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Winners and losers of 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame voting announcement



The votes are in! Let’s check in on the winners and losers from Tuesday’s Hall of Fame voting results that saw Derek Jeter get elected in his first year on the ballot, Larry Walker make it in his final year on the ballot and Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds finish with similar totals as a year ago.

Winner: Derek Jeter

The only question was whether Jeter would join former teammate Mariano Rivera as the second member of the 100% club. He fell one vote short, but his spot in Cooperstown is secure. Is Jeter the greatest shortstop of all time? No, that’s Honus Wagner, or, if you prefer a player who debuted later than 1897, Cal Ripken. Jeter’s career WAR of 72.4 is a lot closer to Alan Trammell (70.7) than Ripken (95.9). Still, Jeter’s legacy goes beyond the raw numbers and — overrated, underrated or somewhere in between — he’s a clear inner-circle Hall of Famer, one of the sport’s living icons.

Winner: Larry Walker

Walker’s meteoric rise over the past few ballots — he was at just 21.9% in 2017 — culminated with a final-year push that raised his total from 54.6% in 2019 to 76.6% this year, just over the 75% threshold. Walker’s election was always going to be a tough battle, despite a career WAR of 72.7 that … well, it’s higher than Jeter’s. Walker’s 8,030 plate appearances are the third fewest for any Hall of Fame hitter who began his career after 1950, ahead of only Mike Piazza and Kirby Puckett. His greatest seasons came in Coors Field, a baseball amusement park. He played at least 150 games just once in his career. So how come he finally was elected?

1. The thinning of the ballot. During Walker’s early years on the ballot, it was overstuffed with a backlog of strong candidates. Walker may have been a Hall of Famer in the minds of many voters, but he wasn’t one of their top 10 players on the ballot and the rules allow for a maximum of 10 votes. But 17 players were elected in the past five years and the relative lack of obvious candidates the past couple of years helped open more slots for Walker’s name.

2. A younger voting bloc that is going to pay more attention to numbers like WAR and less attention to some of the traditional numbers like hits and home runs. It appears the younger voters are also more willing to consider players who had a high peak value even if their careers lacked longevity or counting numbers — in recent years, we’ve seen Walker, Edgar Martinez and Roy Halladay fit this pattern.

3. That final-year thing. Voters want to elect Hall of Famers. The average voter selected more than six names and sentiment often rules the day on a player’s 10th year. Walker, Martinez and Tim Raines all were elected in their final ballot over the past four years.

4. Oh, yeah, Walker was a great all-around player, a five-tool talent who hit .313/.400/.565 with a park-adjusted OPS+ of 141 that is higher than Vladimir Guerrero, Alex Rodriguez, Reggie Jackson and Ken Griffey Jr.

Winner: Curt Schilling

In his eighth year on the ballot, Schilling saw his vote total increase from 60.9% to 70.0%. By comparison, his total is higher than Walker (34.1%), Martinez (58.6%) or Raines (55.0%) were in Year 8, and Schilling arguably has a stronger Hall of Fame case than any of those three. Of course, nothing is a slam dunk with Schilling. It seems that a certain percentage of voters have held his post-career propagation of hate speech and conspiracy theories against him. Players — like Walker — who were once behind Schilling in the voting leapfrogged over him. There will be no groundswell of folks advocating for him like there was for Raines, Martinez and Walker. Still, the 2021 ballot is particularly weak (Tim Hudson and Mark Buehrle are the best newcomers) and that could help Schilling clear the hurdle.

Losers: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens

Also in their eighth year on the ballot, Bonds and Clemens had a similar result as 2019: Their vote totals went from 59% to just over 60% (for Bonds 60.7% and Clemens 61.0%). As has been the case, the totals from the publicly revealed ballots — which are almost all from active baseball writers — are much more favorable to Bonds and Clemens (both were over 70% on the public ballots) than the private voters, who tend to be the retired writers or football writers who used to cover baseball and the like. With just two years remaining, the voter turnover isn’t happening fast enough to get them elected. That would eventually turn them over to the veterans committee, and that’s assuming the Hall of Fame hierarchy, which has made its ant-PED stance rather clear, even puts them on that ballot.

Winner: Scott Rolen

In his third year on the ballot, Rolen took a big leap, from 17.2% to 35.3%. That’s no guarantee of future election, but it certainly puts him on the right path and the relative dearth of strong candidates in upcoming years should help his vote total continue to mount. He’s a stathead favorite due to his 70.2 career WAR that ranks him ninth all time among third basemen, a total heavily boosted by his defensive metrics. (He did win eight Gold Gloves, so it’s not like the numbers don’t match the reputation.) He also had just one top-10 finish in MVP voting and I wonder if the current crop of in-their-prime third basemen like Nolan Arenado, Alex Bregman and Anthony Rendon could actually hurt Rolen’s chance.

Winner: Omar Vizquel

I’m hesitant to call Vizquel a winner, as his vote total in his third year went from 42.8% to just 52.6%, not as big a leap as Rolen had. Still, it puts Vizquel in a strong position to get to 75% over the next seven years. Vizquel is also in a different boat than Walker, Schilling or Rolen: He is not a stathead favorite, with just 45.6 career WAR. Some will argue that, despite 11 Gold Gloves, his defense is overrated and his defense is basically his entire ticket to Cooperstown (he did play the most games ever at shortstop). So while he’s in a good position after three years, there’s also a large bloc of voters who don’t see him as even a borderline candidate.

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Cardinals’ Miles Mikolas (elbow) to miss start of season



St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas will miss the start of the season due to a flexor tendon issue in his right elbow, manager Mike Shildt told reporters Tuesday.

Shildt said Mikolas will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection and be reevaluated in three to four weeks. He previously received a PRP injection after the Cardinals were eliminated from the playoffs last season.

Mikolas had been scratched from his second bullpen session of the spring on Sunday because of the injury.

The 31-year-old right-hander signed with St. Louis before the 2018 season following a successful stint in Japan. He was 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA during his first season with the Cardinals and earned a trip to the All-Star Game.

Mikolas struggled last season as he went 9-14 with a 4.16 ERA in 32 starts in the regular season, but he was 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in three appearances in the postseason.

Despite last season’s struggles, Mikolas entered this spring as one of four pitchers expected to be in the Cardinals’ rotation, joining Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright.

Carlos Martinez, Korean offseason signee Kwang-Hyun Kim, Alex Reyes and Daniel Ponce de Leon had entered camp as the leading candidates to join the rotation.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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Was top draft pitching prospect Emerson Hancock’s rough debut a blip or something more?



University of Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock was a consensus top-three prospect for the 2020 MLB draft coming into Friday’s start, which ended up being the second worst of his college career statistically, the worst if you consider the competition: 4 IP, 9 H, 6 R at home against Richmond.

It started as expected, with Hancock’s fastball sitting in the 94-96 mph range and hitting 97 mph in the first couple of innings, mixing in an above-average slider in the mid-90s and bringing out his plus changeup in the second. There also was an early walk and a hit batter, an infield hit and a couple of bloopers you could chalk up to bad luck. But in the fourth inning, he gave up back-to-back homers on center-cut mistake pitches, leading to the early exit.

Hancock’s execution was off all night and his body language wasn’t fantastic, but the stuff was close enough to expectation. He didn’t really dip below 93 mph, and while his changeup wasn’t a 70-grade pitch very often, it was plus multiple times. It’s generally not a good idea for amateur pitchers having execution issues to try to throw both a slider and a curveball, but Hancock doesn’t normally have execution issues.

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Francisco Lindor on trade rumors



GOODYEAR, Ariz. — After an entire offseason of rumors about a potential trade and constant speculation that his team will not be able to afford him, Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor wanted to make one thing clear after his first official workout of spring training.

“I wanna win here. I wanna stay here,” Lindor said Monday. “I wanna stay here in Cleveland. This is home. I’m not playing to get traded or to put myself in a good spot to get traded. I’m playing to win. I want to win here.”

Lindor, a four-time All-Star and one of the game’s best all-around players, is two seasons away from free agency and will undoubtedly command $30-plus million per year on a long-term contract once he ventures into the open market. The Indians have been trimming their payroll in recent years, going from $135 million in 2018 to $120 million in 2019 to an estimated $90 million in 2020.

Lindor, 26, could absorb about a quarter of the Indians’ payroll, putting the franchise in a precarious situation similar to that of the San Diego Padres after they signed Manny Machado.

Lindor nonetheless thinks a long-term deal is possible.

“If the negotiations or whatever makes sense, it’s gonna happen,” Lindor said. “The team is not broke. The league is not broke. There’s money.”

The Indians reportedly shopped Lindor in the offseason, but some of the executives involved in the negotiations came away believing that the team wasn’t all that serious about trading him. Despite sending Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers, the Indians have a wealth of young pitching and remain hopeful of competing in the American League Central, a division in which the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox loom as legitimate threats.

If the Indians fall out of contention over the summer, it’s possible that they would trade Lindor in July — or in the offseason that follows.

It seems that Indians president Chris Antonetti would prefer not to.

“We’d love for Francisco to be here long-term,” Antonetti said. “I think Francisco shares that desire. We have, and our ownership has made, meaningful efforts to try and do that. And so has Francisco. And he and his representative, David Meter, continue to express to us, both publicly and privately, that he’d like to stay here and like to stay in Cleveland. And I think he’s been consistent with what he shared with all of you. Now, how we make that happen is where it gets difficult.

“It’s not because of a lack of desire on our part or not because of a lack of desire on Francisco’s part. But more when you look at the economics of baseball and the realities of building championship teams in a small market, it gets really tough. The interest is there, the desire is there, on both sides, to try to get something done. And whether or not that’s possible, we just don’t know.”

Antonetti first needs to determine whether he can get Lindor to sign the type of extension that would allow the Indians to remain competitive, conversations that are expected to continue during spring training. If nothing makes sense for either side, Antonetti must decide whether to trade Lindor — and suffer backlash like the Boston Red Sox did when they traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers — or try to win with him until he becomes a free agent after the 2021 season.

Antonetti said the latter is “certainly one of the paths we could pursue.”

“I love it here,” Lindor said. “The people are great. The city of Cleveland has been nothing but good to me. Why would I want to leave? If we have a team in Puerto Rico, that would be a little different. I’d be saying I want to get out of Cleveland and be in Puerto Rico. But that’s not the case. I’m just enjoying the ride here. I’m blessed to be playing this game on a daily basis. And to be able to call this my job, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

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