What he did: Let’s be clear– I don’t consider Ron Cey a Hall of Famer. The point of this column isn’t to mount a hopeless case that Cey belongs in Cooperstown. The power-hitting third baseman didn’t come close to making the Top 50 in my recent project on the best players not in the Hall of Fame, receiving 13 votes out of 86, with just one voter saying he deserved a plaque. Don’t get me wrong, Cey was very good for much of his career, maybe even one of the best in the National League in the 1970s, hitting 316 home runs with a lifetime OPS+ of 121. His career WAR of 52.0 isn’t bad. But there may be dozens of other players who merit enshrinement before Cey.
I’m writing this column for different reasons. Specifically, I was inspired by a commenter here last week who argued that Steve Garvey deserved higher placement in the Top 50 because he batted before the .261-hitting Cey in the Dodger lineup. I looked on Baseball-Reference.com and found that Garvey and Cey had almost identical offensive production for their time in Los Angeles, posting OPS+ scores of 122 and 125, respectively. This being said, I doubt the commenter is alone in his misconceptions or that it was any help to Cey his only year on the ballot.
Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Cey was a one-and-done candidate, receiving 1.9 percent of the vote in 1993, his only year on the writers ballot. He became eligible with the Veterans Committee last year under its new format and can be considered again by the committee in two years.
Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Again, just so we’re clear, no, Ron Cey does not belong in the Hall of Fame. I’d appreciate if no one leaves a comment like, “Heck no! How can you even say Cey’s a Hall of Famer?” People see the titles here, don’t bother to read my posts, and treat the comment button like a trigger. It’s a little risky to feature players like Cey. But I think it makes for interesting copy.
I believe Cey and others suffer from the attitudes espoused by the commenter above. It’s easy to discount Cey for his .261 average, early decline, or relatively low career homer totals. Surface stats can sink a man’s shot at Cooperstown, even if a little more research suggests he might at least be worth more consideration. For Cey, the stakes aren’t as high, being that the research merely shows him to be as good or better than Garvey, one of the more overrated Hall of Fame candidates in recent years. I wouldn’t give either man a plaque.
Other more deserving men, though, may have suffered the same fate as Cey. Bert Blyleven was in this group for a long time, though last year he became perhaps the first player enshrined on the basis of sabermetrics. I doubt Cey will ever follow, and I don’t have any problem with this, but perhaps a few other underrated, misunderstood players like Bobby Grich, Lou Whitaker, and Rick Reuschel will eventually get their due.
Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here.
Others in this series: Adrian Beltre, Al Oliver, Alan Trammell, Albert Belle, Albert Pujols, Allie Reynolds, Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin, Bert Blyleven, Bill King, Billy Martin, Bobby Grich, Cecil Travis, Chipper Jones, Closers, Curt Flood, Dan Quisenberry, Darrell Evans, Dave Parker, Dick Allen, Don Mattingly,Don Newcombe, George Steinbrenner, George Van Haltren, Gus Greenlee, Harold Baines, Harry Dalton, Jack Morris, Jim Edmonds, Joe Carter, Joe Posnanski, John Smoltz, Juan Gonzalez, Keith Hernandez, Ken Caminiti, Larry Walker,Manny Ramirez, Maury Wills, Mel Harder, Moises Alou, Pete Browning,Phil Cavarretta, Rafael Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar, Rocky Colavito,Roger Maris, Ron Guidry, Ron Santo, Smoky Joe Wood, Steve Garvey,Ted Simmons, Thurman Munson, Tim Raines, Tony Oliva, Will Clark