Important Dates in January
January 18: The Hall of Fame class of 2017 will be announced. The former Yankees player with the best chance of being inducted is Tim Raines, who played a key role as a part-time guy during the 1996 and 1998 World Series championships in the twilight of his career.
Before that, Raines was one of the greatest leadoff hitters of his era, putting up a .294/.385/.425 slash line over 2502 career games, swiping 808 bags and compiling 69.1 WAR according to Baseball-Reference. He fell just short of the 75% necessary for induction last year at 69.8% and is in his last year on that ballot. He is one of my all-time favorite players and it really would be a tragedy if he didn’t get in.
Appearing on the ballot for the first time this year is one of the best catchers in Yankees history, Jorge Posada. At just 42.7 career rWAR, Posada likely will fall of the ballot fairly quickly. He was terrific during his peak, but he was a late-bloomer with a poor defensive reputation (rightfully).
Still, he’s a five-time All-Star who was one of the best offensive catchers of his generation (five silver sluggers to his name). He finished in the top six of MVP balloting twice and played for an impressive five World Series champions.
Also in January: We won’t have the exact dates until the new collective bargaining agreement is hammered out, but teams and arbitration eligible players who haven’t reached an agreement on a new contract by now will each file the salary figure that they think is fair, and eventually an arbitration panel will decide between them if a decision can’t be reached.
Real live baseball (sort of) starts up again in Feburary with pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. The World Baseball Classic will also run from March 7th to 22nd. The preliminary rosters were just announced and will be finalized in January. Dellin Betances and Masahiro Tanaka both are candidates to play apparently, so cross your fingers they stay healthy and the extra workload doesn’t affect their seasons.