Stan Musial represented everything that I believed baseball was when I was a kid. He represented everything that is sorely missing from the game today. He played the game and loved the game for the sake and the beauty of the game. Above and beyond his tremendous accomplishments on the field, Musial was a rarity in life, a class act.
Musial died on January 19 at 92. I hadn’t given him much thought over the years I must admit but his passing has somehow struck me more than anyone not a friend or a relative. I saw him on television in his final major league at bat (the weekly New York Yankee Saturday Game of the Week was interrupted for this) and at the time I had little idea of who he was and what he had accomplished.
The numbers of course speak for themselves. Loudly. 3,630 hit (in an odd quirk he had the exact same number of hits at home and on the road). A career batting average of .331. 1,951 RBI. Three National League MVP awards. He was an All Star 24 times. He was a World champion three times. At the time of his retirement in 1963, Musial held or shared 17 major league records, 29 National League records and nine All star game records.
Off the field he was a successful entrepreneur in the restaurant business. He played his entire 23 year career with the St. Louis cardinals. He has two statues at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969 on the first ballot.
In 2011, Musial was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award which can be given to an American civilian.
Born in Donora, Pennsylvania, one of five children, Musial played semi pro baseball at 15 and quickly became a star despite playing against adults. His father had initially resisted the dream of playing baseball professionally but Stan and his mother, after much debate with his father, eventually changed his father’s mind about making the game of baseball into a viable livelihood.
He was originally signed as a pitcher. His batting skills soon outshone any notion the St. Louis organization might have had about Musial being a big league pitcher. His second season in the minor leagues, Musial won nine games but his .352. As with Babe Ruth before him, his batting skills were too great to ignore.
Musial reportedly almost gave up the game in 1940 as he was newly married, had one child and was trying to make ends meet on $16 a week. A shoulder injury in 1939 didn’t help the situation but his then manager and later lifelong friend Dickie Kerr convinced Musial to keep at it, seeing the potential that was lying just below the surface.
In the fall of 1941, Musial was promoted to the Cardinals. The legacy was about to begin.
In the 12 games Musial played in St. Louis in 1941, Musial hit .462 almost helping the Cardinals win the National League pennant that season. The following season he led St. Louis to the World Series, along the way winning the NL rookie of the year award.
In 1954 he became the first player (Nate Colbert replicated the feat in 1972) to hit five home runs in a double header. That day, he also became the only player to ever total 21 bases in a double header.
The highlights go on and on and on.
Stanley Frank “Stan” Musial had the ability and personality fitting one of the all-time greats.
Ty Cobb noted in a 1952 Life magazine article:
No man has ever been a perfect ballplayer. Stan Musial, however, is the closest to being perfect in the game today…. He plays as hard when his club is away out in front of a game as he does when they’re just a run or two behind.
I’ve been preoccupied the last several months. What was once a near-daily stream of posts here has dwindled to a handful per month. I’m not complaining, at least not today. In July, I got a full-time day job. In August, something bigger happened: I got the professional break as a sportswriter that I’ve been wanting for a couple of years. I haven’t mentioned it much here before today, but I’ve spent this football season freelancing for 49ers Insider, a digital magazine from the San Francisco Chronicle. With the Niners due to face the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl on February 3, I’m struck by how lucky I’ve been.
It’s funny how life works. In college and before, I used to think only the most high-profile writing opportunities were for me. I wanted Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, maybe a handful of other places. I generally dismissed other publications as beneath me and loathed the idea of paying my dues as a writer. Life since graduation has been a series of continual lessons in humility. I’ve come to care less about where paid opportunities come from, with getting my rent covered and being self supporting mattering more to me. In my time as a writer, I’ve been paid to cobble together words on check processing software, stuffed animals and, my favorite, rubber bands. I’ve literally received full-time pay, plus benefits to write about rubber bands and other industrial supplies. God bless America.
My passion as a writer, which may be evident to anyone who’s regularly read this site, is baseball history, particularly anything quirky. If money were no object, it’s the main thing I’d write about. It’s how my mind works. It’s what I know. Unsurprisingly, I’ve yet to find a market for envisioning how Bob Caruthers would do in the modern MLB or assessing Smoky Joe Wood’s Hall of Fame case, but I remain optimistic. In the meanwhile, what I do here is mostly a fun hobby that I hope will lead somewhere. All this being said, the opportunity to cover the 49ers was unexpected and welcomed.
My association with the San Francisco Chronicle started last spring when one of my mentors who works there put in a good word for me. This led to a freelance piece in July on 1930s San Francisco baseball player Tony Gomez. After that ran, I kept up with the sports editor in hopes of generating more freelance. The baseball ideas I pitched didn’t go anywhere, though my editor mentioned the Niners magazine and suggested I focus on that. I was happy to do so. (If the Chronicle wanted me to cover backgammon, I’d do it, even if I’m not really sure what backgammon is.) I started out in September contributing weekly previews of 49er games, breaking down positional matchups. From there, my role expanded.
In October, I made my first trip to Niners’ team headquarters in Santa Clara for a feature on defensive back Tarell Brown where I met head coach Jim Harbaugh. I also got my first glimpse of how tightly on message most of the team is with media. It’s reminiscent of what Bill James wrote in his 2001 historical abstract about the Los Angeles Dodgers’ media arrangements in the 1980s. James noted:
The Dodgers in those days had a fine-tuned public relations operation. Bringing almost all of their players up through the system, they trained them early how to deal with reporters. I remember a reporter who covered the Dodgers telling me that on the one hand it was wonderful, because the players were always available and almost never rude, and everybody in the front office would return your phone calls promptly, but on the other hand it was frustrating because they would never say anything. They were all trained in spin control– accentuating the positive, don’t try to explain what’s gone wrong, you’ll just make it worse, etc.
There’s been a lot of talk with the recent Hall of Fame vote about baseball writers completely flubbing reporting about steroids in the 1990s. I can sympathize with the writers. If any 49er was using PEDs this season, I’d have had no idea. Player access is tightly controlled. Reporters see what the team wants them to see when the team allows them to see it. We get 45 minutes or an hour a few days a week of locker room access, with the majority of players making themselves scarce at this time. There are also press conferences with Harbaugh and a handful of star players rotating in. Team PR reps are always nearby, often dictating how long things will go. There’s a tacit understanding, at least I felt one, that the team controls credentialing for reporters and can make things difficult at any time. The organization has the upper hand, which is probably reasonable for protecting its business interests. It’s just occasionally frustrating from a journalistic standpoint.
Don’t get me wrong, though– this experience was beyond awesome. I got to interview players like Alex Smith (who’s a consummate professional) and Frank Gore (who’s a better running back than interviewee) and meet a bunch of veteran writers that I respect, including Scott Ostler and Art Spander. After Harbaugh benched Smith for Colin Kaepernick, I did a phone interview with NFL legend Y.A. Tittle who went through a quarterback controversy with the 49ers a half century before. Best of all, I got paid for all of this. I still can’t believe the last part is true, or that I get checks from the San Francisco Chronicle, but I hope paid opportunities for writers continue to exist in abundance. We do better quality work the more it’s subsidized.
I also had credentials to cover four games, including the Niners-Patriots’ 41-34 slugfest on December 16. I snapped the picture on the left during the fourth quarter as I waited for post-game locker room access. I had to pay my own way as a freelancer to get out to New England and I didn’t leave Gillette Stadium until 3:30 that night, but I’d do it again. I’m just bummed I can’t afford to trek to New Orleans for the Super Bowl. I’m hopeful there will be other opportunities for me like this.
Now, with the season winding down, I’m just trying to enjoy this experience as long as I can. I was stoked the Niners made the Super Bowl in part because it means more issues of the magazine, more chances to write. I’m heading down to team headquarters in Santa Clara in a bit and am hopeful I’ll be down at least one or two more times before the season ends. There’s been a lot more media attention as of late. I was even on NFL Network, live the last time I went (look for me at the 0:45 mark of this video.) There hasn’t been definitive word yet on the magazine’s future beyond this season, though I’m hopeful some semblance of it will endure. It’s a good magazine and I’m honored to have been a part of it.
There’s one other thing worth noting: For much of my time writing for this magazine, I also attempted to work my full-time day job, writing ad copy and assisting in other marketing activities for a Bay Area industrial supplier. I won’t go on about it except to say much of my work was mediocre, the job ended and I learned something valuable: I don’t want to waste my time doing things I’m not passionate about. The job made me better money than I’ve earned in a few years, but once again, I learned that money isn’t everything in life. I’m back to working a couple of days a week as a delivery driver and otherwise focusing on freelance opportunities. The next time an opportunity like this comes along, I want to be ready.
Editor’s note: Please welcome Bill Deane, former senior research associate at the Hall of Fame and a longtime friend of the site. For more than 30 years, Bill has made a science of studying past voting results for Cooperstown by the Baseball Writers Association of America and predicting who will get in. He does this with great accuracy, including predicting Barry Larkin’s enshrinement last year. I’m honored to have Bill’s predictions exclusive at BPP, the night before BBWAA voting results are released. Let’s see how Bill does.
The 2013 Hall of Fame ballot is the most star-studded and controversial since the very first one in 1936, with newcomers including arguably the best position player and the best pitcher of all time, along with four others with obvious Cooperstown credentials. Yet, according to my crystal baseball, none of these notables – nor anyone else – will be elected to the Hall this January, resulting in the first BBWAA shutout since 1996.
This is my 32nd year predicting Hall of Fame elections. I think the acid test of prognostication performance lies in guessing the fate of men who finish within 10% either way of being elected (i.e., who receive between 65-85% of the vote). Among such candidates, I have gone 48-12 (.800) in correctly predicting who would or would not make it over the years.
A review of the voting process: Members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) do the voting. Late each autumn, ballots are distributed to active and retired beat-writers who have been BBWAA members for ten years or more. The ballots, which are to be returned by the end of the year, list candidates in alphabetical order, instructing voters to choose up to ten players (the average writer selects about six). Eligible candidates include men who played in at least ten seasons in the majors, the last of which was not less than five nor more than 20 years prior to the election. Any candidate being named on at least 75% of the ballots is elected to the Hall; anyone receiving less than 5% of the vote is dropped from further consideration. The BBWAA honors an average of about two players per year. The 2013 results will be announced on January 9.
More than half of the 27 players who were listed on the 2012 ballot are not on the 2013 version: Barry Larkin, who was elected; and 13 others (Juan Gonzalez, Vinny Castilla, Tim Salmon, Bill Mueller, Brad Radke, Javy Lopez, Eric Young, Jeromy Burnitz, Brian Jordan, Terry Mulholland, Phil Nevin, Ruben Sierra, and Tony Womack) who were dropped for failing to reach the 5%-cutoff. These men collected just 537 votes in 2012, and the stellar 2013 rookie class figures to amass many more than that. This means that most if not all of the 13 returning candidates are likely to drop down in the voting.
The problems facing the ballot rookies are (1) those with the best credentials have been tarnished by accusations or rumors of the use of performance-enhancers, and (2) there are simply not enough votes to go around. Though each voter is permitted ten selections, the average voter uses considerably fewer than that. The number of votes per voter has been below seven every year since 1986, and sunk to a record low of 5.1 in 2012.
Many of the 2013 first-time eligibles are destined for just one try on the writers’ ballot, the consequence of being overshadowed and receiving less than 5% of the vote. Yet, many have solid résumés, and will get some votes. Among these are David Wells (239-157 record, including a perfect game), Kenny Lofton (622 stolen bases, .299 average), Steve Finley (2548 hits, 304 homers, 320 SB), Julio Franco (2528 hits, the last at age 49), Shawn Green (328 HR, including four in one game), Reggie Sanders (305 HR, 304 SB), Roberto Hernandez (326 saves), Jose Mesa (321 saves), Sandy Alomar, Jr. (six All-Star selections), Jeff Conine (214 HR, .285), Ryan Klesko (278 HR, .279), Aaron Sele (148-112), Rondell White (198 HR, .284), Jeff Cirillo (112 HR, .296), Woody Williams (132-116), Mike Stanton (1178 games pitched), and Royce Clayton. White and Stanton were named as HGH-users in the Mitchell Report.
Here’s the way I foresee the rest of the election shaping up, with predicted percentages in parentheses:
Craig Biggio (72) – An excellent but not dominant player who amassed 3060 hits, 1844 runs, 668 doubles, and 414 stolen bases.
Jack Morris (63) – The winningest pitcher of the 1980s, he went 254-186 in his career without ever posting an ERA below three or a Cy Young Award finish above third.
Mike Piazza (58) – The best offensive catcher of all time (419 homers, .308 average), he managed to survive steroids rumors and a poor defensive reputation.
Jeff Bagwell (56) – Batted .297 with 449 homers and 1529 RBI in just 15 seasons, winning the 1994 NL MVP Award.
Tim Raines (46) – Rock was an outstanding player whose credentials (including an 808-146 stolen base record) are only starting to be appreciated by voters.
Lee Smith (45) – Lost his all-time saves record (and his only persuasive Hall of Fame argument) in 2006 to Trevor Hoffman, who in turn lost it to Mariano Rivera in 2011.
Roger Clemens (44) – The most-accomplished pitcher of the past century, if not any century, Clemens won a record seven Cy Young Awards and seven ERA crowns while going 354-184 with 4672 strikeouts. His reputation has been skewered by well-documented accusations of steroids and HGH use, though he was acquitted of perjury on the subject.
Curt Schilling (41) – His won-lost record (216-146) is modest by Hall of Fame standards, but he had three second-place Cy Young Award finishes and 3116 strikeouts with a record 4.38 SO:BB ratio. Moreover, he starred for three different World Series teams, the 1993 Phillies, the 2001 D’backs (for whom he shared Series MVP honors), and the 2004 Red Sox (for whom he authored the gutsy “bloody sock” performance).
Barry Bonds (35) – The most accomplished non-pitcher with the possible exception of Babe Ruth, Bonds won a record seven MVP Awards and set all-time marks for career homers (762, including a record 73 in 2001) and walks (2558, a record 668 of them intentional). For good measure, he added 514 stolen bases and eight Gold Glove Awards. But, like Clemens, his accusations of using performance enhancers in the second half of his career, along with his surly relationship with the media, will keep him out of Cooperstown for the foreseeable future.
Edgar Martinez (31) – Though he didn’t become a big league regular until he was 27, the DH wound up with 2247 hits, 514 doubles, 309 homers, and a .312 average.
Alan Trammell (30) – A fine shortstop, overshadowed throughout his career by Cal Ripken and Robin Yount.
Fred McGriff (22) – Crime Dog had 493 home runs and 1550 RBI, winning homer titles in each league.
Larry Walker (20) – Hit 383 homers and batted .313, winning three batting titles and the 1997 NL MVP Award, though most of his damage was done a mile above sea level.
Sammy Sosa (20) – Slammed 609 home runs, including three 60-homer seasons and an MVP Award, in a career also tainted by performance-enhancer accusations.
Mark McGwire (17) – Had 583 home runs, a .588 slugging average, and the highest homer percentage of all time, but has become the voters’ poster boy for players accused of using PEs.
Don Mattingly (14) – After a half-dozen years as one of the game’s most productive hitters, Mattingly was reduced to mediocrity by back problems. Still, he wound up with credentials eerily similar to 2001 first-ballot inductee Kirby Puckett’s.
Dale Murphy (14) – Two straight MVPs highlight a checkered résumé. This is his final try on the BBWAA ballot.
Bernie Williams (12) – The only 2012 first-year candidate to remain on the ballot, he helped the Yankees to four world championships in the midst of his eight straight .300-seasons, including the 1998 AL batting crown.
Rafael Palmeiro (10) – He was a slam-dunk Hall of Famer until a positive steroids test (shortly after his finger-pointing denial of steroids-use under oath) effectively ended his career. Voters remember that performance more than his 3020 hits, 569 homers, or 1835 RBI.
Looking ahead toward upcoming elections, it appears the ballot will only get more crowded. In 2014 the leading newcomers will be Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, and Jeff Kent. The following year, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Pedro Martinez will bring their nine Cy Young Awards up for consideration, joining Gary Sheffield and Carlos Delgado. In 2016, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Trevor Hoffman will top the rookie list. And the 2017 ballot will include Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, and Jorge Posada. Any ten-year player active in 2012 who does not return in ’13 (Chipper Jones and Omar Vizquel, for two) will become eligible in 2018.
Recently on Twitter, someone asked my friend and fellow baseball writer Dan Szymborski how many people he’d enshrine off this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. I had to speak up. “Like 15,” I tweeted. It’s been a long time since the ballot has had this glut of talent, maybe 50 years if we go back to the 1960s when the Baseball Writers Association of America instituted modern voting rules and the Veterans Committee enshrined several players, greatly thinning the ballot. Perhaps the time has come for another rule change or mass induction.
This year at least, however, the opposite may happen. With the BBWAA a week away from announcing its picks for enshrinement this summer, I wouldn’t be stunned if no players are selected. No consensus picks seem to exist among the writers, with Baseball Think Factory’s monitoring tool having first-year candidate Craig Biggio leading in the early count at 71.6 percent of votes, which would place him just shy of the 75 percent needed for induction. The BBWAA continues to grapple with what to do over players suspected of using steroids, while holdover candidates like Tim Raines and Alan Trammell also remain on the ballot. It’s a mess.
All this in mind, I offer something to ease the confusion.
For the past three years, I’ve run an annual project at my website having people vote on the 50 best players not in the Hall of Fame– not 50 players who need to be enshrined tomorrow, necessarily, just the 50 best not enshrined. Voting has two components: 1) I ask people to vote on who they think are the 50 best players outside of Cooperstown, regardless of if they’d enshrine them; 2) Next to each of the 50 players a voter selects, I ask them to put a Y or N signifying if they belong in the Hall of Fame. The latter component doesn’t have any effect on rankings, though I might use it as a tiebreaker next year.
The 2010 debut of this project was a great success and last year’s project only built on this, taking on a sabermetric slant. I’m proud to say this year’s version is our best work yet, with 148 voters– about as many as the first two years combined (if I had remembered to vote, we would’ve had exactly as many.) We also had a crew of great writers to tackle the players involved. Writers include the son of one of the players we’re honoring as well as a BBWAA member who explains why he voted Barry Bonds (and Roger Clemens) for Cooperstown.
With the BBWAA’s deadline for voting having passed on December 31, it’s too late to affect change on this year’s ballot. That being said, I hope our work can help spur discussion and move toward easing this historic backlog. With Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent and others due to become eligible for Cooperstown next year, I don’t expect the 2014 ballot to be any less packed.
All this being said, here are the 50 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame as we voted:
1. Tim Raines, 130 votes out of 148 (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 116 yes, 11 no, 3 N/A), written by Dan McCloskey of Left Field:
The Hall of Fame worthiness arguments for Tim Raines frequently include comparisons to three players: Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock. Relative to Gwynn, it’s suggested Raines was nearly as good, and since Gwynn received 98 percent support in his first year on the ballot, Raines is worthy of election as well. With regard to Henderson, the belief is that Raines is unfairly downgraded by comparison to one of the 25 greatest players of all-time. Alternatively, Brock—also a first-ballot inductee—was a clearly inferior player to Raines and, if 80 percent of voters thought he was worthy, just as many or more should be in Rock’s corner.
But, Raines’ Hall of Fame case stands on its own, as this project’s voters attest. He was arguably the best player in the NL from 1983-1987, accumulating 31.4 WAR and hitting .318/.406/.467 with 568 runs and 355 steals during that five-year peak. Looking at his entire career, the Hall of Stats ranks him as the 104th greatest player ever. If you prefer an approach that’s not purely stats-based, ESPN’s Hall of 100 places him 96th on their all-time list. As there are currently 208 members of the Hall inducted as players, Tim Raines clearly belongs.
(Raines’ places in first two years of this project: 2011 – 5th; 2010 – 7th)
2. Craig Biggio, *New to ballot* 128 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 119 yes, 7 no, 2 N/A), Dan Szymborski of ESPN:
In the handicapping of this year’s Hall of Fame vote, it’s looking like an uphill climb for Craig Biggio to get elected into Cooperstown on his first ballot and as with his teammate, Jeff Bagwell, it will be an obvious mistake on the part of the voters.
For some reason, playing on the Astros in the 90s is a surefire way to be underappreciated. Of the Killer B’s, Biggio and Bagwell are easy picks that will still be out of the Hall, Carlos Beltran is closing in on a slam-dunk on merit, but is rarely connected with the Hall, and Lance Berkman, at least a borderline candidate worth discussion in a few years, is also likely to be dismissed.
Biggio’s case is very straightforward. A 281/363/433 line, good for a 112 OPS+ and 414 stolen bases over an extremely long career — his 12504 career plate appearance ranks 10th in MLB history — and doing it all as a second baseman, and before that, behind the plate. Biggio was a very ordinary defensive player and his glove doesn’t add much value beyond that, but that’s the career line of a Hall of Famer. By career WAR, that puts him smack-dab in the middle of the group consisting of Robert Alomar, Ryne Sandberg, and Jackie Robinson, easy Hall inductees that had very short waits.
Biggio had a peak run of 304/399/476 from 1993-1998 (135 OPS+), so nobody can claim he Don Suttoned his way to a solid career WAR.
Unfortunately, Biggio became eligible for the Hall at a time in which voting for the Hall is suddenly a gigantic problem, thanks to an electorate that has many voters reacting to eligible players with a steroid cloud being on the ballot by various tropes of anti-intellectualism, from throwing out the entire era to disqualifying players from their ballots with the most tenuous connections to steroids possible. Biggio was a teammate of Ken Caminiti, enough for him to be guilty in the eyes of a handful of bad actors among the voters.
Regardless, until Craig Biggio’s plaque is up on that wall in Cooperstown, the Hall will be missing one of this generation’s best second basemen.
(Biggio’s places in first two years of this project: Not yet eligible.)
Jeff Bagwell is a Hall of Famer. This is not a topic on which there is room for reasonable people to disagree. Across his career, his bat — as measured by OPS+ or wRC+ — was a bit better, in comparable numbers of plate appearances, than Willie McCovey’s and Willie Stargell’s and Jim Thome’s, and unlike any of those guys, he also added value in the field and on the bases. If your own personal Hall of Fame has room for at least three or four first basemen in it, Jeff Bagwell belongs there.
(Bagwell’s places in first two years of this project: 2011 – 3rd; 2010 – 5th-Tie)
4. Shoeless Joe Jackson, 124 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 98 yes, 25 no, 1 N/A), written by Jacob Pomrenke, web editor for the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR.org):
Shoeless Joe Jackson isn’t in the Hall of Fame for one reason: He accepted money from gamblers in the plot to fix the 1919 World Series. Whether he played his best for the Chicago White Sox in that Fall Classic against the Cincinnati Reds is a matter of conjecture — Jackson’s own testimony was confusing and contradictory at times, but you have to stretch the evidence to suggest he wasn’t trying — but any time Jackson appeared on a baseball field, from age 5 to age 50, he was one of the best.
Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb both called Jackson the greatest natural hitter they had ever seen. Ruth admired Jackson’s swing so much that he copied it. Jackson could hit (.356 batting average is still third-highest in history), he could run (led the AL in triples three times) and he could field (twice had 30-plus assists as a left fielder until opponents stopped testing his arm). His Hall of Fame ability has never been in question.
Should Jackson be honored in Cooperstown? For some, taking the money is reason enough to keep him out. But you can’t make a list of the 50 best players of all-time — let alone the 50 best players outside the Hall of Fame — without Shoeless Joe Jackson.
(Jackson’s places in first two year of this project: 2011 – 1st; 2010 – 5th-Tie)
Arguably among the best dozen shortstops ever, Alan Trammell was gifted both offensively and defensively, and one of the most fundamentally sound players of his era.
Trammell, who played all 20 years of his career (1977-1996) with the Tigers, collected more hits than two-thirds of the 21 Hall of Fame shortstops, and had more RBI than 12. Barry Larkin is the only “pure” shortstop in Cooperstown with more career home runs. Trammell’s career WAR (67.1), seven-year WAR peak of 43.3, and 55.2 JAWS are all above-average when compared to Hall Of Fame shortstops.
Selected by the Tigers in the 2nd round of the 1976 Draft out of San Diego’s Kearny High School, Trammell turned down a basketball scholarship to UCLA to sign, and was the American League’s youngest player when he made his Major League debut just 15 months later in 1977. He and Lou Whitaker played 1918 games together as Detroit’s keystone combination, the most ever in Major League history.
One of the first power hitting shortstops, Trammell (career .285/.352/.415) was a six-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner, three-time Silver Slugger recipient, and hit .300 or better seven times. Primarily a #2 hitter, Trammell made quality contact, never fanning more than 71 times in a season, and was an excellent two-strike hitter. He finished second in the AL MVP in 1987 when he was moved to cleanup and responded with 28 homers and 105 RBI, posted an 8.0 WAR. Trammell was the 1984 World Series MVP, and batted .333 in two post-season appearances. Trammell was a scout’s dream, doing the “little things” exceptionally well.
Defensively, Trammell was textbook with an incredibly accurate overhand throwing action and superb athleticism. His career Range Factor is better than Omar Vizquel and superior to most of today’s top defenders like JJ Hardy and Jimmy Rollins.
Ironically, Baseball Reference lists Trammell as the most similar player to 2012 Hall of Fame inductee Barry Larkin. Trammell was a slightly better defender while Larkin has an edge offensively, and both have career 67.1 WAR.
Injuries and labor stoppages limited Trammell in the second half of his career, as he played at least 130 games just once in his final nine seasons.
Trammell, now the Arizona Diamondbacks’ bench coach for former teammate Kirk Gibson, is in his 12th year on the Hall of Fame ballot. He managed the Tigers from 2003-2005.
(Trammell’s places in first two year of this project: 2011 – 6th-Tie; 2010 – 4th)
6-Tie. Roger Clemens, *New to ballot* 119 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 98 yes, 20 no, 1 N/A), written by Josh Wilker, author of Cardboard Gods:
Corporations cheat. Corporations hunger, expand, devour. Corporations employ lawyers and publicists to blur and beautify. Corporations are duplicitous, unknowable, emitting into the world that tolerates them noxious clouds of uncertainty. They’re the gods of our uncertain world. Funny then that Roger Clemens, that embattled enormous corporation, once centered an unprecedented certainty that stands as one of the more pleasurable feelings I’ve had as a fan. Whenever he took the mound during his breakthrough season in 1986, I was as close to certain as I’d ever be that my team was going to win. Amazingly, that season, which felt as it was happening like a once in a lifetime apotheosis, would prove to be more the norm than the exception for Clemens over his staggering 24-year career. Eventually, of course, he became a corporation, like A-Rod, like Bonds, and we haven’t figured out yet how to integrate these ambiguous financial behemoths into our sense of baseball history. Like many, I came to dislike Clemens intensely, intimately. Maybe he’s a scapegoat for our uncertainty; maybe he’s what we want to believe he is: a beady-eyed cheater, a prick. One way or another, he was also the best pitcher we’ve ever seen.
(Clemens’ places in first two year of this project: Not yet eligible.)
6-Tie. Pete Rose, 119 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 89 yes, 28 no, 2 N/A), written by Cliff Corcoran of Sports Illustrated:
Pete Rose never knew when to quit. Through the first 17 years of his career, he hit .312/.381/.432 with 3,372 hits. He was the 1963 National League Rookie of the Year, the 1973 NL Most Valuable Player and the runner-up in 1968, won three batting titles, led the league in hits six times, in doubles and runs four times each, and on-base percentage twice, was a 13-time All-Star, and a two-time Gold Glove winner in right field, one of five positions he had played regularly. Over a seven-year span from 1970 to 1976, he helped the Big Red Machine finish in first place five times, reaching four World Series, winning twice, and was the MVP of one of the great World Series of all time in 1975. In 1978, at the age of 37, he set the modern National League record with a 44-game hitting streak. He was, at that point, the end of the 1979 season, 38-years-old and a slam-dunk first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Then he played for seven more seasons, hitting .274/.354/.333 as a first baseman while chasing Ty Cobb’s career hits record. He accomplished the feat in 1985, finally retiring after the 1986 season with 4,256 hits, still the record, but the impact of the record was diminished by the quality of his play in pursuit of it, an aggregate 2.5 wins below replacement over those seven seasons. Named the player-manager of the Reds when reacquired by the team in August 1984, he remained in that post beyond his retirement as a player only to bring real shame upon his name for gambling on baseball during that period, ultimately receiving a lifetime ban late in the 1989 season which left him ineligible for Hall of Fame thereafter.
(Rose’s places in first two years of this project: 2011 – 6-Tie; 2010 – 10th.)
8-Tie. Barry Bonds, *New to ballot* 117 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 97 yes, 19 no, 1 N/A), written by Art Spander, a BBWAA member who tells us why he voted Bonds for Cooperstown this year:
Barry Bonds is a Hall of Famer. Which is why I voted for the man. Also for Roger Clemens. They almost certainly used performance-enhancing drugs, although we are not sure when they started using them.
We’ve seen the before and after photos of Bonds, lean then muscle-bound. While he was lean, until the mid 1990s, presuming he had yet begun with steroids or other PEDs, Bonds won the MVP award four times and Bonds became a 40-40 man, 40 steals, 40 home runs. Bonds already earned his place in the Hall.
Did he “cheat,” using steroids or human grown hormone to gain power and longevity? Apparently. But another former member of the San Francisco Giants, pitcher Gaylord Perry, was voted into the Hall and subsequently wrote a book how he applied a type of petroleum jelly to the ball. Isn’t that cheating?
The “character” clause is invoked by those who don’t want Bonds in the Hall. Same thing for Pete Rose – having recorded more hits than anyone in the history of the majors, he unquestionably belongs – because Rose wagered on baseball.
Bonds, Clemens and Rose pass the vision test. When we watched, what did we see? Men who were Hall of Fame players. The rest is incidental.
(Bonds’ places in first two years of this project: Not yet eligible.)
Dusty Baker called Edgar Martinez “a professional, quiet, humble giant…one of the best right-handed hitters ever seen.” Dusty may have been onto something. In putting together a career .300/.400/.500 slash line along with 300 home runs, 500 doubles, and 1,000 walks, Martinez joined just nine other players, all of whom are now enshrined in Cooperstown.
Edgar was more than a great hitter, of course, earning the Roberto Clemente Humanitarian Award in 2004 for his work with countless organizations around the world. He spent his entire career with the Seattle Mariners, a rare modern star to not jump ship.
Perhaps the lone knock on Martinez’s Hall of Fame credibility is that he spent nearly three-fourths of his career as a designated hitter. Consider this, though. Cooperstown represents a platform void of judgment. Rather, it lionizes those who excelled on the diamond, regardless of color and nationality. It also captures baseball’s past. The designated hitter has been in baseball almost 40 years. It represents a significant chunk of baseball history. And Edgar Martinez might be the best DH in baseball history.
(Martinez’s places in first two years of this project: 2011 – 9th; 2010 – 9th)
10. Lou Whitaker, 115 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 96 yes, 16 no, 3 N/A), written by Joey Bartz:
I can still hear the long and over drawn out “Looooooooooooou!” cheer in my sleep. It takes me back to a time of great baseball at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull Avenues. As a kid, I never realized that I was witnessing one of best second basemen in baseball history. I cannot justify why he is not in the Hall of Fame, but I can testify why he deserves his spot in Cooperstown.
Lou Whitaker earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1978 followed by five All Star nominations, four Silver Slugger Awards, and three Gold Gloves. In 1983, Whitaker finished an astonishingly 8th place in the MVP voting, whereas statistically only MVP winner Cal Ripken Jr. had a better year, both offensively and defensively. In 1984, Whitaker, Alan Trammell and cast would lead the Tigers to the World Series crown.
One only needs a single hand, presuming it has five fingers attached, to find out how many second basemen have had better career WAR (Wins above Replacement) numbers than Whitaker. Simply put, there are only five, and all five are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Take Whitaker’s career WAR and divide it by his seasons played and he still ranks ninth all-time among second basemen, even ahead of 2011 inductee, Roberto Alomar.
(Whitaker’s places in first two years of this project: 2011 – 12th; 2010 – 14th)
In a 16-year big-league career, Mike Piazza hit more home runs (427) than Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, or Gary Carter (the four hittingest catchers in the Hall of Fame). He also holds the top score for plate appearances per home run at 18.14. (Roy Campanella is next on the all-time catchers list with 19.90 PA/HR.) When Piazza was 15, his father built a batting cage in the backyard and enticed Ted Williams to come see the Pennsylvania prodigy. Williams, on seeing young Mike’s swing told father Vince, “I guarantee you that he will hit in the major leagues.” Piazza hit 35 homers in 1993 and won the NL Rookie of the Year, then went on to top 30 homers in nine of his 16 seasons, eight consecutive). And it wasn’t all home runs: 201 hits in 1997 were the most by a catcher in MLB since Joe Torre hit 203 in 1970, and the resulting .362 average tied Bill Dickey for second all time and best for a catcher since 1900. His first ten years in the big leagues he tallied OPS over 900. Piazza didn’t get much praise for his glove, but with a bat like that, he didn’t need it.
(Piazza’s places in first two years of project: Not yet eligible.)
12. Dick Allen, 111 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 80 yes, 30 no, 1 N/A) , written by Matt Trueblood of Arm Side Run:
Dick Allen had a sheltered childhood in small-town Pennsylvania, encountering far less overt racism than most African-Americans of his age. When he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, and when they immediately denied his request not to be sent to Little Rock, the culture shock posed a challenge he did not meet well. In many ways, Allen was rarely a man in the right place at the right time.
By the time Allen reached the majors, he was frustrated with the organization’s treatment. They asked him to play third base in 1964, for the first time in his life. He felt ill-suited to the position. They alluded to him as Richie and local papers followed suit. Allen bristled. The choice encouraged comparison to venerated Phillies star Richie Ashburn, wildly popular and shiny white. Allen called it “a little boy’s name.” He adopted apparent disinterest as a defense mechanism for criticism of his fielding. He became more glowering to dispel the connotations he feared the “Richie” moniker would attach to him.
This steeliness and hot-headedness came to a head when Allen and teammate Frank Thomas (a white man with a reputation for race-baiting) squared off. It began as a shouting match and escalated into a fistfight with Thomas hitting Allen in the shoulder with a bat. The Phillies released Thomas, but the fans only hated Allen the more thereafter.
As Allen’s relationship with the team continued to sour, his career soared. He swatted 80 extra-base hits in 1964, winning Rookie of the Year. From 1964-69, he batted .300/.388/.555, averaging 28 doubles, 10 triples and 30 homers. To put those figures in context, compare Allen in that span to the best six seasons of Manny Ramirez’s career. Ramirez hit .327/.428/.633 over that span, averaging 35 doubles and 39 home runs. Yet, adjusting for league and park factors, Ramirez was 69 percent better than the league-average hitter in those years, while Allen was 64 percent better.
Defense was an issue. Allen was a very good athlete and had good range, but committed 41 errors as a rookie at third base. Managers shuffled him around the field and he rarely responded well. He reported bizarre injuries, wore a batting helmet in the field in a nod to the fans’ penchant for throwing things at him and demanded a trade prior to the 1970 season.
Once he left Philadelphia, Allen got less flak. Jack Buck set the tone when Allen showed up in St. Louis, by referring to him as Dick, not Richie. Allen spent single seasons in St. Louis and Los Angeles, before landing in Chicago in 1972. He joined the White Sox who made him the regular first baseman and he embraced it. Allen led the AL in homers, RBI, walks, OBP and slugging, winning his third MVP. People began to see him as audacious slugger rather than brooding slacker. He would never have another season in that strata and was out of the game at 35 with 351 homers but that peak–1964-72– still makes Allen one of the underappreciated offensive studs of all time.
In his time, Allen exemplified the harder path black players faced and the dangers of failing to embrace the sycophantic sports media of the day. In historical perspective, Allen shows what gets lost in translation across eras. He ranks 57th all-time in OPS, but 19th (tied with Willie Mays, ahead of Aaron and DiMaggio) in OPS+, which adjusts for league context. Allen is most frequently compared to Albert Belle, another prickly African-American player who changed his name mid-career and mashed the ball, but could not defend. Fair enough, but Allen was better– much better.
If Dick Allen played during the 1990s, or if he had signed with most any other team besides Philadelphia in 1960, or if he were a nicer guy, he would have been in Cooperstown decades ago. He absolutely belongs.
(Allen’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 4th; 2010 – 11th)
It’s not that Dwight Evans was a unique hitter. His 352 (Baseball-Reference) WAR Batting Runs have been matched by 89 other players. His fielding skills weren’t very unique, either. 194 players have more WAR Fielding Runs than Evans’ 66. But only 18 players have surpassed him in both categories.
Bill James referred to this combination of skills when he wrote an open letter to the Hall of Fame about Dwight Evans. He touched upon other reasons the Sox right fielder has been overlooked—such as his low batting average (with high OBPs), his defensive value (which is still hard for many voters to wrap their heads around) and the fact that his best offensive seasons came in his 30s (when his reputation was already established). You can add that his best season was actually a strike-shortened one. In 1981, Evans led the league or tied in homers, walks, total bases, and OPS. His legacy might be a bit different if he had another season with MVP-caliber numbers.
(Evans’ places in first two years of project: 2011 – 10th; 2010 – 12th)
13-Tie. Rafael Palmeiro, 109 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 67 yes, 41 no, 1 N/A), written by Jonathan Mitchell of MLB Dirt:
Rafael Palmeiro rarely seems to get his due despite an impressive resume. He is 12th all-time with 569 home runs, tied for 6th all-time with 1192 extra-base hits, 11th all-time with 5388 total bases, tied for 19th all-time with 4460 times on base, and a member of the 3000 hit club.
Despite collecting some of the best numbers in the history of the game, Palmeiro is often remembered more for his Congressional finger pointing and link to PEDs. Another argument against him is the lack of major peak. Palmeiro only eclipsed 6 rWAR thrice in his career but that is the same figure as Tim Raines who is regarded by many to be a Hall-of-Famer. The two are actually neck-and-neck in career rWAR and fWAR with Palmeiro slightly ahead in both (Palmeiro 66.0 and 74.3 to Raines 64.6 and 70.9).
This is not a knock on Raines but a reminder that Palmeiro’s hall of fame case is equally impressive, if not more.
(Palmeiro’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 19th-Tie; 2010 – 28th-Tie)
Over the course of a 20-year career there were often times where Curt Schilling wasn’t the best player on his team, let alone in all of baseball. But his consistency and overall track record are enough that he merits consideration for a place in Cooperstown. He won 216 games lifetime, including 20+ three separate times, while finishing with a 3.46 ERA and 3,116 strikeouts. He twice led his league in innings pitched, WHIP or strikeouts. Three times he led the way in games started.
Schilling’s postseason success, however, trumped it all. He went 11-2 in 19 starts with a 2.23 ERA and 0.968 WHIP, helping lead his teams to three World Series championships.
Schilling amassed 76.9 bWAR across his career and appeared in six All Star Games. Four times he’d finish in the Top 5 in Cy Young Award voting, coming in second three times. He was dominant, consistent and reliable. And he seemingly got better (particularly increasing his K/9 rate and lowering his BB/9 rates) as his career progressed.
(Schilling’s places in first two years of project: Not yet eligible.)
There is a sense in which Mark McGwire was a one-dimensional player: He couldn’t run and spent much of his career as a bad fielder. With a bat in his hands, though, he was more than a simple slugger: McGwire managed solid batting averages and, more importantly, he walked a ton, allowing him to rank in the top 100 all-time in on-base percentage. His power was gargantuan and his biceps bulged, but his eye at the plate was equally stunning.
The story of McGwire is only half about his batting, though. His frailty (such a word to apply to a 6’5″, 240-pound man!) is the other half. Give McGwire the 75 percent of his age-29 and -30 seasons that he lost to injury and he easily finishes over 600 homers and above the 62.3 bWAR the average Hall of Fame first baseman compiled. Injuries aren’t treated like time lost to the Army, though. Only what McGwire actually did counts and it’s hard to argue based on the record he accumulated on the field that pitchforks and torches should be raised if McGwire is ultimately denied a plaque in Cooperstown.
(McGwire’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 14th-Tie; 2010 – 20th-Tie)
17. Luis Tiant, 104 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 66 yes, 36 no, 2 N/A), written by Brendan Bingham of this website:
Luis Tiant, not Denny McLain, should be remembered as the AL pitcher whose 1968 performance epitomized the Year of the Pitcher. Tiant led the AL in ERA and shutouts and was second only to Dave McNally in WHIP, but McLain swept the Cy Young voting on the strength of his 31 wins. Tiant won only 21 for Cleveland. Never mind that the Tigers scored almost a run per game more than the Indians.
1968 was not the only season in which Tiant was a league leader. In 1972, he again led in ERA. In 1966 and 1974, he led in shutouts. In 1973, he led in WHIP. Interestingly, Tiant was a league leader in 1969, too, when he led the AL in losses and in home runs and walks allowed. Yes, I hold the contrarian view that accumulating negative stats is a badge of honor. Although Tiant might not have been at his best in 1969, Cleveland manager Alvin Dark never lost confidence, faithfully sending him to the mound for 37 starts.
A look at the all-time pitching lists finds Tiant rubbing shoulders with some Hall of Famers. His strikeouts exceed Juan Marichal’s and Jim Palmer’s. His ERA+ rivals Robin Roberts’ and Jim Bunning’s. His WHIP matches Bert Blyleven’s. His pitching WAR exceeds Bob Feller’s and falls just short of Palmer’s. In 15 years on the Hall of Fame ballot, Tiant somehow never received more than 31 percent of the BBWAA vote.
(Tiant’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 19th-Tie; 2010 – 17th-Tie)
18. Larry Walker, 101 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 70 yes, 28 no, 3 N/A), written by Andrew Fisher of Purple Row:
One would think a player with a .313/.400/.565 career batting line in 17 seasons would have no problem getting into the Hall of Fame, but Larry Walker’s peak coincided with two critical variables that voters still don’t know how to properly weigh. The best numbers of Walker’s career came during the offense-inflated so-called Steroid Era at pre-humidor Coors Field. Consequently, many voters throw up their hands at both factors and discount his offensive prowess.
However, a full 41 percent of Walker’s career games came with Montreal or St. Louis. And even if his bat wasn’t enough to earn induction (his blend of power and average yielded a career OPS+ that ranks sixth on the 2013 ballot), the Canadian brought more non-hitting contributions to the table than almost anyone in the game. As one of the smartest, most-efficient base-stealers in baseball during his career, Walker stole 230 bases at a 75 percent success rate. He was arguably the best defensive right fielder in the league during his tenure, racking up seven Gold Gloves. Injuries limited his ability to build up counting stats, but his resume over 17 years certainly makes him worthy of induction.
(Walker’s places in first two year of project: 2011 – 17th; 2010 – 15th)
When Joe Torre made his two at-bat appearance for the season debut for the Braves in 1960, my father was still putting baseball cards in the spokes of his bicycle. The next summer Torre would start an everyday career that would last until 1977 when my father took me to my first baseball game.
Joe Torre is remembered as a manager with 2,326 wins and his four World Series titles. Before that, Torre was an All Star catcher and first baseman, winning the 1971 National League MVP award when he led the circuit with 230 hits, 137 runs batted in, and a .363 batting average. Lifetime, he hit .297, all the more impressive considering the 18 years Torre spent in the majors were largely ruled by pitchers.
According to Baseball-Reference, Torre ranks 7th in all-time WAR for catcher. Of the six in front on him, four are in the Hall of Fame already. The other two are Mike Piazza and Pudge Rodriguez. Torre ranks just ahead of Hall of Fame catchers Bill Dickey and Mickey Cochrane. Of the 14 catchers in Cooperstown already the average WAR for career is 49.3 and JAWS [Jay Jaffe WARP score system] is 40.7. Torre is above those criteria with 54.2 and 44.7 respectively.
Joe Torre will one day be inducted as a manager. It appears he may have been overlooked as a player.
(Torre’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 11th; 2010 – 20th-Tie)
There are two reasons Bobby Grich isn’t in the Hall of Fame: a .266 lifetime batting average and Darrell Evans Syndrome. Come to think of it, that’s probably why Darrell Evans isn’t in the Hall of Fame too, but that’s a different story.
If you want to make Cooperstown and have a batting average that low, you’d better be a 500+ home run hitter, the GOAT defensively or a catcher. Bobby Grich is none of those things. What he is, is an extremely well-rounded player. Despite the batting average, Grich’s .371 on-base percentage is around average for any Hall of Famer (not just middle infielders.) His .158 ISO places him in the midst of players like Ryne Sandberg, Don Mattingly and Roberto Clemente. And while Grich won plaudits (and four Gold Gloves) for his excellent fielding percentage, he had some range too– leading to 8+ defensive wins.
That leads us back to Darrell Evans. Bill James once used Evans to illustrate how well-rounded players received less fanfare than players who had a noticeable trait. So, how did well-rounded Bobby Grich do in HOF voting? 11 votes in 1992, a quick exit from the ballot and a hope the Veterans Committee will someday be kinder. Thus far, it hasn’t.
(Grich’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 18th; 2010 – 22nd-Tie)
21-Tie. Sammy Sosa, *New to ballot* 89 votes, (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 48 yes, 41 no), written by Alex Putterman of this website:
Sammy Sosa’s Hall of Fame case comes down to power– the power needed to blast home runs and the power of round numbers and recognizable milestones. Slammin’ Sammy is the only player to ever hit 60 home runs in three different seasons and one of eight to crack 600 long balls in his career. But as Sosa got older and his offensive numbers soared, the right fielder’s defensive and base-running abilities shriveled, until he was essentially a one-dimensional masher. In the end, Sosa’s candidacy comes down to personal voter philosophy.
If you believe the Hall should be empty of steroid users, you won’t support Sosa. If you believe voters should consider the effects of steroid use on a player’s career, you probably won’t support Sosa. If you judge a player strictly on his overall production (Baseball-Reference credits Sosa with 54.8 career WAR), you might not support Sosa. If you believe that anyone who hits 600 home runs belongs in Cooperstown, that certain headlines and historic accomplishments warrant enshrinement regardless of all else, that this is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Productivity, then you certainly will support Sosa.
(Sosa’s places in first two years of project: Not yet eligible.)
21-Tie. Ted Simmons, 89 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 65 yes, 22 no, 2 N/A), written by Bill Deane, author of Baseball Myths and former senior research associate at the Hall of Fame:
As a teenager in the mid-1970s, I’d hear people debating about who was the best catcher in baseball: Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, or Thurman Munson? I’d say, “What about Ted Simmons? The guy hit .332 with 100 RBI!” I’d get only puzzled looks from people who were barely aware that St. Louis had a team.
That exemplified Simmons’s problems in getting attention throughout his career: He played in media-Siberias and was overshadowed by two contemporary HOF catchers. But consider their average HR-RBI-AVG stats from 1971-80: Bench (27-93-.263), Fisk (16-57-.285), Simmons (17-90-.301). Simba was also unjustly regarded as a poor defensive catcher; I tackle this legend at length in my book, Baseball Myths. (Editor’s note: Page 375 of The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract notes: “Bill Deane has studied the records at great length, and demonstrated that Simmons threw out an above-average percentage of opposing base stealers in his prime seasons.”)
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. His next try is this December.
Simmons was one of the ten best all-around catchers in baseball history. He deserves serious consideration for Cooperstown.
(Simmons’ places in first two years of project: 13th both years)
Few first basemen throughout history have excelled on both sides of the game as Keith Hernandez did. From 1978 to 1988, Hernandez won eleven consecutive Gold Glove awards; to this day, he remains the only player ever to win more than ten Gold Gloves at first base. By Total Zone, Hernandez is estimated to have saved nearly 120 runs on defense over his career. On the offensive side of things, he finished his 17-year career with a .296/.384/.436 line, a 130 wRC+, and more walks (1070) than strikeouts (1012). In 1979 at the age of 25, Hernandez appeared in all but one game, mashing to the tune of .344/.417/.513 (155 wRC+). For his efforts that season, he took home the NL batting title and shared MVP honors with Willie Stargell.
Kenny Lofton’s legacy is hurt by his having been an almost exact contemporary of Ken Griffey Jr., the greatest centerfielder of the last 40 years. Griffey captivated fans and media members in a way few players in history have, forcing Lofton to work in his vast shadow. During his prime (1992-1999) Lofton had a slash line of .311/.387/.432. He terrorized pitchers by getting on base at a high clip and stealing more bases than anyone in baseball, with an 80 percent success rate. He played Gold Glove caliber defense too. Per Baseball-Reference, Lofton was worth 45.8 wins in those years, 6th best in baseball. He deserved the 1992 Rookie of the Year Award and perhaps the 1994 MVP. In the final six years of his career Lofton bounced around, playing for nine different teams. He was a worth an average of 2.4 wins in those seasons, but rather than being viewed as a strong decline phase, they led to him being remembered by many as merely a well-traveled journeyman, a grave mischaracterization. He wasn’t quite Griffey, but Lofton was a good hitter, a great fielder, and a base thief with few peers in history. In short, he was tremendous.
(Lofton’s places in first two years of project: Not yet eligible)
To many baseball fans, Tommy John is an operation. Mention his name and, undoubtedly, what will pop into the minds of most is the elbow ligament replacement surgery that now bears his name. However, the left hander was more than just a medical pioneer.
Although never dominant, John was a model of a durability and consistency. His 26 major league seasons trail only Nolan Ryan in terms of longevity, while his 18 qualified campaigns with an above-average adjusted ERA rank behind only three of the game’s elite (Clemens, Maddux, and W. Johnson). With 288 victories (124 before the surgery and 164 after), John also owns the highest win total by any modern pitcher not elected to the Hall of Fame. And, for the more sabermetrically-inclined, his fWAR of 78.7 is the 28th highest in big league history, just a hair behind Warren Spahn. If John is judged by the company he keeps, perhaps he should be enshrined in Cooperstown along side them?
John’s longevity brought him to the threshold of the Hall of Fame, but his lack of a dominant peak is probably what kept him out. And, that’s really not such a bad place to be. Even without a plaque in the Hall of Fame Gallery, the left hander still merits a hallowed place in baseball history, because of both his remarkable ability to capitalize on a second chance as well as the role he played in ensuring one for countless others.
(John’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 26th; 2010 – 25th – Tie)
26-Tie. Fred McGriff, 78 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 40 yes, 37 no, 1 N/A), written by Michel Lim of Baseballs Deep
When he retired in 2004, I thought Fred McGriff was a pretty solid bet to gain eventual enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. His overall mark of 493 home runs ties him with the immortal Lou Gehrig at tenth currently all-time for first basemen (Pujols should pass them both sometime in 2013.) His 2,239 games played as a first basemen place him third all time. In his fifteen seasons as a full-time player from 1988 to 2002, his 458 home runs, 1460 RBI, 2329 hits and 59.5 fWAR rank third, second, third and fifth respectively among first basemen. A five-time All-Star, McGriff was somehow not named an All-Star in 1989 and 1993, seasons in which he later won the Silver Slugger award. McGriff also won the Silver Slugger award in 1992. Though he never won an MVP award, McGriff did finish in the top ten of the voting six times.
At this time though, McGriff seems more likely to be inducted into the infomercial hall of fame than into Cooperstown. The time capsule that was his television commercial endorsement of a baseball instructional video set first aired in 1991 and aired over 100,000 more times unchanged as recently as 2006.
(McGriff’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 22nd-Tie; 2010 – 16th)
26-Tie. Bill Dahlen, 78 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 72 yes, 5 no, 1 N/A) 78 Joe Williams, chair of the Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legends Project, Nineteenth Century Committee, SABR:
If you ask a baseball historian to throw a few names at you who have long deserved a plaque in Cooperstown, Bill Dahlen’s name is almost always mentioned. He played in both the 19th Century and the Deaball Era, performing well in both eras while setting offensive and defensive marks along the way.
First, he set the consecutive game hitting-streak record in 1894 with a 42-game mark. He immediately followed that streak with a new 28-game hitting streak, thus getting a hit in 70 of 71 games. The 42-game streak would be broken by Willie Keeler in 1897, but still ranks fourth all-time.
At retirement, “Bad Bill” ranked second all-time in games played (2,444) behind only Cap Anson. He also had 1,590 runs (13th), 2,461 hits (15th), 413 doubles (11th), 163 triples (14th), 84 homers (13th), 1,234 RBI (12th), 1,064 bases on balls (2nd), 548 stolen bases (10th) and 140 hit by pitches (8th)—all totals not too shabby for a shortstop.
On defensive, he retired as the all-time leader in games played at shortstop with 2,133, currently ranked eleventh. He also was the career leader at shortstop in putouts with 4,856 (currently second) and assists with 7,505 (currently fourth). He was also the first player with 8,000 career assists at all positions with 8,138 (currently fourth).
Not only did he pile up stats, he was a winner. He contributed to NL championships in 1899 and 1900 with Brooklyn, and 1904 and 1905 with New York. New York won the World Series in 1905.
SABR’s Nineteenth Century Committee named him the 19th Century Overlooked Baseball Legend for 2012–a 19th-century player, manager, executive or other baseball personality not yet inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Dahlen missed election to the Hall a few weeks ago when he fell two votes short when the Pre-Integration Era Committee met at MLB’s Winter Meetings.
(Dahlen’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 32nd-Tie; 2010 – 40th-Tie)
Darrell Evans played the majority of his games at third base. Third base is one of the most underrepresented positions in the Hall of Fame, if not the most. The Baseball Writers Association of America has admitted Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Brooks Robinson and Pie Traynor. The Veterans Committee has admitted Home Run Baker, Jimmy Collins, Freddie Lindstrom, George Kell and most recently, Ron Santo. Meanwhile, the BBWAA has admitted 10 second basemen, with the Vets enshrining another nine. The BBWAA alone has put in as many shortstops as there are third basemen in Cooperstown.
Third base requires fielding and hitting. If you can’t field the position (Jim Thome), you are moved to first or DH (Edgar Martinez.) Players who are great hitters, even if they can field the position, are moved when their defense falters (George Brett and Paul Molitor.) For whatever reason, careers seem relatively short at third base. There are only 20 players with 1200 or more games played at third. Darrell Evans ranks somewhere between 10-15 among the group depending on which version of WAR you use. Granted a lot of the players ahead of Evans also aren’t in the Hall of Fame and Evans has more games played and plate appearances than all of them, but that said, shouldn’t there be more than 11 third basemen in the Hall?
If you don’t like Graig Nettles or Buddy Bell or Ken Boyer or Stan Hack or Robin Ventura or Ron Cey or Sal Bando or all of them shouldn’t you at least take the guy with the most HR by a considerable margin? Heck, I’m not sure one of these players is any better or worse than the others by a significant margin, but I can say this, after Chipper Jones gets in, I feel badly for Scott Rolen and Adrian Beltre because they’re going to be in the running with Evans and the rest for best third baseman not in the HOF. They’re all better than Lindstrom, Collins, Kell and Traynor.
While I’m not arguing we should lower HOF standards to the worst among these, I do think voters need to reevaluate how they make positional adjustments. Maybe that adjustment has been made appropriately with other positions for the most part. Every SS better than Alan Trammell is in the HOF (but for ARod and Jeter.) If the cutoff is the top 12 at any position, then maybe Trammell doesn’t belong. But, if the cutoff is the top 12 then third base is still well underrepresented and Evans needs to be considered against Nettles and Bell and Boyer and Hack and Ventura and Cey and Bando for spots 8-12 because only the top six plus Baker are in the Hall right now.
(Evans’ places in first two years of project: 2011 – 32nd-Tie; 2010 – 40th Tie)
28-Tie. David Cone, 74 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 33 yes, 40 no, 1NA), written by William Tasker of The Flagrant Fan:
David Cone, the 29th best player not in the Hall of Fame? Sure. David Cone compiled a WAR of 58+ on both major stat sites. He finished in the top ten in CY Young Award voting four times and won it once. He finished with a .606 career winning percentage and it would have been .638 before his three hang-on seasons. He added another eight wins in the post season for a .727 winning percentage there. And he was 2-0 in the World Series. Cone compiled 22 shutouts in an era of relief specialization and one of those shutouts was a perfect game.
Cone won twenty games in a season twice, 1988 and 1998 (going 40-10 in those two seasons.) He led the league three times in strikeouts per nine innings and allowed only 7.8 hits per nine innings for his career.
Cone did not compile enough stats for the Hall of Fame, but for ten seasons, was one of the best pitchers in baseball. And best of all, he is an ex-jock who uses sabermetric stats as a broadcaster. That just seals the deal.
(Cone’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 32nd-Tie; 2010 – 49th-Tie)
29. Don Mattingly, 73 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 22 yes, 51 no), written by Stacey Gotsulias, deputy editor of MLB for Aerys Sports:
Don Mattingly is the reason I became such a rabid New York Yankee fan.
When I attended my first games, a doubleheader in 1983, he served primarily as a part-time first baseman and outfielder. I started regularly going to games the following season and that’s when Mattingly got his chance to shine.
He became the full-time first baseman after the Yankees traded Steve Balboni to Kansas City before the 1984 season. In that first full season, Mattingly won the batting title with a .343 average. He also had a league-high 207 hits.
Mattingly won the American League Most Valuable Player award the following season after finishing with 35 home runs and 145 RBI. He was well on his way to a legendary career until a fluke back injury in June 1987. That same season, he still managed to homer in eight-straight games and hit six grand slams. Amazingly, they would be the only grand slams of his career.
Mattingly finished with 100+ RBI from 1984 – 1988, a streak that ended in 1988 when he collected 88 RBI.
His back problems flared up again in subsequent seasons and he could never regain his power stroke. After 14 respectable seasons with the Yankees and a .307 career average, Mattingly retired at 34.
(Mattingly’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 22nd-Tie; 2010 – 27th)
The slick fielding, power hitting Graig Nettles might be the greatest third baseman — outside active players– to not be enshrined in Cooperstown. In addition to a reputation as a great defender, Nettles hit 390 home runs and displayed excellent plate discipline.
Unfortunately for the former Yankee, his greatest attributes weren’t properly identified by voters during his opportunity for enshrinement. His 62.7 Wins Above Replacement ranks above HOFers such as Andre Dawson, Dave Winfield and Harmon Killebrew. Although Nettles topped out at 5th in any individual MVP vote, he finished 4th in MLB in ‘76 WAR. During the 70’s, Nettles walked during 10.2 percent of his PA’s, compared to an 11.1 K percentage. That discipline formula rated better than more heralded teammates like Munson, Jackson and Rivers.
Many referred to Nettles as “dependable” or “sturdy” during his time in the Bronx Zoo. As the years moved on, it’s clear that he was an underappreciated star who contributed heavily to five World Series appearances. Ironically, a modern day Nettles — Adrian Beltre — has started to receive Hall conversation. As times passes, it’s likely that more players of the Nettles-Beltre ilk will receive consideration for Cooperstown.
(Nettles’ places in first two years of project: 2011 – 40th; 2010 – 44th-Tie)
32. Jim Kaat, 71 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 46 yes, 24 no, 1 N/A), written by Brandon Warne of Fangraphs:
Long before Jim Kaat was a well-liked broadcaster, he was a pretty darn good pitcher whose career spanned four decades (1959-1983). And while Kaat gets a lot more credit for longevity than quality — including 162-game averages of 13-11 record, 3.45 ERA, and a 108 ERA+ in his 25-year career — his 71.2 WAR via FanGraphs paints the picture of a true fringe candidate. By JAWS, Kaat is on the outside looking in, but one could be forgiven for inducting him on the basis of nearly 300 wins, 16 Gold Gloves, and the fact that despite pitching in a non-strikeout era, he’s still 34th on the all-time list.
But in the end, Kaat falls short, and that’s probably a fair assessment.
(Kaat’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 27th-Tie; 2010 – 28th-Tie)
A dynamic player who combined power and speed at a time when it was rare, Saturnino “Minnie” Minoso starred for the Chicago White Sox for the bulk of his lengthy career. The Cuban-born left fielder was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1951, batted .300 in eight All-Star Games, and won three Gold Glove awards. Consistent production was his hallmark. In the 11-year period from 1951-1961, he hit over .300 eight times, scored 90+ runs nine times, topped 100 RBI four times, and was always in double figures in home runs and stolen bases. He also led the AL in getting hit by pitches ten times and in stolen bases and triples three times each, a testament to the speed that electrified the league. The “Go! Go!” chant of White Sox fans early in his career became the mantra of the 1959 AL champs, and even though he had been traded to the Indians two seasons earlier, he remained so popular in Chicago that Chisox owner Bill Veeck gave him a World Series ring.
(Minoso’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 21st; 2010 – 31st-Tie)
34. Will Clark, 68 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 21 yes, 46 no, 1 N/A), written by Peter Hartlaub, pop culture critic and blogger for the San Francisco Chronicle:
Will Clark’s biggest obstacle to getting into the Hall of Fame was always Will Clark.
The first baseman coasted on natural ability, a stranger to offseason workouts and (apparently) the concept of a side salad. Fans loved the good ol’ boy persona, but he made enemies among baseball writers. And after an epic comeback season – and within striking distance of the Hall-friendly 300 homer mark – the six time All-Star chose to hunt, fish and do other Will Clark things rather than play out the end of his career.
Clark didn’t make a case for himself, so we must dig a little to make the case for him. There’s his lifetime .303 batting average and gaudy .384 on-base percentage. He made 8,283 plate appearances and grounded into just 100 double plays.
He was the catalyst that brought back the San Francisco Giants franchise, electrifying the team and its fanbase with his perfect swing and swagger, then hitting .650 in the team’s landmark 1989 NLCS victory over the Chicago Cubs. A solid defensive first baseman, and an exceptional situational hitter. A legend in college, who hit .429 in the Olympics. Definitely the guy you want on your side in a fight.
And then there was that final season, filling in with injured Mark McGwire’s St. Louis Cardinals. With just 171 at-bats, the 36-year-old Clark hit 12 homers and 42 RBIs with a .345 batting average. An exclamation point on a Hall-worthy career.
(Clark’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 14th-Tie; 2010 – 17th-Tie)
35-Tie. Dale Murphy, 67 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 37 yes, 30 no), written by his son, Chad Murphy:
Of course I’m a little biased, but I think there’s no doubt that my dad was one of the top 5 or so players of the 1980s (eerily similar to Gil Hodges in the 50s, in fact.) No matter which side of the peak vs. longevity debate you come down on, you can always find exceptions who are already in the Hall of Fame. Even with his late-career decline, my dad was 19th on the all-time home run list (just behind Duke Snider, I believe) when he retired.
The other important consideration (which I discuss at some length here) is all the intangibles he brought to the game: the way he inspired a generation of baseball fans, especially in the South; his long streak of consecutive games for a set of Braves teams that were, for the most part, truly awful; and, most importantly (in my opinion), the integrity he brought to the way he played the game. He’s a walking advertisement, in fact, for the very cliche but undoubtedly true notion that it’s not what you achieve that matters most but how you achieve it. So it’s not just that my dad was “a nice guy.”
True, being a model citizen off-the-field shouldn’t be totally relevant to HOF decisions, but these days the more pertinent character issue, I believe, is whether or not you cut corners for personal gain and by doing so compromised the integrity of the game. Not only did my dad make the correct decisions– for himself and for the game– but he also managed to put up impressive numbers in the process. If such a well-rounded career is not worthy of the top 50, not to mention the HOF, then we might do well to re-evaluate a few things.
(Murphy’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 27th-Tie; 2010 – 17th-Tie)
Kevin Brown is an interesting case when we look at “bubble” Hall Of Fame candidates. He carries with him a pedigree of postseason success, a frequency of “that other guy” accomplishments, and statistical success that is on par with elite players during his time.
Taking a bit deeper look, we can see that Brown achieved the status of All Star six times in his career, spanning both leagues with one appearance in the American League and five in the National League. His career spanned 19 seasons and he accomplished over 200 wins during that time span. His career numbers boast over 200 wins (211), over 2,300 strikeouts (2,397), an impressive career earned run average (3.28) and over 3,200 innings pitched (3,256.1). While we are into a generation of pitchers that will, most likely, struggle to ever produce another 300 win pitcher, a player with more than 200 suddenly becomes in the discussion of the true “elite.”
Brown was never able to accomplish the pinnacle of awards as a pitcher, however, he did finish with second (1996), third (1998) and sixth (1992, 1999, 2000) in Cy Young voting during his career. Add to that, he was able to place in the top 25 in Most Valuable Player voting twice (1996, 1998).
He sports the coveted World Series Champion title, having won with the Florida Marlins in 1997 as well as finding his way back to the post-season as a member of the Padres in 1998 and the Yankees in 2004.
Is Brown truly a Hall Of Famer? Probably not. Is he among the best players that are not in Cooperstown? Very much so.
(Brown’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 35th; 2010 – 38th-Tie)
Perhaps the best measure of whether Ken Boyer belongs in the Hall of Fame comes from the St. Louis Cardinals themselves. Traditionally, the team retires numbers only for Hall of Famers – or, in the case of Tony La Russa whose No. 10 was retired in 2012, those sure to be inducted. Gracing the left field wall at Busch Stadium are the photos and numbers of the Cooperstown inductees: Stan Musial, Dizzy Dean, Red Schoendienst, Bruce Sutter, Whitey Herzog, on and on … plus Ken Boyer’s No. 14. Boyer’s number was retired in 1984, two years after his untimely death from cancer at age 51.
Boyer was the National League MVP in 1964, as well as a key contributor during that year’s Cardinals World Series championship. He was a seven-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove third baseman whose numbers for his 15-year career – .287/.349/.462 with 282 home runs, 1141 RBI, 58.7 WAR – are comparable to those of Hall of Famer Ron Santo over his 15-year career. Of course, Santo’s journey to the Hall was long and winding, but ultimately resulted in induction. And the sentiment of long-time Cardinals fans, with this being one example, is that the same should hold true for Boyer.
(Boyer’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 27th-Tie; 2010 – 35th)
38. Jack Morris, 64 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 30 yes, 34 no):
Joe Posnanski wrote today, “I’ve said way too much already about Morris as a Hall of Fame candidate. I admire the career, but I think there are many other better pitchers who are not in the Hall of Fame. But that’s an old story now.”
I couldn’t have said it better.
(Morris’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 52nd-Tie; 2010 – 36th-Tie)
Wes Ferrell didn’t win 200 games and had an ERA over 4.00. How is he even in a Hall of Fame discussion? He just might be the most unique pitcher in history. Ferrell’s 8-year peak took place when the league ERA was 4.50. Ferrell’s ERA during those years was 3.72. Add the fact that he played in two hitters parks (in Cleveland and Boston) and his ERA+ during that run was 128. For his entire career, his ERA+ was still an impressive 116—better than Hall of Famers Steve Carlton, Fergie Jenkins, and Nolan Ryan (among several others).
Ferrell’s peak was tremendous, as he won 20 games six times and compiled 46.0 (Baseball-Reference) WAR on the mound (the rest of his career was below replacement level). Then there’s his bat. Ferrell was the best hitting (exclusive) pitcher of all time. His 100 wRC+ led to 12.1 WAR at the plate. Ten wins came during his peak, meaning he was worth 56.0 WAR, or 7.0 WAR per season. That is a Hall of Fame-level, Koufaxian peak. It just isn’t a traditional one.
(Ferrell’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 45th-Tie; 2010 – 86th-Tie)
Any fan of American League baseball in the late 1980s knew his favorite team would have its hands full a few times a year when future Hall-of-Famer Bret Saberhagen came through town. Saberhagen’s career took such a turn for the worse, though. Not only is he not bronzed in Cooperstown, he didn’t even crack this list either of the past two years.
In 1989, Saberhagen won his second AL Cy Young Award, leading the league in innings pitched (262 1/3), ERA (2.16), and wins (23). We would later learn that Saberhagen also led the league in WHIP (0.961) and WAR (9.2, per baseball-reference), each for the second time.
Saberhagen’s Hall case was derailed by inconsistency and injury. He pitched like an ace in ’85, ’87, and ’89, but failed to throw 200 innings in ’86 and ’90 and led the league in hits allowed in ’88.
Coming off a solid season in 1991, he signed a massive deal with the Mets (on which he’s still collecting). In New York, he made just 74 starts over the next 3 1/2 years before being traded to the Rockies in midseason 1995.
Saberhagen enjoyed a minor comeback with the Red Sox in his mid-thirties before retiring in 2001, having accumulated more career WAR (56) than Hal Newhouser, but fewer than Tommy John, and more wins (167) than Sandy Koufax, but fewer than long-time teammate Kevin Appier, whose Hall case is similar to Saberhagen’s despite a far quieter career.
(Saberhagen’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 58th-Tie; 2010 – 86th-Tie)
The first three Bobby Bonds cards I ever owned were all in the 1976 Topps set. #380 showed him in Yankee pinstripes, looking muscular and intense with a bandaged right hand that spoke of untold hours in the batting cage; “AL All-Star Outfield,” read the star in the lower left-hand corner. #2 was a “’75 Record Breaker” card, which featured a pic from the same photo session and celebrated the fact that Bonds now had more leadoff homers (32) and more 30-30 seasons (3) to his name than anyone in MLB history. And then there was #380T, which showed him in an airbrushed California Angels cap and sported the headline “Yankees Trade Bonds To Angels”.
And that, folks, is pretty much The Bobby Bonds Story in a nutshell. Barry’s late dad had tremendous power, speed and ability, yet — after playing his first seven seasons in San Francisco — seemed condemned to wander the baseball map like Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu. From 1975 through 1981, Bonds played for seven different teams, never quite living up to the “next Willie Mays” tag that had been hung on him. Injuries were a problem, alcoholism more so, and his career was all but over by the time he turned 34. Still, a man with 332 homers, 461 stolen bases, five 30-30 seasons (a record he now shares with his son), three Gold Gloves, and a .353 career OBP despite striking out essentially once every four at-bats deserves better than to be remembered as a mere underachiever. For much of his career, Bobby Bonds was a badass — and as Master Po might have said, better to be a flawed badass than to never be a badass at all.
(Bonds’ places in first two years of project: 2011 – 22nd-Tie; 2010 – 54th-Tie)
Making a top-50 case for Gil Hodges is a lot easier than some. Not only was he an excellent player, he was also a World Series winning manager.
The right-handed hitting Hodges is an all-time great based on his bat alone. In an 18-year career, spent mostly with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, the first baseman hit .273 with 370 home runs and 1,274 RBI. He was also an eight-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner and ranks 72nd all-time in home runs, 170th in extra base hits and 119th in RBI. The Dodgers failed to finish first or second only three times during his 14 years as a regular.
Hodges’s career managerial losing record (660-753) must be split into two eras. He spent five seasons helming the Washington Senators in the second division. However, he brought magic to the hapless New York Mets. Still in their first decade of existence, they were a laughing stock and had never won more than 66 games in a season. Hodges had three winning seasons in the four he spent in Flushing, including leading the iconic 1969 World Series winning Amazin’ Mets.
Few figures in baseball history can match the record of excellence and success of Gil Hodges.
(Hodges’ places in first two years of project: 2011 – 25th; 2010 – 24th)
To borrow a page out of the Four Tops’ book and duly make an awful pun, Reggie Smith simply was “Standing in the Shadows of Glove” for the entirety of his career—overshadowed by Carl Yastrzemski during his time in Boston (rightfully so) and Steve Garvey in Los Angeles (less rightfully so.)
Never once did Smith have a full season with an OPS+ under 100; in fact, aside from his rookie year, it never dipped below 116. While never recording any truly eye-popping seasons, he managed to post nine seasons with 4 or more WAR and retired from Major League Baseball (he would go on to play in Japan) with a final season OPS+ of 134 for San Francisco, barely below his career average.
Splitting his time between center and right field, Smith was arguably one of the top-ten fielders at his position between 1965 and 1985, and compares favorably in overall value to many HOF outfielders, from Tommy McCarthy to Dave Winfield. To me, he’s slightly above a borderline case— maybe undeserving of a vote on a stacked ballot like this year’s, but far more worthy than the 0.7 percent he received in 1988.
(Smith’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 43rd-Tie; 2010 – 54th-Tie)
44. Dave Stieb, 57 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 20 yes, 35 no, 2 N/A), written by Sean Lahman:
Dave Stieb wasn’t perfect, but he came close. In 1989, he came within one out of a perfect game against the Yankees. He took no-hitters into the ninth inning in back-to-back starts in 1988, and he finally got his no-hitter against the Indians in 1990.
No-hitters aren’t enough to punch your ticket to the Hall of Fame, but these games give a glimpse at how dominating a pitcher Stieb was at his peak. He was a seven time all-star, starting for the American League in back to back games in 1983 and 1984.
Stieb got just a smattering of HOF votes in his only year on the ballot, but you have to think he’d have enjoyed much stronger support if he had reached the big leagues two decades later. Stieb didn’t fare well in the traditional statistics like wins and strikeouts which were considered important at the time. Toiling for an expansion team in the baseball wilderness of Canada didn’t help his feats get the appropriate exposure, either
Looking back now, the sabermetric stats help provide some context for his dominance. His WAR7 – his annual Wins Above Replacement score for his best seven seasons – is 42.7, well ahead of contemporaries like Nolan Ryan (41.0), Jack Morris (30.8), or Dwight Gooden (37.2).
Stieb led the American League in WAR for pitchers for three consecutive seasons, from 1982 to 1984, and finished second in 1981 and 1985.
He’s often compared to his contemporary Jack Morris, a perennial HOF candidate who was the only pitcher who compiled more wins than Stieb during the 1980s. But Stieb’s career WAR is much better, 53.5 versus 39.3, illustrating how much the case for Morris relies on traditional statistics, longevity, and the differences between playing for a playoff contender rather than an expansion team.
(Stieb’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 73rd; 2010 – 65th-Tie)
Ask a baseball fan about second basemen that should perhaps be in the Hall of Fame and Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker are immediately mentioned. One name that doesn’t get bandied about quite so much is Willie Randolph’s…although maybe it should.
The greatest argument against Randolph’s enshrinement is his lack of home run power. His 54 home runs would rank him one hundred and twenty-first among the 148 current hitter inductees, with only four of those inductees playing most of their careers in the Post World War II era.
But Randolph’s game didn’t revolve around power. His speed, defense and on-base skills are what made him great. Randolph’s steady play around the keystone, base stealing abilities, and his ability to work the count and take a walk made him into one of the best second basemen of his time and one of the top 15-20 second basemen of all time.
Randolph might very well fall on the “wrong” side of the HOF bubble. But as with his contemporaries Grich and Whitaker, it is a shame that Randolph was one and done on the ballot. Whether he is a Hall of Famer or not, Randolph’s case is most definitely underappreciated.
(Randolph’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 52nd-Tie; 2010 – 65th-Tie)
When I was reading Dan Epstein’s 2012 book, Big Hair and Plastic Grass I knew there would have to be some reference made to Yankee catcher Thurman Munson’s personal grooming preferences and sure enough Epstein noted that the Yankee captain “who seemed to sport a perpetual three-day scruff as prickly as his personality” grew a full beard in 1977 much to the chagrin of owner George Steinbrenner. Munson was a hard-nosed and mustached throwback that reminded me of the ancient Buck Ewing’s and King Kelly’s of the game and how could George have been upset with a guy who as a catcher was never (ever) on the disabled list. In a brief career cut short at the age of 32 by the tragic airplane crash that found him burned to death in the cockpit of his own plane, Munson’s name is often bandied about as a possible Hall of Fame candidate with a past precedent set by the enshrinement of another tragic figure, Cleveland pitcher Addie Joss whose career fell short of the Hall’s ten year career requirement. In 1977 the HOF Board of Directors bent the rules and passed a special resolution to pave Joss’ way to immortality in the plaque gallery.
Joss pitched only nine years and compiled a record of 160-97 with an ERA of 1.89, pitching two no hitters and a perfect game before his life was taken by a bout with meningitis in 1911. Comparably, Munson’s career lasted eleven years with only nine full seasons and had his last one cut short after playing 97 games in 1979. In his prime, Munson led the woeful Yankees back to prominence with an AL Pennant in 1976 and two World Championships in 1977 and 1978. His lifetime BA was .292 with 1,558 hits and along with HOFers Carlton Fisk and Johnny Bench was undoubtedly considered one of the top catchers in the game. As Graham noted in 2010, Munson “made seven All Star appearances in the decade along with winning three Gold Gloves and the 1976 American League Most Valuable Player award.” Not too shabby.
Still, Munson falls way short of the dominance of fellow catcher Roy Campanella, whose career was also cut short, and his showing in the BBWAA voting was less than stellar after he first appeared on the ballot in 1981. Munson’s only shot for the Hall with the Veteran’s Committee is no doubt an uphill battle with many standing in line in front of him including fellow catcher Gil Hodges who received more votes than him back in 1981. Munson still has his devoted supporters, though, and a website devoted to his enshrinement.
(Munson’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 37th-Tie; 2010 – 47th)
47-Tie. Rick Reuschel, 52 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 28 yes, 23 no, 1 N/A), written by Cyril Morong of Cybermetrics:
Rick Reuschel may never have seemed like a Hall of Famer, but he excelled at the two things a pitcher directly controls the most: HRs allowed and strikeout-to-walk ratio. He was also a work horse, being one of only 83 pitchers to reach 3000 IP from 1920-2011 (3,548 IP).
Among that group, he was 16th in preventing HRs relative to the league average, giving up about 27% fewer HRs than the norm, pitching mainly in Wrigley Field! Wrigley was a great HR park during his Cub years, allowing 42% more HRs than average.
He is also 34th in strikeout-to-walk ratio relative to the league average, being 31% better than the norm.
He ranks ahead of the following Hall of Famers in both stats:
Some of them pitched more innings. Palmer for example, had 3,948. But Palmer was only 33rd in HRs prevented, being 14% better than average. In strikeout-to-walk ratio he was 63rd, being 9% better than average. Palmer got in on the 1st ballot with 92.6% of the vote. So Reuschel’s candidacy must be taken seriously.
(Reuschel’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 52nd-Tie; 2010 – 103rd-Tie)
47-Tie. Jimmy Wynn, 52 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 24 yes, 27 no, 1 N/A), written by David Pinto of Baseball Musings:
Jimmy Wynn played at the wrong time in the wrong stadium. Wynn posted a high OBP and a high isolated power for his career, but his batting average came in low in an era when most commentators saw that as a very important statistic. Wynn played for Houston, spending many years in the Astrodome, which reduced his power. A look at his splits shows him hitting 137 home runs in his home parks, 154 away. If you look at Wynn’s road stats during his 12 years as an everyday player, he compares favorably with Billy Williams, a Hall of Fame outfielder who played in a much better hitter’s park.
My favorite Wynn stat comes from his defense. While he was only about average defensively, the Toy Cannon could throw. In just 290 games in leftfield, Wynn collected 34 assists. As a matter of comparison, Alex Gordon leads ML leftfielders with 37 assists in 308 games over the last two seasons. All in all, Wynn threw out 139 runners from the outfield. Wynn’s powerful bat and arm helped make him one of the most underrated players of all time.
(Wynn’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 37th-Tie; 2010 – 44th-Tie)
In 1995, on the eve of Game Three of the World Series, Albert Belle’s episodic rage surfaced in the Indians’ dugout. Spewing profanities, he drove media members from the benches, redirecting his attacks to NBC’s Hannah Storm while she braved the outburst.
In 1995, Albert Belle became the only player in MLB history to reach 50 home runs and 50 doubles in a single season. He led the league with 121 runs, 126 RBI, and a .690 SLG, missing the MVP nod by a single vote and, perhaps, a temper tantrum or two.
Over 12 seasons, Albert averaged 143+ hits, 30+ home runs, and 100+ RBI per season. He posted an OPS+ over 100 each year, topping out at 194 in 1994. His defensive value was a liability, reaching a high of -0.6 dWAR in 1995 and tanking at -2.3 in ’99. A bout of degenerative arthritis forced Belle into an early retirement with career totals of .295/.369/.564, a .933 OPS, and 36.9 bWAR.
Sports Illustrated’s Michael Bamberger once described Belle this way: “He wants to be measured solely by his baseball accomplishments.” Although he has since been knocked out of Hall of Fame contention, it’s a mantra voters would do well to remember.
(Belle’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 31st; 2010 – 31st-Tie)
49-Tie. Dave Parker, 51 votes (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 20 yes, 30 no, 1 N/A), written by Tara Franey of Aerys Sports:
Dave Parker’s career is really best told through briefer moments. His career batting and WAR numbers are great, but borderline. Bring it down to the season level, and you get an MVP award, two batting titles, three gold gloves, three silver sluggers, and seven all-star appearances. Come down a level further and you have a treasure trove of some of the era’s more memorable moments. Remember that time he broke his face and wore that crazy black and yellow goalie mask? Remember that throw home in the 1979 All-Star game? Remember that time he literally hit the cover off of the dang ball? …Remember the cocaine?
But in between those times – both after his heyday in Pittsburgh, and after his resurgence in Cincinnati – there were some rough periods for Parker, and it’s hard to say whether some combination of his career numbers and awards, and the other stuff: like his great moments, style of play, or loud personality, should merit inclusion into the hall. He never got strong support from the voters before dropping off the ballot last year, but he seems like a guy who could have better luck with the Veterans Committee.
(Parker’s places in first two years of project: 2011 – 36th; 2010 – 28th-Tie)
New to the Top 50 this year: Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Kenny Lofton, Jack Morris (in Top 50 in 2010), Mike Piazza, Willie Randolph, Rick Reuschel, Bret Saberhagen, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Dave Stieb.
Players who were in the Top 50 last year, but aren’t this year: Barry Larkin (Finished 2nd, now in HOF); Ron Santo (Tied for 6th, now in HOF); Harold Baines (45th-Tie); Bob Caruthers (45th-Tie); Dave Concepcion (45th-Tie); Steve Garvey (41st-Tie); Ron Guidry (41st-Tie); Orel Hershiser (41st-Tie); Roger Maris (45th-Tie); John Olerud (45th-Tie); Tony Oliva (30th); Bernie Williams (37th-Tie);
Players who were in the Top 50 in 2010, but haven’t been in since: Bert Blyleven (Finished 1st, now in HOF); Roberto Alomar (Tied for 2nd, now in HOF); Dan Quisenberry (38th-Tie); Buck O’Neil (44th-Tie); Bill Freehan (48th.)
Beyond the Top 50
30-50 votes: Harold Baines 39 (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 8Y, 31N), Sal Bando 43 (DHB: 18Y, 23N, 2NA), Buddy Bell 48 (DHB: 21Y, 26N, 1NA), Jose Canseco 31 (DHB: 3Y, 28N), Bob Caruthers 38 (DHB: 26Y, 10N, 2NA), Eddie Cicotte 44 (DHB: 16Y, 27N, 1NA), Dave Concepcion 35 (DHB: 13Y, 21N, 1NA), Bill Freehan 32 (DHB: 16Y, 16N), Steve Garvey 46 (DHB: 21Y, 25N), Jack Glasscock 34 (DHB: 22Y, 11N, 1NA), Dwight Gooden 31 (DHB: 8Y, 23N), Ron Guidry 46 (DHB: 15Y, 31N), Orel Hershiser 44 (DHB: 14Y, 30N), Sherry Magee 49 (DHB: 30Y, 18N, 1NA), Roger Maris 33 (DHB: 11Y, 21N, 1NA), Tony Mullane 34 (DHB: 23Y, 11N), Buck O’Neil 35 (DHB: 31Y, 3N, 1NA), Sadaharu Oh* 30 (DHB: 25Y, 4N, 1NA), John Olerud 36 (DHB: 9Y, 27N), Tony Oliva 50 (DHB: 25Y, 24N, 1NA), Billy Pierce 34 (DHB: 24Y, 9N, 1NA), Vada Pinson 36 (DHB: 13Y, 23N), Lee Smith 49 (DHB: 30Y, 19N), Bernie Williams 43 (DHB: 11Y, 31N, 1NA)
20-29 votes: Kevin Appier 26 (Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? 7Y, 18N, 1NA), Vida Blue 26 (DHB: 10Y, 16N), Pete Browning 21 (DHB: 15Y, 5N, 1NA), Joe Carter 28 (DHB: 11Y, 17N), Norm Cash 25 (DHB: 5Y, 20N), Cesar Cedeno 28 (DHB: 5Y, 23N), Willie Davis 21 (DHB: 6Y, 15N), Dom DiMaggio 22 (DHB: 8Y, 12N, 2NA), Curt Flood 29 (DHB: 19Y, 10N), Stan Hack 26 (DHB: 16Y, 10N), Indian Bob Johnson 24 (DHB: 11Y, 13N), Mickey Lolich 29 (DHB: 8Y, 20N, 1NA), Fred Lynn 27 (DHB: 6Y, 20N, 1NA), Lefty O’Doul 23 (DHB: 12Y, 9N, 2NA), Al Oliver 23 (DHB: 13Y, 8N, 2NA), Dan Quisenberry 27 (DHB: 14Y, 13N), Urban Shocker 24 (DHB: 11Y, 12N, 1NA), Rusty Staub 24 (DHB: 9Y, 15N), Darryl Strawberry 21 (DHB: 2Y, 19N), Deacon White 27 (DHB: 24Y, 3N), Maury Wills 22 (DHB: 10Y, 11N, 1NA), Smoky Joe Wood 23 (DHB: 6Y, 16N, 1NA)
10-19 votes: Sandy Alomar 10 (DHB: 2Y, 8N), Ross Barnes 12 (DHB: 11Y, 1N), Don Baylor 12 (DHB: 3Y, 9N), Charlie Bennett 12 (DHB: 9Y, 2N, 1NA), Tommy Bond 16 (DHB: 11Y, 5N), Bob Boone 10 (DHB: 2Y, 7N, 1NA), Bill Buckner 17 (DHB: 3Y, 14N), Charlie Buffinton 11 (DHB: 9Y, 2N), Ellis Burks 10 (DHB: 0Y, 10N), Ron Cey 15 (DHB: 1Y, 13N, 1NA), Jack Clark 18 (DHB: 2Y, 16N), Rocky Colavito 12 (DHB: 5Y, 7N), Vince Coleman 10 (DHB: 2Y, 8N), Gavy Cravath 13 (DHB: 7Y, 6N), Eric Davis 16 (DHB: 0Y, 16N), Chuck Finley 12 (DHB: 3Y, 9N), George Foster 13 (DHB: 4Y, 9N), John Franco 17 (DHB: 8Y, 9N), Julio Franco 16 (DHB: 4Y, 12N), Andres Galarraga 19 (DHB: 5Y, 14N), Kirk Gibson 17 (DHB: 3Y, 14N), Juan Gonzalez 16 (DHB: 4Y, 12N), Mark Grace 13 (DHB: 1Y, 12N), Paul Hines 12 (DHB: 11Y, 1N), Elston Howard 14 (DHB: 3Y, 10N, 1NA), Frank Howard 14 (DHB: 5Y, 7N, 2NA), Bo Jackson 10 (DHB: 3Y, 7N), David Justice 11 (DHB: 1Y, 10N), Charlie Keller 11 (DHB: 6Y, 5N), Dave Kingman 10 (DHB: 1Y, 9N), Ted Kluszewski 10 (DHB: 3Y, 7N), Bill Madlock 15 (DHB: 8Y, 7N), Marty Marion 10 (DHB: 3Y, 7N), Dennis Martinez 14 (DHB: 6Y, 8N), Bobby Mathews 17 (DHB: 13Y, 4N), Carl Mays 11 (DHB: 7Y, 4N), Jim McCormick 19 (DHB: 15Y, 4N), Don Newcombe 16 (DHB: 7Y, 8N, 1NA), Lance Parrish 11 (DHB: 3Y, 7N, 1NA), Allie Reynolds 16 (DHB: 10Y, 5N, 1NA), J.R. Richard 11 (DHB: 3Y, 8N), Al Rosen 11 (DHB: 5Y, 5N, 1NA), Jimmy Ryan 13 (DHB: 11Y, 2N), Vern Stephens 16 (DHB: 6Y, 10N), Harry Stovey 15 (DHB: 13Y, 2N), Frank Tanana 13 (DHB: 4Y, 9N), Gene Tenace 17 (DHB: 5Y, 11N, 1NA), Fernando Valenzuela 16 (DHB: 3Y, 13N), George Van Haltren 14 (DHB: 11Y, 3N), Robin Ventura 19 (DHB: 5Y, 14N), Bucky Walters 11 (DHB: 6Y, 5N), David Wells 14 (DHB: 4Y, 10N), Wilbur Wood 15 (DHB: 5Y, 9N, 1NA)
5-9 votes: Babe Adams 6 (DHB: 3Y, 2N, 1NA), Matty Alou 6 (DHB: 0Y, 6N), Dusty Baker 9 (DHB: 3Y, 6N), John Beckwith 7 (DHB: 6Y, 1N), Mark Belanger 8 (DHB: 1Y, 7N), Bret Boone 5 (DHB: 1Y, 4N), Larry Bowa 9 (DHB: 4Y, 5N), Tommy Bridges 8 (DHB: 6Y, 2N), Lew Burdette 6 (DHB: 3Y, 3N), Jeff Burroughs 5 (DHB: 1Y, 4N), Brett Butler 9 (DHB: 0Y, 9N), Hal Chase 5 (DHB: 2Y, 3N), Cupid Childs 6 (DHB: 5Y, 1N), Jeff Cirillo 5 (DHB: 0Y, 5N), Royce Clayton 5 (DHB: 0Y, 5N), Cecil Cooper 5 (DHB: 2Y, 3N), Jeff Conine 5 (DHB: 0Y, 5N), Wilbur Cooper 7 (DHB: 4Y, 3N), Lave Cross 6 (DHB: 4Y, 2N), Mike Cuellar 9 (DHB: 3Y, 6N), Bob Elliott 5 (DHB: 3Y, 1N, 1NA), Steve Finley 6 (DHB: 0Y, 6N), Carl Furillo 5 (DHB: 2Y, 3N), George Gore 9 (DHB: 4Y, 5N), Shawn Green 6 (DHB: 0Y, 6N), Ken Griffey Sr. 5 (DHB: 1Y, 3N, 1NA), Heinie Groh 5 (DHB: 5Y, 0N). Mel Harder 6 (DHB: 3Y, 2N, 1NA), Tommy Henrich 7 (DHB: 1Y, 5N, 1NA), Babe Herman 9 (DHB: 4Y, 5N), Roberto Hernandez 5 (DHB: 1Y, 4N), Dummy Hoy 5 (DHB: 3Y, 2N), Home Run Johnson 8 (DHB: 7Y, 1N), Jerry Koosman 9 (DHB: 5Y, 4N), Harvey Kuenn 6 (DHB: 2Y, 4N), Chet Lemon *Write-In* 5 (DHB: 2Y, 3N), Dick Lundy 6 (DHB: 6Y, 0N), Sparky Lyle 8 (DHB: 3Y, 5N), Greg Maddux *Write-in, not yet eligible* 5 (DHB: 5Y, 0N), Pepper Martin 5 (DHB: 3Y, 1N, 1NA), Tino Martinez 5 (DHB: 1Y, 4N), Tug McGraw 8 (DHB: 5Y, 3N), Denny McLain 7 (DHB: 1Y, 6N), Cal McVey 7 (DHB: 4Y, 3N), Bobby Murcer 7 (DHB: 2Y, 5N), Paul O’Neill 7 (DHB: 0Y, 7N), Alejandro Oms 5 (DHB: 5Y, 0N), Dickey Pearce 6 (DHB: 6Y, 0N), Deacon Phillippe 6 (DHB: 2Y, 4N), Lip Pike 5 (DHB: 5Y, 0N), Spottswood Poles 6 (DHB: 5Y, 1N), Boog Powell 7 (DHB: 2Y, 5N), Jack Quinn 5 (DHB: 4Y, 1N), Johnny Sain 7 (DHB: 3Y, 4N), Wally Schang 9 (DHB: 7Y, 2N), Mike Scott 5 (DHB: 0Y, 5N), Ken Singleton 5 (DHB: 1Y, 3N, 1NA), Joe Start 5 (DHB: 4Y, 0N, 1NA), Riggs Stephenson 5 (DHB: 1Y, 4N), Cecil Travis 8 (DHB: 5Y, 2N, 1NA), Bobby Veach 5 (DHB: 4Y, 1N), Mickey Vernon 5 (DHB: 1Y, 4N), Frank White 6 (DHB: 1Y, 5N), Cy Williams 7 (DHB: 4Y, 3N), Ken Williams 6 (DHB: 3Y, 3N), Matt Williams 9 (DHB: 0Y, 8N, 1NA), Eddie Yost 6 (DHB: 1Y, 5N)
3-4 votes: Joe Adcock 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N), Edgardo Alfonzo 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N), Wally Berger 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N), Lyman Bostock 4 (DHB: 2Y, 2N), Jeromy Burnitz 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N), Dolph Camilli 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Bert Campaneris *Write-In* 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N), Vinny Castilla 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N), Phil Cavarretta 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Jack Coombs 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Jose Cruz Sr. 4 (DHB: 0Y, 3N, 1NA), Al Dark 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Jake Daubert 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N), Paul Derringer 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Brian Downing 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N), Luke Easter 4 (DHB: 2Y, 2N), Jim Edmonds *Write-in, not yet eligible* 4 (DHB: 3Y, 1N), Del Ennis 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N), Cecil Fielder 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N), Dave Foutz 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Jim Fregosi *Write-In* 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Tom Glavine *Write-in, not yet eligible* 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Hank Gowdy 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N), Dick Groat 4 (DHB: 1Y, 2N, 1NA), Ozzie Guillen 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N), Guy Hecker 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Tom Henke 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Jeff Kent *Write-in, not yet eligible* 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Ryan Klesko 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N), Johnny Kling 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N), Mark Langston 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Don Larsen 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Tommy Leach 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Sam Leever 4 (DHB: 2Y, 1N, 1N), Davey Lopes 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N), Greg Luzinski 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N), Sal Maglie 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N), Firpo Marberry 4 (DHB: 4Y, 0N), Oliver Marcelle 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N), Pedro Martinez *Write-in, not yet eligible* 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Gil McDougald 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Sam McDowell 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Stuffy McInnis 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Dave McNally 4 (DHB: 1Y, 2N, 1NA), Hal McRae 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N), Jose Mesa 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N), Dobie Moore 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Mike Mussina *Write-in, not yet eligible* 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N), Buddy Myer 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Tip O’Neill 4 (DHB: 2Y, 1N, 1NA), Jesse Orosco 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N), Dave Orr 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Ted Radcliffe 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Jeff Reardon 4 (DHB: 2Y, 2N), Dick Redding 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Ed Reulbach *Write-In* 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Hardy Richardson 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N), Dave Righetti 4 (DHB: 2Y, 2N), Schoolboy Rowe 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N), Tim Salmon 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N), Reggie Sanders 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Jimmy Sheckard 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N), Gary Sheffield *Write-in, not yet eligible* 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), John Smoltz *Write-in, not yet eligible* 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Jack Stivetts 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N), Ezra Sutton 4 (DHB: 3Y, 1N), Kent Tekulve 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N), Frank Thomas *Write-in, not yet eligible* 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Bobby Thomson 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Hal Trosky 4 (DHB: 1Y, 3N), Quincy Trouppe 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Johnny Vander Meer 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N), Hippo Vaughn 3 (DHB: 1Y, 2N), Mo Vaughn 3 (DHB: 0Y, 3N), Fleet Walker 3 (DHB: 3Y, 0N), Roy White 4 (DHB: 0Y, 4N), Ned Williamson 3 (DHB: 2Y, 1N)
1-2 votes: Ted Abernathy *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Newt Allen *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Felipe Alou *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Buzz Arlett 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Bobby Avila 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Dick Bartell 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Joe Black 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Ken Boswell *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), George H Burns 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), George J Burns 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Jack Chesbro *Write-in, already in HOF* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Harlond Clift 2 (DHB: 1Y, 0N, 1NA), Tony Conigliaro *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Jose Cruz *Write-in* 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Roy Cullenbine 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Chili Davis *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Tommy Davis *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Bingo DeMoss 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Rob Dibble *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), John Donaldson 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), Mike Donlin 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Patsy Donovan 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Fred Dunlap *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Mark Eichhorn 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Scott Erickson 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Carl Erskine 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), Carl Everett 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Roy Face *Write-in* 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Ferris Fain 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Jeff Fassero 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Tony Fernandez *Write-in* 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Charlie Finley *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Freddie Fitzsimmons 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Art Fletcher *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Jack Fournier 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Chuck Foster *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Bud Fowler 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Bob Friend 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Ned Garver 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Jim Gentile 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Brian Giles *Write-in, not yet eligible* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Kid Gleason *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Luis Gonzalez *Write-in, not yet eligible* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Mike Greenwell *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Ken Griffey *Write-in, uncertain if Sr or Jr* 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), Ken Griffey Jr *Write-in, not yet eligible* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Charlie Grimm 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), Marquis Grissom 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Jerry Grote *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 0N, 1NA), Pedro Guerrero 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Vladimir Guerrero *Write-in, not yet eligible* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Don Gullett *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Isao Harimoto *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Toby Harrah *Write-in* 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), John Hiller 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Larry Hisle *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Trevor Hoffman *Write-in, not yet eligible* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Bob Horner *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Willie Horton 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Randy Johnson *Write-in, not yet eligible* 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), Smead Jolley 2 (DHB: 0Y, 1N, 1NA), Chipper Jones *Write-in, not yet eligible* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Doug Jones 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Fielder Jones *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Sad Sam Jones 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Eddie Joost *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Brian Jordan 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Bill Joyce 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Wally Joyner 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Masaichi Kaneda *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Jimmy Key 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Darryl Kile 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Ellis Kinder *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Silver King 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), Ray Knight *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Chuck Knoblauch *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Ed Konetchy *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Arlie Latham *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Matt Lawton 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Bill Lee 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Al Leiter 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Jose Lima 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Bob Locker 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Herman Long 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), Javy Lopez 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Dolf Luque 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Garry Maddox *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Mike G. Marshall *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Dick McBride 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), Frank McCormick 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Lindy McDaniel *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), McDowell *Write-in, not sure if Sam, Jack, Roger or Oddibe* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Willie McGee 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Ed McKean 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Bob Meusel 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), Levi Meyerle *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Clyde Milan 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Kevin Mitchell 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Bill Monroe 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Jeff Montgomery *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Wally Moon 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Manny Mota *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Terry Mulholland 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), George Mullin *Write-in* 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Jim Mutrie *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Randy Myers *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Robb Nen 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Phil Nevin 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Joe Niekro 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Amos Otis 2 (DHB: 0Y, 1N, 1NA), Milt Pappas *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Camilo Pascual 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Roger Peckinpaugh *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), William Perry *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Rico Petrocelli *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Bruce Petway 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Tony Phillips *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Darrell Porter *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Brad Radke 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Manny Ramirez *Write-in, not yet eligible* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Ivan Rodriguez *Write-in, not yet eligible* 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), Red Rolfe 1 (DHB: 0Y, 0N, 1NA), Charlie Root *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Nap Rucker *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Joe Rudi 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Red Ruffing *Write-in, already in HOF* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), George Scales *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Herb Score 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), George Scott *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Aaron Sele 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Richie Sexson *Write-in, not yet eligible* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Bob Shawkey *Write-in* 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Ruben Sierra 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Roy Sievers 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Chino Smith 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Smith *Write-in, not sure if Lee or Reggie* N 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Elmer E. Smith *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Germany Smith 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Al Spalding *Write-in, already in HOF* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Mike Stanton 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Victor Starffin *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Steve Stone *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Jesse Tannehill 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Frank Thomas (62 Mets) 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Roy Thomas 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Robby Thompson 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Andre Thornton *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Luis Tiant Sr. 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Dizzy Trout 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), George Uhle *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Frank Viola *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Dixie Walker 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Todd Walker 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Lon Warneke 2 (DHB: 1Y, 1N), Buck Weaver *Write-in* 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), John Wetteland *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Gus Weyhing 2 (DHB: 2Y, 0N), Bill White *Write-in* 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Rondell White 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Will White 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Woody Williams 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Vic Willis *Write-in, already in HOF* 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Willie Wilson 2 (DHB: 0Y, 1N, 1NA), Nip Winters 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N), Tony Womack 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Tim Worrell 1 (DHB: 0Y, 1N), Rudy York 2 (DHB: 0Y, 2N), Eric Young 1 (DHB: 1Y, 0N)
Appeared on the ballot, received zero votes: Dale Alexander, Hank Bauer, William Bell Sr., Ollie Carnegie, Ben Chapman, Walker Cooper, Jim Creighton, Jim Davenport, Kelly Downs, Larry Doyle, Scott Garrelts, Danny Graves, Mike Griffin, Rick Helling, Tommy Holmes, Ken Holtzman, Pete Hughes, Larry Jackson, Sam Jackson, Sam Jethroe, Charley Jones, Davy Jones, Joe Judge, Benny Kauff, Ken Keltner, Terry Kennedy, Mike LaCoss, Carney Lansford, Vern Law, Duffy Lewis, Elliot Maddox, Candy Maldonado, Mike Matheny, Sadie McMahon, Irish Meusel, Wally Moses, Bill Mueller, Jeff Nelson, Bill Nicholson, Joe Page, Mel Parnell, Larry Parrish, Jim Perry, Johnny Podres, Jack Powell, Vic Power, Joe Randa, Mike Remlinger, Ernie Riles, Don Robinson, Felix Rodriguez, Pete Runnels, Manny Sanguillen, Cy Seymour, George Stone, Jose Uribe, Vic Wertz, Todd Worrell
For the “Best of the Rest”, let’s focus on “The Next 50.” Players #51 through #100 of the voting results each received between 18 and 50 votes. The list features players supported through both a traditional lens [Lee Smith (T-51st), Tony Oliva (T-51st), Steve Garvey (55th), Harold Baines (60th)] and a sabermetric lens [Sherry Magee (53rd), Buddy Bell (54th), Sal Bando (T-59th), Bob Caruthers (61st)]. I’m going to pick a few to touch upon briefly.
Buck O’Neil led this group in Hall-worthy percentage. While only 35 voters placed him on the ballot, 91 percent believed he belongs in the Hall of Fame. I didn’t vote for Buck and I’m absolutely ashamed of that. I had my head stuck too far in the spreadsheets and didn’t think of him. I’m really not sure anyone outside of the Hall of Fame deserves induction more than Buck O’Neil.
Sadaharu Oh also received a high percentage of support, with 86% of the people who named him vouching for his Hall-worthiness. I also did not vote for Oh, but I’m not sure this was an oversight. Everyone in the Hall of Fame is enshrined for their play in the North America. Should it be opened up to players from different continents? If so, Oh and his 868 home runs, 2786 hits, 2170 RBI, 1967 runs, 2390 walks, and .301/.446/.634 slash line are a great place to start.
Deacon White did not finish in the top 50, but of the 27 who voted for him, nearly 90 percent stated that he was Hall-worthy. White, of course, was recently inducted by the Veterans Committee. His low placement on the list is probably due to the fact that he was inducted during the voting, but also a general under-appreciation for 19th century pioneers.
Jack Glasscock is the player who missed the top 50 who ranks the highest according to Hall Rating (my metric used at the Hall of Stats). Bill Dahlen received a lot of support on this list and I’m happy he did. But the only thing that really separated Dahlen from Glasscock is playing time. Dahlen had +137 WAR Batting Runs (by Baseball-Reference). Glasscock had 155. Dahlen had +139 WAR Fielding Runs. Glasscock had 149. Dahlen had a 110 OPS+. Glasscock’s was 112. I love Dahlen and think he’s exceptionally Hall-worthy. But I also think (like two thirds of the people who voted for Glassock) that Pebbly Jack is also Hall-worthy.
Switching back to modern times, Buddy Bell is the top 20th century player by Hall Rating who misses the Top 50. Bell has to be the closest player in history to Brooks Robinson. Bell was the better offensive player (though some may find that controversial). Robinson was peerless in the field, but Bell ranks second all time among third basemen (according to Total Zone). Bell won a half-dozen Gold Gloves, but was also competing with Robinson and Graig Nettles (6th all time in 3B Total Zone runs).
2. Aaron Somers
3. Aaron Whitehead
4. Adam Arnold
5. Adam Darowski
7. Alfred Scott
9. Alvy Singer
10. Andrew Lacy
11. Andrew Martin
12. Andrew Milner
13. Andrew Shauver
14. Andrew Sussman
15. Alex Putterman
18. Bart Silberman
19. Bill Johnson
20. Bill Rubinstein
21. Bob Sohm
23. Brendan Bingham
24. Brendan Evans
25. Brian Metrick
26. Bryan Grosnick
27. Bryan O’Connor
29. Cecilia Tan
30. Chip Buck
31. Chris Jensen
32. Chris Esser
33. Clifford Smith
34. Craig Cornell
36. Dalton Mack
37. Dan Evans
38. Dan McCloskey
38. Dan O’Connor
40. Dave England
41. David Lick
42. Dean Sullivan
44. Dick Clark
45. Drew Barr
46. Ed White
47. Eric Cockayne
48. Eric R. Pleiss
49. Eugene Freedman
50. Gabriel Egger
51. Gabriel Schechter
52. Gary Bateman
53. Gary Gray
55. George Bullock
56. Gilbert Chan
57. Greg Kyrouac
58. Gregg Weiss
61. Izzy Hechkoff
62. James Decker
63. Jason Hunt
64. Jason Lukehart
65. Jeff Angus
66. Jeff Larick
67. Jeremy Rigsby
68. Jim Price
69. Joe Mello
70. Joe Serrato
71. Joe Weindel
72. Joe Williams
73. Joey Bartz
74. John Raimo
75. John Robertson
76. John Sharp
77. John Sours
78. John Tuberty
79. Jonathan Stilwell
80. Jonathan Wagner
81. Kazuto Yamazaki
82. Keith Menges
83. Ken Poulin
84. Kevin Graham
85. Kevin Johnson
86. Kevin Mattson
87. Kevin Porter
89. Kris Gardner
90. Larry Cookson
91. Lawrence Azrin
92. Lee Domingue
93. louis louismas_2000
95. Matthew Aschaffenburg
96. Mel Patterson
97. Michael Martin
98. Michael Caragliano
99. Michael Cook
100. Michael Rapanaro
103. Mike Gianella
104. Mike S.
105. Mike Walczak
106. Mike Schneider527
107. Mike Scott
108. Nate Horwitz
110. Owen Wilson
111. Patrick Schroeder
112. Pat Corless
113. Patrick Mackin
115. Paul Lanning
116. Paul McCord
117. Pete Livengood
118. Peter Nash
119. Phil Dellio
120. PJ Brown
121. Rich Lipinski
122. Robert Ewing
123. Robert McConnell
124. Robert Rittner
125. Ross Maute
126. Ross Carey
127. Ruben Lipszyc
128. Scott Jackson
129. Sean Lahman
130. Sean O’Connell
131. Steve Cushman
132. Ted Mulvey
133. Tom Thrash
134. Tim Goldschmidt
136. Tom Crittenden
137. Tom Thayer
138. Tom Thompson
139. Victor Dadras
141. Wayne Horiuchi
142. William Tasker
143. William McKinley
144. William Miller
145. Unknown 1
146. Unknown 2
147. Unknown 3
148. Unknown 4