I read a post on Seamheads.com that offered a lineup of ballplayers not in the Hall of Fame. It got me thinking, and I have compiled my own goon squad of non-inducted greats that I believe could run roughshod in a one-game playoff over the Seamheads 9.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting each player here is the best at his position who’s not in the Hall of Fame. This is strictly about creating the best possible team. I invite anyone to offer their own lineup.
Here’s my roster card:
1. SS – Maury Wills: He’s far from the best shortstop not in the Hall of Fame, but if we’re putting together a one-shot, winner-takes-all lineup, I could use Wills leading off. He’s a threat to steal every time on base and a Gold Glove fielder to boot.
2. 2B – Roberto Alomar: In his prime, Alomar regularly hit above .300, accumulated more than 200 hits, and was a stellar defensive second baseman. Had he not fallen off dramatically near the end of his career, he’d have been a first ballot Hall of Famer.
3. LF – Shoeless Joe Jackson: On sheer talent, Shoeless Joe may be the best baseball player not in the Hall of Fame. Because of his involvement in fixing the 1919 World Series, Jackson may never receive a plaque, though I’m happy to offer a lineup spot.
4. DH – Albert Belle: The only player boasting 50-home-run power on this team, Belle’s .933 career OPS is third-highest out of eligible players not in the Hall of Fame. The two players in front of Belle are Lefty O’Doul, who has less power and Mark McGwire, who recently admitted to using steroids.
5. RF – Dave Parker: A superb player whose Cooperstown candidacy suffered for well-documented drug problems, Parker is on my list of the 10 best players not in the Hall of Fame.
6. 1B – Don Mattingly: Were more power needed, I might go with Gil Hodges, and I was also tempted to tap my childhood hero, Will Clark, but I chose Donnie Baseball who offers the best combination of average, power, and defense.
7. C – Thurman Munson: I originally chose Joe Torre but saw he was the starting backstop for Seamheads, and I switched to Munson. The career of the iconic Yankees captain ended when he died in a plane crash at 32 in August 1979, though prior to that, he was one of the best catchers of the 1970s.
8. 3B – Pete Rose: The all-time hits leader could probably occupy most any spot in the batting order or field for this club and he’d be a valuable clubhouse presence as well. I should add that I believe Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame, Jackson too.
9. CF – Spottswood Poles: I’ve written before about Poles, described elsewhere as “the black Ty Cobb.” Most recently, I included Poles among a group of old-timers who deserve mass induction.
P – Jack Morris: He probably isn’t the best pitcher currently outside of the Hall of Fame (see: Bert Blyleven) but Morris owned Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. I give him the game ball hoping there’s another 10-inning, championship-winning masterpiece in him, if necessary.
RP – Sparky Lyle: I interviewed former ballplayer Ken Henderson in July, and he said Lyle and Steve Carlton were two of the toughest pitchers he faced. Lyle was a pioneering reliever, the second to win a Cy Young award. In 16 seasons from 1967-1982, he went 99-76 with a 2.88 ERA and 238 saves.
Manager – Billy Martin: What non-inducted manager could better handle this team’s star power than the Bronx Zoo skipper?
Related: The 10 Most Overrated Hall of Famers and The zero Hall of Fame votes dream line-up
9 Replies to “A starting lineup of baseball players not in the Hall of Fame”
I love Lyle! he’s so underappreciated. Have you seen his ERA in save situations?? It’s 2.39, good for 4th best among relievers with 200+ saves.
I’m actually glad you didn’t include Blyleven, since it’s expected he’ll be voted in next time.
I think I might put together a lineup soon, have to give it some thought. I doubt it’ll look too different from yours though. I think I’d try to fit Tim Raines in there somehow.
Your lineup, would probably beat many HOF lineups regularly.
I didn’t include Raines because he was part of the Seamheads team, though I also consciously eschewed picks who were popular in the SABR community or high up on the WAR ranking charts, guys like Raines, Ron Santo, and Bobby Grich. I simply don’t see how good standing in either of those places indicates having the greatest level of talent.
I also think Wills in his prime was better than Raines, and I liked that he didn’t take up an outfield spot.
That being said, I could also see flipping Poles to leadoff and inserting Barry Larkin or Cecil Travis at short. Were Shoeless Joe not on the team, Travis could even hit third.
I’d stick Dale Murphy in CF. Not only would the 2-time MVP provide excellent power, hitting and baserunning, but 5-time gold glove defense in the outfield. Jack Morris is a good one-game pick, but so is Orel Hershiser, and he’s got the postseason experience to prove it.
I thought about Murphy, though I forgot his defense. Now that you mention it, Murphy seems like a clone of Gil Hodges for power, defense, and likability. I wouldn’t be surprised if both men make the Hall of Fame at some point.
I still like Poles as my starting center fielder, but Murphy could at least be a valuable reserve.
Good call on Hershiser. I’m sticking with Morris, though he’s certainly not the only great one-game pick. I suspect there are probably a few more. One might even be able to make a case for Johnny Podres or Don Larsen, though I won’t.
1B Dale Alexander
2B Lou Whitaker
SS Alan Trammel
3B (torn between Santos, Nettles and Ken Boyer)
LF Charlie Keller
CF Wally Berger
RF Jimmy Sheckard
C Ted Simmons
DH Babe Herman or Pete Browning
SP Ron Guidry
RP The Quiz
On second thought, I’m putting Kenny Williams in RF.
Good call on Williams and Keller, two of the better outfielders who had short careers in baseball history.
It seems like a toss-up determining who’s better between Santo and Boyer, whose career numbers are decently similar.
Or, I could easily have gone to Al Rosen or Harold Clift before his tragic injury.
It might be interesting to make one of these teams for guys whose careers were too short to merit much consideration for Cooperstown. Rosen would be one of the stars of this team.