The most-deserving players not in the Hall of Fame: First basemen

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It’s my pleasure to present the third round of results, based on a survey of 425 respondents, for my nine-part series on the most-deserving players not in the Hall of Fame. Having covered voting results for pitchers and catchers in the first two posts, today will focus on first basemen.

That said, let’s get right into it.

Q3 – Rank the following first basemen, ranging from 1 for most-deserving of Hall of Fame induction to 10 for least-deserving

PlayerAverage ranking
Albert Pujols1.66
Fred McGriff4.68
Todd Helton5.02
Mark McGwire5.17
Keith Hernandez5.95
Will Clark6.04
Rafael Palmeiro6.28
Don Mattingly6.46
Gil Hodges6.65
Steve Garvey7.09

[From a survey of 425 respondents, fielded via Qualtrics]

Once more, no surprises at the very top of this. In fact, without giving too much away, I’ll note that Pujols got the most first-place votes of any candidate in this survey. Good. Had Pujols stayed in St. Louis following the 2011 season or at least signed with a team with a hitter-friendly ballpark, he might be nearing the all-time home run record now. We’ll never know how much Anaheim took away from his career numbers.

Looking at the other nine first basemen here, there’s again a fair bit of parity. Fred McGriff has some separation in the totals and looks like a probable Today’s Game Era Committee selection. Todd Helton and Mark McGwire might be heading down that track as well, though Helton could get a bump on the writers’ ballot if his former teammate Larry Walker is enshrined in the next few years. I’m less encouraged by the results for the rest of the bunch and wonder if, to some extent, they’re cancelling each other out.

Making this portion of the ballot wasn’t easy, with several very good, if not worthy first basemen waiting to be enshrined. As with pitcher, there were more candidates than could fit here. I moved Dick Allen to third base to free up space. I had to make tough decisions to omit John Olerud and Hal Chase from consideration and I forgot Mickey Vernon, who has his supporters. I contemplated omitting Rafael Palmeiro to save space, but that seemed ludicrous given his career numbers.

That said, here’s a more detailed breakdown on the voting:


12345678910
Clark5223853526281502933
Garvey5202726274766506691
Helton7556066715936401813
Hernandez5283353636660504324
Hodges11283130383942826856
Mattingly8233131554658756434
McGriff15796064545051251710
McGwire161007046191912297638
Palmeiro24068484429182243111
Pujols35130782812115
Total425425425425425425425425425425

A few fun things to note in the voting, courtesy of filters from the survey website Qualtrics which I used to conduct this poll:

  • The 351 voters who rated Pujols first gave Clemens an average rating of 2.15, which was marginally better than his overall rating of 2.44 for this survey. The 74 voters who rated Pujols second or worse gave Clemens an average rating of 3.77.
  • The 223 voters who rated McGwire or Rafael Palmeiro third or better gave Clemens an average rating of 1.14. The 202 voters who rated McGwire or Palmeiro worse than third gave Clemens an average rating of 3.86.
  • The 44 voters who selected Keith Hernandez, Steve Garvey, Gil Hodges, Don Mattingly, or McGriff first gave Pujols an average rating of 4.66. They also gave Clemens an average rating of 5.07. I’ll share their thoughts on Barry Bonds when I post results for left fielders.
  • 15 voters somehow rated Pujols last. I don’t know if they misread the survey and thought 10 was best. Whatever the case, these 15 voters were most likely to rate Will Clark or Garvey tops.

Anyhow, thanks to everyone for reading so far. I’ll be back tomorrow with the results for second base, which I think will make for the most interesting post thus far.

Just getting caught up? Check out results for pitchers and catchers. Stay tuned in the days to come for results of the other six positions.

5 thoughts on “The most-deserving players not in the Hall of Fame: First basemen”

  1. If you look at first basemen with at least 50 rWAR, that are eligible for the Hall of Fame, here’s how they rank by WAR per 650 PA:

    1 Mark McGwire 5.3
    2 Keith Hernandez 4.6
    3 Will Clark 4.4
    4 Norm Cash 4.3
    5 Todd Helton 4.2
    6 Mark Teixeira 4.2
    7 John Olerud 4.2
    8 Rafael Palmeiro 3.9
    9 Jason Giambi 3.7
    10 David Ortiz 3.6

    Pujols would be first, at 5.8. Hodges and Mattingly don’t have 50+ rWAR, but per 650 PA, they are tied with Ortiz at 3.6. They are just too short on career – they’d need to be about a win higher to be serious candidates. Garvey doesn’t even have 40 rWAR, and he’s only at 2.7. He would be Baines level bad.

  2. Actually Pujols dropped to 5.4 since the last time I looked at it. Joey Votto is currently tied with him, and looks to have solidified a HoF resume – unfortunately, his traditional stats are lacking in milestones right now and he may not make it without hanging on for a while longer. Goldschmidt is at 5.3 right now. And Miguel Cabrera is at 4.5 right now.

  3. I feel that Hodges rating last in this poll is due to the fact that he played in the 1950’s primarily and has been forgotten by many. It is very difficult to compre the eras for some positions 1B is a prime example. He was one of the most feared first basemen of his era and should have been elected long ago.

    1. Hodges is hurt by a number of other factors as well. Among them: Gold Glove awards not existing for much of his career; the Dodgers leaving Ebbets Field, where he had a lifetime .898 OPS; and his early death, which curtailed a promising managerial career.

    2. Hodges was short in either of the two paths that get people in the Hall – a dominant peak, or a long very good to great career.

      He looked better when he retired, as he was the all time NL leader in home runs by a right handed hitter. But those who watched him play, including Veteran’s committees, thought he was short. They voted for people like Mazeroski, Kell, and Schoendienst over him. Now with sixty years of first baseman that have past him, he just doesn’t make the cut.

      With all that said, I would not be surprised if the current, more lenient version of the veteran’s committee elects him in 2021.

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