It is my pleasure, as founder and editor of this site, to present the second-annual list here of the 50 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame.
UPDATE, 1/6/2014: VERSION 4.0 OF THIS PROJECT IS OUT (and here’s Version 3.0)
I debuted the first version of this project in December 2010 and based it around a simple idea. Rather than have rankings be based on some all-powerful stat or my opinion, I sought votes from fellow baseball writers, researchers, and anyone else interested. Sixty-three of us voted in all including yours truly, thousands more read our work, and it was an easy decision to make this an annual thing. Truth be told, I’ve spent much of the year looking forward to this.
The results of the second year of this project follow momentarily. First, a few things. I kept the core foundation of this project the same, with every non-enshrined player who hasn’t played in five years eligible to make the Top 50 here and rankings still determined by total number of votes. There are a few new features for this year’s project. I asked voters to signify whether each of their 50 picks belonged in the Hall of Fame. I also asked for help from my fellow voters in writing some of the player bios and for providing a section near the bottom of our post detailing different methodologies for voting.
Eighty-six people in all voted this year, all but three by the original deadline of December 1, and I’m pleased with how everything came out. Without further adieu, here are the 50 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame:
1. Joe Jackson, 76 votes out of 86 (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 59 yes, 17 no): Shoeless Joe finishing first is the essence of this year’s project. A man may be considered the best baseball player not in the Hall of Fame even if close to a quarter of the people who consider him as such also noted that they don’t want him enshrined. Of course, on sheer talent alone, one can hardly argue with Jackson being a baseball legend. Even his nickname connotes mystique, and he had a swing good enough for a .356 lifetime batting average and to serve as inspiration for a young Babe Ruth. Had Jackson and seven other Chicago White Sox teammates not been banned in the wake of the 1919 World Series, one can only wonder what might have been.
UPDATE, 1/6/2014: VERSION 4.0 OF THIS PROJECT IS OUT (and here’s Version 3.0)
2. Barry Larkin, 75 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 64 yes, 10 no, 1 n/a): Last year, Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar finished first and tied for second, respectively in our project. Both were subsequently voted into Cooperstown by the Baseball Writers Association of America, and next summer, the other second-place finisher last year, Ron Santo, will be enshrined. Will Larkin be the next player to follow the trend here? With a weak ballot this year seemingly absent of any surefire, first-ballot honorees, the former Reds shortstop might be the one player the writers vote in for 2012. One of the voters for this project , former Hall of Fame senior research associate Bill Deane recently told the Cincinnati Enquirer he thinks Larkin will get 79 percent of the vote, which would be enough.
3. Jeff Bagwell, 74 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 62 yes, 11 no, 1 n/a): With scant competition on the writers ballot this year, Bagwell could see a big boost from the 41.7 percent of the vote he debuted with last year. Whether he makes it all the way to the required 75 percent is another story. Ryne Sandberg debuted at 49 percent of the vote in 2003 and was inducted two years later. On the other hand, Steve Garvey started off at 41 percent and never did much better. Helping Bagwell are his 449 home runs and the fact he retired just shy of a .300 batting average to go with a .408 on-base percentage and .540 slugging clip, no common feat. His 79.9 WAR is tops for eligible players not in Cooperstown. It’s worth noting too that Bagwell accomplished much in the offensively-barren Astrodome. Had he not been a slugger during the Steroid Era, he’d have nothing to worry about.
4. Dick Allen, 73 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 46 yes, 26 no, 1 n/a): Some call Allen the best baseball player not in the Hall of Fame. He was definitely the best player not on this year’s Veterans Committee ballot. While it’s nice to see Ron Santo finally get honored, it’s a shame that consideration couldn’t also be given to another hitter whose numbers were affected playing in the pitcher-friendly 1960s. In fact, Allen might be the most underrated hitter of that era, with him closing the 1969 season with a career batting average, to that point, of .300 and an OPS+ of 163. And while injuries slowed him later on and shortened his career, he still retired in 1977 with a .292 clip and OPS+ of 156 to go with 351 home runs. A reputation, perhaps unfounded, as a clubhouse malcontent may have hurt his Cooperstown bid.
5. Tim Raines, 72 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 62 yes, 9 no, 1 n/a): Raines is a favorite son of the baseball research community, underrated in many ways. While his 808 career stolen bases are perhaps common knowledge, given that they rank fifth-best in baseball history, it’s Raines’ success rate that’s equally impressive: nearly 85 percent, with him being caught stealing just 146 times. His 1,571 runs and 64.6 WAR are also among the best for eligible players without a plaque. Three things, perhaps, hurt his candidacy: 1) Being part of baseball’s cocaine scandal in the 1980s; 2) Being relegated to journeyman status in the latter half of his career; 3) His role as stolen base specialist which, like being a relief pitcher, catcher, or first baseman, is no easy way to get to Cooperstown.
6-Tie. Pete Rose, 70 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 54 yes, 16 no): Like Jackson, Rose may have benefited from the addition of the “Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?” feature to the ballot this year. I wanted to make clear to voters that they could tab Rose as one of the best players not in Cooperstown even if they wouldn’t want him anywhere near the museum. I’ll admit that much as my new feature was meant as a quality control against 12-man ballots being emailed in from the small-Hall crowd, I’m glad it may have helped push Jackson up in the rankings from fifth to first and Rose from tenth to sixth. At least for playing ability and stats, all-time hits king Rose can’t be any worse than second out of all the men here.
6-Tie. Ron Santo, 70 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 60 yes, 10 no): Santo doesn’t have much longer in our group. The Hall of Fame announced on December 5 that the Veterans Committee had voted in the Chicago Cubs third baseman, and he’ll be enshrined on July 22, 2012. He was something of a cause célèbre for non-enshrined players, going the full 15 years on the writers ballot and then waiting another decade after exhausting his eligibility with them in 1998. His critics say Santo was a very good player, just not Hall of Fame-caliber, though his WAR of 66.3 is among the best for eligible players. Whatever the case, Santo was an easy choice for the Veterans Committee this year, being named on 15 of 16 ballots among its members. It’s too bad he didn’t live to see induction, dying in December 2010.
6-Tie. Alan Trammell, 70 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 54 yes, 15 no, 1 n/a): With Santo due to be enshrined next summer, I have a hunch that Trammell could be the new version of him for Cooperstown voters. The two men seem to be following similar trajectories. Like Santo, longtime Detroit Tigers shortstop Trammell was a very good, if not legendary player with a .285 lifetime batting average over 20 seasons. Like Santo, Trammell’s been on the BBWAA ballot for several years now, but with a peak of 24.3 percent of the vote after 10 years, he looks like a long shot to be inducted by the writers. Like Santo, the Veterans Committee could be Trammell’s ticket into the Hall of Fame.
9. Edgar Martinez, 69 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 52 yes, 17 no): I invited my voters to help write player bios this year. This one comes from Alex Putterman, a regular contributor to this blog. Alex writes:
The principle argument against Edgar Martinez’s Hall of Fame candidacy is his position and lack thereof; no player has ever been inducted into the Hall with more than half his career games played at DH, where Martinez was stationed in about 68% of his appearances. But the former-Mariner is 40th all-time with a career 147 OPS+, and his WAR of 67.2 puts him among Hall of Fame company. At the end of the day, Edgar’s offensive production makes up for the lack of defensive value and warrants a Cooperstown plaque.
10. Dwight Evans, 65 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 25 yes, 39 no, 1 n/a): Fellow voter Josh Wilker included an entertaining chapter on Evans in his 2010 memoir, Cardboard Gods (this is the chapter where an 18-year-old Josh has a hopeless stint working for Greenpeace.) I asked Josh to contribute something here, and he obliged. Josh writes:
Dwight Evans snuck up on greatness so quietly that many people missed his arrival at that destination. After being overshadowed on the star-studded 1970s Red Sox, Evans bloomed in the 1980s, growing a magnificent Selleckian mustache and junking his upright batting stance for a devout and precarious-looking Lau/Hriniak prostration. The new approach worked wonders for Evans, whose hitting rose to the level of his sublime cannon-armed fielding. In all, he won eight Gold Gloves and authored career hitting numbers equal to those of many already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. When he was in his strange crouch with the game on the line I chanted his nickname, Dewey, and believed.
11. Joe Torre, 62 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 43 yes, 18 no, 1N/A): Torre may illustrate one of the flaws in the new “Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?” feature for this project. As a manager, there’s little doubt Torre will soon have a place in Cooperstown. His 2,326 wins are fifth-best all-time, and his four World Series titles are tied for fourth-best. I didn’t make it clear if voters here should take this into account or say if Torre belongs strictly for what he did as a player. But Torre wouldn’t be the worst choice on that front either, as the catcher and first baseman hit .297 over 18 seasons. In fact, his lifetime OPS+ of 128 is better than that of Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, or Roy Campanella.
12. Lou Whitaker, 61 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 44 yes, 16 no, 1 n/a): When people mention Trammell, they also mention his double play partner with the Detroit Tigers, Sweet Lou, saying they should be enshrined together and their plaques hung adjacent. Whitaker at least deserved more consideration than he got from the BBWAA. Despite hitting .276 over 19 seasons with 244 home runs, fine power for a second baseman, Whitaker was a one-and-done candidate for the Hall of Fame, an afterthought with just 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001.
13. Ted Simmons, 60 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 34 yes, 25 no, 1 n/a): Simmons’ bio comes from fellow voter Bill Deane, former senior research associate at Cooperstown. Bill writes:
Ted Simmons retired as the all-time leader in hits and doubles among catchers, and ranked second in RBI behind only Yogi Berra. Only Ivan Rodriguez has surpassed him in those categories since. Yet, Simmons was dropped from the BBWAA HOF ballot after one try, then waited 16 years to be snubbed by the Veterans Committee.
Simba was unjustly regarded as a poor defensive catcher, played mostly in media-Siberias, and was overshadowed by two contemporary HOF catchers, but consider their average HR-RBI-AVG stats from 1971-80: Johnny Bench (27-93-.263), Carlton Fisk (16-57-.285), Simmons (17-90-.301).
Simmons was one of the ten best catchers in baseball history. He deserves serious consideration for Cooperstown.
14-Tie. Will Clark, 59 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 15 yes, 43 no, 1 n/a): Were it up to me or fellow voter Jena Yamada, Will the Thrill would have his place in Cooperstown. Were it not for injuries and a career he chose to end early, perhaps other people might feel similarly about our all-time favorite player. In his prime in the late 1980s and early ’90s, the San Francisco Giants first baseman was one of the best players in the National League, finishing in the top five in MVP voting three times in four years. His career was just 15 seasons altogether, though his 57.6 WAR approaches an All Star average lifetime, and his .303 career batting average, 137 OPS+ and 284 home runs aren’t bad, either.
14-Tie. Mark McGwire, 59 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 38 yes, 21 no): I asked fellow voter John Perricone to contribute something on Big Mac, and John sent me a reworked, condensed version of something he’s blogged before. I don’t know if I agree, but John makes an interesting case worth sharing here, and I’ve heard others in the baseball research community echo similar sentiments. John writes:
Virtually every athlete strives to be the best. Some athletes will push the envelope only so far, while others would risk their lives if it made the difference between winning and losing. This is not only asked of athletes, it’s demanded. Coaches demand it, teammates demand it, fans demand it. Be the best, win at all costs, do whatever it takes.
In the five years prior to 1997, McGwire played 139, 27, 47, 104, and 130 games. Did steroids allow him to play 156, 155 and 153 over the next three years, hitting 58, 70, and 65 home runs? During those five injury-riddled seasons, he hit a home run every 9.44 AB’s. In the next three, he hit a home run every 8.17 at bats, not a tremendous difference. If steroids helped him stay healthy enough to break Roger Maris’ record, how was that wrong? Why shouldn’t McGwire do whatever he can to help his body heal itself and stay strong enough to endure the rigors of baseball, his chosen profession? If there are risks involved, why shouldn’t he be the one to decide if they are worth it?
I think Mark McGwire deserves somebody somewhere to stand up and say enough. He doesn’t deserve what he’s been put through. He deserves someone to say what he cannot.
16. Keith Hernandez, 58 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 27 yes, 31 no): Fellow voter Zubin Sumariwalla agreed to contribute Hernandez’s bio. Zubin writes:
With 11 Gold Glove awards, a record for first basemen, Keith Hernandez is among the best fielding first basemen ever. He had great range, good hands, and a strong accurate throwing arm. Baseball-Reference ranks his 13.2 defensive Wins Above Replacement (WAR) 36th all time and the highest total among first basemen. While widely remembered for his defense, Hernandez was also a potent offensive player with two Silver Slugger awards and an MVP award which he shared with Willie Stargell in 1979.
While his on-field talents aren’t disputed, Hernandez’s reputation as a clubhouse leader and teammate is mixed. Because of his cocaine abuse, Cardinal’s manager Whitey Herzog labeled Hernandez a “clubhouse cancer” and traded him to Mets in 1983. However, in New York Hernandez recovered from his drug abuse and emerged as a leader and eventually captain in 1987. Injuries ended his career a few years later.
17. Larry Walker, 56 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 38 yes, 18 no): When Albert Lang submitted his ballot for this project, he included blurbs on some of the players he voted for. I liked what he had to say on one of his past blog subjects, Walker, and Albert agreed to let me use it. Albert writes:
Larry Walker is one of the greatest left-handed hitters in the history of baseball. Walker is tied for the 38th best average by a left-handed batter in history at .313. He has the 46th-highest OBP in MLB history and the 15th-best slugging percentage all-time at .565 slugging percentage, which combines to give him the 17th-best OPS at .965. That number is higher than Alex Rodriguez, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, and on and on. Sure it was helpful to Walker to have played his home games at Coors Field during his relative prime, but kudos to him for taking full advantage.
18. Bobby Grich, 55 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 35 yes, 19 no, 1 n/a): Fellow voter Andrew Martin of The Baseball Historian included a plug for Grich with his ballot. I liked it enough that I asked Andrew if I could share it here, and he obliged. He writes:
Playing in an era when a good second baseman might hit .250 with 10 home runs, Grich was both an excellent hitter and a superb player. For those into advanced stats, Grich compiled a career WAR of 67.6, which places in the top 75 of all time among position players. Since retiring he has been criminally overlooked, but was as complete a player as you’ll find.
19-Tie. Rafael Palmeiro, 54 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 32 yes, 22 no): Fellow voter Jonathan Mitchell of MLB Dirt agreed to contribute Palmeiro’s bio. Jonathan writes:
Rafael Palmeiro is one of only four player with at least 3000 hits and 500 homeruns, and while his Black Ink is below HOF means his Gray Ink, HOF Monitor, and HOF Standards are all well above HOF means. He ranks in the top 25 all-time in hits (25th), homeruns (12th), doubles (16th), Runs Created (18th), and extra-base hits (6th). The 73.4 fWAR looks good, too. The cloud of a career-ending, positive steroid test follows his every move but I find it hard to ignore his accomplishments when there is no proof of drugs aiding his performance. I believe he belongs.
19-Tie. Luis Tiant, 54 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 24 yes, 29 no, 1 n/a): With last year’s top finisher now enshrined, Tiant is the top-ranked pitcher this year. Is he the new Bert Blyleven? Some researchers I know would sooner bestow that honor on Rick Reuschel since his 66.3 lifetime WAR is now best for non-enshrined pitchers. Tiant was a fine pitcher regardless, going 229-172 with four 20-win seasons, the best arm the Red Sox had in the mid-1970s.
21. Minnie Minoso, 48 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 29 yes, 18 no, 1 n/a): Fellow voter Adam Darowski of Beyond the Box Score contributed the bio for Minoso, writing:
I read a lot about Minnie Minoso’s age when discussing his Hall of Fame case. Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter. Minoso could do it all. He had some power. He had some speed. He won three Gold Gloves. It is his OBP that sets him apart, though. Only ten elgible non-Hall of Famers have an OBP better than his .389. Four of them (McGwire, Bagwell, Martinez, Walker) happen to be deserving candidates on the ballot right now. Without considering Minoso’s age and his time lost to the Negro Leagues, he is a borderline Hall of Famer. Factor in the time he missed and his role in integrating the Major Leagues, and he belongs.
22-Tie. Bobby Bonds, 47 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 9 yes, 37 no, 1 n/a): Bonds made a dramatic rise in our rankings after missing the top 50 last year, benefits of a largely-new crop of voters, I suppose. I’m curious to see what happens next year when Bonds’ son joins him on the ballot. Even if Barry isn’t enshrined next year, the name Bonds should at least be before Hall of Fame voters for a long time to come, and I wonder if this will help the Veterans Committee case for Bobby. While alcohol abuse and injuries curtailed his career, the elder Bonds was a perennial threat for 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in his prime and retired with 332 homers and 461 steals lifetime.
22-Tie. Don Mattingly, 47 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 13 yes, 34 no): There’s a common theme for several of the first basemen in the top 50 this year. Like Will Clark, Mark McGwire, or Gil Hodges, Mattingly struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. Early on, though, he was one of the best in baseball, winning American League Most Valuable player in 1985 when he had 35 home runs and 145 RBI and posting a .323 career batting average through age 28. Mattingly had just two seasons with at least 150 games after 1989, however and retired at 34, finishing with a .307 lifetime batting average and nine Gold Gloves.
22-Tie. Fred McGriff, 47 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 15 yes, 31 no, 1 n/a): Quietly, McGriff may have been one of the most consistent power hitters in baseball history, contributing at least 80 RBI in 15 of his 19 seasons. He never hit 40 home runs in a season, though he led his league twice in the early part of his career and was good enough, long enough to finish with 493 homers lifetime. For the course his career took and his affable, unassuming attitude, McGriff perhaps rates as a poor man’s Hank Aaron.
25. Gil Hodges, 46 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 26 yes, 20 no): Another famously overlooked candidate, Hodges didn’t fare as well as Ron Santo with the Veterans Committee this year, with the iconic Brooklyn Dodger getting nine votes, three less than what he needed for enshrinement. For the time being at least, Hodges simply has a legacy as one of the best defensive first basemen in baseball history as well as a great early power hitter, his 370 career home runs fourth-best when he retired in 1963. He also managed the New York Mets to their first World Series championship in 1969 and still had a playoff-caliber club when he died suddenly of a heart attack less than three years later.
26. Tommy John, 45 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 21 yes, 24 no): Fellow voter Jonathan Wagner contributed the bio on John, writing:
Thomas Edward John was a crafty sinker baller. In 1974, in the midst of a banner year (13-3, 2.59 ERA) John permanently damaged the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. He underwent an experimental operation, designed by Dr. Frank Jobe, that replaced the ligament in the elbow of his pitching arm with a tendon from his right forearm. John came back in ’76 with a revamped delivery (courtesy of teammate Mike Marshall) and pitched for thirteen more seasons, winning 164 more games.
Overall, John was a three-time 20 game winner, two-time Cy Young runner-up, and pitched for three pennant winners in Los Angeles and New York. His 288 wins is the most by any eligible live-ball pitcher not in the Hall of Fame, and his 59 WAR is fourth, behind Rick Reuschel, Kevin Brown and Luis Tiant. The experimental ligament replacement surgery has now become common, and is simply known as ‘Tommy John surgery.’
27-Tie. Ken Boyer, 44 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 16 yes, 28 no): Fellow voter Adam Darowski of Beyond the Box Score also agreed to contribute something about Boyer. Adam writes:
With Ron Santo getting in the Hall of Fame, Ken Boyer suddenly is in the conversation for best third baseman not in the Hall of Fame. Boyer played in an offensively depressed era, so his .287/.349/.462 slash line (2143 hits and 282 home runs) doesn’t look at that impressive. But once that is park and era adjusted, he was worth 148 batting runs, good for 26th all time among third basemen. How many of the 25 players in front of him could match Boyer’s 74 fielding runs above average? Just three (Scott Rolen, Mike Schmidt, and Wade Boggs.)
27-Tie. Jim Kaat, 44 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 19 yes, 24 no, 1 n/a): As fellow voter Jonathan Wagner also wrote about John, it seemed only fair to recruit him to write about Kaat. Like John, Kaat was an ageless wonder with just less than 300 wins. Jonathan writes:
Jim Kaat started playing major league ball when Ike was in the White House, and continued until we all knew how to do The Safety Dance. He was a crafty control artist known for his shocking consistency, winning double digits in games for fifteen consecutive years. He was also known for being quick to the plate saying, “Because if the game goes over two hours, my fastball turns into a pumpkin.”
Altogether he won 283 games, winning 20 games three times, and garnered a record sixteen Gold Gloves at pitcher. He won a pennant with the Minnesota Twins in 1965 and a ring pitching in relief for the ’82 Cardinals. After briefly serving as pitching coach for Pete Rose in Cincy, he began a 22 year broadcasting career with the Yankees and the Twins, winning seven Emmys for excellence in sports broadcasting. Kaat placed second in this year’s Veteran’s Committee election, finishing two votes shy of induction.
27-Tie. Dale Murphy, 44 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 19 yes, 25 no): Through much of my childhood, I lived on a quiet street in Sacramento, and my Dad and I used to have these epic wiffle ball games in our front driveway. My Dad had this whole slew of players he impersonated, and one that sticks out in my memory almost 20 years later is his power hitter, Mail Murphy. That to me is the essence of the former Atlanta centerfielder’s charm. Sure, he has 398 lifetime home runs, back-to-back NL MVP awards from the early ’80s, and was respected enough with his defense to win five consecutive Gold Gloves. More than that, though, he was the kind of genial, All American player who could inspire fans. I doubt my Dad and I were the only ones.
UPDATE, 1/6/2014: VERSION 4.0 OF THIS PROJECT IS OUT (and here’s Version 3.0)
30. Tony Oliva, 42 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 20 yes, 21 no, 1 n/a): Oliva might have been the American League’s answer to Roberto Clemente during the 1960s, a superb bat in an era where there weren’t many. Or perhaps Oliva was another Dick Allen, a fellow bright, young player who got off to a quick start before injuries limited his playing time and ultimately ended his career prematurely. Whatever the case, Oliva hit .304 lifetime, winning three American League batting titles and leading the circuit in hits five times in seven years.
31. Albert Belle, 38 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 12 yes, 25 no, 1 n/a): Belle’s case for Cooperstown may have suffered with the BBWAA due to his famously hostile attitude, relative short career, and the fact that he played during the Steroid Era. But his robust offensive numbers hint that he may have been unfairly overlooked from his .933 OPS to his 143 OPS+ to his 162-game averages of 40 home runs and 130 RBI. Had he not retired at 33 or compiled more than 381 home runs lifetime, he’d surely have stayed on the Hall of Fame ballot longer than two years.
32-Tie. David Cone, 37 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 9 yes, 28 no): Cone played just 13 full seasons in the majors, though in his limited capacity he may have been among the best pitchers of his generation. Going 194-126 lifetime with a 3.46 ERA and 2,668 strikeouts, more than Bob Feller, Lefty Grove, or Juan Marichal, Cone was a steady, dominating force in his prime. He won 20 games twice and was on his way to doing so in 1994 as well when the strike ended his year at 16-5 with a 2.94 ERA. It wasn’t all for naught, however, as Cone earned that year’s American League Cy Young Award.
32-Tie. Bill Dahlen, 37 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 31 yes, 6 no): Fellow voter and Hall of Fame researcher Ev Cope was asked to prepare a list of pre-World War II candidates for the Veterans Committee to consider ahead of its 2009 election. Cope included Dahlen among his nominees, and though the committee essentially ignored them in favor of Joe Gordon (who might not have made our top 50 were he still a candidate), I know Cope isn’t Dahlen’s only supporter. I asked Cope to contribute something on the Deadball Era great, and he obliged. Cope writes for us:
How ironic it would have been had the Veterans Committee announced last Monday that it was honoring Bill Dahlen along with Ron Santo. Dahlen died exactly 61 years before on December 5, 1950. However, he continues to suffer the fate of several of his contemporaries seemingly forgotten by Cooperstown despite careers that compare favorably with various honorees. How unfair it is to the memory of those players, and to their surviving relatives, that their Hall of Fame bids are overlooked for want of research diligence.
Such effort (and it is easy today with the tools available) will show Dahlen’s worthiness. Ninety-eight years after his retirement, he still ranks in the top 100 all-time in: games, plate appearances, at-bats, runs, hits, singles, triples, times on-base, hit-by-pitch, walks and stolen bases. His work at shortstop places him 11th all-time in games at that position, second in putouts and fourth in assists. The new Range Factor statistic ranks Dahlen sixth all-time among shortstops.
I strongly advocate comparing players with their peers. In doing so, we are comparing performances that are accomplished under the same rules, equipment, field conditions, sports medicine (or lack thereof), and economic factors. It would seem that if we could return to 1911, when Dahlen finished his playing career, and bring our knowledge that a Hall of Fame was less than 30 years from launching, surely he wouldn’t again be forgotten.
32-Tie. Darrell Evans, 37 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 15 yes, 21 no, 1 n/a): When Rob Neyer linked to last year’s post on ESPN.com, he remarked, “I would move Bobby Grich up, and Darrell Evans way up.” I admit I still haven’t gotten on the bandwagon, Evans’ .248 career batting average and Keebler Elf visage nothing to call a special election for in my book, though I also know Neyer isn’t alone in his praise. Evans’ boosters like Bill James point out things like his lifetime WAR of 57.3 or his late career peak. It may or may not be enough for Cooperstown at some point, but Evans at least seems underrated. In fact, James called him the most underrated player of all-time.
35. Kevin Brown, 36 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 18 yes, 18 no): For the bio on one of the best pitchers of the late 1990s, I’ll share another blurb from Albert Lang’s ballot. Albert writes:
For his career, Brown amassed roughly 65 wins above your average replacement player. That is more than Jim Palmer, Juan Marichal, Jim Bunning, Dennis Eckersley, Mordecai Brown, Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax, Red Ruffing, Bob Lemon, Hoyt Wilhelm, Dizzy Dean, and a ton of other players who aren’t Hall of Famers like those gentlemen mentioned above. Compare Brown to Don Drysdale. Drysdale pitched just 200 more innings than Brown and struck out just 89 more batters. I think Drysdale was a better pitcher than Kevin Brown. I don’t think he was a much better pitcher– certainly not enough that Drysdale is a surefire HOFer and Brown was one and done.
36. Dave Parker, 35 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 11 yes, 23 no, 1 n/a): Parker may fall into the Albert Belle and Dick Allen category of having possible Hall of Fame talent but a polarizing reputation. Like others here, he got caught up in baseball’s cocaine scandal of the 1980s, though at his peak, he was well-thought of enough as a player to be named one of the 100 best all-time by writers Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig. Despite a pronounced decline over the second half of his career, Parker still finished with comparable offensive numbers to Hall of Famers from his era like Jim Rice and Andre Dawson.
37-Tie. Thurman Munson, 33 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 10 yes, 23 no): Had it not been for his death in a plane crash at 32 in August 1979, perhaps Munson would have done enough for Cooperstown. Or maybe playing in a decade without so many other iconic catchers would have helped his cause. At his best, though, Munson was the heart and captain of the Bronx Zoo Yankees, winning the 1976 MVP award and hitting .292 for his career.
37-Tie. Jim Wynn, 33 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 15 yes, 17 no, 1 n/a): It’s an esoteric feat, but Wynn might rank as the best player of all-time to appear on the writers ballot for Cooperstown and get zero votes. In 15 seasons, he was good for 291 home runs, hitting at least 30 home runs three times and nearly winning the 1967 crown for it. One can only wonder what might have been for Wynn’s offensive numbers had he played his best years sometime other than the 1960s or somewhere besides the Astrodome. That place wrecked more Hall of Fame careers than all the gambling scandals combined.
37-Tie. Bernie Williams,* 33 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 11 yes, 22 no): Out a weak crop of new additions to the writers ballot for the Hall of Fame, Williams might be the best of the bunch. The longtime Yankee centerfielder did a lot of things well with a .297 lifetime batting average, 287 home runs, and 147 stolen bases, among other things. He was also well-regarded winning five Gold Gloves despite the fact that contemporary research shows his lifetime defensive WAR was -12.0. This could all be helpful for eventually getting him into Cooperstown.
40. Graig Nettles, 32 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 13 yes, 18 no, 1 n/a): Like Darrell Evans, Nettles was a solid, longtime third baseman from the 1970s and ’80s who hit for power but not not much average. Like Evans and others on this list, Nettles doesn’t appear to have the traditional stats that would support him getting into Cooperstown, though he’s well-regarded by baseball researchers and other fans.
41-Tie. Ron Guidry, 30 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 9 yes, 21 no): Count me as one of the nine people who would enshrine Guidry if possible. While he only played 14 seasons, all for the Yankees, Guidry made the most of those years, posting 162-game averages of a 17-9 record, 3.29 ERA and 175 strikeouts. His 1978 season where he went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA and helped New York to the World Series ranks among the best seasons by a pitcher in recent decades and he also topped 20 wins in 1985. Overall, Guidry was 170-91 with a 3.29 ERA.
41-Tie. Steve Garvey, 30 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 12 yes, 18 no): There’s essentially a subgroup here of players who looked like Hall of Famers the first half of their careers before falling off, in some cases more dramatically than others. Garvey may be the prime example of this. Through the 1980 season, Garvey had a .304 lifetime batting average with 185 home runs and an OPS+ of 125. But he hit just 87 home runs his remaining seven seasons and his batting average dropped to .294, his OPS+ to 116. Even his defense declined, with Garvey going from being a Gold Glove first baseman in the early part of his career to an afterthought in the voting for that award.
43-Tie. Orel Hershiser, 29 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 6 yes, 23 no): When people tout Jack Morris’s candidacy, a central point often revolves around his heroics in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. It’s interesting similar cases aren’t made for Guidry or Hershiser, who were both superb in the postseason as well. Hershiser may have had as much to do as Kirk Gibson with the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the 1988 World Series, going 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA between that and the National League Championship Series. It was part of a storybook season, the best of his career, where Hershiser went 23-8 with a 2.26 ERA, eight shutouts, and a unanimous Cy Young Award. While injuries later got the best of him, Hershiser lasted another 12 seasons, finishing 204-150 with a 3.48 ERA.
43-Tie. Reggie Smith 29 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 7 yes, 22 no): Smith is a new addition to the Top 50 this year though his stats have long painted him as an under-appreciated player. A 17-year vet who made All Star teams with the Red Sox, Cardinals, and Dodgers, Smith racked up 63.4 WAR to go with an OPS+ of 137, 314 home runs, and a .287 lifetime batting average. Like many of the other modern players on this list, he’s a long shot to make the Hall of Fame, but in the Hall of Very Good, he’s pretty much a charter member.
45-Tie. Harold Baines, 28 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 5 yes, 26 no): Guys like Baines illustrated an interesting point for this year’s project, earning far more votes by and large than many of the 19th century greats on the ballot, but with a much lower percentage of their voters saying they belonged in the Hall of Fame. Certainly, I doubt too many people will cry foul about this over Baines, a very good designated hitter for much of his career but no immortal. His 2,886 hits, 384 home runs, and .289 batting average are all respectful but they don’t demand a plaque.
45-Tie. Bob Caruthers, 28 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 23 yes, 5 no): Caruthers joins Bill Dahlen this year as the only other 19th century player in the top 50. For his bio, I’m pleased to present another blurb from Albert Lang’s ballot. Albert writes:
If you don’t know Parisian Bob, you don’t know jack! Before there was Deion Sanders or Brian Jordan, there was Caruthers, a star pitcher and right fielder for the St. Louis Browns and Brooklyn Bridegrooms from 1884-1892. While he only played in nine seasons, he ended up with the 160th most innings in MLB history. Twice winning 40 games in a season, Parisian Bob finished with a 218-99 record. His 123 ERA+, 1.15 WHIP and 2.83 ERA all sparkle. He was by no means a one-trick pony. Caruthers had 2,906 plate appearances and a .282/.391/.400 line. In 1886, he won 30 games and led the league in OBP, OPS and OPS+.
45-Tie. Dave Concepcion, 28 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 8 yes, 19 no, 1 n/a): Once again, Concepcion slipped into the top 50, and I’ll admit I was bummed last year when he and David Cone knocked out Billy Pierce and Pete Browning in a tiebreaker. Sure, Concepcion controlled shortstop for the Big Red Machine, won five Gold Gloves, and made eight straight All Star teams. It’s just hard to get excited about a man with a .267 batting average, lifetime OPS+ of 88, or 33.6 WAR. There’s another side of this, though, one that could help Concepcion’s case for Cooperstown. Proponents of Pee Wee Reese and Phil Rizzuto, two honorees by the Veterans Committee in recent decades, say they were the glue for dynasties in Brooklyn and New York, respectively, leaders of their teams. With 19 seasons in Cincinnati, perhaps Concepcion was that for the Reds.
45-Tie. Wes Ferrell, 28 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 15 yes, 13 no): Ferrell might be among the most underrated players in baseball history. Since his brother Rick was controversially elected by the Veterans Committee in 1987, the critical refrain has been that Rick wasn’t even the best player in his family. And my voters and I forgot Wes Ferrell too last year, neglecting to put him in the top 50. I’m pleased to see him making an appearance this year, and while I don’t actively campaign for players, I wrote in November about how Ferrell was a dual threat, winning 193 games lifetime and hitting 37 home runs as a pitcher, the most in baseball history.
45-Tie. Roger Maris, 28 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 11 yes, 17 no): It’s been 50 years now since Roger Maris hit 61 home runs, and there are those who still consider him the single-season champion. This and his back-to-back MVPs for his 1960 and star-crossed 1961 seasons are the main things he has going for his Hall of Fame candidacy. Given that the museum rarely enshrines players on the strength of short-lived brilliance from Smoky Joe Wood to Lefty O’Doul to Denny McLain and many others, Maris’s chances don’t look great, though he’ll surely live on in the hearts of fans regardless if he ever has a plaque.
45-Tie. John Olerud, 28 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 5 yes, 23 no): Olerud might be Keith Hernandez minus the mustache and the cocaine and with a batting helmet that he wore in the field. Both men were slick fielders and good contact hitters in their prime, and Olerud even got the attention of Ted Williams. “Olerud hits more straightaway than I ever did,” Williams wrote in his 1995 book with Jim Prime, Ted Williams’ Hit List. “He gets the bat on the ball very well. He has a great attitude and always waits for a good ball to hit. But he may lack one key ingredient to make a legitimate run at .400: speed.” Williams was right.
UPDATE, 1/6/2014: VERSION 4.0 OF THIS PROJECT IS OUT (and here’s Version 3.0)
New to the Top 50 this year: Bobby Bonds, Bob Caruthers, Wes Ferrell, John Olerud, Reggie Smith, Bernie Williams.
Players who were in the Top 50 last year, but aren’t this year: Bert Blyleven (No. 1 in our 2010 project, now in the HOF); Roberto Alomar (tied for No. 2 with Ron Santo in 2010, now in the HOF); Jack Morris (tied for No. 36 in 2010); Dan Quisenberry (tied for No. 38 in 2010); Buck O’Neil (tied for No. 44 in 2010); Bill Freehan (No. 48 in 2010.)
Players who received at least 20 votes this year, in alphabetical order with “Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?” totals in parentheses: Sal Bando, 20 (DHB: 8Y, 11N, 1N/A); Eddie Cicotte, 23 (DHB: 7Y, 16N); Rocky Colavito, 21 (DHB: 1Y, 20N); Dom DiMaggio, 20 (DHB: 5Y, 15N); Curt Flood, 25 (DHB: 13Y, 12N); Bill Freehan, 22 (DHB: 9Y, 11N, 2N/A); Jack Glasscock, 25 (DHB: 14Y, 11N); Dwight Gooden, 22 (DHB: 2Y, 19N, 1N/A); Stan Hack, 20 (DHB: 9Y, 10N, 1N/A); Fred Lynn, 22 (DHB: 2Y, 19N, 1N/A); Sherry Magee, 25 (DHB: 15Y, 10N); Jack Morris, 26 (DHB: 13Y, 13N); Tony Mullane, 22 (DHB: 15Y, 7N); Buck O’Neil, 22 (DHB: 19Y, 2N, 1N/A); Billy Pierce, 21 (DHB: 5Y, 15N, 1N/A); Dan Quisenberry, 24 (DHB: 7Y, 16N, 1N/A); Willie Randolph, 26 (DHB: 10Y, 15N, 1N/A); Rick Reuschel, 26 (DHB: 7Y, 19N); Bret Saberhagen, 24 (DHB: 5Y, 18N, 1N/A); Lee Smith, 27 (DHB: 16Y, 11N); Deacon White, 20 (DHB: 17Y, 3N); Smoky Joe Wood, 20 (DHB: 10Y, 10N)
Players who received 10-19 votes: Ross Barnes, 13 (DHB: 11Y, 2N); John Beckwith, 13 (DHB: 10Y, 3N); Buddy Bell, 15 (DHB: 5Y, 10N), Vida Blue, 15 (DHB: 3Y, 12N); Pete Browning, 16 (DHB: 12Y, 4N); Bill Buckner, 10 (DHB: 1Y, 9N); Jose Canseco, 12 (DHB: 1Y, 11N); Joe Carter, 18 (DHB: 6Y, 12N); Norm Cash, 15 (DHB: 3Y, 11N, 1N/A); Ron Cey, 13 (DHB: 1Y, 11N, 1N/A); Jack Clark, 15 (DHB: 5Y, 10N); Eric Davis,* 12 (DHB: 0Y, 12N); John Franco, 10 (DHB: 3Y, 7N); Andres Galarraga, 15 (DHB: 2Y, 13N); Kirk Gibson, 10 (DHB: 2Y, 8N); Juan Gonzalez, 17 (DHB: 0Y, 17N); George Gore, 10 (DHB: 6Y, 4N); Mark Grace, 13 (DHB: 0Y, 13N); Babe Herman, 13 (DHB: 3Y, 10N); Frank Howard, 16 (DHB: 1Y, 14N, 1N/A); Elston Howard, 12 (DHB: 4Y, 8N); Indian Bob Johnson,* 15 (DHB: 6Y, 9N); Charlie Keller, 10 (DHB: 4Y, 6N); Ted Kluszewski, 12 (DHB: 0Y, 12N); Jerry Koosman, 11 (DHB: 5Y, 6N); Mickey Lolich, 16 (DHB: 1Y, 15N); Sparky Lyle, 14 (DHB: 3Y, 11N); Bill Madlock, 15 (DHB: 2Y, 13N); Carl Mays, 17 (DHB: 9Y, 8N); Jim McCormick, 13 (DHB: 8Y, 5N); Don Newcombe, 15 (DHB: 4Y, 11N); Lefty O’Doul, 17 (DHB: 6Y, 11N); Al Oliver, 18 (DHB: 6Y, 12N); Vada Pinson, 17 (DHB: 3Y, 14N); Allie Reynolds, 15 (DHB: 5Y, 10N); Al Rosen, 11 (DHB: 2Y, 8N, 1N/A); Urban Shocker, 11 (DHB: 2Y, 9N); Rusty Staub, 13 (DHB: 2Y, 11N); Vern Stephens, 13 (DHB: 4Y, 8N, 1N/A); Dave Stieb, 19 (DHB: 7Y, 12N); Harry Stovey, 15 (DHB: 11Y, 4N); Darryl Strawberry, 16 (DHB: 1Y, 15N); Fernando Valenzuela, 13 (DHB: 4Y, 9N); George Van Haltren, 10 (DHB: 8Y, 2N); Robin Ventura, 16 (DHB: 4Y, 12N); Maury Wills, 17 (DHB: 6Y, 11N);
Players who received 5-9 votes: Babe Adams, 9 (DHB: 3Y, 6N); Kevin Appier, 5 (DHB: 0Y, 5N); Dusty Baker, 5 (DHB: 1Y, 4N); Don Baylor, 7 (DHB: 0Y, 7N); Charlie Bennett, 6 (DHB: 6Y, 0N); Wally Berger, 6 (DHB: 1Y, 4N, 1N/A); Bob Boone, 6 (DHB: 1Y, 4N, 1NA); Larry Bowa, 5 (DHB: 0Y, 5N); Charlie Buffington, 7 (DHB: 3Y, 4N); Brett Butler, 6 (DHB: 0Y, 6N); Cesar Cedeno, 9 (DHB: 1Y, 7N, 1N/A); Cupid Childs, 6 (DHB: 4Y, 2N); Vince Coleman, 6 (DHB: 0Y, 6N); Gavvy Cravath, 7 (DHB: 4Y, 3N); Willie Davis,* 9 (DHB: 3Y, 6N); Mike Donlin, 5 (DHB: 0Y, 5N); Larry Doyle,* 5 (DHB: 1Y, 3N, 1N/A); Cecil Fielder, 7 (DHB: 2Y, 5N); George Foster, 9 (DHB: 0Y, 9N); Carl Furillo, 8 (DHB: 0Y, 8N); Ken Griffey Sr., 8 (DHB: 0Y, 8N); Dick Groat,* 6 (DHB: 0Y, 6N); Heinie Groh, 7 (DHB: 3Y, 4N); Pedro Guerrero, 7 (DHB: 1Y, 6N); Ozzie Guillen, 5 (DHB: 2Y, 3N); Mel Harder, 7 (DHB: 1Y, 6N); Tommy Henrich, 5 (DHB: 0Y, 5N); Paul Hines, 7 (DHB: 5Y, 2N); Dummy Hoy, 5 (DHB: 4Y, 1N); Bo Jackson, 5 (DHB: 2Y, 3N); Home Run Johnson, 8 (DHB: 8Y, 0N); David Justice, 7 (DHB: 0Y, 7N); Dave Kingman, 6 (DHB: 1Y, 5N); Harvey Kuenn, 6 (DHB: 1Y, 5N); Sam Leever, 6 (DHB: 1Y, 5N); Dick Lundy, 6 (DHB: 6Y, 0N); Pepper Martin, 6 (DHB: 4Y, 2N); Dennis Martinez, 8 (DHB: 1Y, 7N); Tino Martinez, 5 (DHB: 0Y, 5N); Willie McGee, 7 (DHB: 3Y, 4N); Tug McGraw, 7 (DHB: 1Y, 6N); Denny McLain, 6 (DHB: 0Y, 6N); Cal McVey, 5 (DHB: 4Y, 1N); Kevin Mitchell,* 5 (DHB: 0Y, 5N); Bobby Murcer, 8 (DHB: 0Y, 8N); Alejandro Oms, 6 (DHB: 5Y, 1N); Deacon Phillippe, 6 (DHB: 1Y, 5N); Spottswood Poles, 5 (DHB: 3Y, 2N); Boog Powell, 8 (DHB: 0Y, 8N); Ted Radcliffe,* 7 (DHB: 5Y, 2N); Jeff Reardon, 5 (DHB: 1Y, 4N); Jimmy Ryan, 7 (DHB: 4Y, 3N); Wally Schang,* 5 (DHB: 3Y, 2N); Jimmy Sheckard, 5 (DHB: 1Y, 4N); Ken Singleton, 8 (DHB: 1Y, 6N, 1N/A); Joe Start, 6 (DHB: 4Y, 2N); Ezra Sutton, 8 (DHB: 6Y, 2N); Frank Tanana, 9 (DHB: 2Y, 7N); Gene Tenace,** 5 (DHB: 3Y, 2N); Frank White, 9 (DHB: 1Y, 8N); Matt Williams, 9 (DHB: 0Y, 9N); Wilbur Wood, 7 (DHB: 1Y, 6N)
Everyone else who received at least one vote: Joe Adcock, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Edgardo Alfonzo,* 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Matty Alou, 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N); Buzz Arlett,* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Dick Bartell, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Hank Bauer, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Mark Belanger, 2 0Y, 2N); William Bell Sr., ** 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Joe Black, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Tommy Bond, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Bret Boone, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Lyman Bostock,** 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Tommy Bridges,** 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Lew Burdette, 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N); Ellis Burks, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); George J Burns, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Jeff Burroughs, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Dolph Camilli, 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N); Vinny Castilla,* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Phil Cavarretta, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Ben Chapman, 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N); Hal Chase, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Harlond Clift, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N. Editor’s note: Clift appeared on the ballot as “Harold Clift”); Cecil Cooper, 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N); Wilbur Cooper, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Walker Cooper, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Jim Creighton, 4 (DHB: 3Y, 1N); Lave Cross, 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N); Jose Cruz Sr., 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N); Mike Cuellar, 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N); Al Dark, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Jake Daubert, 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N); Bingo DeMoss,** 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); John Donaldson, 4 (DHB: 3Y, 1N); Patsy Donovan, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Brian Downing, 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Luke Easter,* 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N); Bob Elliott, 4 (DHB: 3Y, 1N. Editor’s note: Elliott appeared on the ballot as “Bob Elliot”); Del Ennis, 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N); Carl Everett,* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Ferris Fain,* 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Chuck Finley, 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N); Freddie Fitzsimmons, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Jack Fournier,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Dave Foutz,** 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Bud Fowler,* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Ned Garver,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Mike Griffin,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Charlie Grimm, 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Marquis Grissom, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Guy Hecker, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Ken Henderson,** 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Tom Henke, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); John Hiller,** 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Tommy Holmes,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Ken Holtzman, 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Willie Horton,* 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Larry Jackson, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Charley Jones, 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N); Sad Sam Jones, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Brian Jordan,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Wally Joyner, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Terry Kennedy,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Jimmy Key, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Darryl Kile,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Silver King,** 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Johnny Kling, 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N); Mark Langston,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Don Larsen, 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N); Vern Law** 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Tommy Leach, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Bill Lee,** 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Al Leiter, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Duffy Lewis, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Jose Lima,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Herman Long, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Davey Lopes, 4 (DHB: 1Y, 2N, 1N/A); Javy Lopez,* 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Dolf Luque,* 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N); Greg Luzinski, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Sal Maglie, 4 (DHB: 2Y, 2N); Firpo Marberry,* 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N); Oliver Marcelle,** 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Marty Marion, 4 (DHB: 2Y, 2N); Mike Matheny,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Bobby Mathews, 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N); Dick McBride,* 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N); Frank McCormick, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Gil McDougald,** 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Sam McDowell,** 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Stuffy McInnis, 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Ed McKean, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Dave McNally, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Hal McRae, 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N); Bob Meusel, 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N); Clyde Milan, 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Bill Monroe,** 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Dobie Moore, 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N); Terry Mulholland,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Buddy Myer, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Robb Nen, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Bill Nicholson, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Joe Niekro, 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N); Tip O’Neill, 4 (DHB: 2Y, 2N); Paul O’Neill,** 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Jesse Orosco,* 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Dave Orr, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Amos Otis, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Joe Page,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Lance Parrish,* 4 (DHB: 0Y, 3N, 1N/A); Dickey Pearce, 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N); Jim Perry, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Bruce Petway,** 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Lip Pike, 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Johnny Podres,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Jack Powell, 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Vic Power,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Jack Quinn, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Dick Redding,** 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N); J.R. Richard,* 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N); Hardy Richardson, 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N); Dave Righetti, 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N); Red Rolfe, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Schoolboy Rowe, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Joe Rudi, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Pete Runnels,** 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Johnny Sain, 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N); Tim Salmon,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Manny Sanguillen, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Herb Score, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Mike Scott, 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N); Cy Seymour, 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Roy Sievers, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Germany Smith, (DHB: 1 0Y, 1N); Chino Smith,** 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Al Spalding,** 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N. Editor’s note: Spalding is in the Hall of Fame as a pioneer/executive, though my voter suggested he should also be there as a player); Riggs Stephenson, 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N); Jack Stivetts,** 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Jesse Tannehill,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Kent Tekulve,* 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Frank Thomas (’62 Mets),* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Roy Thomas,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Robby Thompson,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Bobby Thomson, 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N); Luis Tiant Sr.,* 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N); Cecil Travis, 3 (DHB: 1Y, 1N, 1N/A); Hal Trosky, 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N); Quincy Trouppe, 4 (DHB: 4Y, 0N); Jose Uribe,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Johnny Vander Meer, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Mo Vaughn, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Hippo Vaughn,* 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N); Bobby Veach, 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N); Mickey Vernon, 4 (DHB: 2Y, 2N); Fleet Walker, 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N); Dixie Walker, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Bucky Walters, 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N); Lon Warneke, 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N); Ed Wesley, 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Gus Weyhing, 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N. Editor’s note: Weyhing appeared on the ballot as Guy Weyhing); Roy White, 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Ken Williams, 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N); Cy Williams, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Ned Williamson,** 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Willie Wilson,** 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N); Nip Winters,** 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N); Todd Worrell, 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N); Rudy York, 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N); Eric Young,* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N)
Appeared on the ballot, didn’t receive any votes: Dale Alexander, Bobby Avila*, Jeromy Burnitz*, George H Burns, Ollie Carnegie*, Jack Coombs, Roy Cullenbine*, Jim Davenport, Paul Derringer, Kelly Downs*, Mark Eichhorn*, Scott Erickson*, Carl Erskine, Jeff Fassero*, Bob Friend, Scott Garrelts*, Jim Gentile, Hank Gowdy, Danny Graves*, Rick Helling*, Pete Hughes*, Sam Jackson*, Sam Jethroe, Smead Jolley*, Davy Jones*, Doug Jones*, Bill Joyce, Joe Judge, Benny Kauff*, Ken Keltner, Mike LaCoss*, Carney Lansford, Matt Lawton*, Bob Locker*, Elliot Maddox, Candy Maldonado*, Sadie McMahon*, Irish Meusel, Wally Moon, Wally Moses, Bill Mueller*, Jeff Nelson*, Phil Nevin*, Mel Parnell, Larry Parrish*, Camilo Pascual*, Brad Radke, Joe Randa, Mike Remlinger*, Ernie Riles*, Don Robinson*, Felix Rodriguez*, Ruben Sierra*, George Stone, Dizzy Trout, Vic Wertz, Will White, Tony Womack*, Tim Worrell*
* is used to denote who was new to my ballot this year
** is used to denote who was a write-in
Editor’s note: I hand counted all ballots and made a few judgment calls as editor. First, I corrected for misspellings on some ballots. Also, some voters put Y’s for the “Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?” feature or made clear who they wanted to vote for it but neglected to put N’s. I inferred they meant to have N’s in those cases. I also allowed a couple of 49-player ballots, since I didn’t want to disallow hard work by voters simply due to a minor mistake.
People who voted
- Myself. Founder and editor of this site, delivery driver, content writer for San Francisco SEO company KickStartSearch.com. Member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA.) Second-year voter.
- Bobby Aguilera of Baseball Reality Tour. Director of group sales and marketing for The Tribune Company. Second-year voter.
- Tom Andersen of Sphere. Communications and fundraising consultant for non-profits in New York.
- Triston Aprill, reader.
- Matthew Aschaffenburg, graduate student, University of Delaware.
- Brendan Bingham, contributor to this Website, SABR member. Second-year voter.
- Charles Beatley of Hawk 4 The Hall. Second-year voter.
- Bob Brichetto, member of Baseball Think Factory, voter for the Most Meritorious Player Award for its Hall of Merit. Second-year voter.
- Chip Buck of Fire Brand of the American League and It’s About the Money.
- Eric Chalek, member of Baseball Think Factory, past Hall of Merit voter.
- Justin Ciccotelli, reader.
- Michael Clair of Old Time Family Baseball, BBA member. Second-year voter.
- Michael Cook, Cleveland-based community organizer.
- Ev Cope, SABR member since 1979. Hall of Fame researcher who, at the behest of Cooperstown, put together a list of names for the Veterans Committee to consider in 2008. Second-year voter.
- Dennis Corcoran, SABR member, author of the 2010 book, Induction Day at Cooperstown: A History of the Baseball Hall of Fame Ceremony.
- Craig Cornell, reader. Second-year voter.
- Victor Dadras, reader. Second-year voter.
- Adam Darowski, contributor to Beyond the Box Score and this Website; curator of the Hall of wWAR.
- Bill Deane, former senior research associate at the Hall of Fame.
- Mike Denton, member of the Pacific Coast League Historical Society.
- Nick Diunte of Baseball Happenings and Examiner.com, SABR member. Won a free t-shirt here for being the first to note I included every starter from the 1989 San Francisco Giants on Super Ballot.
- Lee Domingue, reader.
- Paul Dylan of One For Five. Second-year voter.
- Ryan Frates, reader.
- Theo Gerome of Hot Corner Harbor.
- Bill Gilbert, reader.
- Daniel Greenia, wrote a “Fixing the Hall of Fame” series for Dugout Central and authored a bi-monthly column for Bill James in the 1980s. Second-year voter.
- Joe Guzzardi, SABR member, longtime contributor here. Second-year voter.
- Graham H., reader.
- George Haloulakos, has contributed papers on Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale and Sal Maglie to this Website.
- Joel Hammerman, reader.
- Rob Harris of BlueBattingHelmet, BBA member.
- Paul Hirsch, SABR member and part of its board of directors.
- Wayne Horiuchi, avid sports card collector who has one of the most extensive game-used/autograph Hall of Fame collections in America. Second-year voter.
- Brad Howerter, reader.
- Jason Hunt of MLB Daily Dish and Fake Teams. Second-year voter.
- Chris Jensen, SABR member, Seamheads author.
- Kevin Johnson, Seamheads author.
- George Kurtz, reader, member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
- Albert Lang of h2h Corner.
- Domenic Lanza of Sliding Into Home and Row Three, law student.
- Jimmy Leiderman, SABR member, 19th century photography researcher. Second-year voter.
- Patrick Mackin, reader, Cleveland-based attorney.
- Ken Marcum of The Baseball Hall of Shame, BBA member.
- Andrew Martin of The Baseball Historian.
- Michael Martin, reader.
- Chris Mascaro, Seamheads author.
- Dan McCloskey of Left Field, SABR and BBA member. Second-year voter.
- Robert McConnell, reader. Second-year voter.
- Ryan McCrystal of Wahoo’s Warriors, SABR member. Second-year voter.
- Keith Menges, reader.
- Stefano Micolitti of Milan, Italy. Briefly wrote for Italian baseball publication, Tuttobaseball e softball in the 1980s.
- Bill Miller of The On Deck Circle. Second-year voter.
- Andrew Milner, member of SABR and Baseball Think Factory. Second-year voter.
- Jonathan Mitchell of MLB Dirt, BBA member.
- Dave Mowers, reader.
- Brian Moynahan of Bus Leagues Baseball.
- Tim Newey, reader.
- Dan O’Connor, past SABR member.
- John Perricone of Only Baseball Matters.
- Jeff Polman of braggingleague.wordpress.com, funkyball.wordpress.com, and 1924andyouarethere.blogspot.com. SABR and BBA member.
- Kevin Porter, reader.
- Alex Putterman, contributor to this Website, just admitted early decision as a journalism student at Northwestern.
- John Quemere, reader.
- Dave Rattigan, reader.
- Josh Robbins, set a world record in 2008 by seeing a game in all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums in 26 days by car. Contributes to Seamheads and 60ft6in.
- Mike Robinson, member of Baseball Think Factory.
- Dave Rook, reader.
- Marcus Ruiz, reader.
- Bob Sawyer, reader. Second-year voter.
- Peter Schiller of Baseball Reflections, SABR and BBA member. Second-year voter.
- Gabriel Schechter of Never Too Much Baseball. SABR member and contributed an outstanding piece on the eccentric, doomed Charles “Victory” Faust for the Baseball Biography Project.
- Bart Silberman, founder and president at Moonlight Graham Records.
- Mark Simon, ESPN.com researcher and contributor. Second-year voter.
- Louis Smith, family friend of Smoky Joe Wood.
- Zubin Sumariwalla, reader.
- Tom Thrash of He Knew He Was Right.
- Vinnie, heavyweight champion of readers. Second-year voter.
- Gregg Volz, working on a screenplay about Smoky Joe Wood.
- Jonathan Wagner, reader. Self-described “Strat-O-Matic freak with too much free time.” Once sponsored Terry Mulholland’s Baseball-Reference.com page under a pseudonym. Somehow wasn’t responsible for Mulholland’s one vote here.
- Ed White, former sportswriter.
- Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods and the 2010 book of the same name (I highly recommend it.) Second-year voter.
- Joe Williams, chair of the Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legends Project, Nineteenth Century Committee, SABR. Second-year voter.
- David Wood, grandson of Smoky Joe Wood.
- Jena Yamada, reader. Second-year voter, sole female to participate this year.
- Tom Zocco of The Stats of Zoc, SABR member since 1971.
How people voted
I launched this project last year in part because I was unsatisfied that posts on the best players not in the Hall of Fame often rely on the opinion of whoever wrote them or some all-powerful stat like Wins Above Replacement. Neither approach is infallible, though that’s not always apparent from reading the posts or forum discussions they spawn. I wanted something more inclusive that would yield fresh results. What resulted here last year was a project that offered a hybrid of the opinion and WAR-based approaches, with some healthy doses of irrationality thrown in.
We had a range of different voters in the first iteration of the project, and this year was more of the same. To my knowledge, our oldest voter is 73, while our youngest is a senior in high school. We have voters who relied on metrics like WAR or Career Win Shares, others who favored overlooked 19th century players, and still plenty more voters who went in their own directions with picks (Vida Blue, yes, Jeff Bagwell, no, that sort of thing.) Me, I used a little of all three approaches, and I have no problem with people voting however they like. I think it’s more engaging to feature a range of opinions, and I believe that so long as enough people vote and do so independently, stuff gets evened out in the end.
To show our diversity, I asked a few of my voters to share how they voted. I’ll let them take it from here:
Adam Darowski: “I’ve always been interested in combining my love of the Hall of Fame and my love of statistics, so over the last year or so I’ve been building a formula that attempts to rank players by how good their Hall of Fame cases are. It is based on the version of WAR available on Baseball-Reference.com. I call it Weighted WAR, or wWAR. It takes a player’s career WAR and adjusts it for season length (which aids 19th century players), peak performance (which aids a player like Sandy Koufax while hurting someone like Tommy John), and postseason performance (based on a weighted version of Win Probability Added). I’ve created a site for the Hall of wWAR where you can see who gets in, see who gets bumped from the Hall, or read more about the methodology.”
George Haloulakos: “Regarding the process I used for my selection of great players in your survey/poll, here were the criteria: (1) Positive role model for how the game should be played, (2) Helping the team win, (3) Playing well in ‘big’ games and/or having impact on pennant races, (4) Dominating presence in the era in which played. Essentially, it was a blend of qualitative and quantitative thought.”
Mike Robinson: “A couple of things. I tend to look for a combination of career + peak but if it comes down to it, I favor career. I also tend to favor positions generally underrepresented in the real Hall. It is easier for a catcher to get on my ballot than a first baseman. The standards, particularly with the bat, are just higher at first and the OF positions. Also, I did not pick any of the Negro League players. Obviously some of them would be in the top 50 but I simply don’t know much at all about them. If I picked any, I would just be guessing. So, unfortunately, I choose not to consider them.”
Ed White: “This was not an easy task, as I tried to use not only statistical analysis but also subjective analysis of players’ skills from watching them live or on TV. In some cases, there were probably some players with better statistics whom I did not include because I thought others were better overall players and had a bigger impact on the game at the time they played than others who might have had better statistics. The best example of this is probably Jim Rice, who was probably the most feared hitter in the AL for many years, but who did not get in to the HOF for many years because of his ill-advised comments that he deserved to be in.”
“There are a few players whom I absouletely loved to watch play and who were very good but sadly were not HOF players when you consider others. My favorite player as a kid was Roy White, the only major leaguer with the same last name as mine at the time and a very good player for my favorite team, the New York Yankees. But although he was a solid player, he is not a Hall of Famer when you consider the other players whose statistics and skills were better than his. While I would love to see Roy and my other favorite players make the Hall, I reserve my votes for the absolute best of the game, no matter what kind of people they were.”
Daniel Greenia, second-year voter: “My big difference with the consensus last year was in my support of 19th century players. In my opinion, the ‘National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’ needs to start taking that last word seriously. They have never made a serious attempt to identify and enshrine all of the greats from the first generation of professional ball players, 1865-89. Along with four inaugural HoMers (Hall of Merit members), players I voted for from this era are Charlie Bennett, Pete Browning, Bob Caruthers, Jack Glasscock, Cal McVey, Hardy Richardson, Joe Start, Harry Stovey and Ezra Sutton.”
Bob Brichetto: “My list is heavily Hall of Merit influenced. I am not a voter for the Hall of Merit but I’ve been following it for several years now and think it’s pretty damn awesome… I have left off players who are in the Hall of Merit in favor of some that I think should be in the Hall of Merit… but not very many!”
“As for the yes or no to whether I think they should be in the Hall of Fame, I’m going to have to say yes to all 50. For real. I presume that is an extreme stance for your project so I feel like I should briefly explain. Again, this is largely due to my following the Hall of Merit functioning on the assumption that the size of the Hall of Fame is a given and therefore trying to fill it with the best “X” players there are. So I’m not presuming that the worst player at each position is the baseline (if I did that I don’t even want to think how big it would be). What I want would be for the Hall of Fame to be broken up into tiers of greatness… and not permanently. Meaning that someone could move between 2nd and 3rd tier depending on whatever source of the tiers votes in whatever year.”
Paul Dylan: “I’m a super-big hall guy, and I believe the BBWAA should be willing to elect players to the HoF who contributed to the game uniquely but weren’t necessarily one of the greatest baseball players – kind of like the Baseball Reliquary, only not so gimmicky. Curt Flood, Dummy Hoy, and Buck O’Neill deserve plaques for their contributions as trailblazers and ambassadors for the game. Bo Jackson, I believe, deserves a plaque in the Hall of Fame for athletic prowess second to none (outside of Jim Thorpe, maybe), and, as for Don Larsen, I think that if you throw a perfect game in the World Series you should get a free pass into Cooperstown. What greater achievement could there be? Maybe to throw 2 perfect games in the World Series, I guess.”
“The point is, I don’t think one should have to be one of the ‘best players’ per se to be elected into the Hall of Fame. I think whether or not someone is one of the best players not in the Hall of Fame is a very different question than should this player be in the Hall of Fame.”
As the second year of this annual project draws to a close, I’m already looking ahead to next year. Certain core things in place with our setup seem to work, and I doubt they’ll change as long as I’m running things. I like the project being about 50 players. I think it’s important all votes keep counting equally, with no ranking system ever that could allow a few people to game it and push a player up the list. I want to stick to my policy of not lobbying for people to vote for anyone. And I always want my project to be free and easy to participate in and online.
All this being said, I’m looking at a few tweaks for next year. First and foremost, I’d like to automate as much of the voting process as possible, since I estimate it took about 45 hours to count ballots this year. I’d like to be able to focus more on writing and have a quicker turnaround time once voting closes. To that end, I’m considering a couple of online survey sites, and if anyone has any ideas, please let me know. I don’t know if all voting would be done strictly via the Web. I’d like to get Major League Baseball vets and BBWAA members involved and am considering offering paper ballots for them or anyone with a disability.
Otherwise though, I’m pleased with how things came out and want to thank everyone who voted or even just offered interest or support. This project wouldn’t be half as fun or interesting or have a life of its own if I was flying solo. Having other people involved makes this thing what it is. I hope everyone returns next year, and if anyone reading would like to vote as well, please, join us. I already see two big reasons to vote next year: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be on the ballot.
UPDATE, 1/6/2014: VERSION 4.0 OF THIS PROJECT IS OUT (and here’s Version 3.0)