfortunately for Jones, he was only good while on the field. He contracted typhoid in August of 1902 and missed the remainder of the season. In the 79 games he did play, though, he slashed .291/.384/.363 over 351 plate appearances with the St. Louis Browns and Chicago Cubs, switching teams midseason. 9. 1901 Nixey Callahan, 1.2 fWAR in 42 games, 5.5 fWAR/600 “Nixey” Callahan wasn’t actually called Nixey during his career. He was known as Jimmy Callahan, his actual name, and Nixey became his nickname after his playing career. Prior to the 1901 season, Nixey became one of the first players in Major League history to jump to the newly-formed American League, as he went to go play for the Chicago White Sox. Callahan was a great two-way player, and even though he missed the first few weeks of the 1901 season due to a broken bone in his forearm, his pitching and hitting [...]



Trade Retrospective: Royals trade Wil Myers to the Rays for James Shields & Wade Davis

2018-01-11T09:00:02-05:00

In one of the most famous trades of the decade, one would be hard-pressed to find a similar lopsided trade with such surprising results. For the third straight offseason, BtBS is looking back on some of the biggest trades from years past. Check out all the entries here. In December 2012, the Royals and Rays made one of the most memorable blockbuster trades of my lifetime. It was memorable for all the wrong reasons, though. The Royals sent Wil Myers, one of the best prospects in baseball, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard to Tampa Bay for James Shields, Wade Davis, and Elliot Johnson. It was seen as a huge win for the Rays and a huge blunder by the Royals. Of course, we all know how much the results favored the Royals. In this trade retrospective series, trades will be evaluated based on what was known at the time. That is the only fair, logical way to evaluate trades and strip luck out of the equation: process over results. In this particular trade that is especially important. Having said that, we will still take a look at how the trade worked out for both parties. It should be noted that a short retrospective was recently covered by Pete Grathoff at the Kansas City Star. The Deal In the heartland, the Royals had not made the playoffs since their World Series win in 1985. General Manager Dayton Moore had done an excellent job building an historically good farm system, but the team really did not look all that close to contending. They were coming off a 72-win season where two of their prized prospects, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, disappointed. They also had multiple holes in the lineup and a poor starting rotation. Wil Myers was universally seen as one of the best prospects in baseball. He was expected to be the Royals’ star corner outfielder for years to come. He is exactly the kind of player that small market teams need. That is why the Rays acquired him. James Shields was still a good pitcher on a team-friendly contract, but a team like the Rays has to constantly think about the future, even when they are competitive. It is a moot point, actually. The return for Shields and Davis was high enough that any team would have made the deal, regardless of where they were in their competitive window. Myers, Shields, and Davis were the major players in the deal. The rest were more or less throw-ins. The fact that the Rays were able to get players in addition to Myers is unbelievable. Both sides were dealing from a position of strength. The Royals had a historically good farm system. The Rays had one of the best starting rotations in baseball. What they needed was some outfield help. Ironically, the Royals needed an outfielder even more than the Rays did, and even more than they needed rotation help, but they traded Myers anyway. This deal was almost universally panned. FanGraphs Managing Editor Dave Cameron accused the Royals of being desperate and mortgaging their future. He said it was worse than the trade of Eric Bedard for Adam Jones. ESPN’s Keith Law basically said the same thing. Yahoo Sports’ David Brown did not feel as strongly as most, but he still called it a bad trade. Ben Lindbergh, then the editor-in-chief at Baseball Prospectus, was also critical of the deal, but he gave a more interesting, nuanced take. Rany Jazayerli, one of the founders of Baseball Prospectus and possibly the world’s most famous Royals fan, ripped the trade at Grantland. He compared the trade to the Mark Teixeira deal in 2007. Here at SB Nation, Craig Brown echoed a similar sentiment. Law and former GM Jim Bowden, then of ESPN, surveyed their many sources in front offices and in the scouting world to gauge the industry’s thoughts on the deal. They reported that their sources loved the deal for the Rays and hated the deal for the Royals. Interestingly enough, Baseball America did something similar. They asked three AL scouts and three AL front office executives for their opinions, and actually saw the trade positive[...]



Yet another area where Joey Votto is great

2018-01-10T09:00:01-05:00

The Reds first baseman is insanely skilled. Here’s another thing he’s really good at. It’s been frustratingly slow goings this Hot Stove season. The utter inaction on the free agent market, the dearth of moves on the trade market — there’s not much to talk about, let alone write about. That, of course, means that looking back to the season that was continues to be a major source of subject material. In a recent stat dive, I found yet another amazing thing about Joey Votto. For most any baseball writer, he is truly the gift that never stops giving. Indeed, Beyond the Box Score has written about the Reds slugger three times in the past two years. Of all his superlatives, Votto’s greatest attribute is his insane sense of his own zone combined with a preternatural ability to recognize pitches. He simply doesn’t go after pitches that he can’t do damage on. He even set another personal best in 2017, swinging at pitches outside the strike zone just 15.8 percent of the time. That clip was the lowest rate in all of baseball; Matt Carpenter, at 16.6 percent, was the only one who even came close. And Votto wasn’t chasing too far, either — here’s all the pitches out of the zone (or on the edges) that he swung at last year: Baseball Savant Aside from that changeup away (a groundout to Jhonny Peralta), basically everything was two or so baseball widths from the edge of the zone. It looks impressive on its own, but for comparison’s sake, let’s look at the pitches that two other NL MVP candidates swung at. Here’s Paul Goldschmidt, who swung at pitches outside the zone 24.4 percent of the time: Baseball Savant And here’s MVP and newest Yankee Giancarlo Stanton, who went out of the zone 27.4 percent of the time: Baseball Savant It goes without saying, Votto certainly has a better sense of the zone than these two, even as good as they are. But what really precipitated this piece was how often Votto makes contact on pitches outside the strike zone. He ranked seventh among all hitters in making contact on non-strikes: This does make sense, considering Votto’s patience and sense of the plate. He allows himself better pitches to hit even when they’re out of the zone, simply by not reaching too far. It’s more the collection of players around him is so, well, un-Vottoesque. For the most part they’re slap hitters, groundball-heavy guys and players who make their bones on defense. Of course, at 11 we see the exception — Daniel Murphy, who is substantially more aggressive on out-of-the-zone pitches (31.2 percent swing rate) and yet less aggressive on pitches in the zone, swinging 67.1 percent of the time compared to Votto’s 71.4 percent. Once again, all praise to Votto’s weird strike zone radar. For the most part, though, it’s a place hitters of his character who get pitched very tough shouldn’t really find themselves on. One last thing I noted, which is driven by Votto’s refusal to swing at unhittable pitches: When he does make contact on balls out of the zone, he owns a .302 wOBA. That’s not great, a far cry from the .428 wOBA he posted in 2017. But it’s not dreadful, either. It’s as good as Kevin Pillar did this year in general, and it works out to about an 87 wRC+. So Votto’s a below-average hitter on pitches outside the zone — but not as much as you’d think. Comparatively, those two other MVP candidates were much worse: Votto is amazing, in his own special way. Well, he’s generally amazing too, I suppose. This low-chase/high-contact strategy, and the merely subpar damage (rather than none) he does on would be non-strikes, is hard to replicate in another player, if not impossible. It’s always good to be able to appreciate him. Hopefully the Reds can get him back in the limelight again soon. Merritt Rohlfing delves into baseball and writes for Beyond the Box Score and in particular the Indian[...]



Padres trade Yangervis Solarte to Blue Jays

2018-01-09T09:00:01-05:00

The Blue Jays add a player who can at least provide some depth, and for miminal cost. With a hot stove that has been as cold as the weather here in the Northeast, a small trade was announced on Saturday. The San Diego Padres are sending Yangervis Solarte to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for a couple of minor leaguers. Solarte will be making $4 million in 2018 and has a $5.5 million team option for 2019 and an $8 million team option for 2020. The Jays can buy out either of those options for $800,000. Solarte debuted in 2014 for the Yankees. Alex Rodríguez got railroaded suspended for the season, so Solarte became their starting third baseman. Never having been a prospect of note, he came firing out of the gate, hitting .303/.404/.461 in April. Of course, his .349 BABIP was not sustainable. He continued to hit well in May, but overall his triple-slash was .252/.323/.351 for the rest of the season after April. The Yankees did not keep Solarte for all of 2014, trading him to the Padres close to the trade deadline that year in exchange for Chase Headley (who, coincidentally, was dealt back to San Diego last month). In his three-and-a-half years in San Diego, he has been an average hitter, hitting .268/.325/.421. His offense did dip in 2017, but that could be the result of bad BABIP luck. His hard-hit rate did not change, and his plate discipline numbers were in line with his career rates. Steamer projects that he is still an average hitter. The Padres have had Solarte play all over the infield. He played mostly third base in 2015 and 2016 and manned second base last year. He’s a decent fielder at both positions. He will not impress Jays fans in the field, but he will not frustrate them either. Solarte will certainly function as a backup for Josh Donaldson, but the Blue Jays might be more interested in seeing if he can up be an upgrade at second base or shortstop. Troy Tulowitzki had another injury-plagued year in 2017 — he played only 66 games due to hamstring, groin, and ankle injuries, the last of which was a sprain that cost him the last two months of the season. To make matters worse, he hit only .249/.300/.378 when he was playing. His backup, Ryan Goins, was even worse. The Blue Jays just got nothing from the keystone in 2017. Their players there combined for sub-replacement level play. Solarte is a mediocre player at best, but he might add a win or even two over what the Jays were trudging out there. If Donaldson and Tulo are healthy, Solarte could take over as the everyday second baseman from Devon Travis. Given that Solarte is 30 years old, and looking at the Blue Jays’ competitive window, I’m not sure that the team will pick up his team option next year. Bo Bichette looks like the team’s future at second base, and Donaldson will be a free agent. If the Jays are not going to be competitive in 2019, there is no need to bring Solarte back even at just $5.5 million. There is not much to say about the prospects involved. Edward Oliveras is an outfield prospect who ranked 18th in the Blue Jays’ system at MLB.com. He could be an everyday regular if everything comes together. Jared Carkuff is a 24-year-old reliever who has only ever played one game above A-ball. He’s an org guy. The Padres got to move a player who was not part of their future in exchange for a prospect who will certainly not be a star, but who has the potential to contribute value at the major league level. The Blue Jays get depth and a possible solution at second base. Seems like a fair trade for both sides. Now, let’s hope the hot stove starts to heat up so we can get to the real transactions. . . . Luis Torres is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. He is a medicinal chemist by day, baseball analyst by night. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chemtorres21. [...]



Who belongs in MLB’s Hall of Fame? Vote in Beyond the Box Score’s poll today!

2018-01-06T10:00:02-05:00

BtBS is giving you — yes, you — a voice! (Not in the actual Hall of Fame election process; just, like, in general.) For many baseball fans, Hall of Fame season is a spectator sport, something where we have no real way to get involved (aside from tweeting at BBWAA members who submit shitty ballots). Only the 400-odd writers who actually vote control the induction process; the rest of us just have to follow Ryan Thibodaux and hope our favorite players cross that 75 percent threshold. Here at Beyond the Box Score, we’ve always found that annoying, which is why we like to give the people a say. For the fifth straight offseason, we’re operating a reader poll, which you can find below. The mock ballot is identical to the one BBWAA members receive, with all 33 names from Barry Bonds to Carlos Zambrano. It’s your job to pick no more than 10 that — in your view — deserve a spot in Cooperstown. src="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScztMVSGhZWbe4e10wDGGy7jNr9nNP0QUx0jYIyBmDuRzSuyw/viewform?embedded=true" width="760" height="500" frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0">Loading... The poll will stay open until midnight EST on Sunday, Jan. 13. Until then, vote early and vote often! (That’s not just a figure of speech — we’re not taking email addresses or anything, so you can vote as much as you want. Just don’t submit 100 troll ballots with Aubrey Huff and Brad Lidge, okay?) As a BtBS reader, you’ll probably want to check out some stats before casting your vote. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Baseball-Reference offers career stats for all 33 players on the ballot (as well as their vote totals from last year if they’re not a first-timer). Over on FanGraphs, you can find the numbers for the hitters here, and for the pitchers here. Give those metrics a gander, and cast your vote as the informed sabermetrician we all know you are. Once all the ballots have been submitted, we’ll let you know who made the cut! You can check out the results from 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 to see the former players our past readers have decided to enshrine. Last year, three guys — Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez — appeared on at least three-quarters of all the ballots. Let’s hope that number improves this year, because there are a lot more than three deserving Hall of Famers among this group of 33. During these dull winter months — especially when free agency has seemingly come to a halt — we all yearn for a taste of the game. While 424 writers get to determine who will be immortalized, the rest of us can make our voices heard as well. As the Reds have so graciously reminded us, baseball isn’t that far away; a diversion like this only brings us closer to the sport we all love. [...]



We don’t need a unanimous Hall of Fame election

2018-01-05T09:00:04-05:00

Everyone is waiting for a thing we don’t need. One of the most-asked questions during baseball Hall of Fame season is, “Who will be the first player unanimously elected to the Hall?” Spoiler alert: the BBWAA has never unanimously elected a player! Ken Griffey Jr. came the closest to unanimous election, when he garnered 437 of 440 votes in 2016. That, at 99.32 percent of the vote, stands as the record for highest percentage of the vote in Major League history. He topped Tom Seaver’s 1992 election of 98.84 percent of the vote. But would it have mattered if Griffey had received just 330 of the 440 votes? No, it wouldn’t have, because Griffey would have received exactly 75 percent of the vote and ultimately would still have his plaque in the Hall as well as his statistical records. Absolutely nothing would be different. Theoretically, Griffey was given 137 wasted votes. Don’t get me wrong, though — it’s okay for Griffey to have been given a cushion. Obviously, he’s a deserving Hall of Famer, and he earned his place in history on the first ballot, but if just 11 voters decided to change their Griffey vote to a Jim Edmonds vote (who had a strong Hall of Fame case himself), Griffey would still waltz into the Hall of Fame and Edmonds would still be on the ballot for consideration. With a 10-player limit (which is nothing short of bogus), I’m not bothered by strategic voting. On an unlimited, check “yes” or “no” ballot, there shouldn’t be one baseball voter to not vote for Ken Griffey Jr. But, when you’re limited by your number of choices, you sometimes are forced to make cuts. Cut from the top, not from the bottom. It’s even easier now to strategically vote. With Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame ballot tracker, we are able to check the standing of every player on the ballot. Chipper Jones, who currently trends at 98.8 percent of the public vote, will be elected. Vladimir Guerrero (93.9 percent) and Jim Thome (94.5 percent), with potentially Edgar Martinez (81.1 percent) and Trevor Hoffman (78.0 percent) being the likeliest joining them. At this point in the running, if you’re a voter and in support of all five of those Hall of Fame cases, in theory you only need to vote for Martinez and Hoffman, who most desperately need your help for election. Jones, Guerrero and Thome will get in to the Hall with or without your ballot. Now, there are three spots open for those 5-percenters, players in danger of falling off the ballot. Cast those votes for Johan Santana, Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen, and you’re actually doing them more of a favor than you would have ever done for Jones, Guerrero and Thome. Don’t believe me? Just look at Duke Snider, who trended at just 17 percent of the vote in his first year on the BBWAA ballot but was ultimately voted in 10 years later in 1980 (hat tip to Thiboudaux for pointing that out). With each year that passes, we tend to see players’ cases become more urgent with the newer 10-year limit, as writers tend to prioritize their ballots by who is most likely to fall off the soonest. We can look at Edgar Martinez as a real-time example. Or you can do what Sporting News’ Ryan Fagan did. Fagan, rather than take Jones, Thome or Guerrero off his ballot, removed players that will surely cross the 5 percent line to stay on the ballot but won’t need his vote in order to actually get in. This led him to take Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling off of his ballot, so he could put Scott Rolen and Johan Santana on it. As he writes in his column: I’m voting for the players I feel strongly deserve a spot in Cooperstown who actually have a chance to be inducted this year. I’m voting for the players who deserve to stick around on the ballot for at least one more season. I’m voting for those who need a boost to their candidacy. I’m not voting for the 10 players I[...]