David Ortiz is set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, the only member of the seven-man class voted in by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
The BBWAA has elected only one candidate in the last two election cycles and could throw another shutout in the next one.
The controversial trio of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling have fallen off the ballot after 10 years of being considered. The leading returning candidate is seven-time All-Star third baseman Scott Rolen, who has climbed from 10.2 percent to 63.2 percent in five years.
He jumped 10.3 percent in the last election and would need to exceed that to reach the 75 percent required for induction. Rolen has at least five more years on the ballot, so voters who have yet to come around on him won’t feel pressure to change their minds.
The top new candidates will be Carlos Beltrán, John Lackey, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jayson Werth. Beltrán is the only realistic choice of that group, but will have to overcome the stigma of his actions regarding the 2017 Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
Lackey made the All-Star team once and received Cy Young votes twice over a 15-year career. But he won World Series rings with the Angels, Red Sox, and Cubs and was 8-6 with a 3.44 earned run average in 29 playoff appearances.
That’s a heck of a career. There’s not a sure thing on the BBWAA ballot until Adrian Beltré becomes eligible for the class of 2024.
Players passed over by the BBWAA, managers, umpires, and contributors can still gain admittance via the committee system. The Hall of Fame revamped that process earlier this year.
There are two hurdles to clear. First, being selected to the ballot, and then voted on. Those ballots will have eight candidates (down from 10) and the 16 voters can select only three each. Reaching 75 percent is still required.
In essence, the ballots are smaller and cover larger periods of time. So the large class being inducted this weekend could be the last of its kind for a while.
Contemporary players (whose greatest impact came after 1980) will be considered for the class of 2023. Dwight Evans is eligible for that group along with Lou Whitaker, Dale Murphy, and Fred McGriff.
Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling are eligible, as well. The question is whether the Hall would prefer to give the older players another look and let the din around the Troublesome Trio cool off a bit.
Contemporary managers, umpires, and executives will be on the ballot for the class of 2024. That could be the year for Bruce Bochy.
The class of 2025 committee vote will be for Classic Baseball candidates, meaning all eras before 1980. Dick Allen, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, and Dave Parker are possibilities for that ballot along with, perhaps, Luis Tiant.
BLESSING OR CURSE?
Martinez mixed on star status
J.D. Martinez was released out of spring training by the Astros in 2014. He signed a minor league deal with the Tigers and spent three weeks with Triple A Toledo when the season opened.
He has made the All-Star team five times since.
“I’m blessed. Especially making it four out of five times with a team like Boston is something I’m really proud of,” he said while in Los Angeles for Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
Martinez loves being an All-Star but hates hitting in the game.
“It’s like spring training,” he said. “You never know who you’re going to face or what the heck they’re going to throw and they’re the best in the world. We laugh about it.
“We’re in the dugout saying, ‘Does this guy throw a slider?’ But it’s so much fun.”
Now it’s back to business and Martinez hopes the Red Sox front office has faith in the team.
“We’ll see what happens. I think we have a good team and a good lineup and I hope they add to that,” he said. “We want to fight to be a playoff team, 100 percent.”
A few other observations on the Red Sox:
▪ Rafael Devers told the Globe’s Alex Speier that the Sox used Matt Olson’s eight-year, $168 million deal with the Braves as a comparison when discussing a contract offer before the season.
Olson is indeed a fair comparison statistically. He’s also two years and seven months older and played most of his career in Oakland, a low-pressure environment.
He’s also a first baseman and Devers, as we have seen, has shown he can ably handle third base.
Suffice it to say, Devers and his agents weren’t amused.
The Sox seem to underestimate the value of being able to perform in Boston. That is to their detriment. They also have shown an odd propensity to annoy their star players during negotiations.
▪ Scott Boras referred to Xander Bogaerts as the “mayor of the All-Star Game” last year because of how easily he connects with all players.
His Honor was at it again Tuesday.
Bogaerts came out of the game after the sixth inning. Unlike other players who bolted for the airport, he stuck around and watched the final three innings. Bogaerts said he wanted to get to know some players and spend time with Andrew Benintendi.
▪ The Sox have the most difficult schedule in the American League after the All-Star break based on opponent winning percentage (.530).
▪ High school catcher Brooks Brannon, who the Sox drafted in the ninth round and quickly signed, tied the North Carolina state record with 20 home runs this season for Randleman High.
The record was set by his father in 1989 for Kings Mountain High. Paul Brannon was a fourth-round pick by the Mariners in 1990 but didn’t advance past Low Single A.
Clase closed door on National League
After watching him close out the All-Star Game, it’s hard to believe Emmanuel Clase has already been traded twice.
The 24-year-old Guardians closer was originally signed by the Padres in 2015, and in 2018 was dealt to the Rangers for catcher Brett Nicholas, who is out of baseball.
The Rangers flipped Clase and Delino DeShields to the Guardians in 2019 for Corey Kluber.
Clase, who missed the 2020 season because of a positive PED test, has since picked up 43 saves. He threw 10 pitches on Tuesday, all cut fastballs between 97.9-100.3 miles per hour, to strike out Garrett Cooper, Kyle Schwarber, and Jake Cronenworth.
“Every time that bullpen door swings open, it’s velocity,” said Brian Snitker, who managed the National League. “It’s amazing, really, with all these guys with the high velocity. A lot of the bullpen pieces, they have a pitch that they can throw and they get a lot of swing-and-miss.”
The best hitters in the game struck out 22 times in 66 at-bats on Tuesday. When Theo Epstein talks about pitchers being so far ahead of hitters, that’s what he means.
Other notebook scrawls from Los Angeles:
▪ Shohei Ohtani was the first All-Star picked off since 2008, when Milton Bradley was caught by Carlos Zambrano. Clayton Kershaw said he lobbed the ball to first as a delaying tactic because he wasn’t sure what pitch he wanted to throw to Aaron Judge.
▪ Dodgers fans are welcome to boo any of the 2017 Astros they please, but booing Dusty Baker because he was wearing an Astros uniform was dumb. Do they not remember Baker’s eight seasons and three All-Star appearances for the Dodgers?
▪ Albert Pujols lived close to Seattle’s academy in the Dominican Republic and as a kid he would skip school to go watch a young slugger named David Arias (David Ortiz’s given name) hit.
“David was like a big brother to me,” Pujols said. “That’s what I admire the most about David Ortiz. He’s humble and never forgets where he comes from. That’s something really special and that’s somebody that I can respect so much.”
Pujols predicted that Ortiz’s Hall of Fame induction will be celebrated in the Dominican “maybe for months.”
▪ Ortiz was all over Los Angeles during All-Star week, even taking a turn as a sideline reporter for Fox during the game and pinballing around the American League dugout.
“It’s been great to see,” Xander Bogaerts said. “For a lot of us with the Red Sox, he taught us about being a big leaguer. He and [Dustin] Pedroia.”
▪ Mookie Betts wore a T-shirt to batting practice before the game that said, “We Need More Black People at the Stadium.”
Betts is correct, both in the seats and on the field. But it was encouraging that four of the first five players taken in the draft are Black and to some degree products of MLB’s development program.
“It demonstrated that when you invest in that space, create playing opportunities, you get a return on your investment,” commissioner Rob Manfred said.
▪ Speaking of the draft, MLB needs to concede it was a bad idea to hold it in conjunction with the All-Star Game. It doesn’t work well for the players, front offices, agents, or media.
“Nobody likes it,” one executive said.
The College World Series ended June 26 and the draft started July 17. Most college and high school players hadn’t played in two months. The idea was to generate more media attention, but the draft instead has become just another event during a busy time.
Stanton enjoys quite a homecoming
Giancarlo Stanton grew up close to Dodger Stadium — “Thirty minutes with no traffic, but we all know LA. That’s two hours” — and longed to play for the Dodgers.
Raul Mondesi was his favorite player, with Mike Piazza and Hideo Nomo close behind. Stanton also liked seeing sluggers such as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds when they came in.
“Just try to drive down here, get a ticket off the street, and come try to see what they can do,” Stanton said.
A prodigious talent at Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, Stanton was hoping the Dodgers would draft him in 2007.
George Genovese, an area scout, brought Stanton to a workout at Dodger Stadium. But scouting director Logan Watson passed. Stanton went to the Marlins in the second round.
“I had many conversations with [Genovese]. I know he was working on them,” Stanton said. “He said he was trying to convince them but it didn’t work out, but I know he was rooting for me and hoping that it did.”
It sure did. Stanton has 371 home runs over 13 regular seasons in the majors and was named NL MVP in 2017 before being traded to the Yankees.
He has hit .310 with a 1.074 OPS and nine homers in 23 regular-season games at Dodger Stadium.
Stanton put an exclamation point on those numbers in the All-Star Game by belting a long two-run homer into the same bleachers in left field where he once sat with his father.
That earned him the Ted Williams Award as the game’s MVP.
“I can’t really explain how special this is. It’s hard to put into words that this is reality right now,” Stanton said. “It’s really cool. I mean, I’m soaking it all in.”
He also started the game in left field, a position he doesn’t often play.
“All full circle, me playing there,” Stanton said. “I always tried to get a ball thrown to me from whoever was playing left field when I was a kid … just to be out there is so fun, so cool.”
Stanton left a large number of tickets for family and friends. Afterward, he was refreshingly candid, showing a side of his personality usually hidden from public view.
“It’s very special to me, so I think it’s right up there with anything personally,” Stanton said. “I have some goals in terms of winning a championship and going all the way. But, yeah, personally for the road I’ve gone to get to where I am now, this is very special.”
Injuries caused Stanton to miss 181 games from 2019-20 and his contract was viewed as an albatross for the Yankees before he bounced back the last two seasons.
“Just step up to the challenge,” he said. “I’ve always worked hard. I’ve always tried to get better and improve in any way possible. So it’s just good to be in this situation now.”
The only thing better than the All-Star Game at Chavez Ravine for Stanton would be a Dodgers-Yankees World Series.
“Do I ever think about it? Absolutely,” he said. “On paper, it’s lined up that way for a few years, so now both sides need to take care of business and get it done. If that’s how it ends up, cool. But you know, you’re not coming in here just enjoying playing here if that’s the case.”
Kyle Schwarber was a Red Sox player for only 85 days last season. He considers it one of the highlights of his career. “It was awesome,” he said. “I’ve been a pretty fortunate guy already in the early part of my career to play home games at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, the two most historic stadiums in the game and historic fanbases. Now I’m in Philadelphia, another historic franchise. It’s cool. When I’m older I’ll be able to sit back and take it all in” … Gerrit Cole on the Yankees taking a 64-28 record into the All-Star break: “We played pretty good ball and responded to some challenges. We didn’t play well the last couple of weeks, but we rebounded. But that’s pretty much about it. The money is made in October in this town” … Pete Rose arrived in Cooperstown on Friday for three days of appearances. His price list for autographs: $75 for a photo or ball and $100 for a jersey or bat. For an extra $100 he’ll write, “I’m sorry, Charlie Hustle.” … The Yankees have drafted four Northeastern University players since 2018. They selected righthanders Cam Schlitter (seventh round) and Sebastian Keane (18th round) this year. Keane was an 11th-round pick by the Red Sox out of North Andover High in 2019, but didn’t sign … USA Baseball selected 40 players for the women’s national team training camp that was held in Minnesota this past week. Among them were RHP-INF Elise Berger of Shelburne, Vt.; C-INF Maggie Foxx of Bedford, N.H.; C-UTIL Beth Greenwood of Amherst, N.H.; RHP Marti Sementelli of West Newton; and IF/OF Lily Woodworth of South Glastonbury, Conn. The roster for a series against Canada was to be announced Sunday … Happy birthday to Shawn Wooten, who is 50. He played one game for the Red Sox, entering May 26, 2005, at Toronto as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning for Jason Varitek. In the eighth inning, Wooten grounded back to the mound facing Pete Walker. Wooten is the assistant hitting coach for the Angels, Walker is the pitching coach for the Blue Jays, and Varitek is the game-plan coordinator and catching coach for the Red Sox. Red Sox first base coach Ramon Vazquez also played in that game, which the Jays won, 8-1.