Baseball: Past and Present

Every year, 20-30 baseball players make the Hall of Fame ballot. Generally, of these men, one or two will receive the necessary 75 percent of the votes needed for enshrinement, a handful of others will get lesser totals, and most will fall off the ballot with less than five percent of the vote. Without fail, there are usually at least a few eligible players who get no votes at all.

Most of these men don’t make it to Cooperstown for good reason, though former All Stars and Cy Young award winners sometimes are completely forgotten at Hall of Fame voting time. Here are a few men who laid zeros their only time on the Cooperstown ballot:

P – Mike Cuellar (1983): The passing of the four-time 20-game winner in April prompted me to write about one-and-done Hall of Fame candidates. Incidentally, Cuellar is not the only former Cy Young winner to receive zero Hall of Fame votes. Others in this class include John Denny, Steve Stone, and Pete Vuckovich.

C – Mickey Tettleton (2003): He hit more than 30 home runs four times and was twice an All Star, though he also struck out a lot and was a .241 lifetime hitter.

1B – Cecil Cooper (1993): A reader recently reminded me of Cooper who was a five-time All Star, two-time Gold Glove winner and two-time American League RBI champ. Overall, he had 2,192 hits with a .298 lifetime clip and hit above .300 seven straight seasons.

2B – Manny Trillo (1995): He made four All Star appearances, was a three-time Gold Glove-winner and surprisingly, nabbed two Silver Slugger awards as well.

3B – Bob Horner (1994): The No. 1 overall draft pick in 1978, Horner went directly to the majors and won Rookie of the Year. He later hit more than 30 home runs three times and put together a solid, if somewhat truncated ten-year career, wrapping up at 30 with 218 lifetime home runs. Horner may most be remembered for hitting four home runs in a game in 1986.

SS – Rick Burleson (1993): Burleson made four All Star teams, did well enough offensively to become a hitting coach for the Oakland A’s after retirement and shares the same name as an architect in the Seattle area.

OF – Amos Otis (1990): Otis was a perennial All Star and MVP vote recipient with the Kansas City Royals in the 1970s, retiring in 1984 with 2,020 hits, 193 home runs and 341 stolen bases.

OF – Andy Van Slyke (2001): Van Slyke won five straight Gold Gloves from 1988-1992 as center fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, twice finishing fourth in MVP voting in that span.

OF – Jim Wynn (1983): Though Wynn boasts just 1,665 lifetime hits and a .250 career batting average, the former longtime Astros center fielder may be among the most underrated players of all-time. His career Wins Above Replacement rating of 59.8 ranks better than first-ballot Hall of Famers like Kirby Puckett, Willie Stargell and Dave Winfield, among others.

All in all, the thought here is that this lineup would triumph in a grudge match against a team of overrated Hall of Famers.

I write frequently about Cooperstown-related matters and have a Tuesday feature, Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?



15 Comments so far

  1.    Joe on July 9, 2010 10:46 am      

    Mickey Tettleton. Wow. Can’t believe he got on the ballot. How does one get on the ballot. Do they just have to be nominated by one writer?

  2.    Mike on July 9, 2010 11:02 am      

    The only person I am surprised that didn’t get a vote here is Cuellar.

  3.    Graham Womack on July 9, 2010 5:48 pm      

    Yeah, if I held a BBWAA card, I doubt I’d have voted for any of them, though you could argue that Cooper, Wynn and Otis all deserved at least one vote.

  4.    vinnie on July 10, 2010 12:16 am      

    All were good, serviceable major league players who performed sometimes brilliantly, but none of these gentlemen are worthy of the hall.
    We can only marvel at some of the players who were far worse and yet got someone to vote for them.

  5.    Chip on July 15, 2010 10:47 am      

    The single most ridiculous fact to me about HOF voting remains the opposite of these guys not receiving any votes,i.e. How is it that no player in the history of the Hall has ever received 100% of the vote? You mean to tell me that no single player has ever been recognized by every voting member as worthy of enshrinement?

  6.    Bill Deane on July 15, 2010 7:18 pm      

    Here are some other worthies who never got a vote, some of whom deserve a spot in your lineup: Harlond Clift, Hal McRae, Vern Stephens, Hal Trosky, and Frank Tanana. Also, several Vets’ Committee electees never got a BBWAA Hall of Fame vote: Roger Connor, George Davis, Pud Galvin, Sam Thompson, Mickey Welch, and Vic Willis.

  7.    Bill Deane on July 15, 2010 7:22 pm      

    I meant worthy of a vote, not necessarily of the Hall. By the way, I never understood how Cecil Cooper got zero votes in 1993, when his statistical clone, Steve Garvey, got 177 as a rookie that same year.

  8.    Ernest A. Nagy on July 15, 2010 7:44 pm      

    Can it be that neither Hal Trosky nor Vern Stephens ever got a SINGLE vote for the HoF? Incredible.

  9.    Graham Womack on July 15, 2010 9:28 pm      

    I’m also surprised. I had to look at Stephens’ numbers on Baseball-Reference, as well as Trosky’s numbers, to double check this. I’ve heard some talk to suggest Stephens might make a good Veterans Committee candidate for Cooperstown. He’d certainly trounce Rick Burleson here at short, were I to draw this post up again.

  10.    Eric Naftaly on July 16, 2010 1:35 am      

    Responding to Joe’s question: Used to be that anyone who played ten years in MLB was listed automatically the year he became eligible. More recently, there has been a small screening committee that eliminates names they consider superfluous.

    Responding to Chip’s question: As long as voters aren’t allowed to vote for an unlimited number of people, there’d seem to be a legitimate reason why people wouldn’t get a unanimous vote, since people without enough votes get removed from future ballots. If I were a voter, I’d know the Willie Mays types will get elected without my help; I’d rather use my vote to make sure that folks like Ted Simmons and Milt Pappas stay on the ballot so that people can seriously consider them later after more obvious choices have been elected.

    But actually, I’d guess that the lack of unanimous choices has been because there are voters who feel the qualifications for a first-time-on-the-ballot Hall of Famer should be so rarified that not even a Cal Ripken or Tony Gwynn qualifies.

  11.    Brendan on July 18, 2010 8:07 pm      

    Oddly, one of these HoF zero-vote-getters was traded for a Hall of Famer. Following the 1974 season, Oakland traded Manny Trillo, Darold Knowles and Bob Locker to the Cubs for future Hall of Famer Billy Williams. However, the timing of their careers (Trillo was 23 years old and to date had appeared in only 38 MLB games; Williams was a 15 year vet) and the 3-for-1 nature of the trade (Knowles and Locker were both sturdy relief men, although by 1974 Locker’s career was nearly done), do not provide any basis for arguing that Trillo deserves HoF consideration.

  12.    Graham Womack on July 19, 2010 6:38 am      

    Those A’s of the years immediately following their World Series run were an interesting team, fielding stars at the end of the line like Williams and Dick Allen.

  13.    Jolly Old St. Neck Wound on December 7, 2010 6:36 pm      

    That’s an interesting list, and it’s not a bad team, but your accompanying list of Overrated HoFers would absolutely crush them. To say otherwise is something I’d expect to read on Slate, not from you.

  14.    Graham Womack on December 7, 2010 7:36 pm      

    You may be right. I’ve definitely been wrong before about this sort of thing.

  15.    Ray Stark on July 10, 2011 5:11 pm      

    Cecil Travis in my opinion should be in the Hall Of Fame and he never recieved any votes.

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  • Written by Graham Womack