One of these things I was expecting to write about this afternoon, and one of these things I was not. Let’s start out with the biggest news of the day in the baseball world: Theo Epstein is stepping down as the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs as of this Friday and Jed Hoyer, who has been the team’s General Manager ever since Epstein came on as the Cubs President of Baseball Operations, will take over that gig. The two have been together in Chicago for nine seasons.
Theo Epstein’s resume includes ending historical World Series droughts for both the Boston Red Sox and for the Chicago Cubs. Surely he’s planning on taking a job elsewhere, right? Well, if the reports are to be believed (and maybe they aren’t – we’ll all find out together), yes, but not soon. Joel Sherman of the New York Post had this:
In a letter he addressed to “Cubs Friends,” Epstein indicated he wants to take this summer off with family and workig for non-profits, adding, "I do plan on having a third chapter leading a baseball organization someday, though I do not expect it to be next year."
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 17, 2020
This move will certainly have some effect on the National League Central. While we’re going to see Jed Hoyer ascend to the top of the chain with the Cubs, someone else is going to take over as their General Manager. Overall, it’s likely that the general plan will be similar given that Hoyer and Epstein worked together for a decade and Hoyer will now be the one setting the overall ideology and plans for the organization – but a likely new voice at the table (unless they hire internally) could change things a little bit.
The 2021 Hall of Fame Ballot
Yesterday the 2021 Hall of Fame ballot was released. There are 11 new players on the ballot this year:
- Mark Buehrle
- A.J. Burnett
- Michael Cuddyer
- Dan Haren
- LaTroy Hawkins
- Tim Hudson
- Torii Hunter
- Aramis Ramírez
- Nick Swisher
- Shane Victorino
- Barry Zito
There are also 14 players who are returning to the ballot. They are listed below by the year they are on the ballot (you only get to stay on for 10 years if you continue to get at least 5% of the vote):
- Barry Bonds – 9th year – 60.7% last year
- Roger Clemens – 9th year – 61.0% last year
- Curt Schilling – 9th year – 70.0% last year
- Sammy Sosa – 9th year – 13.9% last year
- Jeff Kent – 8th year – 27.5% last year
- Gary Sheffield – 7th year – 30.5% last year
- Billy Wagner – 6th year – 31.7% last year
- Manny Ramirez – 5th year – 28.2% last year
- Andruw Jones – 4th year – 19.4% last year
- Scott Rolen – 4th year – 35.3% last year
- Omar Vizquel – 4th year – 52.6% last year
- Todd Helton – 3rd year – 29.2% last year
- Andy Pettitte – 3rd year – 11.3% last year
- Bobby Abreu – 2nd year – 5.5% last year
In order to be elected a player must get votes from at least 75% of the voters.
Let’s start off by talking about the lone Cincinnati Reds player on this list: Scott Rolen. Matt Wilkes wrote about Rolen’s Hall of Fame resume nearly three years ago here at Redleg Nation.
Add it all up and Rolen’s well-rounded game was worth 70.1 fWAR in his career, 10th among third basemen in MLB history and 58th all-time. Per Jay Jaffe’s JAWS rankings, which incorporates Baseball Reference’s calculation of WAR — in which Rolen ranks 98th all-time — the former all-star is also 10th at his position. Every third baseman ahead of him in both WAR and JAWS is either already in the Hall of Fame (Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Santo, Robinson, Paul Molitor) or will likely be (Rodriguez, Jones, Beltre).
We can discuss the exactness of WAR all we want – but it’s not so wrong that Scott Rolen’s 70.1 WAR makes him not Hall of Fame worthy. That’s more WAR than Carlton Fisk. Or Barry Larkin. Or Robin Yount. It’s more WAR than Tony Gwynn or Ernie Banks. You get the point we’re making here, right?
Home Runs, Babe Ruth, AND MURDER
Chad Dotson – maybe you’ve heard of him – wrote a fantastic piece in his newsletter yesterday. It involves the Cincinnati Reds, 1921, Babe Ruth doing Babe Ruthian things, and a little case of murder. Go read it, and while you are there sign up for his FREE newsletter if you haven’t already done so.