My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
• This article written by MLB.com’s Andrew Simon offers the best statistical evidence I’ve read yet that Maple Ridge, B.C., native Larry Walker deserves to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Simon uses advanced statistics to make a case for the Canadian star. One of the most convincing statistics that Simon shares is that Walker’s career 72.6 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), an all-encompassing statistic that measures the numbers of wins a player (taking into account their offensive and defensive contributions) adds to their team above a replacement level player (triple-A player), is better than current Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn, Duke Snider, Dave Winfield, Andre Dawson and Jim Rice. This year represents Walker’s sixth year on the writers’ ballot. Ryan Thibs tracks the baseball writers’ ballots that have been made public each year (Tracker here: http://is.gd/KSjpP7) So far this year, Walker has been voted for on just 12.0 per cent of 108 writers’ ballots that have been made public. He must receive 75 per cent support to be enshrined.
• The news is better for former Montreal Expos star Tim Raines in the Hall of Fame voting. So far, according to Thibs, 108 writers’ ballots have been made public and Raines has been voted for on 81.5 per cent of them. Here are the top five 2016 Hall of Fame candidates in the voting (as of December 27) and the percentage of ballots they have been named on: Ken Griffey Jr., 100%; Mike Piazza, 90.7%; Jeff Bagwell, 85.2%; Raines, 81.5% and Trevor Hoffman, 62.0%.
• Former New York Yankees pitcher Fritz Peterson shared this touching tribute to the former major leaguers that passed away in 2015 on his Facebook page on Saturday. A photo of greatly missed Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Fanning is included at the 2:25 mark.
• It was 10 years ago today that the Toronto Blue Jays traded second baseman Orlando Hudson and pitcher Miguel Batista to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Troy Glaus and Sergio Santos. One of the game’s most feared sluggers at the time, Glaus proceeded to sock 38 homers for the Jays in 2006 and was named to the American League all-star team. An injury limited him to 20 round-trippers the following campaign before he was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals for Scott Rolen on January 14, 2008. For his part, Hudson enjoyed his three finest big league seasons with the D-Backs, batting .287, .294 and .305 respectively from 2006 to 2008, while also picking up two Gold Glove Awards. Batista went 11-8 and recorded a 4.58 ERA in 34 games for the D-Backs prior to signing with the Seattle Mariners as a free agent on December 14, 2006.
• Regina, Sask., native Dustin Molleken signed a minor league deal with the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. Now heading into his 13th professional season, the 31-year-old right-hander has previously pitched in the Pirates, Rockies, Brewers and Indians organizations and toed the rubber for parts of two seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan in 2012 and 2013. He posted a 5-3 record and a 3.25 ERA last season for the Cleveland Indians’ triple-A Columbus Clippers.
• With the signing of right-hander Henderson Alvarez to a one-year, $4-million deal on December 18, the Oakland A’s could have as many as six former Blue Jays on their pitching staff in 2016. Other ex-Jays hurlers that are now property of the A’s are Kendall Graveman, Marc Rzepczynski, Sean Nolin, Liam Hendriks and Felix Doubront. These six ex-Jays could join Port Dover, Ont., native John Axford, who signed a two-year, $10-million contract with the A’s on December 9, on the staff.
• The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame could use your support in its year-end fundraising drive. The St. Marys, Ont.-based shrine is a non-profit organization that does an excellent job of promoting the history of baseball in our country. For information on how you can donate, please visit this link.
• Shoeless Joe Jackson is best known for his hitting heroics and his fall from grace for his role in the 1919 Black Sox scandal. His inability to read and write has been well-documented, but that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t sharp and witty. A story goes that one day as he walked to the plate in a game in Cleveland a fan was heckling him about him being illiterate. “Hey Joe, can you spell illiterate?” the fan yelled out repeatedly. Jackson promptly belted the first pitch he saw into the right-centre field gap and ended up on third base. “Hey big mouth,” Jackson yelled to the heckling fan. “Can you spell triple?”
• This week’s trivia question: As noted earlier, third baseman Troy Glaus socked 38 home runs for the Blue Jays in 2006 and 20 more in 2007. But which Jays third baseman hit the most career home runs for the club? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a photo signed by Henderson Alvarez.