Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Joe Carter

Claim to fame: Never someone with many dimensions to his game, Carter did one thing consistently well: hit for power. In a given year, he was generally good for 30 home runs and at least 100 RBI, on his way to 396 home runs in 16 seasons. The five-time All Star is perhaps best known for hitting the Game Six home run that won the 1993 World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Carter was a one-and-done candidate his only year on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot for Cooperstown in 2004, receiving 3.8 percent of the vote. He will be eligible for enshrinement by the Veterans Committee in 2018.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? If we look on a simple statistical basis, the answer is no. Resoundingly.

There are many reasons Carter doesn’t belong in Cooperstown, from his .259 career batting average, to his .306 on-base percentage, to his 105 OPS+. He never walked more than 50 times in a season, he finished with just more than 2.000 hits for his career and he hit .300 but once. If elected, his OBP would be second-lowest of any man enshrined as a position player, better only than Bill Mazeroski (.299), who unlike Carter played crack defense and might have had a more thrilling World Series-winning home run.

Carter’s also the kind of player that Wins Above Replacement was seemingly devised to mock, one of those Albert Belle or Dante Bichette types who could drive in more than 100 runs and still have a WAR rating below 3.0. Carter averaged about 1.0 WAR per season, finishing with 16.5 lifetime, and for his final six years, he had a negative aggregate rating. That means in those seasons, he theoretically cost his team wins an average player might have accounted for. In WAR, there are no winners named Joe Carter.

The equation changes if Carter is enshrined primarily for his World Series heroics. Months ago, I suggested a short-time Hall of Fame, for players who shined in brief intervals. Carter could head up a postseason section. The image of him joyfully galloping around the bases after that home run is one of my favorite baseball memories of the 1990s. Carter could be joined by men like Bobby Thomson, who hit the “Shot Heard Round the World” to win the 1951 National League pennant, and Don Larsen, who pitched a perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Maybe they don’t deserve a Hall of Fame plaque, but their moments bring out the best in the game. Baseball could do well to honor these men.

Interestingly, Thomson and Larsen lasted much longer on the Hall of Fame ballot than Carter. Larsen, who had an 81-91 career record, 3.78 ERA, and no All Star appearances, went the full 15 years of eligibility with the writers, peaking at 12.3 percent of the vote in 1979. Thomson, an outfielder with better numbers than Carter for batting average, OPS+ and WAR, hung on the ballot for 14 years, never receiving more than 5 percent of the vote. Even Cookie Lavagetto, who had 945 career hits and is best remembered for breaking Bill Bevens’ no-hitter in the 1947 World Series got four votes in 1958, the same as future Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi.

It’s surprising Carter didn’t get more consideration from the writers, and I wonder if the veterans will look to honor him, as they did Mazeroski in 2001.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here.

Others in this series: Al Oliver, Albert Belle, Bert Blyleven, Cecil Travis, Chipper Jones, Dan Quisenberry, Dave Parker, Don Mattingly, Don Newcombe, George Steinbrenner, Maury Wills, Mel Harder, Pete Browning, Rocky Colavito, Steve Garvey, Thurman Munson, Tim Raines

31 thoughts on “Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Joe Carter

  1. There you go, talking about your relative again….

    That said, as I’ve written these about Don Mattingly and Steve Garvey, Hernandez seems like a logical choice. I’ll write something next week.

  2. Big no for Joe, but definitely there could be a place in the hall to honor the great moments and those who participated in them in the same way there should be a place to recognize some of the past minor league greats who for one reason or another didn’t get a chance at the major league level.
    As for Hernandez… He’ll deserve consideration after Fred McGriff, Gil Hodges, Frank McCormick, Dolph Camilli, Joe Adcock, Ted Kluszewski and about another dozen or so superior first basemen go in first. In short, he was a fine player but not a hall of famer.

  3. I think you’re right. I like the idea of looking at him, though, because it sheds some light on the fact that Mattingly was undeserving, but got in for being a Yankee more or less. And then Tim Raines, who should absolutely get in, struggles to. Silly isn’t it?

  4. Mattingly’s not in the Hall of Fame. He got almost 30 percent of the vote his first year on the BBWAA ballot, has never topped that since, and looks like a Veterans Committee candidate at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vets enshrine him, but that’s still years off.

  5. Here are three players 162 game average lines.
    Player 1
    162 Game Avg. 162 677 623 87 162 32 4 29 107 17 5 39 103 .259 .306 .464 .771 105

    Player 2
    Game Avg. 162 622 584 69 147 23 4 28 92 2 2 29 136 .252 .287 .453 .740 103

    Player 3
    162 Game Avg. 162 619 528 77 119 24 1 30 88 6 6 79 151 .225 .324 .448 .772 114

    If Joe Carter (1) deserves to be in the hall, so too do Tony Armas (2) and Gorman Thomas (3). I’m sure we could find a lot of others if we looked.

  6. Indeed Joe Carter’s Series-ending home run in 1993 was dramatic and memorable. But if the Hall should honor Carter’s WS heroics, they should do the same for those of Ray Knight (1986), Brian Doyle (1978), and Jim Northrup (1968).

  7. I saw a lot of Joe Carter the one year he played for the Padres. While this is in no way a HOF endorsement, I’ll say one thing about the man: better than his numbers (at least that one season!).

  8. I think Carter should be in the Hof. Look at the mans RBI numbers. That’s clutch, look at the era he played, how many big names in this era has there names linked to performance in hancing drugs? Most!! Carter has never. He went out there day end and day out kicked butt and played the game without the use of drugs. he should be a Hof and the fact he played for a nonamerican team doesn’t help his case.

  9. Joe Carter 100% belongs in the Hall of Fame and I am a Phillies Fan. He hit a home run to end the World Series!!! There is only two people in the history of the world to do that. Mazeroski & Carter. What else could you possibly do in the game of baseball that is better and more dramatic than hitting a home run to win a World Series? The answer is nothing. Carter is a 396 HR 1445 RBI 2184 hit guy who hit a 1993 Game 6 winning WS Home Run. So he is basically a 400 HR 2000 hit 1400 RBI guy with the WS homer. In my opinion Joe Carter is the most underrated player in sports history. HE HIT A HOME RUN TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES WILL YOU PEOPLE WAKE UP HE BELONGS IN THE HALL OF FAME!!!!

  10. Joe CARTER DOES DESERVE TO BE IN THE HOF!! ONE THING EVERYONE is forgetting is the fact this guy played the game the way it should be played!!! He never ever has had his name brought up in any of the steroids cases such as MANY OTHER GREAT players who are IN the HOF. i think the era of steroids and the great players and stats over shadow the hard work and dedication players like carter!! my my .02

  11. @Minton Thanks for commenting, though I’m not sure any confirmed steroid users from the recent era are in the Hall of Fame. That being said, 19th century enshrinee Pud Galvin took an elixir with monkey testosterone, a bunch of guys who used amphetamines are in Cooperstown, and Mickey Mantle was treated by a doctor who liked to give his clients cocktail shots with steroids in them. I heard on the radio that that doctor was the “Dr. Robert” sung of by the Beatles.

  12. CARTER NEEDS TO BE IN THE HOF!!!!!!! DIDNT USE ROIDS LIKE OTHER GREATS IN HIS ERA!!! HOF HOF HOF HOF!!!

  13. I happened to read this comment and gave it some thought as to what, where, how, who and why in a short statement… damnit(How can writers critique Joe Carter a feared hitter who may not have the superstar numbers or the franchise player(in the right country) but have the credentials as a clutch, dangerous and feared hitter. RE: Joe Carter 100% belongs in the Hall of Fame and I am a Phillies Fan. Here’s a man who came out, performed day in and day out, played for the team(s), lead a Non-American win two World Series Championships in a row and showed a team/nation/organisation what it means to win through example. Statistics aren’t the only aspect whether or not they are worthy of the Hall Of Fame, what is their worth to the entire organisation of Baseball.

    One has brutally compared Duane Kuiper to Joe Carter and their point is moot… the quality of output, value and honour they bring to baseball(worldwide). So get off the pot, stop dumping on him, show the class that Canada has showed him and vote him in pronto. Show the rest of the world that writers are not Xenophobic, respectful of his right and deserving his place in the Hall for his lifetime achievements as a man, player, leader of Canada’s only Baseball World Series Champions twice in a row.
    After 1994 strike, I am no longer any fan of any baseball team.

  14. Joe Carter was an RBI machine with 10 seasons of 100 or more, 2 time World Champ!!
    Walk off World Series winning homer on top of all that and one heck of a class act.
    There is nothing a coach likes or needs more than to have his hitter bring the runners home and Carter did this as good as anyone!
    Just for kicks how many players with 10 seasons of 100 runs batted in are not in the Hall of Fame? Anyone?

  15. Joe Carter absolutely does not belong in the HOF. First, he was a terrible defender. Second, he was not a great hitter. As you mentioned Graham, he had a 105 OPS+, which is pretty bad for a corner outfielder/first basemen. If you look at his 11 year “peak”, he averaged 1.9 WAR, or 2.6 WAR per 162 games. He was basically an average player during those years, and a below replacement level player in the other 5 years of his career. The talk about his “clutch” ability is unfounded as well. He ranks 760th since 1974 (1950-1973 incomplete) in positional player win probability added (or how he impacted the probability of his team winning) at 2.03 WPA, near such luminaries as Aaron Boone or Ray Knight. To make the top 100 positional players, he would have to had about 30 WPA, 15x more than what he did (Pedro Guerrero ranks 100 with 29.18 WPA).

  16. Thanks, Mike. A lot of folks have shown up here and left impassioned comments in support of Carter. I doubt any of these people understand what any of the metrics you cited mean.

    What I’d like to see is someone with a good grasp of advanced baseball metrics (read: not RBI) be able to make a Hall of Fame case for Carter based on his numbers. I don’t think it’s possible.

  17. Its the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Statistics. Today the Baseball Writers have refused to elect anyone on their ballot. This is sad. If they want a clean player who contributed a lot to his team winning multiple World Series championships in the Steroid Era, Joe Carter is their guy.

  18. You can take your new sabermetrics and throw them out the window. Stop concentrating on numbers and comparisons. The idiot above comparing Joe to Gorman Thomas and Tony Armas says enough for me.
    Joe Carter played in 96% of his teams games from 85 through 97 while averaging 28 HRS and 103 RBI. I do believe that is what he was being paid to do. And please don’t start about his poor defense. If defense were so important to HOF criteria some guys would be out and some others would definitely be in.
    Lets also not forget his one year in the NL. Joe Carter didn’t miss a beat seeing all new pitchers. He also had some speed in his prime and was a SB threat.
    Oh and he was an integral part of the Blue Jays 92 93 championship teams.
    Who really cares about his OPS and such. He was paid to drive in runs, like most clean up hitters.

  19. Joe had the stats, the championships, but most importantly the love of the game. He always played with a smile and as best as he could be. A clutch hitter throughout his career is his real mark. Forget the BA, talk about the RBIs. Joe is what the Hall Of Fame should be about. And then there was THE MOMENT in time that every kid aspires to have’

  20. He is the ONLY player in MLB HISTORY to get win back to back world series’ with; a) catching the ball to get the player out and win the game and b) A walk off home run to win the world series for a second time. There have only been 2 walk off home runs in MLB history, one in 1993 joe carter, and one in the 1960’s. THAT DEFINITELY DESERVES A MLB HALL OF FAME INDUCTION.

  21. Used to watch the Jays with my dad in the early nineties (wonder why)… Dad always said Joe was a “money man,” the kind of player who did what he was paid to do – perform in the clutch. I remember finding it odd that a player who perennially sported a ~.260 batting average could be so important… but he was. He made the great catch when it counted, he brought the runners home when it mattered, and Toronto loved (loves) him for it. Does that mean he deserves to be in inducted, I don’t know. Would I like him to be, hell yes… does it matter? Will it change what he meant to the Jays and Toronto? Hell no. On paper he may have been “average,” but any Jays fan knows better.

  22. He belongs in the HOF. I’ve probably watched 75 percent of all of his at bats as a member of the Blue Jays and I know he was more clutch than Roberto Alomar. If Alomar is in the Hall of Fame then Joe Carter belongs there too. If the Jays didn’t have Joe Carter they would not have won any world series. He was the team MVP and year and and year out, and if he was out of the lineup the Jays always lost without his RBI’s.

  23. Am surprised he had so few HOF votes. It’s not easy to hit 30HR and drive in 100 runs every year for a decade! And durable too.

  24. Joe Carter certainly deserves some consideration for the Hall of Fame. I too was surprised at the lack of support he received from the writers. He excelled at driving in runs and dominated that category for a decade. I saw him hit 3 Home runs in a game at Fenway once; nothing wrong with that.

  25. I was at the Blue Jays game on July 10 2016, and they had a pre-game ceremony to honor past Blue Jay greats, as part of their 40th anniversary celebration. Amongst the great players that were honored were Hall-of-Famer, Roberto Alomar, and, in my mind, future Hall-of-Famer, Joe Carter

    I think Carter’s one-and-done consideration in 2004 is an injustice to what he has done to merit that consideration.

    An analogy that comes to mind when focussing solely on Joe’s statistics mirrors what I heard Pope John Paull II say about pornography: “The problem… is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.”

    Toronto sports broadcasting personalities, Tim Micallef and Sid Seixeiro repeatedly debate the idea of statistics being the be-all-end-all measure of a professional athlete, also referring to porn, albeit, soft-core porn, by saying that statistics show a lot, but it doesn’t show you everything.

    Maybe according to advanced stats he wasn’t that great. But the statisticians who calculate that may not have actually experienced what Joe was like as a player, a sports personality, and a human being.

    Stats that deserve him getting into the Hall are as simple as his home run, RBI, and hits totals, and his consistency of getting around 30 home runs and around 100 RBIs for many of his 16 seasons. Yes, he benefitted from being put in a great spot in the lineup with some of the best hitters around him, but he needed to perform well enough to put in that place in the line up. But it’s more than just stats.

    I don’t know how he was in Cleveland and San Diego, but his stats suggest he produced well, even if he wasn’t a statistically feared hitter. But when he got traded with Alomar to Toronto from SD, and the Blue Jays had to give up the excellent defender Tony Fernandez and consistent and feared home run/RBI threat Fred McGriff, it was one of the most shocking trades in Toronto’s history. GM Pat Gillick assured the fans and the team that he traded up by bringing Alomar and Carter into the fold, and that these two would be the missing pieces that would bring the Jays back to the postseason and go all the way.

    They quickly became the faces of the franchise and while today Joe is lamented for not being a Gold Glove outfielder, he wasn’t a slouch there either. He had his share of good and great plays, and was good enough to be consistently playing right field, while left fielders kept changing year after year. Also, he was able to come into a World Series game a first baseman with little to no big league experience at the position and do it well enough.

    He came up clutch during the regular season, and it is a pity that those games were in a day and age where you might not even get a chance to watch an entire replay of the game after it’s been played. But in big moments, he came up clutch. Opposing teams and their fans feared Joe, as a result. In the MLB’s official 1993 WS video, upon hearing Joe Carter was coming up in the bottom of the 9th with two men on, a couple from Philadelphia watching Game 6 got really worried when they heard Joe’s name; the woman lamenting that she “got a headache.”

    If he doesn’t get to the Hall, he should at least his number retired by the Jays because he:

    1) Clinched the 1991 AL East Championship but hitting a walk-off single scoring Robbie Alomar.

    2) Hit the first ever World Series home run by a non-American team, and as a result scored the very first World Series run by a non-American team.

    3) Hit the first ever World Series home run in Canada.

    4) Caught the final out in the ’92 series

    5) Caught the final out int he ’93 ALCS

    6) Game 6, ’93. No need to elaborate on this one.

    7) 13 hits in 12 WS games, 17 hits in 17 ALCS games

    Because of that consistency, he became a fan favorite, and not only turned the fans who doubted him into believers, but he grew the game amongst children. Every kid in Toronto wanted to be like Joe or Robbie. He was an eloquent spokesman for the team, who could communicate well on the microphone and did it all with the biggest smile on his face. Everybody, especially the kids, who are now the either the last of Generation X or the first of the Millenials, loved Joe because of this. The way baseball in Canada has grown, and the amount of star-caliber major leaguers from Canada is a direct result of the influence of the champion Blue Jays. Along with Rogers Communications buying the Jays and the SkyDome, Joe and his mates can be considered part of the reasons why the Blue Jays are still in Toronto and have not gone the way of the Expos.

    I found it quite fitting that when Jose Bautista got his big blast in Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS, the initial camera shot on TV showed the ball travelling just under Joe Carter’s name on the Level of Excellence at the SkyDome/Rogers Centre.

    I believe that if the BBWA factors in emotional connection to the fanbase, the growth of the sport, and the continuing involvement with the Blue Jays, his big moments, and the fact that Joe did it all without any PEDs, he should be the next Blue Jays Hall-of-Famer, and will join #12 high in the rafters at the ‘Dome.

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