Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Brew Crew through

So I'm bummed. Obviously. I wish we won. I wish we had at least played better in losing. I wish we had traded for Reyes. I wish I was big.
I don't want to dwell on this to much but it's hard not to. I am so proud of this team. They won more games than any other Brewers team ever. They made it to their first CS since 1982, and the first playoffs I could watch (only a one year-old in '82, in Europe in '08). I got so much joy from watching the team this year it's hard to feel let down by them.
I know the playoffs are as much about luck as they are about being good at baseball. I know this. It still hurts.
I hope that I will remember the season for the fun it was in the future. I hope we get a SS with some range. I hope it's not another 29 years.
A lot of things happened during this series but among them was me noticing how terrible umpires are. The advent of baseball technology is amazing, not the least of which is slow motion instant replay. The umpires blew several important calls. I'm not blaming this for the loss as these bad calls went both ways. Primarily though I was blown away by the Pitch FX data. Even the one just on the broadcast showed some pitch calls that were not even close. Ryan Braun got a strike call on a fastball that was shown to be lower than the previous fastball that was called a ball. The strikezone varied so much from batter to batter it was stupid. Umpires suck, I want robots.
Here's a list of things that I want to look into to see if my impressions were off or not:
- The Cardinals seemed like much more patient hitters, especially in games 3-6. P/PA will tell us this pretty quickly.
- Braun and Fielder were trying too hard and pressed, and their P/PA was much lower than their season average.
- The Cardinals struck out far less than the Brewers in games 3-6. I know strikeouts are not the terrible thing that they are made out to be but it's just an observation.
- It seemed like the Brewers were all trying way too hard. The errors may be a product of that but I'm mostly referring to every batter going up there with home run swings. I want to see if the Cards bullpen (who really gets the credit for containing our offense) even give up a lot of HR.
- Tony LaRussa is still an idiot.
Thanks again for the great season Crew. I'll call when I feel ready again.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's always the Central, isn't it?

So we have an all Central NLCS. Neat for us, as we care about the NL Central here at NL Central Stage. You know our motto: "If it's not NL Central, then it's pretty much the minors."
A deranged fan asked me if the NL has more intradivision LCS (LCSs?) than any other division. I was doing other research anyway so I looked into it. Get ready for some numbers.
From 1995-2011 there have been 34 LCS and 11 intradivision matchups. Of those the numbers for each division were:
AL East: 5
AL Central: 0
AL West: 0
NL East: 2
NL Central: 3
NL West: 1
So yeah it's the AL East, buoyed by 3 different NY vs. Boston series. I suppose it's not that much of a surprise. Still, I'm happy to see the NL Central a not entirely distant second. Also we are much less hateable so I'm happy in my polite Midwestern fandom.

Championship Market

Commentary in these playoffs has already mentioned many times that Milwaukee is a very small market. It's the smallest in baseball in fact. Seeing as how this is the Brewers first appearance in an LCS since 1982 it seemed possible that this was the smallest market for combined LCS ever?

I decided to dig into a bit as I ran an experiment. It required spurts of activity followed by waiting so it's good time for me to do online research, and occasionally it doesn't have to be work related.

The idea that Milwaukee is the smallest market is based on their Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). It works as a general measure of the population of a city area as opposed to the population of the city itself.

A few notes: I limited my analysis to the Wild Card Era because I didn't want to spend an entire week on this and I answered my original question pretty quickly. I used census data from 2000 as an approximation for 1995-2011. While there were some significant changes in populations from 2000-2010 in some markets (i.e. +23% for Dallas-Fort Worth) the lack of yearly data rendered completely accurate analysis impossible regardless of method. You'll notice some years with only three markets. Those are years that two teams that share an MSA both made it to their LCS and it doesn't make sense to count both populations.

So you don't have to go back that far to find a year with a smaller total market.

Texas 5,221,801
Detroit 5,456,428
Milwaukee 1,689,572
St. Louis 2,603,607

Boston 5,819,100
Cleveland 2,945,831
Arizona 3,251,876
Colorado 2,581,506

1995 (first WC year and smallest market)
Seattle 3,554,760
Cleveland 2,945,831
Atlanta 4,112,198
Cincinnati 1,979,202

All three years are lower than the markets for New York (21,195,865) and Los Angeles (16,373,645) alone.

There are some obvious problems with this analysis. The big one is that the MSA is not actually the market for many teams. For some (Baltimore and Washington) their MSA includes another market meaning that the MLB doesn't actually count the entire MSA. There are others (Boston) whose market greatly exceeds their MSA. Still, it was interesting looking into how little my home town, that used to feel so big, really was.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Class of?

A question occurred to me the other day that prompted the writing of this article. I'll get to that later and instead just get into it: which player on each NL Central team already has (or is closest to) a Hall of Fame resume?

I'm picking one player for each team and in some cases it's a stretch to say the least. Regardless the premise is that I'm considering only those already Hall of Fame bound, not on the track. To continue the train metaphor I will present the case and whether or not I think they're in for each player I choo choo choose. I really only even looked at players who were at least 33 years old as anyone younger hasn't had enough season for a Hall of Fame career regardless.

(Speaking of which in researching this article I came across Dick Allen's career numbers which I had never looked at before. Holy crap. To admit Jim Rice and keep Allen out is asinine. All those character issues and his outspoken nature didn't endear him to reporters and really that's what the Hall should be about right?)

In the order for current standings (hahahaha this is an evil laugh):

Milwaukee Brewers - Randy Wolf

In other words no we don't have anyone who's already punched a ticket into the Hall of Fame. Really my choices were Wolf, Mark Kotsay or Craig Counssell and c'mon. I can't even be bothered to spell Craig Counsell's name right. Back to Wolferine though, he's had a nice career but nothing spectacular. Career ERA+ of 103, high of 124. Strikes out 7 per 9 but walks 3 per 9 too. He's a decent to good pitcher and I'm happy he's in our rotation but he's not a Hall of Famer. Career WAR of 20.0 in 13 seasons. So yeah we don't have anyone already in the Hall but we have a couple guys who could be on their way so no worries.

St. Louis Cardinals - Lance Berkman

This is what prompted this article: Is Lance Berkman a Hall of Famer? I was inclined to say yes and in looking at the numbers the answer is he's getting there. His resurgence this year has been incredible (although quite frankly I wish he'd stop) and it made me want to take a look at his numbers to see if he's already in. .295/.408/.548, OPS+ 146, 49.2 WAR in 13 seasons. As of right now the fact that he's only played 13 seasons is what will hurt him but frankly after this year it looks like he's got a few good years left in him without significant decline to add to his number totals (sitting at 355 HR). But the question presented is does he get in right now? I'd say he's good enough (3.78 WAR/yr is good) but I'm not convinced the BWAA will vote for him, mostly because that's the Boxing Writers Association of America and I mistyped. So he still has some work to do but he looks like he has a great case once he is finished.

Now it's easy to say "Wait what about Pujols?" Only the season thing kept me from picking him but frankly if he were hit by a bus tomorrow I'd still say he had the numbers to get in. 86.7 WAR in 11 seasons (7.88 WAR/yr) is already better than the average HoF player (70.5 WAR in 19 seasons, 3.71 WAR/yr). (I couldn't find an update to those numbers on BTB but it's from 2009 and three players can't have changed the numbers that much. Also I think that might use FanGraphs' WAR instead of B-R. I think FanGraphs gives more credit to defense. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.)

Pittsburgh Pirates - Derrek Lee

It pains me to do this to Dave but he's really the best choice on a relatively young Pirates squad. That being said no Derrek Lee is not a Hall of Famer. But he is a very good player. .281/.364/.494, OPS+122 at first base is something you'd definitely be happy to have on your team but it's not all time great level. WAR of only 30.7 in 15 seasons (2.04/yr) is lower than the HoF replacement (low) level of 53.3 in 17 (3.13/yr). (Doing all this is just making me more mad that Jim Rice got in.) So while Derrek Lee was a very good player he falls short of the Hall. (FanGraphs gives him more credit for his defense, which I always thought Lee was pretty good at. Still he only has 39.1 WAR by their metric so he's still shy.)

Cincinnati Reds - Scott Rolen

Finally I get to someone who actually has 16 seasons played and can actually measure his current numbers against the Hall. .282/.366/.494 is good not great. Same with an OPS+ of 123. Of course none of that adjusts for position and Scott Rolen was for a period of time the best third baseman in the game. He played great defense on the hot corner and his WAR total of 66.3 (4.14/yr) is enough for me to say that yes Scott Rolen is already a Hall of Famer.

Time for a mea culpa. .277/.362/.464. OPS+ 125. WAR 66.4 in 15 seasons (4.14/yr). Those are Ron Santo's numbers. For a long time I've been saying Santo was borderline and that he doesn't deserve to be in. The only reason is the number of years he played because those are Hall of Fame quality numbers without quesiton. I'm willing to admit I'm wrong and that he belongs in and that if you can generate almost the same number of wins in four fewer seasons than the average Hall of Famer then you shouldn't be penalized for a lack of longevity.

Chicago Cubs - Kerry Wood

Oh what could have been. That statement may hurt Dave more than the Derrek Lee stuff. Only 13 seasons but damn. 10.3 K/9 (balanced against 4.3 BB/9 though) is monsterous. Of course every counting stat will make his career graphs all exponential decays. The injuries all mean he'll never get the innings or strikeout totals that are enough to get elected but damn, look at those first four seasons. Not a Hall of Famer but in some alternate universe he is still a dominant starter for the Yankees. Sorry, in the alternate universe the Yankees are still the Yankees.

Houston Astros - Carlos Lee

I was actually thinking to myself the other day "What ever happened to Carlos Lee?" El Caballo put together a nice career but was always hurt by relatively low OBP totals. .286/.338/.491 is a frustrating line for a sabermetrician to look at. Career OPS+ 114 isn't going to blow anyone away either. 22.2 WAR in 13 seasons. Yeah not a Hall of Famer. Houston doesn't have much going for it. At least they have Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn entering the prime of their careers nevermind.

So what is the end result of all this? Really Rolen's the only one that I would say is already heading for the Hall but plenty of players are building their cases to be on the ballot right now. And really given that the average class size can be assumed to be 2-3 players so it's really not so surprising. Among players playing right now here's who I think are already in the Hall: Rolen, Thome, Halladay, Jones, Jeter, Rodriguez, Rivera, and Helton. There are a few other borderline cases out there (plus Ichiro will be sort of hard to predict how the writers treat him but I think he'll get in) but these guys could all be on a bus together tomorrow that drives off a cliff and I'd still say they did enough to get in and also that was really random that they were all on a bus together.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Quick link

I want to shout out to James Dunne who posted basically the same article I was about to write after watching part of the Red Sox vs. Rays last night. I saw the graphic and the only thing I could think was "Well that was a fun an interesting way to illustrate how random and unimportant counting stats can be."

Vacation is fun. I get to watch a ton of baseball.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wrong Met

Yes K-Rod will help our bullpen, which really needed help. Although I was under the impression that K-Rod wouldn't be happy with anything but the closer role based on the clauses in his contract. Does that mean Axford is moving to setup man? All reports seem to indicate otherwise.

The point is that obviously the Brewers could have upgraded a lot more if they had gotten Reyes. Reyes has been worth 4 wins already this year while Betancourt has been worth -0.8. That's almost a five game swing at the halfway mark. That is massive for a single position.

It's probably pie in the sky to hope for Reyes anyway though. Still I'd like to see the Brewers do something to improve at SS if they really are going for it this year. I'm really worried about the Reds. They are below .500 but their Pythagorean puts them at tied with the Brewers and Cards. They are going to start winning some more ballgames.

Cincy needs help at short too and I'm really hoping they don't land Reyes. Paul Janish is at least in the positive for WAR at 0.2 but that's all defense. Holy crap at that .227/.259/.251 line. They probably need pitching help too but somewhat fortunately for them their bullpen looks pretty solid. I hope they don't get the help they need and Johnny Cueto gets kicked in the head.

The Cards have such a surprisingly potent lineup. I have no idea if Berkman can sustain what he's done so far but he doesn't have a crazy high BABIP or anything so who knows. Really though the Cards need pitching in a bad way. They have a couple decent starters and two to three above average arms in the bullpen but it just drops off the shelf after that. Lohse, Garcia, Salas, Motte and Boggs are the only pitchers with significant innings and an ERA+ over 100. I have no idea who's available. Johnson? Zimmermann?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fair and Balanced

There's been a lot of talk recently about balancing the leagues and divisions, something that directly affects the NL Central since we are the six team division that along with the four team AL West throws everything off. I'm not entirely sure what the solution is but everyone seems set on moving Houston out west. It seems like a lot of travel for the team but that's the nature of being in the western half of the United States and the Rangers already do it so no big deal I suppose.

The real accomplishment though is the balancing of the schedule. While this would put 15 teams in each league and require one interleague series throughout the season so that every team is playing it would finally eliminate the extra in division games for the NL Central. Lately it's been a way to inflate the win total for the division winners seeing as how they get to play the Astros and Pirates a few extra times.

Really though my purpose for writing this today is this: F*** You Major League Baseball. You look at this interleague schedule for our division and see if anything sticks out:


So this is the current version of balanced. It's the NL Central vs. the AL East this year. But the Brewers have to go play at Boston, at New York and they get the Rays at home. The only other team that plays Boston and New York is the Cubs but they got the Yankees at Home and they play at Kansas City for some reason.

I did realize this at the start of the year but didn't get in the mood to write about it until today.

Also why doesn't Pittsburgh get a home/away series with someone? I know they're the Pirates but at least pretend they matter.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Questions and Concerns

We are roughly a fifth of the way into the season and a few questions/concerns have arisen. I will pose them here knowing that really only one person will read them.

- Is there anyway to revisit arbitration hearings? I'm just asking because Corey Hart has an OPS+ of 7 right now.
- Does anybody want me to send an "I told you so" postcard to them for saying the Randy Wolf signing was a good one a year ago?
- Is Yovani's problem that I'm not writing enough about him? I'm still writing sonnets to him I just haven't been posting them.
- Is it possible that Latroy Hawkins offered up Corey Hart and Casey McGehee's power in some bizarre ritual to transform himself into early 2000s Latroy Hawkins? Because awesome.
- What the hell John Axford?

- Is this the Jose Bautista that exists now? Because 2005 Latroy Hawkins laughed when I said that he should probably pitch around Jose Bautista.
- Can you name someone who plays for the Kansas City Royals? Let me rephrase: can you name someone who plays for the second place Kansas City Royals?
- They are second to the Indians, who have the second best record in baseball.
- The best record in baseball belongs to the Phillies. Duh.
- In terms of OPS Albert Pujols is the fifth best hitter on the Cardinals right now. That's wrong right?
- The Chicago Cubs have one regular starter with a slugging percentage over .500: Alfonso Soriano. The next highest? Darwin Barney at .412. My questions is this: how do you manage to have a better record than the Brewers?

Monday, January 10, 2011


It's no secret that I love over-the-top PSAs.  So to say that I love Bradley Woodrum's "FIP: A New ERA" is about as surprising as a sunrise.  But the damned thing explains FIP quickly, simply, and with use of a Luck Dragon.  So go watch it.  Now.  It's easily my favorite analytical baseball video since "How Mariano Rivera Dominates Hitters."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Vote for me in 2012

You might as well since you're throwing votes away, BBWAA. Let's look at some people who actually received votes during this HoF cycle.
Marquis Grissom
Career WAR of 30.6 in 17 seasons puts him at 1.8 WAR/season. His career Batting RAA and Fielding RAA are both in the negative. He had only 5 seasons where his OPS+ was above 100. 4 votes.
B.J. Surhoff
I take no pleasure in this. B.J. Surhoff was one of my favorite players growing up. Career OPS+ is 98 so we may as well call it 100 and say he was average for his career. Admittedly for a catcher you take that if he can field reasonably well and Surhoff apparently did with five seasons of FRAA of 10 or higher. Still, a career OPS of .745 and 1.8 WAR/season in 19 seasons is not a HoF resume. 2 votes.
The rest of the people who received votes I have little to no problem with as they either had a few really good years (Al Leiter) or long productive careers (John Olerud). I can't bring myself to get worked up about Benito Santiago's one vote. It was probably a guy in San Diego who still owes him dinner or something.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blyleven in 2011!

Apparently, the Powers That Be wanted to ensure that Bert Blyleven's enshrinement resulted in rhyme time.
Congratulations to Blyleven and Alomar for their well-deserved (if delayed) elections.
A few quick notes:
  • Barry Larkin jumped to 62.1%, which makes his enshrinement likely a question of when rather than if
  • Tim Raines lost ground, dropping to 30.4% from 37.5% and making my life 7.1% less awesome
  • Jeff Bagwell on only 41.7% of ballots; I'm not surprised, just disappointed
  • Harold Baines finally fell below 5%; he will be missed
  • Dave Parker didn't get the final year bump in votes that most players do, but stayed on the ballot all 15 years
  • Kevin Brown got only 2.1% of the vote, something I was afraid of as I looked more and more at this class; Brown might not be a Hall of Famer, but he sure as hell deserved a look before falling off the ballot, as I'm sure he's got a damn good case
  • John Franco also deserved to stick around, though I'm very, very skeptical that he has much of a case
All-in-all, it was a tough ballot for newcomers, and I'm pretty disappointed at some of the names that we won't get to consider next year, but to reiterate:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Hall of Fame Ballot that Still Doesn't Mean Anything

It's Hall of Fame season again, and once again I'm behind the 8-ball with regards to writing much despite the fact that Hall of Fame debates are by nature historical debates, specifically historical baseball debates, and I love baseball, history, and debates (as well as every possible combination of two or more of those terms).
I blame holiday revelry.
Nevertheless, like last year, I have just enough time to do a quick rundown of my imaginary ballot. This year is particularly tough, as there are more than ten candidates who I think would make good additions to the Hall of Fame. I don't think I'd vote for more than ten even if I could (which is to say, even if I could vote, and could then also vote for more than ten players), but there are legitimate cases to be made for fourteen or fifteen of these guys, especially in light of recent inductions.
But before I digress too far from my intended purpose, here's my "ballot" (once again in alphabetical order):

Roberto Alomar.  From last year: "If the various advanced defensive metrics developed by smarter folks than I are to be believed, Roberto Alomar was not the defensive genius I thought he was when I was a wee one. But when you hit .300/.371/.443 over 17 seasons at a skill position, you're one hell of a ballplayer."
I stand by everything I wrote last year, though this past year has seen a lot of advanced defensive metrics called into question, still by smarter folks than I, though it's worth noting that the folks who are smart enough to create advanced defensive metrics have also, historically, been smart enough to warn the likes of me that said metrics are advancements, not end points.  So the fact that Robbie Alomar's defense is difficult to quantify, though perhaps more obvious this year than last, is hardly surprising.
But in light of all this, I think Joe Posnanski sums up Alomar best (as he tends to do):
"If you feel that he was a solid but overrated defender -- which probably sums up the anti-Alomar-defense stance -- then he is one of the 10 best second basemen in baseball history...if you believe Alomar was a GREAT defensive player, as many people do, then he's one of the five best second basemen ever and should be in the discussion with Joe Morgan and Rogers Hornsby."
Alomar should have been a slam-dunk first-ballot Hall of Famer.  He probably would have been had he not spat in John Hirschbeck's face back in '96.  He definitely will be a Hall of Famer this year.

Jeff Bagwell.  I suspect that Jeff Bagwell is going to be this year's Roberto Alomar: a guy with a first ballot résumé who has to wait for some ridiculous reason.  But whereas Alomar paid the proverbial piper for slingin' saliva, Bagwell will wait because he was a power hitting first baseman in an era when power hitting first basemen grew on trees (or, perhaps more aptly, were trees─trees which used smaller trees to hit baseballs really goddamned far......or...something).
But despite the fact that suddenly everyone was launching 30+ homers on a yearly basis back in Bagwell's heyday, Bagwell was so, so much better (and so, so much more consistent) than the average bear.  Even ten short years ago, the numbers would have spoken for themselves: .297/.408/.540.  449 homers.  1500+ runs and RBIs (if you're a ribbie fan).  9 seasons with 30+ home runs.  3 with 40+.  2 30-30 years (that's right; Bagwell could steal a bag well* back in the day, and even once his speed left him he was a smart baserunner).  A lifetime OPS+ of 149.  79.9 WAR.  A Gold Glove and 3 Silver Slugger awards.  A Rookie of the Year award and an MVP award.
*That's out of my system now.  I promise.
And oh, what an MVP campaign it was.  .368/.451/.750 with 39 homers, a 65-65 SO-BB rate, 100+ runs/RBI's, 300 total bases─an extraordinary season in any era.  Except it wasn't a season.  It was 1994.  Bagwell did all that in only 110 games.  Motherfucker formed Voltron all by himself in '94.
I'm not going to belabor the point now, because odds are I'll furiously belabor it once the results are in.  But if Jeff Bagwell is not a Hall of Famer, then I have no idea what the words "Hall of Fame" mean.

Bert Blyleven.  From last year: "One of my favorite arguments against Bert Blyleven (and I wish I could remember who made it) was that no kids in the 80's opened up Bert Blyleven baseball cards and got excited. I was excited when I opened Blylevens in the 80's. That's the fun thing about argumentative absolutes: as soon as one little thing doesn't fit, the argument falls apart. As for an argument that matters with regards to Blyleven, point your browsers Rich Ledererward (the Bert Blyleven series is about halfway down the left navbar) if you've not done so already."
Blyleven in 2011!

Barry Larkin.  From last year: "Larkin did absolutely everything well. He hit for average (.295 lifetime). He hit for power (.444 SLG as a middle infielder). He got on base (.371 OBP). He had speed (379 SB at an 83% success rate). He fielded his position (37 defensive RAR). He's 59th all time in WAR with 68.8. He is, quite simply, a Hall of Famer."
Larkin got pretty solid support last year (51.6% of the ballot), and frankly, I suspect his candidacy is going to look better and better as the PED debate hits fever pitch on the next few HoF ballots. 

Edgar Martinez. From last year: "Yes, I know he played most of his career as a DH (of course, so did Paul Molitor, and so did future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas). But inducting relief pitchers has been all the rage lately (and fairly, I think). Designated hitters are a lot more valuable than relief pitchers. And Edgar Martinez was the greatest DH of all time. It's time we set the bar, no?"
.312/.418/.515.  309 HR.  514 2B.  1283 walks versus 1202 strikeouts.  And the man wasn't a regular in the big leagues until he was my age.  Eat your heart out, Ichiro; Edgar was late to the Seattle party before it was cool.

Mark McGwire. From last year: "I'll also be casting my vote that doesn't mean anything for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro, by the by."
I've seen several arguments over the years in which people claim that, regardless of what any given person may think of the PED issue, McGwire didn't have a Hall of Fame career.  Most of these arguments hinge on McGwire's low hits total, and the fact that a third of those hits were home runs (as if being one-dimensionally biased towards the best thing you can do at the plate were a bad thing...).
I think a good question for those people, then, is whether they think Harmon Killebrew is a Hall of Famer.  Because McGwire, as a hitter, was a lot like Killebrew.  Except much better.
Just sayin'.
Of course, we all know why most of the people who haven't voted for McGwire, and why most of those people probably still won't vote for him.  Still, it'll be interesting to see the results of his confession on his candidacy, and I'm hopefully that as the years go by, McGwire's case will look better.

Rafael Palmeiro.  I told you last year that I'd case my vote for Palmeiro, and I stick to that promise.  Palmeiro may be the most debatable of the "enhanced" candidates.  One could argue that he simply "compiled," that his career totals are the result of lots and lots of good-but-not-great seasons, that though he was always good he was never great, and so on.
I don't really care about that argument.
When Palmeiro "limped" to the finish line in '05, he still posted an OPS+ of 108.  That's not exactly stellar, mind you, but it's not like he threw together a few part-time, 85 OPS+ years in order to crack the 500 home run mark.  Palmeiro was a valuable player right up until the end, and an elite (if not inner-circle) player for 10 or 11 years.  Durability and consistency are important in baseball, and I think they should be important to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  
Palmeiro failed a drug test after being a condescending asshole about PEDs during a nationally televised Congressional hearing.  He got entirely too friendly with then-Mrs. Sandberg while a Chicago Cub.  Rafael Palmeiro has, in other words, been a jerk.
Just sayin'.

Tim Raines. From last year: "A case could be made for Tim Raines as the second greatest leadoff hitter ever. Unfortunately, he played at the same time as the greatest leadoff hitter ever, and he played in Montreal. But there's no reason a .294/.385/.425 hitter with an OPS+ of 123 and 808 of the most efficient stolen bases in baseball history shouldn't have a plaque in Cooperstown."
I strongly suspect that, with Blyleven's induction imminent, SABR-minded members of cyberspace will turn their attention towards the Rock.

Alan Trammell. From last year: "Trammell will probably never make it to Cooperstown (like fellow HoF-worthy Tiger Lou Whitaker) because he spread his value over several skillsets, and not as obviously as Larkin did. Trammell could hit. He could field. He was what so many sportswriters have called a "complete player." But he was outhit by Cal Ripken (an anomaly at SS at the time) and outfielded by Ozzie Smith (who was the best defensive SS of all time), putting him in a Tim Raines-easque purgatory despite his 66.8 WAR (69th all time)."
Hopefully, as Larkin gains momentum, Trammell will, too.  Unfortunately, Alan's on the ballot for the 11th time already, which probably doesn't give him enough time to mount a serious comeback.  Fortunately, the Veteran's committee exists to continue to deny Trammell membership for years to come.
But we still love you on the internets, Mr. Trammell. 

Larry Walker.  Yup.  Coors Field.  90's.  Blergity-blarg-blurg.*  I've read the arguments against Walker for years.
*How's that for an even-handed summary of the opposing arguments?
But the man wasn't a one-dimensional slugger, and he wasn't simply a product of his home ballpark.  Was Walker better at Coors Field than on the road?  Absolutely.  He hit .348/.431/.637 at home vs. .278/.370/.495 away.  But an .865 OPS in away games is nothing to sneeze at (Jim Rice OPSed .854 for his career despite playing in Fenway, a notorious hitter's ballpark that, for some reason, isn't as notorious as it probably should be), and Walker also ran the bases well and was an excellent fielder.  He was, in short, a very complete ballplayer.
OPS+, which adjusts for park factors, still loves Walker, who chalked up seven seasons with an OPS+ north of 150 (though one was a partial season and another was the strike-shortened 1994 campaign).  In three of those seven seasons, his OPS+ exceeded 160.  One on of those three seasons, it exceeded 170 Walker collected 409 TB that year, on top of 78 BBs).  Over the course of his career, Walker's OPS+ sits at an even 140.  His WAR was 67.3.  
I don't expect Walker to do especially well in the voting this year.  But it will get a lot of people talking, which should prove interesting.

There are other interesting candidates.  Fred McGriff will be giving voters headaches for years to come, methinks.  Kevin Brown has a very, very good case (and as the crowd thins a bit, that case will likely emerge), though I'm not sure I buy into it just yet.  Lenny Harris is the most hilariously awesome ballot choice in recent memory (though I want to make it clear right now that I love Lenny Harris).  Murphy, Parker, and Mattingly will once again make everyone wonder "what if?"─while, simultaneously, many others will make very good cases for why what was is good enough.  And of course, through it all, the harrumphing over PED users, alleged PED users, and suspected PED users will continue.
My prediction?  Alomar and Blyleven get the call.  Everyone else waits.