Rethinking the Hall of Fame: Part One Position Players

Earlier this year a few baseball writers including myself set out to make our personal Hall of Fames. We started from scratch and built our own Halls from there. The results varied somewhat but we all pretty much stuck within the current guidelines of the actual Hall.

With Deacon White, there are now 208 players enshrined in the Hall of Fame because of their MLB playing careers.  We stuck with MLB playing careers because none of us felt comfortable adding or subtracting Negro League greats because we didn’t feel informed enough on the subject to do so. Also, Negro League statistics are not readily available, and when they are they are often incomplete. I look at Hall of Fame averages a lot, it’s just impossible to do that with Negro League stats. We all agreed that Negro League players should be in so we just added the 29 players who have been honored to our totals. I’ll do the same for this exercise, however I’m confident there are more Negro League players who have been overlooked and should also be honored by the Hall.  For example, there are no right fielders from the Negro Leagues enshrined in the Hall of Fame and there is only one second baseman; so clearly there is still room for growth.

I had the smallest personal Hall with “just” 174 players enshrined in it. Bryan O’Connor who runs the Replacement Level blog (not related to this site) put 184 players in his. Dan McCloskey who runs the Left Field blog put 185 in his, and Adam Darowski who runs the invaluable Hall of Fame site Hall of Stats put 200 in his personal Hall.

We all agreed that there were more mistakes by admission than omission. I even wrote this piece on 62 Hall of Famers that don’t belong there.

But since then I’ve been wondering if I did it all wrong. If I let an ingrained bias of what the Hall should or shouldn’t be affect my decision making process too much. What if the Hall of Fame of was bigger instead of smaller? Would that really be such a bad thing?

I’m not so sure.

I started from scratch again and this time put 263 players in it. Add the 29 Negro Leaguers and that gives this Hall 292 players. The actual Hall of Fame has 237.  Below is a look at a new approach to the Hall of Fame, a bigger Hall of Fame.

Methodology:

I have no interest in punishing players for their off-field transgressions, gambling habits, or use of performance enhancing drugs. I think Pete Rose and Barry Bonds should both be in the Hall of Fame, and that the Hall should acknowledge both of their baseball sins. The Hall of Fame is essentially about legacy. Steroid use is part of Bonds’ legacy, and so is being a great player. Bonds will always be associated with illegal steroids regardless if he ever gets into the Hall or not. I think the Hall, a museum, should reflect the history of the game. The game was segregated for years; nothing compromised the authenticity of statistics or the integrity of the game more than that. Gambling was rampant in the early 20th century, and PED use inflated statistics for many players in the early 90’s and 00’s. To me a Hall of Fame without those players is incomplete. My Hall has no character clause; it includes all of the scoundrels whose on-field accomplishments justify their inclusions.

As for numbers, I’m a stat geek. I looked at every number from the basic counting ones (hits & RBI) to the more advanced (wOBA, WPA, wRC+) to make my decisions on who’s in and out. I have been known to include multiple spreadsheets in posts before but for the purpose of this exercise (and for saving space and sanity) I’m just going to use two metrics; WAR & WAA. Wins Above Replacement is a reasonable estimate of a player’s career value. Wins Above Average is reasonable gauge of a player’s peak value. That’s essentially what any Hall of Fame is. Enshrinement to a Hall of Fame is finding the right combination of career and peak value. The all-time greats have both but many players have short peaks of dominance without longevity, or long productive careers without the dominance. I think there is a place for both types of players in this Hall of Fame; however I favor the peak performers.

This isn’t a Hall of Fame based entirely on numbers; there is plenty of subjectivity here as well. Some of the borderline players were helped by a variety of things including fame, historical importance, post season success, and in a few cases their overall contributions to the game.

Some Hall of Famers played multiple positions; I’m using this chart on the Hall of Fame’s website as a position guide.

Catchers:

Actual Hall Of Fame WAR WAA My Hall of Fame WAR WAA
Johnny Bench 75.2 46.7 Johnny Bench 75.2 46.7
Gary Carter 69.8 39.8 Gary Carter 69.8 39.8
Carlton Fisk 68.3 35.2 Carlton Fisk 68.3 35.2
Yogi Berra 59.3 33.8 Yogi Berra 59.3 33.8
Bill Dickey 55.9 31.6 Mike Piazza 59.2 35.5
Gabby Hartnett 53.3 29.5 Joe Torre 57.4 26.7
Mickey Cochrane 52.1 29.5 Bill Dickey 55.9 31.6
Buck Ewing 47.7 28.3 Gabby Hartnett 53.3 29.5
Ernie Lombardi 45.9 24.5 Mickey Cochrane 52.1 29.5
Roger Bresnahan 41.0 23.0 Ted Simmons 50.2 18.9
Roy Campanella 34.2 15.6 Buck Ewing 47.7 28.3
Rick Ferrell 29.7 5.8 Gene Tenace 46.8 27.9
Ray Schalk 28.6 4.6 Thurman Munson 45.9 25.3
Josh Gibson NA NA Ernie Lombardi 45.9 24.5
Biz Mackey NA NA Wally Schang 45.0 20.4
Louis Santop NA NA Bill Freehan 44.7 21.1
Average 50.8 26.8 Roger Bresnahan 41.0 23.0
Median 52.1 29.5 Charlie Bennett 39.1 23.8
Roy Campanella 34.2 15.6
Josh Gibson NA NA
Biz Mackey NA NA
Louis Santop NA NA
Average 52.2 28.3
Median 50.2 27.9

 

Of the 13 catchers enshrined because of their MLB playing careers I kept 11 in this Hall. Add Gibson, Mackey, and Santop that gets us to 14.

I added the following players:

 

Name

 

From

  

To

 

WAR

 

WAA

Mike Piazza

1992

2007

59.2

35.5

Joe Torre

1960

1977

57.4

26.7

Ted Simmons

1968

1988

50.2

18.9

Gene Tenace

1969

1983

46.8

27.9

Thurman Munson

1969

1979

45.9

25.3

Wally Schang

1913

1931

45.0

20.4

Bill Freehan

1961

1976

44.7

21.1

Charlie Bennett

1878

1893

39.1

23.8

When I started making this Hall I wanted to try to include the top 20 eligible players at every position; this Hall has 22 catchers (19 MLB/3NLB). I’m happy with that.

Torre, Simmons, Tenace, and Munson played around the same time as each other and all generated similar value. That’s perhaps one of the reasons none of them made it into the actual Hall. Freehan played with them too, but I consider him just a tick below that group. They all also suffer from the inevitable comparisons to another contemporary, Johnny Bench.  The Hall of Fame isn’t just for Johnny Bench. Every Hall of Fame has three tiers of players enshrined in it, four if you include the mistakes. The baseball Hall has three tiers too, however it’s those tier three (borderline) players that cause the most debate and generate the most heat for the Hall.

Every other sport accepts the three tier system. Russell, Chamberlain, and Jabbar are tier one centers. Robinson, Olajuwon, and Ewing tier two. But the basketball Hall doesn’t stop there. It also includes Robert Parish, Willis Reed, and Wes Unseld.

Football does the same thing. Montana, Elway, Marino are tier one. Steve Young and Troy Aikman tier two, Jim Kelly and Warren Moon are tier three. I bring those guys up because they all played in the league at the same time, and all got into the Hall. Quibble with some of the classifications I made, that’s fine, however it’s clear there are three types of players being represented there.

That’s my problem with the small Hall people, the small Hall doesn’t exist. It’s not what any Hall of Fame actually is. I don’t think it’s what any director of a Hall of Fame would want it to be either. A Hall with just fifty or seventy five players in it would be bad for business.

Back to this Hall of Fame; does a Hall with Wally Schang or Bill Freehan included in it somehow diminish the accomplishments of Bench and Berra? I don’t think so. Both guys are significantly better than Schalk and Ferrell who are in the actual Hall. If those guys didn’t tarnish the honor of being inducted, why would better players?

In fact, removing Schalk and Ferrell and adding the eight additional catchers slightly raised the career standards at the position.

First Base:

Actual Hall Of Fame

WAR

WAA

My Hall of Fame

WAR

WAA

Lou Gehrig

112.5

78.6

Lou Gehrig

112.5

78.6

Jimmie Foxx

96.5

62.9

Jimmie Foxx

96.5

62.9

Cap Anson

94.0

55.3

Cap Anson

94.0

55.3

Roger Connor

84.2

54.3

Roger Connor

84.2

54.3

Dan Brouthers

79.4

54.8

Jeff Bagwell

79.5

51.6

Johnny Mize

70.9

44.7

Dan Brouthers

79.4

54.8

Eddie Murray

68.2

27.0

Rafael Palmeiro

71.8

30.2

Willie McCovey

64.4

30.4

Johnny Mize

70.9

44.7

Jake Beckley

61.4

26.2

Eddie Murray

68.2

27.0

Harmon Killebrew

60.4

28.1

Willie McCovey

64.4

30.4

Hank Greenberg

57.6

37.0

Mark McGwire

62.0

37.0

Bill Terry

54.3

32.0

Jake Beckley

61.4

26.2

George Sisler

54.2

22.1

Harmon Killebrew

60.4

28.1

Tony Perez

54.0

17.9

Keith Hernandez

60.1

31.7

Orlando Cepeda

50.1

18.1

John Olerud

58.0

27.3

Frank Chance

45.8

28.5

Hank Greenberg

57.6

37.0

Jim Bottomley

35.4

9.1

Will Clark

56.2

28.9

High Pockets Kelly

25.2

4.5

Bill Terry

54.3

32.0

Buck Leonard

NA

NA

George Sisler

54.2

22.1

Mule Suttles

NA

NA

Tony Perez

54.0

17.9

Ben Taylor

NA

NA

Fred McGriff

52.6

19.8

Average

64.9

35.1

Norm Cash

52.1

26.0

Median

60.9

29.5

Orlando Cepeda

50.1

18.1

Frank Chance

45.8

28.5

Gil Hodges

45.0

13.9

Don Mattingly

42.2

17.5

Buck Leonard

NA

NA

Mule Suttles

NA

NA

Ben Taylor

NA

NA

Average

64.9

34.7

Median

60.3

29.6

I added ten first basemen, and only removed two (Bottomley & Kelly). Most of the first basemen I added are admittedly tier three-borderline type of players; those who are not have direct links to PEDs or are at least suspected of using. There are several borderline players at first because of its nature as an offensive heavy position. Lots of star players have played there as well. Mattingly and Hodges were the two that gave me most pause, they were the last two players I added to this Hall.

Mattingly was dominant for four years and above average for another five. His former face of the game status helped his cause. Hodges’ case was helped by his overall contributions to the game, fame factor, and postseason success. Hodges’ numbers look weak in comparison to more modern players in the Hall, however when he retired he ranked 11th in career home runs, a total that he would have added to if he hadn’t served in the military during the 44 &45 seasons.

Adding the ten first basemen and removing Bottomley & Kelly kept the standards at first, almost exactly. The average WAR of the 18 first basemen in the Hall is 64.9. The average WAR of the 26 first basemen in this hall is 64.9. If you can preserve the standards and add more players, that seems like a win for everyone, well except Bottomley & Kelly.

Second Base:

Actual Hall Of Fame

WAR

WAA

My Hall of Fame

WAR

WAA

Rogers Hornsby

127.0

97.4

Rogers Hornsby

127.0

97.4

Eddie Collins

124.0

78.9

Eddie Collins

124.0

78.9

Nap Lajoie

107.2

67.8

Nap Lajoie

107.2

67.8

Joe Morgan

100.4

63.3

Joe Morgan

100.4

63.3

Rod Carew

81.2

46.1

Rod Carew

81.2

46.1

Charlie Gehringer

80.7

45.5

Charlie Gehringer

80.7

45.5

Frankie Frisch

70.4

39.1

Lou Whitaker

74.8

42.4

Ryne Sandberg

67.6

38.1

Bobby Grich

71.0

43.5

Roberto Alomar

66.8

32.3

Frankie Frisch

70.4

39.1

Jackie Robinson

61.4

39.3

Ryne Sandberg

67.6

38.1

Joe Gordon

57.1

37.1

Roberto Alomar

66.8

32.3

Billy Herman

54.5

26.4

Willie Randolph

65.6

35.8

Bid McPhee

52.7

25.3

Craig Biggio

64.9

28.5

Bobby Doerr

51.3

27.1

Jackie Robinson

61.4

39.3

Tony Lazzeri

50.0

23.6

Joe Gordon

57.1

37.1

Nellie Fox

49.0

18.4

Billy Herman

54.5

26.4

Johnny Evers

47.8

24.3

Bid McPhee

52.7

25.3

Red Schoendienst

42.2

8.4

Bobby Doerr

51.3

27.1

Bill Mazeroski

36.1

4.6

Tony Lazzeri

50.0

23.6

Frank Grant

NA

NA

Nellie Fox

49.0

18.4

Average

69.9

39.1

Johnny Evers

47.8

24.3

Median

61.4

37.1

Ross Barnes

28.1

20.2

Frank Grant

NA

NA

Average

70.6

40.9

Median

66.2

37.6

I added five second basemen and only removed two (Mazeroski & Schoendienst). Second base as it currently stands is a mess with the actual Hall. Standards for admission are among the most inconsistent and modern players, players who started their careers after the game integrated in 1947 are woefully underrepresented.

Whitaker, Grich, and Biggio are tier two players, players who should be considered obvious Hall of Famers.

Ross Barnes is admittedly one of the more borderline players I selected. I put him in because he was a dominant player and star in the National Association. While I question the level of competition he was playing against; I decided to put him in rather than pretend that baseball before 1875 didn’t exist.

Third Base:

Actual Hall Of Fame

WAR

WAA

My Hall of Fame

WAR

WAA

Mike Schmidt

106.5

73.3

Mike Schmidt

106.5

73.3

Eddie Mathews

96.2

58.4

Eddie Mathews

96.2

58.4

Wade Boggs

90.9

56.9

Wade Boggs

90.9

56.9

George Brett

88.4

50.4

George Brett

88.4

50.4

Brooks Robinson

78.4

39.6

Brooks Robinson

78.4

39.6

Paul Molitor

75.5

37.2

Paul Molitor

75.5

37.2

Ron Santo

70.6

36.9

Ron Santo

70.6

36.9

Home Run Baker

62.7

36.8

Graig Nettles

68.0

32.8

Jimmy Collins

53.3

26.5

Buddy Bell

65.9

32.2

Deacon White

45.4

22.1

Ken Boyer

62.9

31.6

George Kell

37.5

15.3

Home Run Baker

62.7

36.8

Pie Traynor

36.2

10.2

Sal Bando

61.6

32.7

Freddie Lindstrom

28.4

9.3

Dick Allen

58.7

33.0

Ray Dandridge

NA

NA

Darrell Evans

58.5

24.0

Judy Johnson

NA

NA

Robin Ventura

55.8

28.3

Jud Wilson

NA

NA

Ron Cey

53.3

25.7

Average

66.9

36.4

Jimmy Collins

53.3

26.5

Median

70.6

36.9

Stan Hack

52.5

24.8

Heinie Groh

48.4

26.4

John McGraw

45.7

29.3

Deacon White

45.4

22.1

Ray Dandridge

NA

NA

Judy Johnson

NA

NA

Jud Wilson

NA

NA

Average

66.6

36.1

Median

62.7

32.7

Third basemen are underrepresented in the Hall of Fame. Only sixteen players (13 MLB/3NLB) are enshrined in the Hall for playing third. Three of those (Kell, Traynor, Lindstrom) I would classify as mistakes. I removed those three and added 11 players.

I essentially added two clusters of players. Nettles, Boyer, Bell, Bando and Allen all produced similar career values. Evans, Ventura, Cey, Hack, and Groh did the same. I was determined to get the top 20 eligible players in at each position, removing either of those clusters would make that very difficult.

Please note John McGraw is in the actual Hall of Fame but he was inducted as a manager not a player. I’m putting him in this Hall as a player. He finished his sixteen year playing career with a slash line of .334/.466/.410 that’s an OPS of .876, and a very impressive OPS+ of 135.

Shortstop:

Actual Hall Of Fame

WAR

WAA

My Hall of Fame

WAR

WAA

Honus Wagner

130.6

91.6

Honus Wagner

130.6

91.6

Cal Ripken

95.6

53.2

Cal Ripken

95.6

53.2

George Davis

84.8

48.5

George Davis

84.8

48.5

Robin Yount

77.1

37.2

Robin Yount

77.1

37.2

Ozzie Smith

76.5

41.6

Ozzie Smith

76.5

41.6

Luke Appling

74.5

41.4

Bill Dahlen

75.3

39.7

Arky Vaughan

73.0

47.3

Luke Appling

74.5

41.4

Barry Larkin

70.2

42.2

Arky Vaughan

73.0

47.3

Bobby Wallace

70.1

34.5

Alan Trammell

70.3

40.1

Ernie Banks

67.6

28.6

Barry Larkin

70.2

42.2

Joe Cronin

66.4

35.9

Bobby Wallace

70.1

34.5

Pee Wee Reese

66.2

31.5

Ernie Banks

67.6

28.6

Lou Boudreau

63.0

42.3

Joe Cronin

66.4

35.9

Luis Aparicio

55.7

20.3

Pee Wee Reese

66.2

31.5

Joe Sewell

53.8

23.1

Lou Boudreau

63.0

42.3

Joe Tinker

53.3

30.6

Jack Glasscock

61.8

36.1

Dave Bancroft

48.5

23.1

Luis Aparicio

55.7

20.3

Travis Jackson

44.1

22.9

Joe Sewell

53.8

23.1

Rabbit Maranville

42.6

7.5

Joe Tinker

53.3

30.6

Hughie Jennings

42.4

23.5

Jim Fregosi

48.7

24.5

Phil Rizzuto

40.6

20.7

Dave Bancroft

48.5

23.1

Monte Ward

35.8

11.6

Art Fletcher

47.2

27.8

Pop Lloyd

NA

NA

Travis Jackson

44.1

22.9

Willie Wells

NA

NA

Hughie Jennings

42.4

23.5

Average

65.1

34.5

Monte Ward

35.8

11.6

Median

66.3

33.0

Pop Lloyd

NA

NA

Willie Wells

NA

NA

Average

66.1

36.0

Median

66.4

35.9

I removed two shortstops (Rizzuto & Maranville) and added five.

Alan Trammell’s exclusion from the Hall is a mistake. He’s comfortably a tier two player who retired as one of the ten best ever to play the position. Dahlen falls into that second tier as well.

Monte Ward is tough to categorize. The Hall of Fame officially recognizes him as a shortstop however he was truly a two way player. As a shortstop his WAR/WAA is 35.8/11.6 and as a pitcher he adds 28.4/8.1. That’s a total WAR/WAA of 64.2/19.7. Ward is also an important figure in baseball’s history. He was a star player who challenged the owner’s reserve clause; he helped form the first players union (Players’ Brotherhood), and was instrumental in launching the short-lived Players-League.

Glasscock and Fletcher are considered two of the better defensive shortstops of all-time, and Fregosi’s inclusion ensures that every generation is represented.

Left Field:

Actual Hall Of Fame

WAR

WAA

My Hall of Fame

WAR

WAA

Stan Musial

128.1

81.6

Barry Bonds

162.5

123.6

Ted Williams

123.2

94.2

Stan Musial

128.1

81.6

Rickey Henderson

110.7

68.4

Ted Williams

123.2

94.2

Carl Yastrzemski

96.0

49.7

Rickey Henderson

110.7

68.4

Ed Delahanty

69.5

41.8

Carl Yastrzemski

96.0

49.7

Al Simmons

68.6

34.7

Pete Rose

79.4

28.9

Fred Clarke

67.7

35.1

Ed Delahanty

69.5

41.8

Goose Goslin

66.1

30.6

Tim Raines

69.1

35.0

Billy Williams

63.8

27.2

Al Simmons

68.6

34.7

Jesse Burkett

62.8

30.4

Fred Clarke

67.7

35.1

Zack Wheat

60.0

28.3

Goose Goslin

66.1

30.6

Willie Stargell

57.3

26.4

Billy Williams

63.8

27.2

Joe Medwick

55.5

28.1

Jesse Burkett

62.8

30.4

Jim O’Rourke

51.5

21.5

Joe Jackson

62.4

40.4

Joe Kelley

50.5

23.1

Zack Wheat

60.0

28.3

Ralph Kiner

49.4

25.8

Sherry Magee

59.1

31.1

Jim Rice

47.2

18.4

Willie Stargell

57.3

26.4

Heinie Manush

45.8

15.5

Bob Johnson

57.1

30.8

Lou Brock

45.2

8.3

Joe Medwick

55.5

28.1

Chick Hafey

30.1

13.8

Jim O’Rourke

51.5

21.5

Monte Irvin

NA

NA

Joe Kelley

50.5

23.1

Average

67.5

35.1

Minnie Minoso

50.2

26.8

Median

61.4

28.2

Ralph Kiner

49.4

25.8

Jim Rice

47.2

18.4

Lou Brock

45.2

8.3

Harry Stovey

44.9

27.0

Charlie Keller

43.0

29.1

Pete Browning

40.5

27.4

Monte Irvin

NA

NA

Average

69.3

38.3

Median

61.2

29.8

Left fielders are apparently prone to corruption, or at least getting caught.

Barry Bonds is a tier one all-time great player who is also baseball’s most notorious doper. I have no interest in punishing players or pretending that part of the game’s history didn’t exist. I would put Bonds in and also acknowledge (on his plaque, website bio, books, etc.) that he used illegal PEDs. I also think it’s fair to question the authenticity of some his numbers but I understand we will never really know how much the drugs and drugs alone actually enhanced his performance.

Pete Rose is comfortably a tier two player who also gambled on baseball when he was managing the Reds. What Rose did questions the authenticity of the game far more than what any PED user ever did. Gambling is part of Rose’s legacy, not all of it. Put him, acknowledge he bet on baseball, and move on.

Joe Jackson is comfortably a tier two player who was also a part of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Jackson was banned from baseball after Kenesaw Mountain Landis ruled he took part in throwing the 1919 World Series. Gambling by players and throwing games were as common in the early 20th century as PED use was at the end of it. It’s part of the history of the game. Put Jackson in, acknowledge his part in the Black Sox scandal, and move on.

Thankfully my Hall has no character clause; all of those guys are in. So is Tim Raines who battled drug addiction during his playing career. However, Raines isn’t being kept out of the actual Hall because of his cocaine problem; he’s being kept out for two reasons. One, he suffers from comparison to Rickey Henderson. Two, he fails the “sniff test”. Unfortunately for Raines the sniff test is the primary way players get inducted into the Hall of Fame.

There is no character clause here and there is no sniff test either. Raines is a tier two player who should be considered an obvious Hall of Famer.

Jim Rice and Lou Brock were also tough calls. I left both out of my initial Hall that had 174 major leaguers in it.

Rice had three MVP caliber seasons in a row from 77-79 but was really just slightly above average after that. He did finish his career with an impressive slash line of .298/.352/.502, and has plenty of black ink on his resume as well. Rice is a tier three borderline type of player. If you’re a small Hall or perhaps even a medium Hall type of person you don’t want Rice in, I get that. This is a big Hall, so Rice makes the cut.

Despite having the lowest WAA (8.3) of any position player in this Hall, I put Lou Brock in. Brock’s case was certainly helped by his post season dominance. In his three World Series appearances Brock finished with a slash line of .391/.424/.655. That’s an OPS of 1.079. The Cardinals won two of those championships. Brock also finished his career as the all time leader in stolen bases, and as a member of the 3,000 hit club. Neither accomplishment tells you much about his overall value but both are still very impressive.

I removed two left fielders (Hafey & Manush) and added 10. Doing so increased the overall standards of the position, not the ethical standards, the on-field standards.

Center Field:

Actual Hall Of Fame

WAR

WAA

My Hall of Fame

WAR

WAA

Willie Mays

156.1

110.0

Willie Mays

156.1

110.0

Ty Cobb

151.1

101.8

Ty Cobb

151.1

101.8

Tris Speaker

133.9

88.5

Tris Speaker

133.9

88.5

Mickey Mantle

109.7

78.9

Mickey Mantle

109.7

78.9

Joe DiMaggio

78.3

54.7

Joe DiMaggio

78.3

54.7

Duke Snider

66.5

35.4

Kenny Lofton

68.1

38.2

Richie Ashburn

63.4

28.2

Duke Snider

66.5

35.4

Billy Hamilton

63.1

39.4

Richie Ashburn

63.4

28.2

Max Carey

53.9

21.0

Billy Hamilton

63.1

39.4

Kirby Puckett

50.8

25.4

Willie Davis

60.7

26.3

Larry Doby

49.4

30.4

Jimmy Wynn

55.7

28.6

Earl Averill

48.1

22.9

Vida Pinson

54.2

16.5

Edd Roush

45.6

21.2

Max Carey

53.9

21.0

Hugh Duffy

42.9

17.9

Cesar Cedeno

52.6

26.0

Earle Combs

42.6

19.7

Kirby Puckett

50.8

25.4

Hack Wilson

38.8

21.3

Fred Lynn

49.9

24.0

Lloyd Waner

24.1

-2.0

Bernie Williams

49.5

18.6

Cool Papa Bell

NA

NA

Larry Doby

49.4

30.4

Willard Brown

NA

NA

Earl Averill

48.1

22.9

Oscar Charleston

NA

NA

Dale Murphy

46.3

16.1

Pete Hill

NA

NA

Curt Flood

41.8

16.8

Turkey Stearnes

NA

NA

Cool Papa Bell

NA

NA

Cristóbal Torriente

NA

NA

Willard Brown

NA

NA

Average

71.7

42

Oscar Charleston

NA

NA

Median

53.9

28.2

Pete Hill

NA

NA

Turkey Stearnes

NA

NA

Cristóbal Torriente

NA

NA

Average

70.3

39.4

Median

55.7

28.2

Center field was a fun position to look at. The first thing I noticed is that there are six Negro League center fielders enshrined in the Hall, several of them are considered all-time greats.

I added nine center fielders to this Hall, all of them started their careers after MLB integrated in 1947. I removed five center fielders all of whom played their entire careers in a segregated league. I didn’t do that on purpose, it’s just how things worked out.

Of the nine players I added most of them are admittedly tier three borderline type of players, except for Kenny Lofton whose only crime is failing the sniff test.

Lofton played during a time when the home run was king. When the league was hitting home runs at a record rate, Lofton was creating runs in very different ways. He was elite defender and baserunner who hit for a good average and got on-base a lot.

Lofton also has some black ink on his Hall of Fame resume; in addition to leading the American League in WAR (7.2) and hits (160) in 1994, Lofton also led the A.L. in stolen bases five consecutive seasons from 1992-1996. Using the defensive metrics at Baseball-Reference, Lofton led center fielders in runs saved three times and finished top five an additional five times.

He was a great player whose career was overshadowed by superstar sluggers many of whom have since been connected to PEDs. His exclusion from the actual Hall of Fame is a mistake.

I’m cheating a bit including Curt Flood as a player. He was an excellent defender and a key contributor to two championship teams; however his numbers fall short across the board. What helps Flood is that he is one of the most important off-field contributors in the history of the game. Flood challenged the owner’s reserve clause taking his case to the Supreme Court.  He lost, but ended up paving the way for increased player rights; including free agency. During his legal battles Flood missed all of the 1970 (age 32) season an almost all of 1971. His WAR the previous three seasons 5.3/4.1/3.8 that averages out to 4.4. Give him two more four win seasons and his numbers would more closely resemble many of the other center fielders in this Hall, that’s why he’s in as a player.

Dale Murphy had six seasons with a WAR of 5 or higher, the problem is he didn’t produce much beyond those six great years. Murphy was an important figure in the game as well; he was a star player, two time MVP, who helped popularize baseball in Atlanta and really the entire south.

Murphy was one of the players that made me want to do a bigger Hall. When I first made my list of 174, he didn’t make the cut; he wasn’t particularly close either. He falls short in WAR, WAA, OPS+, wRC+, and numerous other statistics as well. But that got me thinking, what are we actually accomplishing by keeping someone like Murphy (or Mattingly) out of the Hall of fame? Neither is Babe Ruth or Ted Williams, they’re not even Andre Dawson but they were still great players. Players that were once the face of the game, players whose inclusion would probably make the Hall more palatable to your average fan and perhaps increase interest and attendance to the museum.

Even with this bigger Hall they both fall well short of the standards at their positions but I think that’s okay. No matter how small your Hall is someone has to be at the bottom. If you only had six right fielders in your Hall of Fame (Ruth, Aaron, Robinson, Ott, Clemente, Kaline), Kaline & Clemente would fall significantly short of the standards and they are both two of the better players to ever play. Neither Reggie Jackson or Tony Gwynn would even make the cut. Who wants a Hall like that?  Not me.

I come back to the question what are we accomplishing by keeping someone like Murphy out? The more I consider this I think the best answer is… not much.

Right Field:

Actual Hall Of Fame

WAR

WAA

My Hall of Fame

WAR

WAA

Babe Ruth

163.2

126.0

Babe Ruth

163.2

126.0

Hank Aaron

142.4

92.3

Hank Aaron

142.4

92.3

Mel Ott

107.9

70.7

Mel Ott

107.9

70.7

Frank Robinson

107.1

64.6

Frank Robinson

107.1

64.6

Roberto Clemente

94.3

56.7

Roberto Clemente

94.3

56.7

Al Kaline

92.7

55.4

Al Kaline

92.7

55.4

Sam Crawford

75.2

34.9

Sam Crawford

75.2

34.9

Reggie Jackson

74.0

35.4

Reggie Jackson

74.0

35.4

Paul Waner

72.8

38.7

Paul Waner

72.8

38.7

Harry Heilmann

72.2

38.7

Larry Walker

72.6

48.2

Tony Gwynn

68.9

36.5

Harry Heilmann

72.2

38.7

Andre Dawson

64.4

28.8

Tony Gwynn

68.9

36.5

Dave Winfield

64.0

23.9

Dwight Evans

66.7

32.6

Enos Slaughter

55.1

22.3

Andre Dawson

64.4

28.8

Willie Keeler

54.1

20.8

Reggie Smith

64.4

37.2

Harry Hooper

53.5

15.7

Dave Winfield

64.0

23.9

Elmer Flick

53.1

29.8

Sammy Sosa

58.4

28.0

Sam Rice

52.8

15.7

Bobby Bonds

57.6

31.6

Kiki Cuyler

46.7

21.2

Enos Slaughter

55.1

22.3

King Kelly

44.2

22.9

Willie Keeler

54.1

20.8

Sam Thompson

44.1

22.4

Elmer Flick

53.1

29.8

Chuck Klein

43.5

20.4

King Kelly

44.2

22.9

Ross Youngs

32.2

15.7

Roger Maris

38.3

19.9

Tommy McCarthy

16.2

0.2

Average

76.7

43.3

Average

70.6

37.9

Median

68.9

35.4

Median

64.2

29.3

 

Right field ended up being the only position in this Hall with fewer players than the actual Hall of Fame. I added six players (Walker, Evans, Smith, Sosa, Bonds, Maris) but removed seven (McCarthy, Youngs, Klein, Thompson, Cuyler, Rice, Hooper).

I didn’t feel compelled to add anyone from the next cluster of players which includes Jack Clark, Rusty Staub, Tony Olivia, Dave Parker, and Rocky Colavito. Those guys to me are all on the wrong side of borderline.

However, Gary Sheffield and Vlad Guerrero are both eligible soon and both will make this Hall.

Larry Walker is a tier two player who should be considered an obvious Hall of Famer. Yes his home/road splits are dramatic; he clearly got an enormous boost playing at Coors field, but keep in mind WAR accounts for park factors. He also can’t control the air in Denver and should be given credit for the runs & wins he helped create in that park. Playing your home games at Coors Field is an advantage; but to compensate for that are we just going to omit every Rockies hitter from Hall of Fame? That doesn’t seem right.

Dwight Evans was an elite defensive player and an above average hitter for most of his career, however offensively he got off to a very slow start and first impressions are powerful. After Evans’ played his first three full seasons (72-75) his slash line looked like this .264/.338/.423 with an OPS of .761 and an OPS+ of 110, averaging 8 home runs a year. From 1976 on his slash line looked like this .273/.375/.478 with an OPS of .852 and an OPS+ of 130, averaging 22 home runs a year. His three best seasons (by WAR) came when he was 29, 30, and 32. Perhaps the writers had already decided that Evans was not Hall-worthy when he became one of the better players in the league. That’s a shame. He was a better player than his teammate Jim Rice, but as is the case with so many others the sniff test ended up failing him.

From 1998-2002 Sammy Sosa hit a ridiculous 292 home runs. However, when you look beyond his home run total he actually falls short of Hall of Fame standards in many key categories in including WAR, WAA, OBP, OPS+, and wRC+. This is a big Hall with no character clause so Sosa makes it in, however he’s a lot more borderline than his 609 career home runs would indicate.

Roger Maris is one of the more questionable selections to this Hall. He was a MVP for two consecutive seasons, however the rest of his career he was just a slightly above average to average player. Just looking at his numbers, without a name attached to them, he falls well short of Hall of Fame standards. However, he does have a name, and that name means something to a generation of baseball fans.  It was Roger Maris who hit 61 home runs in 1961, breaking Babe Ruth’s “unbreakable” single season record of 60.  Maris also won three World Series championships and was for a time a key fixture on those great Yankee teams of the 60’s. He’s an important figure in the game’s history; with a Hall this big he deserves to be recognized.

DH:

Actual Hall Of Fame

WAR

WAA

My Hall of Fame

WAR

WAA

Edgar Martinez

68.3

38.4

This isn’t a big list. Edgar Martinez is the only full time DH I put in this Hall. He’s a tier two player who should be considered an obvious Hall of Famer.

Why isn’t he in? Grumpy/old/sportswriters. Grumpy/old/sportswriters who still fail to accept the DH position as an actual thing. The DH has been around since 1973 and many of the writers voting feel it “ruined baseball”.  These same grumpy/old/sportswriters don’t spend a lot of time looking at WAR or WAA either. They love RBI and the sniff test and those things hurt Edgar Martinez.

So, this big Hall has 186 position players enshrined for their MLB playing careers. The actual hall has 146. I removed 25 actual Hall of Famers and added 65 players I felt were deserving. Doing so actually increased the positional and overall standards. The average WAR of the 146 position players in the Hall of Fame is 66.6. The average WAR of the 186 players in this Hall is 67.5. The average WAA of the 146 actual Hall of Famers is 36.2. This group of 186 averages 37.4. More players, higher standards, that’s great. However, part of the reason I was able to maintain or slightly increase the overall standards is because I removed actual Hall of Famers and the Hall of Fame is not about to kick any of its members out.

They shouldn’t.

Every player, even those I would classify as egregious mistakes, represents a time, place, and an often flawed voting process. Several former players, managers, and sportswriters got together and put George Kelly in. Was that a mistake? Of course! Whether it was by cronyism, ignorance, a flawed voting process, or a combination of all of the above, he got in. Kicking him out now wouldn’t actually accomplish anything; I think it might actually diminish the achievement to living Hall of Famers. Think about it; if you’re Jim Rice and you see 25 guys get booted out, don’t you wonder if you will still be in 50 years from now? Wouldn’t that take away some of the prestige? I think it might.

The Hall could get around this by reclassifying certain groups of players and making the museum more of a living exhibit. Joe Posnanski proposed a “Hall of 100” that constantly evolves. Recognize the 100 best players in the Hall and over time as more information becomes available and the voting group changes; rankings would change. Obviously the all-time greats like Ruth and Mays will always be top 100, but maybe someone like Harmon Killebrew falls out as someone like Frank Thomas gets added. Killebrew wouldn’t get kicked out of the actual Hall he just wouldn’t get recognized as a top 100 Hall of Famer. I love this system!

Since the Hall of Fame isn’t about to kick any of its members out, I wondered what the average WAR would be if you simply added the 65 players I selected without removing anyone (211 position players). It drops slightly to 64.0 (from 66.6). The average WAA also would drop slightly to 34.5 (from 36.2). That’s it. To put that in perspective only 118 position players have a career WAR of 60 or higher. Both Ichiro and Chase Utley could join that group by the end of season. Two guys that should probably be in the Hall of Fame. Ichiro is a lock to get in, Utley not so much. Why? The sniff test, a flawed voting process, flawed voters, etc.

This is my take at a bigger Hall. I’ll admit there are some names on this list that still make me cringe a bit but looking at this Hall compared to the actual Hall of Fame, I prefer this one. How about you? Looking at this Hall compared to my first “Personal Hall of Fame” with 174 players in it (pitchers included), I’ll take this big Hall too, although I still see the appeal of a smaller Hall.

What if the Hall of Fame was bigger? Eras and positions would be represented more evenly and there would be a steady flow of players going to Cooperstown. I think those are good things.

In part two of this series I’ll take a look at the 87 pitchers (77 MLB/10 NLB) who made the cut, and a handful that didn’t.

Follow me on twitter @RossCarey

Originally posted 7/6/13

Comments

  1. Baltimorechop says:

    Hi, great read. My hall is 230, I think only two guys I have you didn’t list. What do you think of hardy Richardson and bob Elliot. I had same group of 3b problem; I had Elliott with Hack and Groh.

    • Ross Carey says:

      Thanks, Baltimore!

      Elliot is right there. I thought about him a lot, he’s probably the best 3B I left out. I don’t know what to do with all of these 19th century stars like Richardson. I put a bunch in but left several out as well. I put Barnes in at 2B but I guess you can make a case for either to represent that era.

  2. Philip Von Borries says:

    Pete Browning and the Baseball Hall of Fame

    Regarding Browning and the Hall of Fame, here’s what I’ve got to say. He absolutely belongs in, long ago.

    Don’t you people read?

    His career was massively compromised by alcoholism, the result of the pain he suffered all his life as the result of mastoiditis (look it up). That was more than an “ear infection” and “ear problems” as described by Browning critics and so-called baseball experts. It rendered him deaf (which in turn made him an illiterate). It also required major head surgery in a time when medicine was at best crude and utterly dangerous even in the right hands. Today, it could be easily treated by antibiotics and routine surgery, two things he didn’t have access to in his time. Had it been accessible, he would have played better and longer, and lived longer. (There is a precedent for this already in the Hall of Fame: Addie Joss and Ross Youngs.)

    As to the (specious) “argument” that the old American Association (the major league that operated from 1882 through1891, not the old, defunct minor league of the same name) was inferior, I could say reams. Instead, I refer you to David Nemec’s classic book, The Beer and Whisky League. That major work long ago settled (for once and all) the issue of the AA’s “alleged inferiority”. That argument is nothing more than NL and the HOF’s elitism and utter garbage. (BTW, Nemec is this country’s best historical baseball writer.

    Regarding Browning’s alleged fielding deficiencies, I refer you to my book, the first biography of Browning (American Gladiator: The Life and Times of Pete Browning), and again to Nemec. My book is filled with numerous accounts of great catches by him.

    For God sake, get a damn life and stop flaunting your ignorance. Most of all, do the right thing. Elect him immediately to the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Had he been black, he would have been in long ago, and we all know this is true) Along with fellow AA stars Tony Mullane, Gus Weyhing, Bob Caruthers, Dave Foutz and Harry Stovey (all discussed in my article, “Closed Minds, Closed Doors: The AA Ten and the Hall of Fame”, and books by David Nemec).
    That’s the least this long-suffering and much-maligned ballplayer deserves. He was a product of his time and deserves to be judged that way, not by millennium standards. He was a true pioneer of the game who among other things, won three batting titles; was a lifetime .341 hitter (tied for 11th place on the all-time list with Bill Terry and Willie Keeler, an average that included one true .400 season); and was the namesake of the famed Louisville Slugger bat.
    And one thing.
    A few years back, it was reported that a member of the Veterans Committee had turned in a blank ballot. That idiot shouldn’t be banished from ever voting again.
    If what I have said offends you, good. Feel free to contact me at the address below. That goes double for who agree with me.

    VTY,
    Philip Von Borries (angel.sleeves@gmail.com)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] part one of this series I took a look at the concept of a bigger Hall by examining position players. Here, [...]

  2. [...] agree. I recently named my Personal Hall of Fame while bloggers Bryan O’Connor, Ross Carey, Dan McCloskey, and Dalton Mack did the [...]

  3. […] I wondered what if the Hall was bigger instead of smaller. My second pass at a personal Hall had 263 major league players in it. That’s an increase of 21%. I prefer that […]

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