The Final Post from ‘The Unbiased MLB Fan’

After 434,498 words, 664 blog posts, 614 comments, 72 months, dozens of interviews, and hours upon hours spent pecking away at the keyboard, I’ve decided to end my run writing for ‘The Unbiased MLB Fan’.

I first began thinking about calling it quits way back at the beginning of 2015, when a somewhat uneventful offseason left me struggling to come up with a topic to write about from one given week to the next. But when that season began, things got a little easier, with there being a lot more to write about, so my mind somewhat drifted from the notion of quitting.

But as time went on, I found myself not enjoying the work it takes to keep up this blog nearly as much as I had in the past (some posts take several days to construct). While I still had a lot of thoughts and opinions surrounding all of the things going on in baseball, and was keeping up with absolutely everything that was going on, I didn’t feel the urge to write about it on here with the frequency I had in the past.

That feeling only grew stronger in 2016.

In 2014, I blogged 129 time throughout the year — the most I’ve ever done in one single year. That number has been noticeably lower each of the past two years, and I don’t feel the quality of the writing has been where it used to be either, with all of this tracing back to the original reason I finally decided to quit blogging: I stopped enjoying it.

In fact, there were a number of times that I contemplated quitting during the season, simply dropping it without warning or a reason as to why I was giving it up. But I didn’t want to do that. I’ve followed far too many blogs that simply fade away without as much as a farewell. That’s always left me scratching my head, and I made up my mind that I wouldn’t join that group. I wanted to see the whole year through — and now I have.

Originally, the plan was to publish this post around Christmas time, but I had a few posts already completed, and I didn’t want to have them go to waste. Therefore, I kept up this blog for a month longer than I anticipated, which ended up working out nicely. It was January 20th of 2011 that I began this blog, and now it’s a January 20th of 2017 that I’m ending it — a nice round six years of blogging.

I began writing this particular post back in August of 2015, as although it wasn’t until the end of 2016 that I decided wholeheartedly that this would be my last year of writing, I didn’t want to just throw something together at the last second. I wanted to say everything I wanted and needed to, and I wanted the wording to be as close to perfect as I am capable of. Whether or not this blog post is perfect, I don’t know. I’d pretty much guarantee that it’s not. But I can guarantee that I put every ounce of my heart into writing this one post, and that’s all that truly counts.

Giving up blogging comes with its own set of strong, mixed emotions. This blog has been a huge portion of my life for the past six years. It’s allowed me the opportunity to correspond with dozens of interesting baseball figures and players, and even rewarded me with a trip with my grandpa to the 2012 Home Run Derby in Kansas City. I’ve gotten more than my fair share of good things out of this blog, and I feel extremely blessed for all of it.

I am now 21 years old, and, as previously stated, have been writing on this blog since January of 2011. That’s over a fourth of my entire life. I’ve poured my opinions and heart into a wide variety of posts, and I have truly had a blast doing so. But, although I’ll undoubtedly miss writing from time to time, the time has come for me to give it up. I’m moving on to the next chapter in my life, and I’m excited to find out what that will be.

Although I won’t be writing anymore on here, I’ll still be keeping track of all that’s going on around baseball, and my opinions will be as strong as ever. I’ll keep reading books and articles about baseball, I’ll keep watching MLB Network on a religious basis, and I’ll keep discussing baseball with my family and friends. My passion for the game hasn’t gone away — if anything it has gotten astronomically stronger. It’s my passion for writing about it that has faded. Thus, it’s time I step aside and give the next guy with opinions and a computer a chance.

So thank you, to every single person who has ever read anything I’ve had to say. At times, it probably didn’t seem like I knew what I was talking about, and most of the time I was simply recycling news that had been already relayed on larger markets, but people read what I had to say anyway. That means a tremendous amount to me.

At the end of the day, this blog wasn’t merely for me, but for all of the readers who share my passion for baseball. I hope I entertained you and informed you over the past six years as I covered the single greatest sport in the world. God bless.

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Bagwell, Raines and Rodriguez Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

After seeing two all-time great players, in Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza, obtain the necessary 75 percent of the vote to receive enshrinement into the Hall of Fame last January, the baseball world has been abuzz for the past year as to who would be elected in 2017. With a ballot loaded with several great returning players as well as numerous first time players, everyone around the baseball world had their own strong opinion as to who they felt should be in.

But the waiting and speculation finally came to an end on Wednesday evening, when it was announced that Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez had received more than enough votes to join Bud Selig and John Schuerholz (both elected in December) as part of the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class set to be inducted in July.

hof

Jeff Bagwell received 381 of the 442 votes cast, giving him 86.2 percent of the vote and earning him induction into the Hall. With 449 career home runs and 2,314 hits, Bagwell doesn’t jump off the page in quite the manner that a lot of other players do, but he is still very deserving. It took him longer than many thought it would to get into the Hall, but I’m sure he would be the first to tell you that getting in is all that counts in the end.

Joining Bagwell was Tim Raines, who placed second in voting with 86 percent of the vote. Despite not having a lot to show for his career in the power category, Raines was exceptional over his 23 years in a number of other categories. Sitting fifth all-time in stolen bases with 808 to go along with 2,605 hits and a .294 lifetime average, Raines was more than worthy of being elected in his final year of eligibility on the ballot.

On the flip side, Ivan Rodriguez was awarded induction in his first time on the ballot, becoming just the second catcher ever (Johnny Bench was the first) to be elected their first year. Rodriguez set numerous catching records over his career, and was a solid hitter as well, taking part in fourteen total All-Star games. Despite being clouded by the suspicion of PED’s, Rodriguez finds himself headed to Cooperstown.

But while this was the fourth straight year with two or more players being elected to the Hall of Fame, some players fell just short. Trevor Hoffman came one percent shy of the necessary three-quarters of voters’ support needed, with Vladimir Guerrero (who many felt was a first-ballot Hall of Famer) getting 71.7 percent. However, although they didn’t make it this time around, confidence is high for both of them to get in next year.

The two most controversial players on the ballot for the last several years, Barry Bonds and Rogers Clemens both fell below the 55 percent mark, failing to get in once again despite having first-ballot Hall of Fame stats aside from their PED use. But while it was once thought that neither would ever get in, they are both making steady progression up the percentage ladder, and very well could slip in before all is said and done.

Regardless of if Bonds and Clemens ever get in, sixteen players from this year’s ballot are guaranteed to never get into the Hall. With Lee Smith running out of eligibility years and players such as Jorge Posada and Tim Wakefield not securing the needed five percent to stay on the ballot, those players will forever be known as simply great — but not all-time great — players.

The results of the 2017 Hall of Fame election certainly proved that the voting tide is slowly beginning to shift. As more and more players are shoveled into the Hall of Fame at record rates, only time will tell how the next few years will see the Hall of Fame grow.

It’ll be interesting to see which players make it into the Hall of Fame in 2018.

The Active Future Hall of Fame Player on Every MLB Team

With the 2017 Hall of Fame class set to be announced on Wednesday, January 18th, I began to think about the active players around Major League Baseball who are inevitably going to find their way to the Hall of Fame. There are quite a few, with a wide range of teams having strong candidates. However, as I was pondering, I began to wonder: Could I name a player from every single team with a chance at the Hall of Fame? It took me a good amount of time, but I was finally able to do it.

Now, keep in mind, some of these players you will definitely agree with, but some you will question my sanity. Admittedly, some of my picks are extremely unlikely to make their way to Cooperstown, but there are some teams that are so young or sparsely-talented that I had to go with a long-shot pick or extreme projection. But the wild predictions for certain young stars is part of what makes this conversation so much fun.

With all of that said, here is my take of the top Hall of Fame player from each of the thirty MLB teams (active players only; free agents not included):

Marlinssuzuki

The Marlins have quite a few standout players who very well could be headed towards Cooperstown if they can keep up their stardom over the next decade or so, but the one player on their roster that’s already a guaranteed inductee is Ichiro Suzuki. Coming over from Japan in 2001, Suzuki has long been one of the best players in baseball, notching over 3,000 hits in his MLB career to this point and subsequently receiving countless awards. As such, he is a no-doubt Hall of Famer.

Rays

This isn’t as easy of a pick as the one of Ichiro Suzuki, but the one player on the Rays roster with enough of a track record to suggest as being on a Hall of Fame track is assuredly Evan Longoria. Hitting a career high 36 homers in 2016, and recording his most RBI’s since 2011, the next few years will tell the tale. But at only 31 years old, Longoria is the surest H.O.F. bet of all of the players currently on the Rays.

freemanBraves

He has an extremely long way to go, but with the stats he has produced over the course of his career, Freddie Freeman is well on his way to making it into Cooperstown. At just 27 years old, Freeman is theoretically in his prime, as was evident in his posting of 31 home runs last season. If he can post even a few more of those, the Braves’ All-Star first baseman could be on a very promising path towards the Hall of Fame.

Orioles

He may not be well into his 20’s quite yet, but Manny Machado is well into his Hall of Fame career. Sure, it’s a bit early to be typing up Machado’s induction speech, as anything can happen in baseball, but the Orioles’ third baseman has recorded back-to-back 30 homer seasons each of the last two years, and is posting numbers rivaling those of a previous Baltimore third base superstar: Brooks Robinson.

NationalsMLB: NLDS-San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals

It may seem a bit of old hat to be naming Bryce Harper as the Nationals current best shot at the Hall of Fame, but it’s absolutely true. Despite having a poor season by his standards last year, Harper — who will be 24 years old all of the 2017 season — already possesses 121 homers. If Harper can have a bounce-back season this coming year, the Hall of Fame may be in the cards for him when all is said and done.

Mets

The Mets’ player I feel is the most likely to put together a Hall of Fame career when he decides to hang up his spikes is Noah Syndergaard. (Yes, you read that right.) I’m well aware that Syndergaard only has 55 career starts under his belt, but with David Wright succumbing to injuries that derailed his overall chances, and guys such as Yoenis Cespedes not having enough games remaining to put together a case, Syndergaard is my long-shot pick.

chapYankees

Gary Sanchez — no, I’m just kidding. But the player I do have slotted to be a Hall of Famer down the road isn’t all that much older than Sanchez. With Aroldis Chapman dominating the opposition for so long, it can be easy to forget that Chapman is just heading into his age-29 season. With a career 2.08 ERA thanks to his blazing fastball, as well as his ability to lock things down in the ninth, Chapman is on the fast-track to the Hall if he can continue to blow batters away.

Phillies

With the departure of Ryan Howard, and the Phillies being in a drastic youth movement, it was very hard for me to land on a single player who stands the best chance at the Hall of Fame. But even so, I decided to go with Maikel Franco. He is still extremely young, and is still adjusting to the bigs. But the potential for 30+ homer power is definitely there, and that could lead to a bright future for Franco and the Phillies.

Red SoxSTON2433.JPG

The Red Sox just lost a future Hall of Famer in David Ortiz, but picking the next player to follow in his footsteps wasn’t all that difficult. Keeping with the theme of young players with big futures, I tabbed Mookie Betts as the player on Boston’s active roster with a chance at Cooperstown. I hate to make a selection with such a small track record, but after what Betts showed the baseball world last season, a superstar has been born.

Blue Jays

I’m not sure Josh Donaldson has enough big seasons left in him to put together Hall of Fame caliber numbers, but he stands the best shot of all of the players north of the border. While some youngsters such as Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman are off to amazing starts to their career, Donaldson has become an absolute star. With back-to-back 35+ home runs season, Donalson will at the very least become a Toronto all-time great.

cutchPirates

If Andrew McCutchen can turn things around from a year ago to have another superstar season in 2017, he will also be back on track to a Hall of Fame career. The best player on the Pirates’ roster when he’s at the top of his game, McCutchen is a five-tool athlete in every sense of the word. Although the stats of McCutchen aren’t overwhelming upon first glance, when you look closely, a compelling case is certainly being made.

Indians

The newest member of the Indians is also their top Hall of Fame candidate at the moment. Edwin Encarnacion may not have the numbers yet, but he very well could get there before his career is over. Averaging 39 homers a year over the past five seasons, Encarnacion could theoretically join the 500 home run club if he can play until age 40 and blast a tick over 27 home runs per season.

Tigerscab

The Tigers have quite a few great players, despite it not showing up in the standings last season. But the one player that is an absolute Hall of Fame player is Miguel Cabrera. The former Triple Crown winner is simply one of the best players to ever play the game of baseball, and is well underway to making it to Cooperstown. At just 34 years old on April 18th, Cabrera is one of the few must-see players before they retire currently in baseball.

Reds

It’s going to be close, but the current Cincinnati Red who has shown any chance at a shot at the Hall of Fame is Joey Votto. The on-base-machine falls right into the coveted 3-4-5 slash line with a career .313/.425/.536 line, despite his hit numbers and homer stats sitting a bit low when compared to those players already in the Hall of Fame. But the overall play of Votto is definitely worth Hall of Fame consideration.

reyesCardinals

How weak is the Cardinals current active roster? So weak that I went with rookie Alex Reyes as their best shot at the Hall of Fame. In fact, I actually had to skip the Cardinals and come back to them when writing this, frankly because I don’t view any of their active roster with any confidence as to them having even a chance at the Hall of Fame. But having to pick a player, I ended up going with the 22-year-old Reyes, who showed a ton of potential in 2016 and is expected to breakout in 2017.

Cubs

I originally placed Jon Lester (of all people) as the Cubs’ active future Hall of Fame player, as he is somewhat underrated as a starter, especially when you look at his career numbers. But it’s hard to overlook Kris Bryant, who broke out last season to hit 39 home runs. With his 40+ homer potential, if Bryant can put together multiple big seasons in a row, his case for the Hall of Fame will begin to build.

White Soxfraz

The White Sox have made it evident that they are currently in a huge rebuild mode, trading away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton so far this offseason, with other moves expected before Opening Day. With that in mind, I ended up picking Todd Frazier as their Hall of Fame path player. Although Frazier has a somewhat weak case at the moment, if he can continue to produce numbers much like those he has posted in recent history, Frazier will be very close by the time he retires.

Brewers

I’m not the biggest Ryan Braun fan after what went down a few years ago, but there’s no denying his talent. Following a few down seasons, Braun bounced back again in 2016. If he can continue to keep his track record going, Braun could be a very compelling candidate for the Hall after his playing days are over. As the best player on the Brewers, he also claims the slot as their best chance at the Hall of Fame.

mauerTwins

There are several different ways I could’ve gone with this. If Byron Buxton produces to his full ability the way he has been hyped, he would be the top pick; the same with Miguel Sano. If Brian Dozier hit over 40 homers for a few more seasons, he would line up on that path as well. But I ended up going with the safe choice of Joe Mauer, who is a bit low in some of his career stats, but has enough great seasons to deserve some consideration.

Royals

Catchers get little recognition for just how difficult their jobs behind the plate is, and Salvador Perez has proven to be one of the best. One of the biggest low-risk high-reward examples in recent history, the Royals have a star in Perez, and he could very well be on the patch to Cooperstown as a slugging backstop. With 20 homers a year and a cannon for an arm, Perez has the whole package you’re looking for from a catcher.

Astrosbeltran

Jose Altuve is undoubtedly the biggest superstar on the Astros, with Carlos Correa and George Springer quickly joining him. But while newly acquired slugger Carlos Beltran would be all too easy to overlook, it’s important to view Beltran for the player he is. With 2,617 hits and 421 homers, one more solid season from Beltran very well could sway those who are on the fence about his candidacy for the Hall of Fame.

Rangers

While others don’t seem to agree, I feel that Adrian Beltre is a no-doubt Hall of Famer no matter how you slice it. Assuming he can stay healthy, Beltre will become the 31st player to reach the 3,000 hit mark in 2017, and that is all but a guarantee for enshrinement in my mind. One of the all-time best third baseman in the history of baseball, Beltre is an easy Hall of Fame pick.

nolanRockies

Nolan Arenado is as close to a complete player as you’ll find in the game today. Winning a Gold Glove each of his first four seasons, his future Hall of Fame case will extend far beyond his defense, as he belted over 40 homers and recorded over 130 RBI’s each of the past two seasons. Despite playing in Colorado — seen as a negative by many — Arenado would be a superstar in any ballpark. For that reason, he should still be seen as the future Hall of Fame player he likely is.

Diamondbacks

Over the course of Paul Goldschmidt‘s career to this point, he has shown a pattern of having one great season followed by a merely average season. However, if he can find a way to produce some of the superstar level seasons he has previously, Goldschmidt will have a legitimate Hall case. Given, Goldy may not be able to produce on the level needed for the Hall of Fame, but he currently stands the best shot in Arizona.

Padresmyers

Will the real Wil Myers please stand up . . . That’s the sentiment of many around the baseball world. Following a Rookie of the Year season in 2013, Myers hadn’t produced on the same level through last season. But in 2016, Myers absolutely broke out, earning his first All-Star selection and hitting 28 blasts. With the power he possesses, he has the ability to carry the Padres on his back, and if he indeed does that, could be walking towards Cooperstown.

Dodgers

Adrian Gonzalez has been great for a long time, and Corey Seager is on a rapid ascent into stardom. But let’s face it — Clayton Kershaw is Clayton Kershaw. Year in and year out, Kershaw is among the finalists for Cy Young and has consistently been the Dodgers’ best pitcher since his poor rookie season in 2008. As such, Kershaw is undoubtedly a future Hall of Fame pitcher for the Dodgers.

pujolsAngels

Mike Trout receives an extremely high honorable mention, as baring any unforeseen issues Trout is on a clear path to Cooperstown. But credit has to be given where it’s due, and therefore Albert Pujols falls as my pick for the Angles’ Hall of Fame active player. With him sitting just nine homers back of 600, Pujols is already an all-time great player, and should be fully appreciated as such while he’s still playing the game.

Giants

Buster Posey is a fantastic player and will likely continue to be for the Giants for years to come. But the player I chose as the most on a Hall of Fame path is Madison Bumgarner, who has proven time and time again the caliber of pitcher that he is. With a career ERA of 2.99, Bumgarner has been a big part in the Giants three World Series titles over the last seven seasons. As such, he is on a very special career path.

Athleticsgray

The Athletics aren’t the best team in baseball, and therefore don’t have the best selection of above-average players. But even so, Sonny Gray stands out as their best chance at fielding a Hall of Famer player down the road from their current roster. His 2016 stats of a 5.69 ERA over the course of 22 starts hurt what was beginning as a special career, but if he can rebound in 2017, Gray can get back on that track.

Mariners

With a perfect game, it is already evident that Felix Hernandez is a great pitcher. But when you take the time to dive into his career numbers, you get an idea of just how special he is. Already nearing Hall of Fame stats, Hernandez will be just 31 for all of the 2017 season. He still has numerous more seasons to add to his 2,264 career strikeouts and improve upon his 3.16 ERA. But no matter what, Cooperstown likely awaits him.

Q and A With Jacob Gatewood

Jacob Gatewood was drafted by the Brewers in the 1st round of the 2014 draft, after batting .349 with 2 home runs his senior year at Clovis High School in California.

But despite hitting just two homers his final season of high school, it’s Gatewood’s power that is seen by many as his most impactful tool. Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Gatewood first put that power on display at the national level back in 2013 before he was even drafted, blasting mammoth home runs at Citi Field in front of thousands of people in the junior Home Run Derby, and subsequently made his power-hitting abilities known to a vast portion of the baseball world. With the kind of power Gatewood displayed, it was no true wonder why the Brewers thought so highly of him in the draft.

However, Gatewood has seen his share of ups and downs since beginning his professional career, not posting the power stats many had anticipated he would. But even so, Gatewood still managed to have his best season thus far in 2016, hitting .240 with 14 home runs and 64 RBI’s, with many seeing even better things to come from Gatewood in 2017 and beyond.

Making the transition from his long-time position of shortstop to the unfamiliar third base spot last season, the Brewers are seemingly doing everything they can to help clear Gatewood’s path and get him to the majors as quickly as possible. If Gatewood can continue to tap into the immense power he possesses moving forward, Gatewood should be showing off his talents in the big leagues in the not too distant future.

Jacob Gatewood — top prospect in the Brewers’ organization — took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?

For me you could say baseball was love at first sight. I started playing when I was 8, and once I put the batting gloves on it was over — baseball was all I wanted to do. Growing up, I had a ton of different favorite players, but the one who influenced me the most was my dad. He played some minor league baseball with the Dodgers, Twins, and Cubs. He supported me through it all, and I couldn’t be more thankful for him.

2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?

My first favorite player growing up was actually Troy Tulowitzki. I always liked the way he played and how physical he was on the field. I was lucky enough to meet him a few years ago, and it was a great experience to be able to talk to someone I looked up to so much as a kid.

3.) You were drafted by the Brewers in the 1st round of the 2014 draft. What was that process like for you? Did being present at the MLB Network studio (where the names were being announced live) make the experience all the more memorable?

The process of being drafted is a unique one in a sense; you have to grow up very quickly. You go into your senior year at 18 with a lot of pressure on you, but all the added pressure made it fun for me. My dad has always told me pressure is a privilege, so I really took that to heart my senior year and just tried to soak the whole thing in. Being present at the draft was truly a blessing! They took great care of us, and it was awesome seeing all my friends names called; and of course when mine was called.

4.) Before being drafted, you won the 2013 junior Home Run Derby at Citi Field in front of thousands of people at the stadium and millions more on TV:

Is that the moment you feel your name became ultra synonymous for power with people around the baseball world?

The home run derby at Citi Field was another great blessing. It was the first year they started doing the junior portion of the derby so it was all kind of last minute. One day I was in Georgia, the next I was in New York with my parents getting ready to hit in front of over 50,000 people. It definitely helped get my name out there, and I’m very thankful for USA baseball for giving me that opportunity.

5.) On the negative side of that, do you feel that your home run display on such a national stage led to unfair expectations being placed upon you to hit a mammoth number of home runs right out of the gate in professional baseball as you began your career?

I would say no. I have always been confident in my abilities, so regardless, if I would’ve hit in the home run derby or not I would’ve expected myself to hit a lot of home runs my first couple of years. Now I realize that I’m not the one in control. All I can do is prepare as well as I possible can and play every game like it’s my last. God will do the rest for me.

6.) As with many power hitters, your strikeout numbers have remained very high, with you whiffing more total times than number of games played in each of your first three seasons. What are some of the things you continue to work on to improve your overall approach at the plate?

For me it’s always been pitch selection, so I’ve been working on my vision and really focusing on the mental game of hitting rather than mechanics. I recently visited an eye doctor and realized I needed glasses so that could help a bit as well.

7.) Just this past season, the Brewers worked on converting you from shortstop to third base in order to give you a clearer path to the majors. How difficult did you find it to adjust to a new position you had never previously played?

It was tough the first two months of the season, but the Brewers were awesome with me, being very patient and building up my confidence at third. I had to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and once I adjusted to that I really started to enjoy playing third.

8.) What do you feel went well in 2016? What are your goals for 2017?

I feel I started to understand how important the mental side of baseball is in 2016, and I can’t wait to put all the things I’ve learned to use in 2017. I have a lot of individual goals for 2017, but most importantly, I want to win a championship. It’s been way too long since I’ve been in a dog pile!

9.) Favorite TV show? Favorite food?

I’m actually not a big TV guy, but I really enjoy the real estate shows on HGTV. My Dad is a general contractor, so we like to watch all the real estate shows together as a family. My favorite food is mac and cheese. It’s literally one of the first things I look for on any menu at any restaurant, but nothing beats the home made stuff.

10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

I would tell them success lies in your preparation. When you are prepared it takes all the pressure off of you. It’s like taking a test. When you are prepared you can’t wait to take the test because you know you’ll do good on it, and when you’re unprepared for the test we know we are gonna struggle with it. Baseball is similar in the fact that if we prepare the best we can we are setting ourselves up to perform at our best more consistently! If we do not prepare we may have a few good games in a row but overall we will be less consistent. The difference in a good player compared to a great player is consistency, and in baseball that is an extra hit or two a week than the other guy. It may seem small but over a 162 game season all the little things will eventually add up. But more importantly, I would also tell the kids to trust in God with everything they do. He knew what each and everyone of us were gonna be before He even created the earth, so trust in Him even through the tough times, because He knows what He’s doing and everything is a part of His plan. Give all the glory to Him, live your life for Him, and He will reward you with eternal life in heaven, which is better than any baseball game or anything we can conceive on this earth.

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Big thanks to Jacob Gatewood for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on Twitter: @Jake_Gatewood2

2017 Hall of Fame Ballot: If I Had a Vote

Each and every year there arises a major debate around the baseball world as to which players are deserving of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. While certain players from any given year are no doubt picks, sparking little argument as to whether their career numbers are worthy of election, others players have rather borderline statistics, making things very controversial. This year is no different.

The 2017 Hall of Fame ballot has 34 players on it, with 19 of them being in their first time on the ballot. After reviewing the ballot numerous times, I gave each and every player careful consideration, but in the end I wound up placing only four on my ballot. Here are the four players I feel should make it into the Hall of Fame in 2017 (not necessarily the players I think will get elected) when the official announcement is made exactly two weeks from today:

The first player on my ballot is Tim Raines.

Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos drops his bat and prepares to run.

As recently as the 2015 ballot results, it seemed as if Tim Raines stood virtually no chance at getting into the Hall of Fame. That year, Raines received only 55 percent of the vote, with just two years of eligibility remaining. But 2016 saw him make a huge jump, climbing all the way up to 69.8 percent. Though Raines only hit 170 homers in his career, his 808 stolen bases and 2,605 career hits truly stand out. With this being his final year on the ballot, I’m hopeful that Raines receives his rightful induction.

Second on my unofficial ballot is Jeff Bagwell.

bagwell

I originally didn’t have Jeff Bagwell as part of this blog post, as I was on the fence about whether or not I felt he deserved the honor. However, after numerous number comparisons, I decided he was in fact worthy. Bagwell doesn’t have numbers that jump off the page, with a .297 career average and just 449 home runs, but Bagwell averaged 37 homers and 116 RBI’s a year over a ten season span from 1994-2003, and therefore should be inducted in the Hall of Fame, as 71.6 percent of voters agreed last year.

Next, I have Trevor Hoffman.

hoffman

Trevor Hoffman is probably the surest bet of all returnees to get enshrined in 2017. In his first time around last year, Hoffman picked up 67.8 percent of the vote, placing him just 7.2 percent back of induction. Hoffman was the first closer to reach 600 career saves, and sits second all-time behind Mariano Rivera with 601 career saves. In addition, Hoffman also holds a 2.87 career mark, and when you put it all together is a definite Hall of Famer in my mind.

Lastly, Vladimir Guerrero finds his way onto my list of picks.

guerrero

The only first-time player I have on my ballot is Vladimir Guerrero, but it’s no true mystery as to why. One of the most fun players to watch, Guerrero could hit pretty much anything from a ball in the dirt to one over his head, evident in his .318 career average — the highest of all the players on this year’s ballot. But Guerrero didn’t just hit for average, he also had one of the best power bats, notching 449 homers and totaling 1,496 RBI’s. There should be more than enough support for Guerrero from the voters.

Unfortunately, even with all of the great players on the ballot this year, I had to leave off the remaining 30 players, including a large number of the really good players from the ballot, including Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, Curt Schilling, Lee Smith and Billy Wagner — all of which have good arguments for induction into the Hall.

In addition, I’ve excluded Barry Bonds, Rogers Clemens and Sammy Sosa, among others traced to PED’s, not based solely on their PED use, but merely because I don’t feel they should get in this time around. Not yet; maybe not even at all. I haven’t fully decided how I feel. The Hall of Fame is an exclusive club, and I’m not sure I’ll ever feel that PED players are deserving of induction.

Though you may disagree with some of the players I feel are Hall of Fame worthy and with some of the players I left off my ballot, it’s just the way I feel. With the vote set to be announced on January 18th, it will definitely be interesting to see who gets in.

New Blogging Month of the New Year to be my Last

Happy New Year, everyone!

Over the past several years, the first post of the year has always been the one in which I posted the top five things I hoped to accomplish in the coming year of blogging. However, this year, that has changed.

After contemplating for well over a year as to when would be the right time to end my time blogging, I have finally decided that the time has officially come. Thus, on January 20th — the six-year anniversary of my blog — I will be posting my final ever blog post.

Getting to this point has been a difficult process, as I’m not one to quit anything easily, especially things that I love — or at least loved at one point. But I feel confident that 2017 will be a great year all-around in many different aspects of my life, and I am content with the decision to quit my blog.

I will be posting Hall of Fame related posts over the coming three weeks, with my final definitive reason for leaving and recap of my blog being posted on January 20th. Until then, I hope you all have a great first day of 2017.

Last Blog Post Until 2017

Another year has nearly come and gone, and so goes the previous twelve months of blogging. After nearly giving up my baseball blog at the end of last year, I decided to continue it into this year, but am leaning towards making early 2017 as the expiration date for my blog. christmas

No matter what I decide, though, this will definitely be my final blog post until next year arrives in 9 days. With Christmas time upon us, I don’t want to have to worry about hoping on here to post a blog entry every fifth day, and therefore will be holding off until the new year.

When 2017 does arrive, the first day of the year will see some sort of post, but I haven’t decided what it will be about yet. Normally, I write about the goals I have for the coming blogging year, but with me not guaranteeing that I’ll see the entire year through, I’m not sure what it will be about yet.

Regardless, after that will come my unofficial Hall of Fame vote, with the official election results being written about in a post when things are announced on January 18th. It should be interesting to see who gets inducted with such a strong class this year.

January 20th will mark the sixth year of my blog, and that’s the make-or-break point for the entire year. I’ll either decided to make that my final post ever or I will continue on for as long as I can. It has yet to be determined.

Should I decide to keep going, I’ll likely post another entry towards the end of the month regarding the release of the 2017 Top 100 Prospects list by MLB.com. I always find it interesting to talk about and review, and will be sure to write about it if I’m still going.

But no matter what I decide to do beyond January 20th, the first three weeks will be fairly straightforward blogging, assuming no big baseball news takes place.

Until then, Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a Happy New Year.

I’ll be back in 2017 (at least for a short while).