This post is for voting and discussion in the 135th round of balloting for the Circle of Greats (COG). The Baseball Writers of America threw us a curve this year, with no players elected to the Hall of Fame. So we will do likewise, and not elect anyone to the Circle of Greats. But, we will still have an election to fill the ballot for next year’s Circle of Greats election. Rules and lists are after the jump.
Appearing on the the Circle of Greats ballot this year are players born in 1976. As usual, to be eligible, this new group of 1976-born players must have played at least 10 seasons in the major leagues or generated at least 20 Wins Above Replacement (“WAR”, as calculated by baseball-reference.com, and for this purpose meaning 20 total WAR for everyday players and 20 pitching WAR for pitchers). This group of 1976-born candidates joins those players on the secondary ballot to comprise the full list of players eligible to receive your votes.
For this election, voters must select three and only three eligible players, with the one player appearing on the most ballots cast in the round elevated to the main ballot for the next Circle of Greats election. In the case of a tie between two or more secondary ballot candidates, ballots will be discarded in the reverse order in which they were cast until the tie is broken (so, vote early to be sure your vote counts).
Players born in 1976, who appear on half or more of the ballots that are cast, win four added future rounds of main ballot eligibility. Such players who appear on 25% or more of the ballots cast, but less than 50%, earn two added future rounds of ballot eligibility. One additional round of eligibility is earned by any such player who appears on at least 10% of the ballots cast, or finishes in the top 9 (including ties) in ballot appearances. Any such player receiving one or more votes, but appearing on less than 10% of the ballots cast, will appear on the secondary ballot for the next Circle of Greats election.
Players on the secondary ballot who fail to win elevation to the main ballot, but appear on half or more of the ballots that are cast, win four added future rounds of secondary ballot eligibility. Such players who appear on 25% or more of the ballots cast, but less than 50%, earn two added future rounds of ballot eligibility. One additional round of eligibility is earned by any such player who appears on at least 10% of the ballots cast. Secondary ballot candidates who exhaust their eligibility will drop from that ballot, but will become eligible for possible reinstatement in a future Redemption round election.
All voting for this round closes at 11:59 PM EST Sunday, February 7th, while changes to previously cast ballots are allowed until 11:59 PM EST Friday, February 5th.
If you’d like to follow the vote tally, and/or check to make sure I’ve recorded your vote correctly, you can see my ballot-counting spreadsheet for this round here: COG 1976 Vote Tally. I’ll be updating the spreadsheet periodically with the latest votes. Initially, there is a row in the spreadsheet for every voter who has cast a ballot in any of the past rounds, but new voters are entirely welcome — new voters will be added to the spreadsheet as their ballots are submitted. Also in the spreadsheet is a column for each of the holdover candidates; additional player columns from the new born-in-1976 group will be added to the spreadsheet as votes are cast for them.
Choose your three players from the lists below of eligible players. The current holdovers are listed below in order of the number of future rounds (including this one) through which they are assured eligibility, and alphabetically when the future eligibility number is the same.
|Todd Helton||11 rounds|
|Willie Randolph||11 rounds|
|Minnie Minoso||5 rounds|
|Bobby Abreu||3 rounds|
|Ken Boyer||3 rounds|
|Monte Irvin||3 rounds|
|Billy Williams||2 rounds|
|Don Drysdale||this round ONLY|
|Andy Pettitte||this round ONLY|
|Reggie Smith||this round ONLY|
The 1976 birth-year players are listed below in order of the number of seasons each played in the majors, and alphabetically among players with the same number of seasons played.
Everyday Players (born in 1976, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues or at least 20 WAR):
Pitchers (born in 1976, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues or at least 20 WAR):
As is our custom with Circle of Great elections, here is a factoid and related trivia question for each of the new players on the ballot.
A.J. Pierzynski‘s 1936 games caught are the most for any catcher with no games at any other field position. Which HoF catcher held that record before Pierzynski? Rick Ferrell
Paul Konerko recorded 100 games at first base for thirteen consecutive seasons (2000-12), the most by any White Sox player. Which first baseman holds the AL record for most such consecutive seasons? Joe Judge (1916-30)
Alfonso Soriano led his league in runs scored and stolen bases in 2002, while recording 200+ hits with fewer than 25 walks. Which player has the only other such season? Lou Brock (1967)
Jerry Hairston played over 400 games in the field through age 28, all at second base. Then, he transformed into a super-utility player over the final 10 seasons of his career, playing 10+ games at least once at every position except pitcher and catcher. Which other two players, like Hairston, recorded 100+ games at 2B, 3B, SS, LF and CF? Woodie Held and Willie Bloomquist (both also played 100 games in RF)
Edgar Renteria played 120+ games at SS for 13 consecutive seasons (1997-2009). Who is the only shortstop to post more such seasons consecutively? Luis Aparicio (1956-71)
Randy Wolf was an All-Star in his 2003 season for the Phillies, with a .600 W-L% in 200+ IP despite an ERA+ under 95. Who was the last AL All-Star pitcher to record such a season? Ken Schrom (1986)
Ramon Hernandez caught over 1000 games in his career, including 200+ games for four franchises (A’s, Padres, Orioles, Reds). Who was the first catcher of the modern era (since 1901) to post such a career? Wally Schang (1435 games caught, incl. 200+ with A’s, Yankees, Red Sox and Browns)
Kyle Farnsworth is one of 10 pitchers to allow more HR than Games Pitched in a rookie season of 125+ IP. Which one of those pitchers later won the Cy Young Award? Zack Greinke (2004)
Lance Berkman posted four seasons with 100+ strikeouts and more RBI, the most by an NL player. Which two players have posted more such seasons consecutively? Ken Griffey, Jr. (1996-2000), Alex Rodriguez (1998-2002)
Michael Young posted OPS+ under 100 in 2003, despite batting .300 with 200+ hits. Who is the only player with more than one such season? Juan Pierre (2001, 2003)
Ted Lilly pitched over 900 innings in each league in a career of fewer than 2000 IP. Who was the first pitcher to record such a career? Shane Rawley (1978-89)
Carlos Lee is one of 29 players to bat .300 and slug .500 in 2000+ National League PA aged 30-33. Which one of those players recorded a lower NL OPS than Lee for those seasons? Daniel Murphy
Adam Kennedy posted career totals including less than 30% of hits for extra bases, but more XBH than BB. Which HoF infielder of the integration era (since 1947) did the same? Bill Mazeroski (2016 H, 494 XBH, 447 BB)
Javier Vazquez recorded 10 to 16 wins in each of the final twelve seasons of his career. Who is the one other pitcher to do the same? Mark Buehrle
Jose Guillen posted only an 80 OPS+ through age 26, before improving to 114 OPS+ aged 27-32, in 2000+ PA in each period. Which other expansion era outfielder, like Guillen, posted OPS+ under 90 through age 26 and over 100 aged 27-32, in 2000+ PA in each period? Carlos Gomez
Matt Thornton posted ten consecutive seasons (2006-15) with 60+ appearances. Who is the only left-hander with a longer streak of such seasons? Mike Myers (1996-2007)
Reed Johnson made his post-season debut at age 36 with pinch-hit appearances for the Braves in his first three games. Who is the only older Braves’ player to make the same post-season debut? Dave Martinez (2001) age 37
Brian Schneider caught 100+ games for the Expos/Nationals, Phillies and Mets. Who is the most recent player to catch 100+ games for two of those franchises? Wilson Ramos (100+ games with Nationals and Mets, and also the Rays)
Aubrey Huff made 10 post-season PH appearances for the 2012 world champion Giants. Which player recorded more such games in a single post-season for a team that did not advance to the World Series? Orlando Palmeiro (2004 Astros) 12 PH games
Jason Grilli posted consecutive seasons (2012-13) for the Pirates aged 35-36 with 50+ IP and 130 ERA+. Who is the oldest Pirate pitcher to post those totals in back-to-back seasons pitching exclusively in relief? Roy Face (1966-67) age 38-39
Scott Downs posted three seasons aged 31-35 with 200 ERA+ in 50+ IP. Who is the only pitcher with more such seasons at those ages? Joe Nathan (2006-09)
J.C. Romero matched his career best 81 appearances playing for the world champion 2008 Phillies. Which Phillies reliever led his league in appearances in a pennant-winning season? Jim Konstanty (1950)
Freddy Garcia was a perfect 3-0 in the 2005 post-season for the world champion White Sox, including series-clinching wins in the ALDS and WS. Who is the only pitcher to start and win more series-clinching games in a single post-season? Andy Pettitte (2009)
Ramon Castro averaged one HR every 16 PA at age 34 playing for the 2010 White Sox. Who is the oldest White Sox catcher to match or exceed that HR rate in a 100+ PA season? Carlton Fisk (1988) age 40
Wes Helms smacked 23 home runs for Milwaukee in 2003, the lone qualified season of his career. Which other Brewer third baseman matched or bettered that HR total in his first qualified season? Casey McGehee (2010)
Troy Glaus’s 47 HR led the AL in 2000. Who were the home run champs the only time Angel players led the AL in home runs in consecutive seasons? Bobby Grich (1981) and Reggie Jackson (1982)
Scott Linebrink posted four straight seasons (2004-07) with 70+ appearances and 70+ IP. Which two pitchers have the only longer streaks of such seasons? Aaron Heilman (2006-10), Tyler Clippard (2010-14)
Pat Burrell ranks 3rd in career LF games for the Phillies. Who is the only Phillie left-fielder with more HR than Burrell’s Phillie total of 251? Del Ennis (259 HR as a Phillie)
Chris Woodward stroked a double in the lone PA of his post-season career. Which player matched Woodward’s feat, and recorded zero extra-base hits in his regular season career? Steve Torrealba (only 2 regular season hits, both singles)
Carl Pavano’s 18 wins for the 2004 Marlins established a new franchise record. Which pitcher broke that franchise mark the next season? Dontrelle Willis (22 wins in 2005)
Michael Barrett posted identical totals of 16 HR and 32 doubles in consecutive seasons (2004-05). Which other catcher posted multiple seasons with a double-digit HR total and exactly twice as many doubles? Matt Wieters (2010, 2017)
Abraham Nunez posted a .375 post-season BA for the 2005 Cardinals. Who is the only Cardinal third baseman with a higher BA (min. 20 AB) in a single post-season? David Freese (2011) .397 BA
Joel Peralta made a franchise record 296 appearances for the Rays from 2011 to 2014. Which pitcher broke that record the next season? Jake McGee (297 games as a Ray)
Brad Lidge is the only pitcher to record two seasons with 30+ saves and an ERA over 5, and the only pitcher to do so for a pennant-winning team (the 2009 Phillies). Which other pitcher posted those totals for a team that played in a league championship series? Joe Borowski (2007 Indians)
Cody Ransom played fewer than 40 games in eight of his first nine seasons, tied for the most such seasons by players other than pitchers and catchers? Who was the first such player to begin his career this way? Lou Klimchock (1958-66) played 40+ games only in 1961
Scott Podsednik posted an age 34 qualified season in 2010 with more stolen bases than extra-base hits. Who is the oldest player with such a season in the modern era (since 1901)? Rickey Henderson (2000) age 41
Corky Miller failed to play 40 games in any of his eleven seasons, the longest such career by a non-pitcher. Whose record did Miller break? Matt Sinatro (10 seasons)
Jason Michaels stroked 42 extra-base hits for Cleveland in his lone qualified season in 2006 , but managed only 55 RBI. Which Indian player recorded the lowest RBI to XBH ratio in a qualified season with 40+ extra-base hits? Grady Sizemore (2006) with 16% of team XBH but only 9% of team RBI
Eric Byrnes played 400 games for the A’s and D-Backs. Which teammate of Byrnes played 250 games for each of those franchises? Erubiel Durazo (but it wasn’t easy getting him to the A’s; the trade was ARI—>Durazo—>OAK—>PTBNL—>TOR—>F. Lopez—>CIN—>E. Dessens—>ARI)
Jeff Weaver played with his brother Jered on the 2006 Angels. Which other pair of brother pitchers played for an LA-based team? Ramon/Pedro Martinez (1992-93 Dodgers)
Juan Encarnacion posted a career best 94 RBI in 2003; it was the last time a Marlin right-fielder recorded as many RBI as SO in a qualified season. Which Marlin right-fielder has the most such seasons? Mark Kotsay (1998-2000)
Ross Gload is one of eleven White Sox players to bat .320 in a season of 150-300 PA (and is the only one to do so twice). Which one of those players is in the Hall of Fame? Frank Thomas (1990)
Eric Gagne was the NL CYA winner in 2003 on the strength of a 0.692 WHIP and a majors-leading 55 saves. Which reliever posted a lower WHIP while leading his league in saves? Craig Kimbrel (2012)
Sidney Ponson led his league in CG in 2004, despite an ERA over 5 and a WHIP over 1.5. Before Ponson, who was the last pitcher to do the same? (For bonus points, other than being the first start of Ponson’s career, what is unique about this game?) Bobo Newsom (1938)
Scott Elarton’s 4.81 ERA in 2000 is the highest qualifying mark by an NL pitcher in a season with a .700 W-L%. Which AL pitcher has the only higher ERA in such a season? Roxie Lawson (1937 Tigers)
Kelvim Escobar posted a career best 4.9 WAR for the Angels in 2007, and then pitched only one more game in his career. Which pitcher led his league in WAR in his final season? Sandy Koufax (1966), Jim Devlin (1877)