CBA 2068 Hall of Fame Class Presser
This year’s Hall of Fame nominees features 11 players hoping to have their name called to CBA immortality. Let’s take a look at their accomplishments and resumes:
LF/DH Sam “Moriarity” Perez – Houston Moondogs (2050-2053, 2056-2062), Atlanta Swarm (2053-2055), Detroit Motors (2063), Toronto Mythics (2064)
MVP Awards: 2 (SL: 2050 and 2051)
Silver Slugger: 6 (2050-2055, 2063)
League Championships: 4 (2055, 2057, 2059, 2064)
ToC Rings: 1 (2059 with Houston)
We start this year’s ballot with a living legend. Perez was taken 2nd overall in the Inaugural Draft having already registered 5 professional seasons, but he still played in fifteen additional seasons in the CBA. His first two seasons in the league were arguably his best, as he took home the Silver League MVP in 2050 and 2051, but he was always on the short list of most feared hitters in the league. Aside from his average (at best) defense, there really weren’t too many holes in Perez’s game, as he posted a .320/.396/.558 slash line for his career with 1735 hits, 284 home runs, 667 walks, 366 doubles, and even 149 stolen bases.
Prediction: This really should be unanimous.
SS Victor “Powder” Corral – Charlotte Knights (2050-2052, 2059), Detroit Motors (2053-2059, 2062-2065), Toronto Mythics (2060-2061)
League Championships: 3 (2050, 2060, 2061)
ToC Rings: 2 (2053 with Detroit, 2060 with Toronto)
Taken 76 picks after Sam Perez in the Inaugural Draft, Corral was a mainstay in the Premier League for the duration of his career (except for a brief stint in 2059 with Charlotte in the BL). His career does have some similarity to Perez in that he Corral was drafted in his late 20s and still managed to stick around in the CBA for 15 seasons, and he did so while holding his own defensively, as well. What Corral lacks, however, is the eye-popping results of some of his contemporaries. He was an important piece on some really great teams throughout the years, but his lack of any Gray Ink (let alone Black Ink) really leaves a lot to be desired on this particular resume.
Prediction: Hard to see Corral having much longevity on this ballot.
C Jorge “Slippery” Ulloa – Philadelphia Liberty (2053-2056, 2058-2062), Houston Moondogs (2057)
Silver Sluggers: 2 (2056 and 2062)
League Championships: 1 (2057 with Houston)
From the 2nd overall pick in the Inaugural Draft, to the third round, and now to the 24th round, we find Jorge Ulloa. Ulloa was one of the best offensive catchers in the CBA with his best season coming in 2057 as he helped lead the Moondogs to the BL Championship with a .823 OPS and 3.8 WAR. One significant question mark for Ulloa’s candidacy is the fact that he was never terrific defensively, and only managed to play in 9 seasons before retiring. Voters will have to decide whether his resume is enough to get the call for the Hall.
Prediction: Even though catchers have to be judged by a different set of criteria for the Hall of Fame, Ulloa still falls a little short.
2B Eddie McCormack – Las Vegas Lightning (2055-2061), Minnesota Freeze (2062-2063), Los Angeles Chilis (2064), Toronto Mythics (2064)
Silver Sluggers: 1 (2059)
League Championships: 2 (2056, 2063)
ToC Rings: 3 (2055 and 2056 with Las Vegas, 2062 with Minnesota)
Another member of the iconic 2062 Minnesota Freeze championship team, McCormack spent most of his career with the Las Vegas Lightning after being drafted in the first round of the 2053 draft. Primarily a second baseman, McCormick was more known for his offense than his adequate defense. He flashed an elite eye for his entire career, accumulating 424 walks in 9 professional seasons. While his career stat totals don’t immediately jump off the page, McCormack deserves credit for spending the vast majority of his career in the Premier League producing on the biggest stage. Like Ulloa, however, the downside of his candidacy is the fact he only played in 9 professional seasons.
Prediction: An excellent career for McCormack, it’s just not quite enough.
RF Jeff Rybak – New Orleans Krewe (2050-2058), Toronto Mythics (2058-2059, 2060), Atlanta Swarm (2060-2061), Minnesota Freeze (2062-2064)
League Championships: 2 (2060, 2063)
ToC Rings: 1 (2062 with Minnesota)
Another 2nd round pick in the Inaugural Draft, Rybak had a lengthy CBA career, playing in over 13 seasons. A consistent producer, Rybak was a reliable option in the middle of the Krewe’s lineup for almost a full decade, but he was rarely discussed as one of the best players in the league. Another player who won their only ToC Ring on that ‘62 Minnesota squad, Rybak should probably be more well-known than he is throughout the league
Prediction: First ballot Hall of Very Good – not quite Hall of Fame
SP Chris Cherry – Indianapolis Hawks (2050-2051), Galveston Gremlins (2052-2060), Seattle Steelheads (2061-2064)
League Championships: 6 (2052, 2054, 2055, 2057, 2058, 2059)
ToC Rings: 1 (2054 with Galveston)
The 14th overall pick in the Inaugural Draft, Cherry was a workhorse for a Gremlins team that dominated the Premier League throughout the latter half of the 2050s. Initially drafted by Indianapolis, Cherry was traded to Galveston ahead of the 2052 season in a win-win deal that brought future Hall of Famer Javy Rodriguez to the Hawks. While normally a lack of individual accolades can be a death knell for a Hall of Fame resume, it’s incredibly hard to deny Cherry’s importance to a championship-level Gremlins team for such a long period. Cherry did accumulate a satisfactory amount of Black Ink (10) and a tremendous amount of Gray Ink (129!) in his career, which further highlights what a great competitor he was.
Prediction: 36.6 WAR, Six league championships, a ToC Ring, and more than 2400 career strikeouts… what more can you really ask for?
SP Paul Franklin – Bay Area Pandas (2054-2061), Minnesota Freeze (2060), Philadelphia Liberty (2062-2064), Tampa Bay Palms (2064)
Gold Gloves: 1 (2062)
League Championships: 1 (2055)
A third-round pick for the Bay Area Pandas, Franklin fell just short of 10 full years in the majors, but he was an excellent and reliable starter for most of his career. Mostly known as an innings eater, Franklin was never the ace of a staff, and he was never really considered a difference maker for a team with championship aspirations.
Prediction: It’s an honor to be nominated, right?
SP Guibert Caprioglio – DE Eagles (2055-2056), Cleveland Bobcats (2057-2065)
Drafted in the 12th round of the Inaugural Draft, Caprioglio made his major league debut in 2055 with the DC Eagles before being traded to the Cleveland Bobcats ahead of the 2057 season. A consistent innings-eater for Cleveland, Capri was never really regarded as one of the best pitchers in the league. His best seasons came in the Premier League from 2058 to 2060, which speaks to his obvious talent, but Capri’s career was cut short by a devastating arm injury in 2064. Though he would return and pitch a healthy 2065, his ERA ballooned to 5.00 and he was out of the league.
Prediction: Capri never really got the respect he deserved as a player, but he also doesn’t really deserve to be in the Hall.
RP Dennis Lesage – DC Eagles (2050-2056), Detroit Motors (2057), New York Empire (2058-2059), Las Vegas Lightning (2064)
Reliever of the Year: 1 (2054)
It’s kind of odd, but Lesage’s best season came in his rookie season at the young age of 20. That season he pitched 106 innings out of the bullpen, accumulated 3.6 WAR, and won the reliever of the year award for the DC Eagles. He did not pitch in 2051 after blowing out his elbow, and even though he returned to have an excellent career, one cannot help but wonder what could have been without the devastating injury.
Prediction: Maybe in a different timeline, but unfortunately he just didn’t get there in this one.
SP Ryan Ray – Philadelphia Liberty (2050-2054), Galveston Gremlins (2054-2058, 2062-2063), Houston Moondogs (2059), Cleveland Bobcats (2059-2061), Tampa Bay Palms (2061), Chicago Gale (2064)
Gold Glove: 1 (2054)
League Championships: 6 (2054, 2055, 2057, 2058, 2059, 2061)
ToC Rings: 2 (2054 with Galveston, 2061 with Tampa Bay)
Another Inaugural Draft first rounder (30th overall), Ray really had an excellent career. Like Chris Cherry, Ray’s best seasons came as a rotation anchor for those late-50s Gremlins juggernaut teams. Though his production dipped when he signed a lengthy free agent deal with Cleveland, Ray still managed to twirl an excellent 2061 and collect his second ToC Ring on loan with Tampa Bay. Undoubtedly one of the best 2nd or 3rd starters in league history, voters will have to decide if that’s enough for the Hall
Prediction: I don’t think he’ll make it, but Ray is a deceptively frisky candidate for enshrinement
CL Matt Bennett – Baltimore Blue Crabs (2050-2057), Galveston Gremlins (2058-2061), Tampa Bay Palms (2062-2063), Bay Area Pandas (2065)
Reliever of the Year: 3 (2054, 2055, 2056)
League Championships: 2 (2058-2059)
A 14th round pick in the Inaugural Draft, Bennett’s first three seasons in the league were good but unremarkable, even though he was pitching an extreme number of innings out of the bullpen (292.0 innings in three seasons). In 2053, however, something clicked for Bennett and he became the most feared reliever in the league. The numbers that season speak for themselves: 125.0 innings pitched, an otherworldly 0.94 ERA, 233 strikeouts, and an eye-popping 6.3 WAR out of the bullpen. Bennett followed that up by striking out 199 in 2054 and accumulating another 5.1 WAR. The bottom line is this: there are few pitchers (let alone relievers) who have impacted the league the way Bennett did in his career.
Prediction: Perez gets all the love on this ballot, but Bennett makes a fantastic bookend. He should be an easy choice