Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Dwight Evans

Editor’s note: Please welcome Patrick Languzzi to the site. Patrick’s been patiently waiting for a couple of months to offer something on Dwight Evans, who in December finished tenth in BPP’s annual project on the 50 best players not in the Hall of Fame. Patrick waited long enough that his piece today is apropos, given Bill James’ open letter last week pushing Dwight Evans for Cooperstown.

Claim to Fame:  Selected to the ’80s All-Decade Team, Evans finished as a three-time All Star and two-time Silver Slugger. He won eight Gold Gloves in 10 seasons, (including five straight ’81-’85), and was selected by Major League Baseball as having one of the nine greatest outfield arms. Evans is the only player in history to win eight Gold Gloves while also leading his league for a decade in home runs and all of MLB in extra base hits and runs created. He’s one of just 13 players to have at least 2,400 hits, 1,450 runs, 1,375 walks, 1,375 RBI, 480 doubles and 385 home runs. Of those 13, Evans is the only player previously eligible not to have been enshrined in Cooperstown.

Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Evans fell off the BBWAA ballot in 1999. He’ll be eligible again in 2013 via the Veterans Committee and its Expansion Era ballot.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?  Without question.

Evans played in the shadow of Hall of Fame teammates Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski and Wade Boggs. Despite being considered the greatest right fielder of his era, Evans still went underrated, and his offensive skills were often overshadowed by his own defensive exploits. Bill James once wrote, “Dwight Evans is also one of the most underrated players in baseball history, because he did many things well, rather than having one central skill that people could use to explain his excellence.”

Evans led all of baseball during the 1980s in runs created with 1,067, ahead of Hall of Famers Ricky Henderson, Eddie Murray, Robin Yount and Mike Schmidt.  He was first in extra base hits with 605 ahead of Yount, Murray, Schmidt and Brett, hit more home runs with 256 than any other American League player, and was the only player to hit 20 or more in nine consecutive seasons ’81-89.

Evans led right fielders during the ’80s in HR, RBI, walks, runs, runs created, extra base hits, times on base, runs produced, OPS and doubles, as well as four top 10 finishes in the MVP voting.

Since the turn of the century, all players to lead their respective decade in extra base hits through 1980 have been inducted in Cooperstown.

Extra Base Hit Leaders by Decade

1900s – Honus Wagner

1910s – Tris Speaker

1920s – Babe Ruth

1930s – Jimmie Foxx

1940s – Stan Musial

1950s – Stan Musial

1960s – Hank Aaron

1970s – Reggie Jackson

1980s – Dwight Evans

David Laurila of FanGraphs writes:

Evans has the same OPS+ as Rickey Henderson [127], higher one than Ernie Banks, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Paul Molitor and Kirby Puckett. Evans’ WAR [61.8] is higher than Andre Dawson, Harmon Killebrew, Willie Stargell, Billy Williams and Dave Winfield.

Evans is in good company, comparing favorably to Kaline, Perez and Williams, as well as Dawson and Rice. Here’s a chart that breaks it down:

Player Name AVG OBP SLG OPS Runs Hits HR RBI BB
Dwight Evans .272 .370 .470 840 1470 2446 385 1384 1391
Al Kaline .297 .376 .480 856 1622 3007 399 1583 1277
Tony Perez .279 .341 .463 804 1272 2732 379 1652 925
Billy Williams .290 .361 .492 853 1410 2711 426 1475 1045
Andre Dawson .279 .323 .482 805 1373 2774 438 1591 589
Jim Rice .298 .352 .502 854 1249 2452 382 1451 670

For all Hall of Fame hitters, Evans averages higher in runs, hits, doubles, HR, RBI, base on balls, slugging and OPS.

For more information, check out the case I presented for Evans at a January 19 meeting of the Society for American Baseball Research. I’ll close here by saying there are other statistical arguments in Evans’ favor. In his era, he ranked in the top 10 for most major statistical categories for right-handed American League hitters. From 1970-1989, no right fielder in MLB won more Gold Gloves than Evans. In 14 World Series games (two series, ‘75, ‘86) Evans hit .300, 15 hits, three HR, 14 RBI, seven walks, seven runs, .397 OBP, .580 SLG, .977 OPS and 29 total bases.

Yastrzemski said it best:

Dewey was a great offensive player and one of the greatest right fielders to play the game; there’s no doubt in my mind that he belongs in the Hall of Fame.


Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here.

Others in this series: Adrian BeltreAl OliverAlan TrammellAlbert BelleAlbert PujolsAllie ReynoldsBarry BondsBarry LarkinBert BlylevenBill KingBilly MartinBobby GrichCecil TravisChipper JonesClosers, Craig BiggioCurt FloodDan QuisenberryDarrell EvansDave ParkerDick AllenDon Mattingly,Don NewcombeGeorge SteinbrennerGeorge Van HaltrenGus GreenleeHarold BainesHarry DaltonJack MorrisJeff BagwellJim EdmondsJoe CarterJoe PosnanskiJohn SmoltzJuan GonzalezKeith HernandezKen CaminitiKevin BrownLarry Walker,Manny RamirezMaury WillsMel HarderMoises AlouPete Browning,Phil CavarrettaRafael PalmeiroRoberto AlomarRocky Colavito,Roger MarisRon CeyRon GuidryRo
n Santo
Smoky Joe WoodSteve Garvey,Ted SimmonsThurman MunsonTim RainesTony OlivaVince ColemanWill Clark

21 Replies to “Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Dwight Evans”

  1. Agree with the conclusion, but I have to disagree with the arguments you used to get there. First of all, we’ve dealt with the “Best of the 80s” fallacy with Jack Morris enough to know that it probably shouldn’t be used as a argument for anyone else, either. Likewise the let’s-make-a-group argument that Evans is the “only player in history to win eight Gold Gloves while also leading his league for a decade in home runs and all of MLB in extra base hits and runs created” is a pretty random collection of things. Also, you only off-handedly mentioned his OPS+ number in a comment, and then gave us a really great chart – but the chart didn’t include OPS+.

    Okay, I’m being way too critical here. Good article, it’s just that I would have liked to have seen a couple of things done differently. Overall, though – yup. Dewey should probably go in. He was definitely the better of the two contemporary BoSox OFs, but the wrong guy got enshrined, if you ask me.

  2. David, Thanks for your post and I’m glad you at least agree with my conclusion. Please keep a few things in mind. This is a work in progress. Also, and Graham can attest to this, he had to edit down my original version a bit to fit his criteria so I was somewhat limited to how much I could write.

    Ok, Let me “try” and address your comments that I’m not really sure I understand? Why would you discount the Team Decade? That was something he earned and there were other players in his era (from the outfield) that went to the HOF that didn’t make that decade team!

    Also and more importantly, how can you possibly use the term “Lets make a group argument” for the 8GG’s and all the offensive categories Evans led for an entire decade, especially when he’s the ONLY player to do it? Thats an incredible accomplishment. The only other player that comes close is Aaron in the 60’s with 3 GG’s.

    Lastly, as far as OPS+, that was a quote I took so I apologize if it seemed off handed, it wasn’t meant that way. Also, when I inserted the chart, I had no more characters to include OPS+ if I wanted to make it work for Graham, plus it would have been repetitive. I would either graph it or state it. I chose to state it because it was taken from a quote.

    I hope that sheds some light on your questions. Thanks again for your post!

  3. What if he’d played his home games in Yankee Stadium, Oakland, Anaheim, or Toronto?
    He’s the perfect example of what playing in the right or wrong park can do for a career and how it can shade our perceptions. Is his greatness an illusion that has colored so many Red Sox from Junior Stephens, Walt Dropo and Bobby Doerr, to Fred Lynn, to Jim Rice and Mo Vaughn?
    Contrast that with Roy White, no hall of famer and his performance in Fenway and his home and away splits.
    Are we reading greatness into a damn good ball player?


    Home 1294 4380 787 1239 279 43 203 742 681 30 793 24 34 40 0 60 116 36 29 .283 .379 .505
    Away 1312 4616 683 1207 204 30 182 642 710 30 904 29 18 37 0 70 111 42 30 .261 .361 .437

    CHI10 88 325 53 93 12 6 9 45 49 3 59 5 2 2 0 5 6 5 1 .286 .386 .443
    BOS07 1249 4269 779 1210 277 44 199 723 660 28 770 23 33 39 0 60 111 36 27 .283 .379 .509
    DET04 110 363 54 98 10 2 19 57 73 3 76 4 1 4 0 4 8 5 1 .270 .394 .466
    NYC16 101 341 50 73 14 2 13 46 56 0 84 2 2 6 0 8 6 0 4 .214 .323 .381
    CLE07 122 408 66 108 20 2 20 59 74 2 82 4 1 2 0 5 5 5 3 .265 .381 .471
    MIL05 112 379 57 103 14 0 10 46 62 3 73 0 1 1 0 5 11 3 1 .272 .373 .388
    BAL11 168 568 80 146 18 1 18 91 79 2 98 2 2 7 0 10 20 5 7 .257 .346 .387
    MIN02 41 152 19 40 11 1 5 23 13 1 28 0 0 1 0 3 5 1 0 .263 .319 .447
    NYC17 11 36 2 6 2 0 0 2 8 2 9 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 .167 .333 .222
    ANA01 99 339 44 80 11 1 12 31 55 1 74 2 1 3 0 5 16 1 4 .236 .343 .381
    OAK01 108 384 48 94 12 6 14 42 56 3 63 3 0 1 0 7 4 1 2 .245 .345 .417
    ARL01 94 327 46 93 23 0 14 46 44 3 61 2 2 3 0 6 13 5 3 .284 .370 .483
    KAN06 83 289 52 86 21 4 11 46 47 3 39 0 2 3 0 4 9 2 4 .298 .392 .512
    SEA02 85 320 43 87 13 0 15 45 46 3 78 1 3 1 0 2 4 5 1 .272 .364 .453
    TOR01 63 227 34 50 7 1 13 41 35 1 48 1 1 1 0 4 7 2 1 .220 .326 .432
    MIN03 55 209 33 57 10 3 10 29 29 2 44 3 0 2 0 0 2 1 0 .273 .366 .493
    TOR02 12 46 8 19 8 0 3 11 2 0 5 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 .413 .429 .783
    CHI12 5 14 2 3 0 0 0 1 3 0 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .214 .353 .214

    Now let’s look at Roy White. How would we view his career had he played in Boston?

    Home 927 3176 459 864 142 31 86 388 430 30 342 15 27 32 1 37 60 103 61 .272 .358 .418
    Away 954 3474 505 939 158 20 74 370 503 36 368 14 26 37 0 63 63 130 58 .270 .361 .391

    BOS07 104 378 68 111 22 3 7 41 53 6 41 2 2 2 0 7 6 19 5 .294 .382 .423

  4. Vinnie,
    Can we assume you think otherwise then of Evans, Dropo, Doerr, etc..? If you’re to use Fenway as a reason for an “illusion” then couldn’t you apply that theory to ANY player in MLB? I would argue that if you’re a right handed line drive hitter, you have LESS HR at Fenway than most other parks in MLB as opposed to a fly ball hitter. Hall of Famer Dave Winfield would have been a good example of that had he played 81

    Let’s take your argument of Fenway and apply it to defense. Evans played the toughest right field in baseball, tough to deny that, and he still won 8GGs. What if he played somewhere else? Would he have won 10 or 12?

  5. Patrick,
    The fact that Evans was an outstanding ballplayer is taking nothing away from him. All I’m saying is like so many before him, Fenway has made his overall numbers look a lot better than they would be had he played his home games in other cities.
    Let’s take a look at Winfield in Fenway.
    BOS-Fenway Pk 74 73 323 285 49 89 26 5 7 41 2 1 33 47 .312 .384 .512 .896
    Let’s take his career home and away splits.
    Home 1472 1404 5989 5289 805 1460 253 41 218 892 107 42 615 785 .276 .349 .463 .812 2449 164 12 16 57 101 64 .286 96
    Away 1501 1426 6369 5714 864 1650 287 47 247 941 116 54 601 901 .289 .356 .485 .841

    Rough guess, his homerun totals would have been down, but his average would have been up in the .290’s and the run production would probably have been about the same, but that 70 plus points of OPS plus jumps out at you. Then again, he might have made adjustments, or just continued to pepper the monster with line drives.
    Since you brought it up, would you say Winfield or Evans was the better player?
    Let’s say that I hate disagreeing with anyone who makes such a great case for a player, or with BJ for that matter, but being baseball is subjective, Dwight doesn’t seem to me to be a hall of famer, although if he were elected, it wouldn’t really bother me in the least.

  6. Vinnie,
    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, of which I respect. After all, isn’t that what makes a good sports debate so great? As far as your logic for comparing and contrasting numbers, I’m not sure how you apply that logic to an argument such as this? You’re making a lot of assumptions. Just as an example it would almost be like me saying if Winfield didn’t play 22 seasons, he never would have had 3000 hits. He did have 3000 hits and played 22 seasons and that’s a fact.

    In answer to your question, statistically speaking, Winfield, but I am admittedly bias towards Evans because he played in my back yard and was one of my favorite players growing up.

    In closing, it’s fine if you don’t feel Evans deserves to be in the hall of fame, I can except that. It’s also probably the reason why people like you and I don’t have a vote..

  7. Patrick,
    You’re right. That’s the beauty of baseball to disagree without any rancor, but just because I don’t quite see him as a hall of famer doesn’t mean that I don’t respect his accomplishments, or that I wouldn’t want to have him on my team.

  8. Vinnie,
    Agree, now if only the BBWAA would come to agree on issues. They’re certain to have their hands full next year when Clemens, Bonds and others are eligible for the ballot. Thanks for your comments Vinnie, I appreciate the read and your feedback. I only hope I was able to challenge you to think about Evans’ candidacy?

  9. That you did Patrick. I look forward to future thoughtful and thought provoking columns to come.
    If I’d ever played mlb, I’d sure want you in my corner.

    All the best.

  10. You are comparing a God in rightfield to dwight evans? Kaline and Clemente were the two Gods at the Top of the mountain of defensive rightfielders all-time. Insert evans and any other rightfieldeer past and present and you could say Ichiro is the closest to them.
    Those career numbers you have comparing evans a .270 career hitter to the likes of Kaline. Well maybe they seem close to you, but take a minute to understand, while Kalines 53 season was about 25 atbats, brings him to 21 seasons. Then figure the 450 games Kaline lost due to what seemed to be yearly injuries that cost him 20 to 60 games near every year equals 2 and 1/2 years lost. Kaline really played 18 plus seasons of 162 games. Had he been fortunate to have had not been on the DL as often yearly you would be looking at 3500 hits, 475 homeruns, 1800 runs and 1800 rbi. evans was a nice player and put up better numbers the second half of his career. But really he wasn’ ever as good as Kaline. While evans had a strong arm in right field, that is always the part noticed mostly. The more important part of the throws is the pinpoint accuracy of the throws. Living in boston and going to many games at fenway, I got to see ‘some’ nice throws by dewey, and plenty of times the throws were up the first or third base lines. I understand he should have had more votes to stay on, this happens to too many players.

  11. I was lucky enough to see Patrick’s terrific SABR presentation live at the MLK Day meeting in Boston. He makes an excellent case for the enshrinement of one of my favorite all-time players. The numbers speak for themselves, but what makes Evans so unique — and no doubt has hurt his HOF chances — is that he really had two careers.

    During his first eight full seasons (1973-80), while his defensive brilliance was well-established, he was a streaky hitter who averaged 16 homers and 55 RBI a year. The two years he had a chance at excellent stats — 1977 and ’78 — injuries kept him from reaching them. Then, starting in ’81, he became one of the game’s best hitters while keeping his defense at the top level, and he kept it up for 10 seasons. There is really no career like it — although Al Kaline’s is a very good comparison, in reverse. On the basis of his “second” career alone Dewey makes for a good HOF candidate, but throw in nearly 10 more years of great defense, and a .300 average with 14 RBI in 14 World Series games, and you have a no-brainer in my book.

  12. Ah, Dewey.

    Thanks for writing this, Patrick. And welcome to the site!

    This is timely for me, because write now I’m writing about my very short list of players worth really fighting for to get into the Hall of Fame. Dewey is the one I’m going back and forth about. I absolutely believe he belongs, but I’m just questioning if he’s on my list of “GET HIM IN RIGHT NOW” players.

    I, like others (I’d imagine), was fist-pumping along with you until reading the name Kaline. I love Dewey and want him in. But I think one quick way to hurt his Hall of Fame argument is to compare him to somebody that he just wasn’t in the same league as. And when I’m talking league, I’m talking total value. Kaline is beyond elite. While Dewey may belong, he’s not the all-time legend or slam dunk that Kaline is.

    Truth is, I’ve got Evans ranked 17th among eligible RFs by wWAR (my peak-adjusted version of Baseball-Reference’s WAR). Now, among non-Hall of Fame RFs, I have him behind Larry Walker and basically on par with Reggie Smith (another former Red Sox who could use some lobbying).

    Interestingly enough, I have Evans slightly *ahead* of Winfield. Smith, Evans, Winfield, Bobby Bonds, and Andre Dawson are all very close by wWAR.

    At the same time, I have him ahead of several RFs who are already in the Hall of Fame—Winfield, Dawson, Enos Slaughter (who should rate higher… I don’t adjust for time missed because of war), Sam Thompson, Kiki Cuyler, Harry Hooper, Sam Rice, Chuck Klein, Ross Youngs, and Tommy McCarthy.

    So, my stance is yes—he should be a Hall of Famer. But where does he stand on the priority list of people to fight for? That’s the part I’m trying to figure out. The only outfielders I’d consider putting ahead of him are Walker, Jim Wynn, and Tim Raines.

    Great stuff. Looking forward to more.

  13. Ron,
    For the record, player comparisons were taken from similarity scores by Bill James, and you most certainly have to compare him to other right fielders in the hall of fame to make any kind of argument. It was suggested to me by more than one member of the BBWAA to take this approach.

    Let me be clear about this, I would NEVER dispute how great Kaline was, however to use the argument of his 53 season with 25 at-bats, injuries, etc.. would be like me using Evans’ 18 games in ’72 and the ’81 strike shortened year to boost my argument for him. MLB counted ’72 as 1 yr of baseball, certainly Evans’s 162 game numbers would have been more impressive. And some believe the ’81 strike shortened year may have cost Evans the MVP award.

    Evans didn’t just have a strong arm, he had a GREAT arm. One of the greatest in baseball. MLB selected him as one of the top nine greatest outfield arms in history.
    No offense Ron, but you say you saw ‘some’ nice throws by Evans? We must not have been watching the same player then. I would urge you to go back and watch the MLB network on Prime 9. The nine greatest outfield arms and tell me after you watch it, that Evans only made ‘some’ nice throws.

    Thanks for your comments Ron, I really appreciate your input.

  14. Saul,

    Thanks for stating your case on Evans, Well said, I’ll let your points stand for themself. And, thank you very much for the kind words on my presentation, it is much appreciated!


  15. Adam,
    Thank you for posting your comments, interesting points all well taken. I would admit that Kaline may be an extreme but one that needed to be included because of his RF HOF position. There are several other players I have compared Evans to (not depicted in this article) such as Mathews, Cepeda, Jackson and Winfield. Players were selected based on similarity scores from Bill James’ as well as position, era and HOF status.

    I’m going to jump right to your last point because as far as I’m concerned, I’m fighting for Evans NOW. How you decide on whom you’d choose to campaign for first is your decision and I would respect whatever you decided. This case for Evans is something I’m really passionate about and one I will continue to campaign for.

    Thanks for your post Adam. Stay in touch, I’d be interested in hearing what YOU come up with regarding your priority.


  16. Patrick:
    Very nice write-up on an underappreciated player!
    While I think that the BBWAA made the wrong call on Evans, your table comparing him with Kaline and the others says a lot about why he lasted only three years on the HOF ballot. Of the six players you compare, Evans has the lowest batting average and fewest RBIs (two stats traditionally over-valued by the voters), while also having the most walks (an undervalued stat). It might take a while, but I agree with Graham that in time the VC will elect Evans.

  17. Brendan,
    Thank you for your comments. It’s funny how many people immediately focus on Kaline, it’s incredible. But, never the less, a comparison needs to be made to HOF RF’s and he IS listed in the chart and was one of the best!

    With that being said, you bring up some good points on what the BBWAA tend to focus on and not. What I would bring to your attention is although Evans’ offensive numbers may not be as impressive as say Kaline, of the 23 or so RF’s in the HOF. Evans falls third in GG’s ONLY to Clemente and Kaline, two of the very best. And I would go on to point out that what Evans was able to accomplish for a decade in offensive production as well as defense, is nothing short of amazing. It’s NEVER been done!

    So, if you combine all of Evans’ skills, I’m not sure how you keep a player like that out of the Hall of Fame?

  18. I couldn’t resist throwing in the following numbers I recently came up with recently due to a link on baseballthinkfactory to a Bill James article espousing Dwight Evans for the HOF.
    The following is (I won’t go into the details) an attempt to bring into play 6 different “uber-stats”. It consists of Outfielders who played at all since 1980 (since I started following baseball in 1980). I’m sure I’ve left out some deserving names!

    Bonds, Barry 100.00
    Henderson, Rickey 67.16
    Yastrzemski, Carl 52.73
    Rose, Pete 50.92
    Jackson, Reggie 47.73
    Griffey, Ken Jr. 45.40
    Sheffield, Gary 44.36
    Ramirez, Manny 43.98
    Raines, Tim 43.05
    Gwynn, Tony 41.50
    Stargell, Willie 40.05
    Winfield, Dave 38.97
    Edmonds, Jim 38.70
    Walker, Larry 38.66
    Smith, Reggie 37.98
    Evans, Dwight 37.98
    Abreu, Bobby 35.52
    Bonds, Bobby 34.79
    Guerrero, Vladimir 34.76
    Sosa, Sammy 34.72
    Beltran, Carlos 34.05
    Dawson, Andre 33.22
    Lofton, Kenny 32.85
    Jones, Andruw 32.76
    Clark, Jack 32.45
    Cruz, Jose 32.30
    Giles, Brian 31.19
    Staub, Rusty 31.18
    Gonzalez, Luis 30.92
    Cedeno, Cesar 30.78
    Williams, Bernie 30.37
    Lemon, Chet 30.32
    Downing, Brian 29.40
    Lynn, Fred 29.21
    Singleton, Ken 29.19
    Butler, Brett 28.95
    Suzuki, Ichiro 28.46
    Damon, Johnny 27.85
    Foster, George 27.30
    Otis, Amos 27.22
    Puckett, Kirby 27.21
    Alou, Moises 27.04
    Rice, Jim 26.71

    Oh, and these numbers are career only… no bonus for peak or prime. Anyway, count me in agreement that Evans is deserving of a spot in the HOF.

  19. Bob,

    Thanks for your comments and input. I’ll need to look into this a bit but thanks for commenting and glad to hear you’re in favor of Evans enshrinement.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *