Tuesday, February 28, 2023


We're just slightly off in the structuring of this ongoing presentation of offensive transcendence--by all rights our look at those folk with twelve appearances in the Top 600 all-time half-seasons should have been the twelfth in the series...but so it goes.

Here are four all-time greats that you would probably not link together ordinarily, but they make for a most satisfying quartet:

Each of these estimable batsmen crack the Top 100 for either 1st half/2nd half dominance on multiple occasions...

To be specific...Honus Wagner does it three times, landing in the Top 25 twice (in consecutive second halves for 1907 and 1908, a time frame when offensive levels were at historical lows).

Tris Speaker cracks the Top 100 six times, including three half-seasons later in his career where he cracks the .400 barrier (and, more significantly, the .500 barrier for OBP). 

Jimmie Foxx lands in the Top 100 nine times, exceeding a .700 SLG six times, and actually hitting .400 for one half-season early on (when he was just 22 years old). 

And Stan Musial evolves into a slugger after WWII, joining the Top 100 five times, lifting his SLG over .700 three times, and hitting over .400 in the first half of his greatest overall season in 1948. But it's hard to pick against that second half in 1949, with 59 XBH in 78 games.

There's a rolling historical continuity in this quartet's half-seasonal dominance that extends across more than half a century without overlapping in any single season. It's as if a torch of excellence was passed from one to the other and carried forward across time. Their combined half-season peaks total to nearly 5000 hits, nearly 1000 doubles (973 to be exact), over 300 triples, and 552 homers, with a collective batting average of .366. Put that into your pipe and smoke it...

Sunday, February 26, 2023


We live in an age where the various flavors of "acting out" have become so widespread & cross-collateralized that our senses--particularly taste, hearing and smell--have become less and less distinguishable from one another. (If Jimi Hendrix were still with us, he might just alter the lyrics of one of his famous songs to read: "Cultural synesthesia is such a frustrating mess...")

The first full day of baseball's 2023 spring training brought this home when several incidents involving the bizarre conclusion to a game between the Red Sox and the Braves sent the media, the fans, and so-called experts into a flurry of tongue-wagging. In the bottom of the ninth, with the game tied, 6-6, and with the bases loaded and a full count (that's 3 balls and 2 strikes, in case you've been in asynchronous orbit since 1889...), the home plate umpire called out the batter for not training his eyes on the pitcher within eight seconds. 

Braves' skipper Snitzer snorts as his team is burned by a bizarre twist
in the new "pitch clock" rule...
There was initial confusion, of course, because the batter thought he'd been awarded first base and began to make his way there in anticipation of a Braves' win. But he was swiftly advised otherwise by the home plate umpire, who waved him out and brought the game to an abrupt conclusion due to the stipulation that no spring training game will exceed nine innings in length. 

This immediately created a whirlwind of responses that, previously, we might have called a hue-and-cry-- save for the absence of the former and the superabundance of the latter. Players, managers, media folk, and fans all manifested prodigious cases of mouth-foam within seconds of hearing the news. 

Our informal survey of these howls of outrage quantified the reaction as roughly 56.3% negative, 12.9% positive, and 30.8% either impassive, undecided or blissfully unconscious. (Those three flavors of "other" don't track exactly with those increasingly indistinguishable senses we mentioned at the outset, but they'll do in a pinch.)

A standard negative response was: "just wait until this happens in the World Series." A more unusual positive response was: "just wait until this happens in the World Series!". And the response in the "other" category was: "Do they still play the World Series?".

For the record, the exact events that occurred in yesterday's spring training game simply cannot happen in the World Series--or in any other regular season game, for that matter. If we were in the regular season, the Braves would have been called out, their rally stopped at tying the score (Atlanta had scored three runs to tie the game before the bizarre batter punch-out occurred), and the game would have moved into the top of the tenth inning.

Some of the positive folk reminded us that the rule was being implemented from the get-go in spring training to ensure that everyone understood how it worked so that such "pitch clock violations" would be minimized when the regular season started. Other positivists were disappointed by such a stance, however, hoping that the violations would be much more frequent so that they'd become a significant new stat.

Clearly the rule can create many flavors: as it can occur at any time during the at-bat, from the initial pitch at 0-0 all the way to twelve fouls on a 3-2 count, all of those variations will need to be annotated. And any such invocation of the rule on three-ball and two-strike counts that "resolves" a plate appearance (walk or strikeout) will also have to be noted separately. 

TLP™: as unappetizing as ever!
Of course, the Tango Love Pie™ reminded us that the catcher can be the agent of discord (a thought process that, unsurprisingly, comes naturally to the Anti-Christ of sabermetrics). His claim was that the Red Sox catcher lulled the Braves' batter into not getting set in time, even though it was the sixth pitch of the at-bat and it's almost certain that the actions of the catcher were incidental to what happened. (It's much more likely the batter simply took longer because it's natural that, at a moment such as the one in question, batters habitually take a few seconds longer to get set.)

The mixed up flavors of the (monochromatic) hue and the (mouth-foam gargled) cry will continue, as "traditionalists" and "innovators" each draw from the bottom of a deck that's actually stacked in the middle. Frankly, the game needs more controversy, more change, more things to argue about--but it needs to do it in a far more meaningful way that what's manifested in the 2023 rule changes. 

We hope the controversy continues into the season, and that unintended consequences help us break through the strangled synesthesia that has settled in on the little world of baseball and the big world of cultural-political gridlock. How fitting that the imposition of a clock into a game can distract us from the "big clock" ticking on the planet, and leave us so willing to blindly react. Tradition and experimentation need to exist in tandem, so that complex interactive systems and forces can be more fully examined and understood. What the hell--let's all play "beat the clock"...because, in the end, that's all any of us can try to do--until we can't.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023


The air is getting more and more rarified up here in the half-world of the half-season. We'll now look at those hitters who have between seven and eleven appearances on our two Top 300 lists which use the splits at baseball-reference.com (1st half/second half) and ordering the results into a top-down leader list based on OPS+.

It's late, so let's not waste time...

These two really need no introduction. Note that Frank Robinson has a wraparound season (2nd half 1966/1st half 1967) that is almost identical in result to his MVP year in the Orioles first World Championship year. Hank Aaron tended to have hot starts: five of his seven appearances in the Top 600 stem from first half performances. Aaron's best half season, which ranks 24th all-time according to OPS+ comes in the second half of 1971, however. 

It's hard to imagine that we can move up in stature from these guys, but here we go...

You've probably heard of these four as well...oddly, only Willie Mays doesn't have a Top 25 half-season in amongst his appearances in the Top 300. Rogers Hornsby has two "wraparound" (or "back to front") seasons interspersed into his eleven appearances on the list, and in both of them he hit .400+ in each half of the year: 2nd half 1922/first half 2023, where he hits .404 and .403; and 2nd half 1924/first half 1925, where he hits .451 (!) and .425. 

Mays has two wraparound seasons in amongst his ten stellar half-years: 2nd half 1959/first half 1960, and second half 1963/first half 1964. And Mickey Mantle has two wraparound years of his own as well: 2nd half 1959/first half 1960, and 2nd half 1961/first half 1962.

All in all, we think you can take it to the bank that these guys happen to be pretty good hitters...but brace yourself, for our next journey toward the pinnacle is almost straight up.

Saturday, February 18, 2023


From this point on, the hitters with six or more half-seasons in the Top 600 (if you're coming in here in media res, we've assembled the Top 300 hitting half-years--1st half/2nd half--as measured by OPS+) are all in the Hall of Fame EXCEPT for those just retired, those still on the ballot, and those who are being punished for one reason or another. Let's dig into our six-timers:

Nap Lajoie's 1901 season is justifiably legendary, with the second half setting records that would take nearly twenty years to eclipse. Hank Greenberg clearly had two modes of "hitting dominance": the high-BA, doubles-heavy version, and the all-out slugger version (as put on display breathtakingly in the second half of 1938, when he made the second serious assault on Babe Ruth's golden number of 60). Ralph Kiner operated at a lower level that his companions, but he was a prodigious, dependable slugger with just enough gas in the tank to top off a ten-year career and make into the Hall of Fame. (Today he might be seen as a much more problematic candidate...)

The three sluggers in the immediate post-expansion period all reflect the changing game that, in the mid-sixties, looked a lot like what we've been struggling through over the past decade or so. All of them saw their BAs dip under .300 on at least one occasion during their half-year peaks. The most electrifying half-season in this display belongs to Willie McCovey, whose first half performance in 1969 ranks 27th all time: it pretty much clinched his MVP award that year. The next year, Harmon Killebrew came out of the blocks on fire to post one of his two Top 100 first-half performances, helping to lead the Minnesota Twins to their second consecutive division title in the AL West. In 1972, Dick Allen finally added a high-level 2nd half performance to his string of five top-notch 1st half performances, capping his MVP season in a year where the AL run scoring level was almost as low as what baseball experienced in "The Year of the Pitcher" (1968). Dick's six appearances here constitute another reason why he belongs in the HOF...but don't hold your breath.

Frank Thomas was an especially punishing hitter, particularly in the first half of his career: his peak in the first half of 1994 is simply delirious, ranking #12 all-time. The pure slugging of Mark McGwire has been unfairly tainted by the steroid police; lost in all the hue and cry is that in 1999, the year after his 70-HR "abomination," he had his most sluggery half-season ever, with a SLG of .810(!). 

Coors Field brought out the beast in Larry Walker, and obscured by the McGwire-Sosa homer chase of 1998 is the fact that he hit .402 in the second half. (Voters were finally able to look past the "Denver effect" and enshrine him into the Hall in his final year of eligibility.) His teammate Todd Helton (who specialized in hot second halves) is just a few votes away from joining him. We will wait only until 2028 to do the same for Albert Pujols, whose career looks like a more HR-heavy version of Frank Thomas.

Right-handed hitters dominate this list: eight (Lajoie, Greenberg, Kiner, Killebrew, Allen, Thomas, McGwire and Pujols) as opposed to the three lefties (McCovey, Walker, Helton). We'll put that into overall perspective a bit later on in the series...

Tuesday, February 14, 2023


There aren't many defensive catchers in the Hall of Fame, despite an increasing recognition (and more than occasional over-inflation) of the position's significance in the art of run prevention. Most of the backstops in the Hall are mashers first, and "tools of ignorance" intellects second. These range from Mickey Cochrane and Gabby Hartnett through Bill Dickey and Ernie Lombardi, to Yogi Berra through Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk and Mike Piazza, and even to someone like Johnny Bench (though he was lauded lavishly for his defense), those non-hitting catchers who've been inducted (Ray Schalk, Rick Ferrell, Al Lopez) all seem questionable at best.

The most recent catcher inductee is close to being a defensive catcher: Ivan Rodriguez had a pretty good bat, maybe a bit more than that in his prime. But the next two HOF candidates who spent significant time behind the plate--Joe Mauer and Buster Posey--fit the hitter-first model, and seem destined to prevail despite relatively short careers. 

Yadier Molina, just retired, looks like a significant exception to the general rule. Because his hitting is relatively indifferent (a career OPS+ of 96), some question whether he'll make it. But there are some compelling arguments in his favor...

First is his relationship to overall team accomplishment. There's no other catcher who played with the same team as long as Molina (19 years, 18 as the first-stringer). From 2005 to the present, the St. Louis Cardinals have posted an aggregate .551 WPCT, third in baseball for the time frame (behind only the Yankees and the Dodgers. The team's ERA in that span is also third best.

Second--and most crucial to his Cooperstown candidacy--is his record on defense. Bill James' Win Shares suggests that he's the second-best defensive catcher in history, trailing only Ivan Rodriguez--a catcher who moved around a lot in his 20+-year career and had a more indifferent record of success. Rodriguez' bat, combined with his defensive prowess, earned him a spot in the HOF on the first ballot. Presume for a moment that Molina is essentially even with Rodriguez defensively; given that pinnacle of performance behind the plate, such an evaluation would extrapolate into a scenario where Molina makes the HOF through the front door somewhere between his third and fifth year of ballot eligibility.

But there might be more compelling data regarding his defense, specifically with respect to his ability to curtail the opposition running game. Looking at the stolen base/caught stealing data from the past eighteen years (2005-2022), we can see that Molina is totally in a class by himself with regard to limiting stolen bases/stolen base attempts and in stolen base success rate. The chart at right shows just how better than average at this important aspect of a catcher's defensive performance Molina actually is. 

Most of the data in the chart (the blue diamond-shaped markers) conforms to a relative narrow, solidly linear performance range: it captures each team's number of running game events relative to the major league average for 2005-22. 

But then there's that lone red diamond down in the lower left corner. Keep in mind that this is a scatter chart, with the horizontal dimension measuring the opponent's stolen base success rate. It ranges from lower (better in terms of defensive performance) to higher (worse) from left to right. 

That red diamond represents Yadier Molina's defensive performance relative to the running game for the past eighteen years. As you may know, stolen base success rates have improved over that time frame, as managers have curtailed the running game during a big-homer era. Managers curtailed stolen base attempts against Molina more assiduously than anyone (as the near -800 event value indicates), but in doing so they couldn't mitigate his stunning effectiveness in throwing out opposition baserunners.

This chart demonstrates Molina's defensive singularity, a performance level probably not approached by any other catcher in baseball history. It's pretty much all we need to know in terms of his suitability for a plaque in Cooperstown. We doubt that he'll make it in his first year of eligibility--as noted, his hitting was indifferent (though he had his moments). But there is no better case for a defensive catcher with respect to the Hall of Fame, and Molina's level and length of achievement suggests that he could make it as early as his second or third year. He deserves it...

Sunday, February 12, 2023

THE TOP 600 HALF-SEASONS/8: THE "4's" & "5's"...

Onward and upward (as "they" used to say...) into ever-more frequent displays of peak hitting performance. This time, we're going to show the hitters with four and five half-seasons on the Top 600 list: the two groups are mixed together temporally to maintain an overall chronological approach. Here we go:

Five of the seven hitters in the 1913-1959 time frame are already in Cooperstown; the short careers of Gavvy Cravath (late bloomer) and Charlie Keller (premature career-ending injury) have kept those two on the outside looking in.

The five-timer list in this time frame creates a comparison that rarely seems to get made by baseball's stat analysts: Joe DiMaggio and Johnny Mize. Teammates on the Yankees briefly during the final phase of their WWII-shortened careers, these two conjure opposed memories--Joe D. a graceful, right-hand hitting center fielder, Mize a brawny, left-hand hitting first baseman--but their overall career stats are virtually identical. Their greatest seasons both occurred before the war, though Mize's early years in the Polo Grounds (1946-48) provided him with a short porch that boosted his homer totals. 

Duke Snider's career HR totals might seem less impressive in the wake of what followed in subsequent seasons, but his five consecutive 40+-HR seasons is still a record. Five appearances in the Top 600 is another indicator of his peak performance capabilities, including a whopper of a "wraparound season" (2nd half '53/first half '54) that combines for 47 HR, 141 RBI and a .700+ SLG. 

Now we move (inexorably) toward the present day:

It's still quite possible that Mike Trout will at least join the "five-timer" group before his career is over, though injuries have slowed him down a bit since his last appearance in the Top 600. The other "four-timers" shown here are either still outside the Hall of Fame (Norm Cash, whose candidacy is still valiantly advocated by Bill James...) or considered by some as somewhat "marginal" inductions (Billy Williams and David Ortiz). 

The most recent "five-timers" are all on much firmer ground, with longer careers and elevated totals in counting stats (three of the four with 3000+ hits, three of four with 1500+ RBI, two of four with 500+ HR). All four (Carl Yastrzemski, George Brett, Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera) have "Top 100" credentials within umbrella of the Top 600 as well, with Cabrera's "wraparound year" (2nd half 2012/1st half 2013) especially impressive: 56 HR, 163 RBI, .355 BA, .670 SLG.

As of now, eight of the 15 hitters in the "4's" and "5's" are in the Hall of Fame. Eventually that total will be eleven (though it appears that it will take some form of "Vets Committee" to get Ramirez in, due to his perceived transgressions), which means that the "HOF peak percentage" for these two combined categories will (ultimately) reach 73%. 

We'll continue onward (and upward) in short order...

Saturday, February 11, 2023


We continue "up the food chain" within our Top 600 half-season data set; we're now focusing on those who produced more than one appearance on the list (with a side focus on the percentage of such hitters who've been inducted into the Hall of Fame).

Keeping count as we press upward: of the hitters who made it onto the list once, 23% of those players are in the Hall of Fame (not counting active players). As we noted at the conclusion of our last post, 31% of the hitters with two appearances on the list have been inducted (though it goes up over a third when we remove several folk who are still active--Aaron Judge, Christian Yelich, Bryce Harper, J.D. Martinez). 

Now we move up one more notch--the hitters appearing in the Top 600 three times:

We can see immediately that we've got a higher correlation to the HOF with this "gang of five" (from the early years, 1900-1931). The only hitter not enshrined is Benny Kauff, whose high-flying years were in the short-lived Federal League and whose career was cut short by scandal. Ed Delahanty's stellar 1902 season registers in both halves, but his first half is the one that OPS+ places in the "Top 40." Eddie Collins has the early lead in the "most time between appearances on the Top 600 list"--seven years. (We'll see how long that holds up...) 

And it may be surprising to see that Hack Wilson's second half in 1930, which produced a record number of RBI (109), ranks only in the middle of the pack (#180). A good bit of that is due to the offensive levels of that blistering year, and some more of it is due to the ballpark (Wrigley Field), which has always been known as the "friendly confines," especially for hitters.

The trend continues in the 1929-1976 time slice for "three-peaters," with five of the six hitters on the list also in the HOG. We have two players who cruise by that "time between" mark set by Collins: Mel Ott goes thirteen years between appearances, with the total distance between first and last appearance spanning fifteen years; Al Kaline goes eleven years between his first and second appearance, and twelve years between his first and his last. 

Most have probably forgotten about what fast starts Willie Stargell had as the chief power source for the Pirates; all of his appearances in the Top 600 are first-half affairs. And we can more easily visualize the unusual combination of elements that made Joe Morgan such a catalyst in the Big Red Machine's back-to-back World Series championships in 1975-76.

The correlation slips a bit in the next forty-year slice (1976-2016), but it's still above the levels for "two-timers" (and will probably step up another notch in the future sometime after Joey Votto retires). That said, some of the most fearsome-looking half-seasons--at least by ordinary stats--are turned in by the non-HOFers (Jack Clark, Albert Belle, Sammy Sosa). Sammy's 2001 season, overshadowed by Barry Bonds and his 73 HRs, is only going to get more impressive with the passage of time.

Our Hall of Fame correlation jumps up strongly here: 12 of the 17 non-active players who registered "three-peats" on the Top 600 half-season peak list are enshrined, or just over 70%. Keep that in mind as we move further up the food chain...

Friday, February 10, 2023


 Back to the half-season high-flyers, and we move into the realm of the "repeat offenders," starting with the hitters who managed two half-seasons in the Top 300 of either first-half or second-half standout performances.

We'll break up this sort into four segments, with some brief comments and a summary at the end. First, we go back to modern baseball's "dawn of time"...

We'll give away the subtext here at the outset: players in bold type are the ones who've been elected to the Hall of Fame. We'll add that total up for each grouping--the one-timers, two-timers, three-timers, and on up.

Here in the Deadball era, you have two-timers who mostly have shorter careers (and who weren't teammates of Frankie Frisch), so only one hitter (Frank Chance) has made it into the HOF. Of the other seven on this list, Jimmy Sheckard and Sherry Magee probably have the most compelling cases for induction, but Cy Seymour and Mike Donlin had the most impressive half-seasons.  

In using a list of this type, we'd tend to weight its relevance for Hall of Fame eligibility based on how many different seasons are represented in the "top half-season" groupings. Thus two-timers like George Stone and Steve Evans, whose peaks are encompassed in the same season, are grouped a bit lower because they simply had a "career year."

Our eight two-timers in the 1920-1959 time frame have fared better relative to the Hall of Fame: five of them have been inducted (only one, Chick Hafey, is part of the Frisch contingent--but Hafey is part of the subgroup who managed to hit .400 in a half-season--and the 1931 NL is not the huge offensive year that you might be assuming, given its proximity to 1930). The top half-seasons (as measured by OPS+) belong to George Sisler in 1920 and Roy Cullenbine in 1946, with the latter exceeding a .500+ OBP in each of his half-season peaks.

Another group of eight, with three in the Hall. Given the time frame, batting average and OPS is depressed somewhat; the best half-seasons here (according to OPS+) are turned in by John Mayberry, who gave Dick Allen a run for his money in the second half of 1972 after a lukewarm start (and was equally impressive in the second half of 1975). Fred Lynn made plenty of waves in the first half of 1975 with one of the most celebrated rookie performance levels of all time (but that was back when the Red Sox still had their tragic mystique). And if you don't think there can be a major difference in offensive levels from one season to the next, take a look at Wade Boggs' half seasons in 1987 and 1988. The latter season is actually more impressive relative to the "adjusted strike zone" imposed after the '87 homer glut, and that's captured in the fact that Boggs hit fourteen fewer HRs in '88 and still had a superior OPS+.

In the past thirty years, we've had twelve more two-timers, with only the first two (Jeff Bagwell and Jim Thome) having thus far made it to Cooperstown. As has been the case of late, only sluggers need apply: twenty of the twenty-four half-seasons shown above are ones where batters hit 20+ homers. Two hitters here--Jose Bautista and Christian Yelich--have "adjacent peaks" that span the second half of one season and the first half of the next: putting those two segments together reveals that Bautista hit 61 HRs in 157 games in his crossover seasons, while Yelich hit 56 in his 144-game "wraparound year."

All in all, eleven of our thirty-six "two-timers" have made it into the Hall of Fame. That's just under a third (31%). We'll track this rate as we move "up the food chain"--up next, the three-timers...

Thursday, February 2, 2023


THE evening before the astonishing email appeared, we'd had a spirited discussion about second basemen and the evaluation issues that seem to plague them--and turn many otherwise intelligent folk into wild-eyed zealots. (That said, however, we also noted how zealotry has "evolved" in the world of increasingly scientific disinformation, recognizing that it's both a mixed and a mixed-up landscape--particularly when it comes to matters as unimportantly essential as a Baseball Hall of Fame.)

We'd replied to a query from a shadowy "Cooperstown consultant" in the year prior to COVID regarding the dismal record of identifying second basemen for the Hall of Fame. We told them that the new methods undercut the old methods when it came to such a process. The ongoing inability to induct deserving second basemen, stemming from the stringent "front door" election requirements, and a diffuse, confused, and increasingly political "side door process," was now combining with a "grievance" mentality (a phenomenon hardly exclusive to baseball...) and was crippling the performance of  the current HOF voter population. 

We suggested a radical approach to the matter, one that had never been implemented previously. And we promptly put the matter out of our heads--even after Jeff Kent's stall-out at just under 50% of the vote in the most recent election. We weren't expecting to see any kind of action from the Hall, as they've adopted a chameleon-like approach to what have become increasingly Byzantine selection processes. 

But then came the email:

"Here at the Hall of Fame, we've tried to employ a hands-off posture regarding the induction process. We're proud to remind you that we have not tampered with the basic election requirements since our inception, as we still believe that a significant majority of support from the baseball writers is the proper approach in the real world (as opposed to the myriad alternative methods we've watched unfold over the past twenty-five years).

But we've come to the conclusion that there are more notable issues with the processes that go beyond our recent efforts to produce more timely results. We've looked for a remedy that might leapfrog some of the stubborn issues still plaguing those who participate in the process. 

Input from several sources convinced us to to take a different perspective. After much discussion, we've decided to employ an approach stemming from that recommendation. Thus we have assembled and implemented a special committee to examine and recommend a global set of inductees based on defensive position. 

Having been convinced that second base and third base were two of the most problematic defensive positions as regards the current status of inductees for the Hall of Fame, we convened a special committee to evaluate second basemen. We found enough consensus between competing perspectives and analyses to arrive at a greatly simplified benchmark for assessing these players, one that reminds us that offense is still a primary consideration for induction into the Hall. 

As many of you reading this know, the analytic tools created in the past forty years have become increasingly complicated, but we were convinced by a relatively simple diagram that five second basemen, with high offensive proficiency, ranging from the often-overlooked nineteenth century to the present day, were deserving of induction. After an additional round of discussion, our special committee concurred and ratified the action we are about to announce. 

First, however, you're directed to the diagram, where the five second basemen (whom we'll identify shortly) are visible in the diamond-shaped markers colored in light green. The rest of the second basemen already inducted into the Hall of Fame are shown with red-colored markers. Please take a moment to look at this diagram, which shows second basemen from left to right based on the year in which their careers ended, and see if you're able to identify the upcoming inductees.

The on-base plus slugging (OPS) method implemented by analyst Pete Palmer and baseball's official historian John Thorn nearly forty years ago remains one of the most useful approaches to offensive productivity, particularly when it is adjusted for various contexts. The chart above brought much needed clarity to a process that had become inordinately tangled and fraught over the years. It was particularly evident that the most recent second baseman who failed to achieve consensus for "front door" induction was merely the most visible example of a process that had unfortunately gone sour. 

Our special committee discussed all of the relevant aspects, and concurred in an approach that would clarify and resolve the cases relating to the five second basemen in question. From that outcome, we are extremely pleased to announce that these players, following the approach taken previously with Negro League players, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame beginning with the ceremony to be held later in 2023. The first two, being from deep in the past, will be jointly inducted; the other three will follow singly in subsequent years, as laid out below. 

Here are their names:

...and then, as if I were Fernand Gravey flitting open his eyes in the singular, matchless French fantasy  LA NUIT FANTASTIQUE (1942, directed by Marcel L'Herbier...), I suddenly realized that what I had been reading was all in my "mind" (or what's left of it...), and that I had, alas, been dreaming...and that, unlike Gravey, whose "nocturnal uproar" in pursuit of the spirited and delectable Micheline Presle had a real-life payoff, I would not be so lucky--and neither would the five second basemen shown with "little green dots" above. 

The Hall of Fame was, is, and probably always will be akin to a Sphinx, and all of those who spend their time attempting to reform it, perform workarounds with respect to it, or simply create their own, are either frustrated archeologists or variable, voluble and variegated looters who think that the "power of the pyramid" is working for them (and them alone)...

...but you, "dear reader," can figure out who these players are, by simply gazing on the "purloined diagram" above; after all, there are only five to be identified. You might even figure out who the three "see no evil, field no evil, hit very little" chimps are with the "red dots" well below the league average line of 100. They are highly beloved for their leather, but not for their wood--which has insulated them from the slings and arrows of the rock, paper, scissors world we live in...but not so our five, who still await their awakening from what remains a seemingly eternal nightmare.