Year Inducted: 1967 (Veteran’s Committee)
Lloyd and Paul Waner were two brothers who played baseball between 1920 and 1945, including playing together for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Paul, the older brother and nicknamed “Big Poison”, played right field, while his younger brother Lloyd (a.k.a. “Little Poison”), patrolled center field. Paul is definitely the better of the two brothers. He ended his career with over 3000 hits and earned enshrinement into the Hall in 1952. Lloyd is most remembered for being someone unworthy of enshrinement. Is that an accurate thought?
Little Poison played in parts of 18 seasons and slashed .316/.353/.393 for a wRC+ of 99 in nearly 2000 games. To Waner’s credit, he was able to rack up quite a few hits (had over 2400), as well as quite a few extra base hits. Despite only having 27 home runs (which is still more than some Hall of Famers) Waner did record nearly 300 doubles and over 100 triples, so he provided a little bit of power. It would be difficult to credit all of his extra base hits to speed since he stole a grand total of 67 bases in his career and Fangraphs rates him as a mostly average runner, despite many reports in the day of him being a feared runner and having dangerous speed.
Waner was primarily a leadoff hitter in his career, so he didn’t drive in many runs (only 598, with a top mark of 74), but he was able to score a lot of runs (1201, including a league leading 133 in his rookie year). Actually, for his first few seasons, he seemed like he might have had a chance at a legit Hall of Fame career. For his first six seasons he slashed .340/.378/.432, even though it was only good for a wRC+ of 109, it was still a very good line. Unfortunately, in 1933, at the age of 27, he started to decline some, with his average dropping from .333 down to .276, and his wRC+ going from 115 to 78. This basically marked the end of Waner’s chances of being a great player, as he struggled through 3 years of below league average production. He would bounce back some, posting another 3 years of wRC+ above 100 (only ranging from 104-107 though), but it was pretty clear that his best years were behind him, hitting his final homer in 1938 and playing through some pretty down years until the end of his career in 1945.
Lloyd Waner was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967 by the Veterans Committee. And, it’s possible to see why he was considered. He did hit for a pretty decent average, and was well regarded defensively in center field. But, the average center fielder in his career hit .291, so his career average of .316 isn’t great. The average center fielder had an OPS of .768 in Waner’s career, which was much better than Waner’s .747. Waner’s career mostly fizzled out after a very good start. It’s unfortunate, but that’s baseball. It’s possible that there were some on the Veteran’s Committee that voted for him because of his brother (although there isn’t any evidence of his brother campaigning for Lloyd’s induction), it isn’t likely the main reason. It is more likely that people on the committee just looked at his batting average, thought it meant he was a great player, and voted him in. Certainly nothing similar to the inductions that were covered in the last couple of posts, and several more will be seen in the next few posts.
The next post goes up on July 4th, and what better way to celebrate America than talking about America’s pastime? Stay tuned for the next review, which will be:
On deck: 7/4/16, this second baseman was, like Chance, part of a famous double play combination.