The 10 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame

1. Pete Rose: No surprise here. The all-time hits leader is easily the most-talented (and charismatic) player who doesn’t have a plaque hanging in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, New York. Rose was banned from baseball in 1989 for sports betting, a shame, considering racists like Ty Cobb and Cap Anson are in Cooperstown.

2. Joe Jackson: Babe Ruth is said to have modeled his swing off “Shoeless Joe,” who owns the third best batting average all-time, .356. Alas, the Chicago White Sox great was also banned for gambling, in the wake of the infamous 1919 World Series that he helped fix.


3. Dom DiMaggio: Ted Williams had a pamphlet in his museum about why DiMaggio should be in the Hall of Fame. The Boston Red Sox centerfielder was a seven-time All Star, renowned for his defense. The knock was that he had a relatively short career. Then again, so did Sandy Koufax.

4. Dave Parker: This guy’s a Veteran’s Committee pick waiting to happen. If Jim Rice and Orlando Cepeda can get into the Hall, Parker should too. He had better career numbers than those players for hits, doubles, runs batted in, runs scored, and stolen bases. However, just like Cepeda delayed his Cooperstown bid by going to prison for drug trafficking, Parker likely hurt his chances with well-publicized cocaine abuse.

5. Bert Blyleven: The poor man’s Nolan Ryan, Blyleven had 3701 strikeouts and 287 wins over the course of his career. Much like Ryan, though, Blyleven also lost a lot of games, 250 overall to Ryan’s 292. Still, he probably has the best credentials of any pitcher not in Cooperstown.

6. Hal Chase: Yet another great player banned for gambling, Chase made a name for himself with outstanding defense at first base in the early part of the 20th century. However, he was so shameless in his association with gamblers, Ken Burns’ Baseball noted, that fans took to chanting, “What’s the odds, Hal?” when he played.

7. Stan Hack: A solid Chicago Cubs third baseman from the 1930s and ’40s, this Sacramento native had 2193 lifetime hits and a .301 lifetime average.

8. Ron Santo: Much like Hack, Santo was a good Cubs third baseman who may get into the Hall before too long through the Veteran’s Committee.

9. Dale Murphy: If character counts, Murphy should have been a first-ballot inductee. The Atlanta Braves outfielder and devout Mormon deserves a spot on the All-Time Nice Guy squad, being a throw-back player who never drank and instead did things like answer children’s questions in a regular newspaper column. He also hit 398 home runs and won back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards.

10. Dwight Gooden: Were it not for cocaine addiction derailing his career, this New York Mets phenom would have been on the inside track to Cooperstown. As it stands, his 194 victories are better than Hall of Fame hurlers Dizzy Dean and Koufax and all three pitchers had primes that lasted for similar, brief lengths.


Also check out the Tuesday feature, Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?

45 Replies to “The 10 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame”

  1. Good call. There are actually a lot of pitchers from this era who’ve been left out of the Hall of Fame. One that comes to mind is Carl Mays, who won 207 games but is best remembered today for killing Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman with a pitch in 1920.

    1. Good call. Pinson put up some impressive numbers early in his career, on some great Cincinnati Reds teams in the early 1960s, and he finished with close to 3,000 hits. He loses favor, though, for rapidly declining after the age of 28. While he stuck around until 36, he wasn’t more than a journeyman by the end. Had he stayed consistent, Pinson probably would have finished his career with 3,500 hits and his induction wouldn’t have even been a debate. As it stands, he’s a good candidate for the Veteran’s Committee (I may even have to amend that list.)

  2. Pinson never had a ‘dominant’ season. Had a few excellent seasons, but never an MVP-type season. Murphy was an MVP, as was Don Mattingly. Mattingly’s numbers compare almost exaclty to Kirby Puckett’s–and Mattingly had three dominant seasons–AL Batting Title, MVP, MVP runner-up in ’86 and 9 time Gold Glove winner and iinished with .307 career BA. Blyleven belongs. Anyone who disgraced the game, NO.

    1. I recently wrote a post about the 10 most overrated Hall of Fame members, and I contemplated putting Puckett on there. It seems like he got in largely on the basis of having a lovable image that later proved false. I refrained because, when push comes to shove, I still think he was one of the elite players of his era.
      Mattingly isn’t a Hall of Famer in my book, though with that said, I was a little surprised he fell off the Writers Association radar as quickly as he did. In his prime, he seemed on par with Wade Boggs. Only injuries cut his career short.
      Pinson’s not a Hall of Famer. It’s a slippery slope if he gets let in. Pretty soon, we’ll be enshrining Rusty Staub and Amos Otis as well. Really, there’s a fine line between being an overrated member and an underrated non-member.
      Anyhow, thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!

  3. Heres my list, not counting banned players:

    Tim Raines: I really hope they vote him in, He’s better than more than half of the hall of fame.

    Dick Allen: He led the league in homers, OBP, Slugging, OPS, and OPS+ each multiple times during his career. His OPS+ is 19th best all time.

    Jimmy Wynn: When adjusted, he hits 274/395/478 with 331 homers and 256 steals, with plenty of big seasons.

    Bobby Bonds: Had power and speed, and when you adjust his numbers to a normal context, they look a hell of a lot better.

    Will Clark: A 300 hitter who walked, hit for power, and had some huge seasons.

    Bobby Grich: He did everything well. Had some pop, put up good OBPs, was hurt by playing in a pitchers era, and was good with the glove.

    Frank Howard: If he had played in the 90s, he’d have been a 300 hitter who hit 50 homers thrice and been similar to a guy like Griffey as a hitter.

    Cesar Cedeno: Another guy hurt by playing in Houston. He should have been a legit 300 hitter with power and a lot of speed. His numbers are better than they seem.

    Dave Parker: He was a good power hitter who doubled, could hit 300 and steal 20 bases a year.

    Minnie Minoso: He put up great OBP’s, and also hit for some power and led the league in steals three times.

    1. Hi Izzy, thanks for reading. I think Clark would have been a Hall of Famer had his career not taken a dip around ’93 and if he’d stayed in San Francisco thereafter. Regardless, he’s my all-time favorite player.

  4. Harold Baines is on my list – at .289, 384 hr, 2866 hits, 1299 runs and 1828 rbi – that means he was 1 season short of guaranteed iduction of 3000/400. Among pitchers – my pick is Jack Morris. Blyleven / John should be in as well – but Morris put up a better win% at 254-186 and was the first pitcher (2nd player) to win a WS with 3 different teams.

    1. I don’t know if Baines is quite Hall of Fame-caliber. In my book, the only designated hitter who’s worthy at this point is Paul Molitor. I have a harder time voting for guys like Baines and Edgar Martinez, though a playoff team could do worse than having a veteran like Baines hit sixth or seventh or Martinez hitting fifth.
      Morris is another bubble guy to me. True, he went 254-186 and was tremendous in the 1991 World Series. In Game Seven, he was the Minnesota Twins. But Morris also had a 3.90 ERA lifetime. Before I’d vote for him, I’d probably vote for Blyleven or John who each had ERAs of around 3.30. John also did it after coming back from an injury so catastrophic that the surgery that saved his career was named after him. That has to be good for something.

  5. I think Tony Oliva is a strong candidate for your list. He won three American League batting titles, led the league in hits five times and in doubles on four occasions, and was named AL Rookie of the Year in 1964.

    1. Oliva may have been someone I looked at when I was originally putting this post together. He did some great work for the Twins in the 1960s. However, he fell off rather drastically after winning his third and final batting title in 1971. To me, he falls into the same category as Vada Pinson: Great young player, declined early and managed to hang around for a number of seasons thereafter. Both are good players, all in all, but not Hall of Fame-caliber.

    1. Had Garvey not taken a dip around 1980, I think he would have been a Hall of Famer. Until that point, he was a perennial All Star, .300 hitter and elite defensive first baseman, plus the 1974 Most Valuable Player. From 1981 on, though, he never again hit above .300 or had more than 86 runs batted in, though his fielding percentage remained outstanding. All told, he finished with a .294 career batting average and 2,599 hits, which is more than Reggie Jackson, Ernie Banks or Joe Morgan, among others. This all might be sufficient for the Veterans Committee (they definitely have inducted many players inferior to Garvey.) Still, were it up to me, I think Garvey is a bubble case. His .329 on-base percentage definitely doesn’t help matters either.

  6. Dwight Evans – comparable to Dave Winfield. Better than a number of recent inductees such as Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda, Jim Rice. Great fielder, run producer and clutch player.

    I agree with you, Graham, about Pete Rose and Joe Jackson. I also like the mentions of Dom DiMaggio, Dale Murphy, Mattingly, Tim Raines, Bobby Bonds (better than Barry), Jack Morris, Dave Parker, Oliva and Garvey.

    1. It’s definitely a little surprising Evans only got a maximum of about 10 percent of the vote in his three years on the writers’ ballot. Then again, guys like Will Clark and Lou Whitaker who may eventually be Veteran’s Committee picks were gone in a year with the writers.

  7. Graham,

    I must recommend my series “Fixing the Hall of Fame”, hosted by Dugout Central at the website above.

    Part 5 is due out soon. Here’s an excerpt:

    We’ll prioritize the top 50 candidates for the Hall of Fame in groups of ten players, listed alphabetically. This is everyone eligible as of 2010. We head each group with a general description of the players’ quality:

    Top 10: Players of the same quality as the typical BBWAA electees. There is no reason they shouldn’t be in the HOF, based on the numbers. All were elected to the Hall of Merit in their first year eligible.
    • Dick Allen-1B/3B (1963-77) (61.1 WAR) (#7 HOP,#4 UQFC) (HoM elected 1983-1st yr eligible) – During his prime he was demonized by the press as a disruptive presence. More recently, his apologists believe this reputation is overblown, citing testimony of former teammates. From 1964-73 he had the game’s highest OPS+ (165).
    • Roberto Alomar-2B (1988-2004) (63.6 WAR) (#4 HOP) (HoM 2010-1st) – Done in by the HOF’s first-ballot hoodoo. A cinch for election in 2011.
    • Bert Blyleven-SP (1970-92) (87.6 WAR) (#2 HOP,#2 UQFC) (HoM 1998-1st) – Well-qualified for the HOF by any reasonable metric. Should finally get his well-deserved due in 2011.
    • Bill Dahlen-SS (1891-1911) (75.9 WAR) (#6 HOP,#5 UQFC) (HoM 1915-1st) – Not enough of his compadres were on the VC in the HOF’s early days, I guess. The only eligible player with 1500 R and 1200 RBI not in the HOF. A defensive wiz, his record for career assists at SS stood for over 60 years.
    • Paul Hines-CF (1872-91) (41.9 WAR) (#11 HOP,#8 UQFC) (HoM 1898-1st) – Twenty-year career, .302 BA, first triple crown winner and over 3000 translated hits (BB-Ref says 3,353, BPro has 3,479). The first man to play 1000 games in CF. In his career the schedule averaged less than 100 games per year.
    • Barry Larkin-SS (1986-2004) (68.8 WAR) (#5 HOP) (HoM 2010-1st) – Will be elected by the BBWAA before long, sans any association with PEDs.
    • Tim Raines-LF (1979-2002) (64.9 WAR) (#3 HOP,#3 UQFC) (HoM 2008-1st) – His time and place depressed his numbers. For example, his translated BA shows as .314 at BB-Ref and .315 at BPro. Might already be elected if he’d retired after 1998.
    • Ron Santo-3B (1960-74) (66.4 WAR) (#1 HOP,#1 UQFC) (HoM 1980-1st) – Well known as one of the HOF’s most egregious oversights.
    • Alan Trammell-SS (1977-96) (66.8 WAR) (#9 HOP,#7 UQFC) (HoM 2002-1st) – Similar value to Ozzie Smith, but a more well-rounded game.
    • Deacon White-C/3B (1869-90) (43.0 WAR) (#8 HOP,#10 UQFC) (HoM 1898-1st) – He was already 28 when the NL was founded, well-established as the game’s premier catcher. Backstop for five straight champions 1873-77. Career BA of .312, two batting crowns. Over 3000 translated hits (BB-Ref says 3,257, BPro has 3,378).

  8. I see from Baseball Think Factory that you’re one of the forefathers of the Hall of Merit. I came across that within the last few months. Have you guys ever thought of expanding it to an HTML-based Web site with pictures and graphics? I think a secondary Hall of Fame for lesser stars or players building their Cooperstown cases could work wonders in the current Web 2.0 environment, where a site like Facebook helps propel an 88-year-old woman to host Saturday Night Live.

  9. Hmm. I suppose we could get Ron Santo’s case for the Hall to go viral if we dressed him up like Betty White. Food for thought.

    One HoMer did establish, but it appears to be largley an aborted effort. Check it out.

    I encourage you to go to the HOM site at BBTF and toss out your ideas, to Joe Dimino and John Murphy in particular (the project leaders). I don’t have much pull with them these days, things there have been left to wither, and they could use some fresh input.

    1. That’s not the worst-looking site I’ve seen. With some more individual pages (graphic plaques for each player is the simplest idea that comes to mind) plus some SEO, it could probably make an impact in the baseball world.

      Regardless, I think we’re quickly approaching the first ballplayer getting elected to the Hall courtesy of grassroots Web/social media efforts. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Hodges, who has a Facebook group in his honor.

      My guess is that a successful campaign of this sort for some player executes somewhere within the next 5-10 years.

    1. Hi Ryan, thanks for commenting.

      The fact Smith has cracked 40 percent of the Hall of Fame vote with the Baseball Writers Association of America means, historically, he’s got a pretty good shot of getting in Cooperstown at some point. I heard recently in a forum discussion on one of my pieces that most players who receive above 40 percent of the vote early on get in at some point.

      With that said, my guess is that Smith’s nod will come from the Veterans Committee. He’s got another seven years of eligibility with the writers and time to make a move, but I think relievers are still waiting to get full respect for Cooperstown, Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage and a few others not withstanding.

      To answer your comment, do I think Smith is one of the 10 best players not in the Hall of Fame? Probably not, but there are a ton of great players not enshrined, one reason I have a new feature here every Tuesday, Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?

  10. One player that is constantly overlooked is Ted Simmons. Had he played on the east coast I really think he would be in today. If you look at his stats he is more deserving than many of the other catchers who have already made it to Cooperstown. He had more rbis than Bench, more runs than Carter, and more hits than Berra or Fisk.

  11. I think often great 19th century deadball players are overlooked while borderline modern players are the only ones considered to get into the HOF. Players like Bill Dahlen, Paul Hines, Deacon White and others would have been locks if the HOF existed during their playing days. As a previous poster said for people like Hines and White they played a lot less games, and trying to compare their stats to the modern day like the 3000 hits or 500 HR marks really doesnt accomplish anything because it was entirely different game with harsher conditions, there wasn’t all the money going into improving health and skills with huge staffs, people were tougher back then. More effort should be put into giving the best players from the first 50 years of pro baseball credit rather than continuing to decrease the bar of excellence in the HOF by electing more mediocre players from the last 50 years only because people have heard of them and not the now long forgotten greats of the past.

  12. Albert Belle had a dismal run at the HOF, but he seems like a no-brainer to me. His career was cut short, preventing him from posting King Kong lifetime stats, but the dude knew how to get it done. Wikipedia says that he was controversial and unpopular with the press, and it seems sad that press relations should be a prerequisite for getting into the Hall.

  13. Cobb & Anson were not racists; they were bigots, still a common trait but not expressed as openly now as it was when they played. The hall would be virtually
    empty if the writers used that as a disqualification. Unlike gambling by players, bigotry never threatened the existence of the game as a whole.

    1. Hi Eric, I wrote a post in August pushing for Oliver to be in the Hall of Fame, which got me a rare nasty comment. I consider Oliver a very underrated hitter, someone who got 2,700 hits and a .302 lifetime batting average in a pitcher’s era. With 300 more hits, he’d have been a first ballot pick for Cooperstown. Funny how voting works with the writers.

      Anyhow, thanks for commenting.

  14. I’d take Fred McGriff over Dwight Gooden for the Top-10 any day of the week. In 19 seasons, he was the model of consistency. 11 seasons of over 30 homeruns and 8 seasons of 100+ RBI, He rarely ever missed a game due and was a huge part of the Atlanta Braves dominance of the Nineties.

  15. Everybody just forget about Joe Jackson here is a player who hit .408 for the Cleveland Indians in 1911
    and after that he hit over .300 for the next 10 seasons something no ballplayers in this era could do.

    during the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Red Legs he hit over .375 also no ballplayer in this era could do what Joe Jackson did during his short major league career.

    and also there is no truth he took money from gamblers during the 1919 world series he was not a
    very smart person coming from South Carolina during the later half of the 19th century.!

    And I would like very much for him to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame next January where he belongs

    1. I agree he should be in the hall. However, whether or not he took money is debatable. Joe has one major problem…he was kicked out of the game for life for being involved with baseballs, to this day, biggest MLB scandal.

  16. There are players that don’t belong in the Hall.
    So of the players mentioned here compare not inductee to these players. Some talk about Kofax as say he only won x number of games. Ok , you don’t know baseball. Kofax after he won the 4th game of the world seriew indicated he would have no left arm if he continued. Ted Simmons I would agree with . Minnie Minoso I would agree with . Most of you didn’t see Minoso play. He would croud the plate and he would be hit by a pitch to get on . Strangely Nellie Fox did make the Hall. Bert Blyleven: who was that was a tough pither . I really think he is boarderline Hall . You had loads of tough pithers and the idea was to win . As to the real oldtimers , I didn.t see them play as so I would not want to vote on them . Barry Larkin-is another one I would consider both due to his hitting as a SS and his power .

  17. Outstanding website that features thought-provoking opinions that are well-supported. One player whose candidacy was too quickly dismissed was that of Lance Parrish. Lance was a fine receiver – extremely durable given the demands of the position he played. An eight-time All-Star selection, Lance compiled offensive numbers that can be favorably compared to those of Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk. While perhaps not a first-ballot guy, he definitely deserved a second look.

  18. My top ten not in the HOF:

    Lou Whitaker – in the top ten second basemen of all time

    Bobby Grich – also in the top ten second basemen of all time

    Ron Santo – – in the top ten third basemen of all time

    Jeff Bagwell – in the top seven first basemen of all time

    Edgar Martinez – in top four DH’s of all time (with Molitor, Thome, and Big Frank)

    Bill Dahlen – woefully underrated SS from the dead ball era – top five SS all-time

    Barry Larkin – top ten SS of all time

    Alan Trammell – top ten SS of all time

    Larry Walker – great player underrated due to where he played and the era he played

    Bob Caruthers – great 19th century player – racked up impressive value as a pitcher and a hitter

    Honorable Mentions – Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Dick Allen, Keith Hernandez, Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles, Buddy Bell, Sal Bando, Joe Torre, Ted Simmons, Gene Tenace, Tim Raines, Reggie Smith, Dwight Evans, Jim Wynn, Sherry Magee, Lee Smith, Tony Mullane, Rick Reuschel, Kevin Brown, Jim McCormick, Luis Tiant, Jack Glasscock

  19. In addition to the fact that there is no evidence that Shoeless Joe played anything but his best baseball in the series, even if he did try to lose, people tend to overlook an important factor. It was 1919 Chicago. Gangsters tell you to throw the series. They offered money, but were they really asking? Is the integrity of baseball really more important than your life?

  20. I’d like to see Dwight Gooden in the Hall of Fame. He was Rookie of the Year in 1984, and already one of the best pitchers in baseball. His second season, 1985, was one of the greatest seasons any pitcher ever had, matched in recent years only by Bob Gibson in 1968 and Ron Guidry in 1978. I was a Mets fan and I was hoping that Gooden would even turn in a career better than Tom Seaver’s. Then Gooden threw it away. He had some good, and even excellent seasons afterwards, but let’s face it, there’s a world of difference between pitchers like Sandy Koufax and Dizzy Dean, who had their careers cut short by injuries, and Dwight Goodn who threw his career away with cocaine. I’d cast my vote for Gooden, but I can see why most writers have withheld their support.

  21. Bonds,McGuire,Sosa,Clemens and the other great PEDs users SHOULD be in Cooperstown (as should POSes Rose and Schilling despite their character flaws) because it’s the MLB Hall Of Fame,NOT the College Of Cardinals .

  22. Allen (who roomed with my cousin,Ferguson Jenkins on the 1963 Arkansas Travelers;they were the leagues first two black players,use your imagination as to their treatment in the Southern U.S. of three generations back ) should be in Cooperstown as he was the BEST hitter in baseball from 1964 to ’74. The racist writers of Allen’s era hated Allen’s outspokenness against their and all bigotry, hence no HOF.

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