Rafael Furcal Earns First-Ever Spot on the MLB Hall of Fame Ballot

It’s a special first for Rafael Furcal

The 42-year-old Dominican former professional baseball shortstop is among 18 newcomers on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot.

Rafael Furcal

Furcal, who retired from Major League Baseball in 2014, for the Atlanta BravesLos Angeles DodgersSt. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins. With St. Louis, he won the 2011 World Series over the Texas Rangers. He was the National League Rookie of the Yearin 2000 and a three-time MLB All-Star.

Other newcomers announced Monday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America include Derek Jeter, Cliff LeeJosh BeckettJason Giambi, Paul KonerkoBobby Abreuand Alfonso Soriano.

Holdovers include Curt Schilling, who received 60.9% last year, Roger Clemens (59.5%), Barry Bonds (59.1%) and Larry Walker(54.6%). Schilling rose from 51.2% in 2018. Walker, on the ballot for the 10th and final time this year, increased from 34.1% in 2018.

Bonds and Clemens, whose candidacies have been tainted by allegations of steroid use, are both on for the eighth time. Clemens rose from 57.3% in 2018 and Bonds from 56.4%.

In all, 10 Latino former ‘ballers made the list… In addition to Furcal, Abreu, and Soriano, former players on the list include Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Sammy SosaJose Valverdeand Omar Vizquel.

Ballots are sent to more than 400 BBWAAmembers with at least 10 consecutive years in the organization, and a player must appear on at least 75% to gain election. Ballots must be mailed by December 31, and results will be announced January 21.

Anyone elected will be inducted July 26 along with any selections by the Hall’s modern era committee, which meets and votes in San Diego on December 8.

Players remain on the ballot for up to 10 years, provided they receive at least 5% of the vote annually.

Roy HalladayEdgar Martinez and Mike Mussina were elected along with Mariano Rivera in the 2019 BBWAA vote.

The ballot: Bobby Abreu, Josh Beckett, Heath Bell, Barry Bonds, Eric Chavez, Roger Clemens, Adam Dunn, Chone Figgins, Rafael Furcal, Jason Giambi, Todd Helton, Raul Ibanez, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Paul Konerko, Cliff Lee, Carlos Pena, Brad Penny, Andy Pettitte, J.J. Putz, Manny Ramirez, Brian Roberts, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso SorianoSammy SosaJose Valverde, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker.

Anthony Rendon Among This Year’s MLB National League MVP Finalists

Anthony Rendonhas made the final cut…

The 29-year-old Mexican American Major League Baseball star has been named a finalist for the National League MVP award.

Anthony Rendon

Rendon, who hit key home runs in Games 6 and 7 of the World Series to help lead his Washington Nationals team to their first championship, will face off against Los Angeles Dodgersoutfielder Cody Bellingerand Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelichfor the MLB honor. Yelich won last year’s NL MVPaward with 29 of 30 first-place votes.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike TroutHouston Astros third baseman Alex Bregmanand Oakland Athleticsshortstop Marcus Semienare finalists for the American League MVPaward. Trout is seeking his third MVP award after winning in 2014 and ’16. He finished second in 2012, ’13, ’15 and ’18.

Houston’s Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander are finalists for the AL Cy Young Award along with Tampa Bay Rays’ Charlie Morton, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America said. Verlander won the 2011 Cy Young with the Detroit Tigers, when he also was voted MVP.

New York Metsace Jacob deGromis a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award after getting 29 of 30 first-place votes last year. He is competing with Washington’s Max Scherzerand the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu. Scherzer is a three-time Cy Young winner.

New York Mets first baseman Pete AlonsoAtlanta Braves right-hander Mike Soroka and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.are finalists for the NL Rookie of the Year. Houston designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, Tampa Bay second baseman Brandon Lowe and Baltimore Orioles‘ left-hander John Means are the top candidates in the AL.

The New York Yankees‘ Aaron BooneMinnesota Twins‘ Rocco Baldelliand Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash are finalists for AL Manager of the Year. Atlanta’s Brian Snitker is a finalist to win the NL award for the second straight season, joined by the Milwaukee Brewers‘ Craig Counsell and St. Louis CardinalsMike Shildt.

Rookies of the Year will be announced on November 11, followed by Managers of the Year on November 12. Cy Young winners will be announced on November 13, and MVPs on November 14.

Mariano Rivera Among 20 New Candidates on the MLB Hall of Fame Ballot

Mariano Rivera is on the ballot…

The 42-year-old Panamanian former Major League Baseball pitcher is among 20 new candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, joined by 15 holdovers headed by Edgar Martinez.

Mariano Rivera

Nicknamed “Mo” and “Sandman,” Rivera played 19 seasons for the New York Yankees. He spent most of his career as a relief pitcher and served as the Yankees’ closer for 17 seasons.

Rivera had 652 regular-season saves and 42 in the postseason that included five World Series titles. He was 8-1 with a 0.70 ERA in 32 postseason series.

Rivera was named the 1999 World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the 2003 American League Championship Series MVP, and he holds several postseason records, including lowest earned run average (ERA) (0.70) and most saves (42).

Players remain on the ballot for up to 10 years, provided they receive at least 5 percent of the vote annually. Martinez and first baseman Fred McGriff (23.2 percent last year) are on the BBWAA ballot for the final time.

Other Latino players making the ballot include Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher Freddy García, Dominican former professional baseball player Plácido Polanco, Dominican former professional baseball outfielder Manny Ramírez, Dominican American former professional baseball right fielder Sammy Sosa, Dominican former professional baseball shortstop Miguel Tejada, and Venezuelan former professional baseball shortstop Omar Vizquel.

More than 400 ballots are being sent to eligible voters from theBBWAA, and a player must receive at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by December 31 and results will be announced January 22, 2019. Voters must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years.

Here’s a look at the players on this year’s ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame:

Hall of Fame Ballot List

  • Rick Ankiel
  • Jason Bay
  • Lance Berkman
  • Barry Bonds
  • Roger Clemens
  • Freddy García
  • Jon Garland
  • Travis Hafner
  • Roy Halladay
  • Todd Helton
  • Andruw Jones
  • Jeff Kent
  • Ted Lilly
  • Derek Lowe
  • Edgar Martínez
  • Fred McGriff
  • Mike Mussina
  • Darren Oliver
  • Roy Oswalt
  • Andy Pettitte
  • Juan Pierre
  • Plácido Polanco
  • Manny Ramírez
  • Mariano Rivera
  • Scott Rolen
  • Curt Schilling
  • Gary Sheffield
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Miguel Tejada
  • Omar Vizquel
  • Billy Wagner
  • Larry Walker
  • Vernon Wells
  • Kevin Youkilis
  • Michael Young

Houston Astros’ Star Jose Altuve Named MLB’s American League MVP

Jose Altuve is an American (League) hero…

The 27-year-old Venezuelan baseball star, a second baseman for the Houston Astros, has won the American League MVP award, beating out New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin and capping the Astros’ championship season with another top prize.

Jose Altuve

Altuve , whos stands at 5-foot-6, received 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America

“I was surprised that I won it,” Altuve said. “I wasn’t expecting this.”

Altuve batted a Major League Baseball-best .346. He had 204 hits, 24 home runs and 81 RBIs for the World Series champion Astros.

It’s been over a decade since Altuve signed with Houston from Venezuela — only after he was sent home from one tryout and told he was too short.

“They told me not to come back,” Altuve said. “It was something me and my dad, he went with me that day, we were like, ‘We have to go again. We have to try again.'”

“It’s not a rule that you have to be 6-foot or you have to be really strong to play baseball and become a good player,” he added.

Altuve beat out a player who couldn’t be more different. The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third.

Altuve said on ESPN’s SportsCenter that winning the MVP has fueled him for years to come.

“Winning the MVP has made me want to keep getting better and keep helping my team for the next whatever years.”

Altuve is one of two second basemen in MLB history to hit .330 in a season with 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases, along with Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar (once). Altuve has done it in each of the past two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Altuve is the second Astros player to win an MVP, joining Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell in 1994.

He is the third player during the wild-card era to be named his league’s MVP in the same year that his team won the World Series. The other players to do that since 1995 are Buster Posey (2012 San Francisco Giants) and Kris Bryant (2016 Chicago Cubs), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

 

Martinez’s No. 11 to be Retired by the Seattle Mariners

Edgar Martinez is keeping his number forever…

The Seattle Mariners’ team president Kevin Mather has announced plans to retire the 54-year-old Puerto Rican former Major League Baseball designated hitter and third baseman and current hitting coach of the Mariners’ No. 11.

Edgar Martinez

Martinez’s number will be retired on August 12 as part of a weekend celebration.

He’ll become just the second player in club history to have his number retired, joining Ken Griffey Jr., whose No. 24 was retired by the club last year after Griffey’s Hall of Fame induction.

Mariners  ownership had started discussions of whether it was time to consider giving Martinez the ultimate honor from the franchise, but when he made a significant jump in the Hall of Fame voting this year, trending toward potential induction, it became an easy decision to retire Martinez’s No. 11.

Even though Cooperstown is still just a possibility for Martinez, the club decided now was the right time even if it meant special approval from ownership.

“I was surprised. I knew that the Mariners had these policies about retiring numbers and I didn’t expect it, so I was surprised,” Martinez said.

The Mariners have strict guidelines for number retirement that allow for the honor only if a player has been elected to the Hall of Fame or has come close to election. Griffey was — and should have been — the first Mariners player to have his number retired. And it makes sense for Martinez to be the second, especially after receiving nearly 59 percent of the vote in Hall of Fame balloting this year.

The Mariners also hope — however ceremonial — that the number retirement may boost Martinez’s Hall of Fame chances. Last week, Martinez was named on 58.6 percent of ballots when results of Hall of Fame voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America were announced. It was a major jump that set the stage for Martinez to potentially become the first player who was primarily a designated hitter to be voted into the Hall of Fame.

Martinez has two years of eligibility remaining on the ballot.

“It was a conversation that we had and then when the (Hall of Fame) vote came out, it was a relatively quick call,” Mather said. “Our board of directors had to approve it and it was a relatively easy answer once he got over 50 percent.”

No player aside from Griffey connected with Seattle like Martinez. While Griffey was the undisputed star of baseball for most of the 1990s, Martinez was nearly his equal while hitting in the same lineup. The difference is while Griffey was Seattle’s first star, Martinez was the star that never left.

He spent all 18 of his major league seasons with the Mariners and returned during the summer of 2015 as the club’s hitting coach. He is regarded as one of the best right-handed hitters of his generation, finishing his career with a .312 batting average with 309 career home runs and 1,219 career RBI. He added a .418 on-base percentage and .515 slugging percentage to his other batting numbers and twice led the American League in batting average and doubles.

“That will be special to see my number is going to be next to Junior’s, one of the greatest players to play the game … also next to the great Jackie Robinson,” Martinez said. “That’s amazing. That’s something I never could expect looking back at my career.”

Marlins’ Fernández Named the National League Rookie of the Year

José Fernández has capped off his remarkable first year in Major League Baseball with a massive honor…

The 21-year-old Cuban professional baseball pitcher for the Miami Marlins has been named the National League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA).

José Fernández

The phenom with an inspiring personal story and incredible talent received first-place votes on 26 of 30 ballots. He was second on four ballots, and he received a total of 142 points.

Fernández was a finalist along with Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller.

Puig finished second, and he collected four first-place votes. The Rays’ Wil Myers won the American League Rookie of the Year Award.

“When they said my name, and said I had 26 votes, it was pretty nice,” said Fernández. “I’m really excited. I think the fans down in Miami are really happy about it. My family here is really excited too.”

Fernández beat long odds to even gain his freedom from Cuba. He reached the United States after several failed attempts, and after settling in Tampa, Fla., in 2008, the hard-throwing right-hander doggedly pursued his baseball dream. The Marlins made him the 14th overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

Making the day even more memorable is Fernández was able to celebrate with his grandmother, Olga, whom he had not seen since he left Cuba five years ago.

Olga obtained a five-year visitation visa, and the Marlins set up a surprise visit for Fernandez to reunite with his grandmother on Sunday at Marlins Park.

When Fernández was informed he had won, he was flanked by his grandmother and mother, Maritza, during the announcement on MLB Network.

“I was kind of expecting to be the Rookie of the Year, or it to be close,” Fernández said. “Having my grandma here came out of nowhere. It’s completely out of nowhere. I’m trying to let it sink in, and I’m trying to spend time with her.”

Fernández is the fourth player in franchise history to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award, joining Dontrelle Willis (2003), Hanley Ramirez (2006) and Chris Coghlan (2009).

Fernández also joins Tony Oliva (1964) as the only Cuban-born Rookie of the Year.

Entering the season, MLB.com ranked Fernandez as the Marlins’ No. 1 prospect and the seventh overall prospect in the Majors.

In Fernandez’s 28 starts, the Marlins were 18-10. Fernandez paced all NL rookies in ERA (2.19), strikeouts (187), batting average against (.182) and WHIP (0.98). He also averaged 9.75 strikeouts per nine innings

As part of his remarkable 2013, Fernandez also threw an inning in the All-Star Game, and he didn’t disappoint. In a perfect sixth, Fernandez struck out Dustin Pedroia and Chris Davis while getting Miguel Cabrera on a soft pop fly to first.

The performance made Fernandez the third pitcher in the history of the All-Star Game to strike out two batters prior to turning 21 in his Midsummer Classic debut.