Outskirts of Red Sox Nation

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Better Luck Next Year (by which I mean THIS year)

Events of 2006 were not terribly kind to two Boston Red Sox outfielders- one past, one present. I have reason to believe that 2007 will be better for both.

Yesterday, Jim Rice fell short again of his bid for induction to the Hall of Fame. While Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn were both elected with over 97% of the ballots, Jim Rice's name only showed up on 63.5%. This number is slightly down from last year, but Jim actually picked up seven or eight votes in a larger voting pool. A quick aside here- there were 545 ballots cast. Two of them were totally blank. I'm willing to attribute that to human error. That leaves 543 ballots with some marks on them. Cal Ripken, Jr. got 537 votes, meaning that six writers left him off the ballot, but didn't leave the ballot blank entirely. In other words, there are six writers out there, who have been gainfully employed as baseball writers for over ten years and presumably have some familiarity with the game of baseball, who cast a ballot for someone OTHER than Cal Ripken, Jr., and for some reason didn't consider Cal worthy of a vote. Who was more worthy on the ballot than Cal Freakin' Ripken? One of the top three best shortstops EVER. By all objective and subjective measures, an extraordinary man and an extraordinary player. Unless Ripken personally spit on the 8-year-old children of each and every one of those six writers, they do not deserve a ballot next year. They simply do not.

The good news for Jim Rice is that he's still hanging in there, and the 2007 class is a lot less impressive than the 2006 class. This means old Jim Ed looks more impressive by comparison. Helped, I think, by the induction of Bruce Sutter last year, Goose Gossage jumped all the way up to 71.2% of the vote. When I say "helped by the induction," I think a lot of writers realized that Gossage was a heck of a lot better than Sutter, and thereby meant to address that oversight/mistake. As for Jim Rice, the only new serious candidates he'll have to deal with are Dave Justice and Tim Raines. Raines deserves induction, I think, but neither of these guys is getting in next year, and they should both reinforce Rice's case for the Hall. Aside from Mark McGwire, the case that Jim Rice is the best position player NOT enshrined gets stronger. Next year could put him over the top. We don't want him to have to labor in the shadow of Rickey Henderson (2008 eligible).

The current Red Sox outfielder we're talking about today is one Covelli Loyce Crisp. A recent Baseball Prospectus "player profile" reviewed his history and development as a player. I was personally a bit surprised by his lack of power throughout his minor-league career, and had to confess I was perplexed at how he became so highly-regarded in the first place. That aside, BP released one of their "Unfiltered" posts yesterday with batted-ball charts from Coco's last few years. This post put some real meat onto the bones of the speculation that Coco had lost a lot of power to his finger injury last year. The second set of charts show a substantial dropoff of the number (percentage) of line drive Coco hit to right field last year. He's usually around 45% to right, and last year, he was just over 25%. With healthy hands, I think there's reason to believe he can drive the ball with more confidence and authority, and really crank up his SLG numbers for 2007. I think 40 doubles and 15 HR are not out of the question.


At 12:43 PM, Blogger Ryan Dempsey said...

The blank ballots were intentional.


At 10:03 AM, Blogger John Guszkowski said...

That stinks. Leaving ballots blank like that (especially when Ripken is on the ballot) is a useless and stupid philosophical statement. I'm not sure what the philosophical statement is, but from here it sounds a lot like: "I'm a smug, self-important ass with an overdeveloped sense of my own ability to be an arbiter of greatness and history and perhaps I don't deserve the rare privelege of voting for this anymore."


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