Year Inducted: 1968 (Veterans Committee)
Players are often talked about as having some combination of 5 basic tools. Hitting for average, hitting for power, defensive ability, throwing arm and speed. Of those 5, speed is always a tough one because fans often overvalue it due to the excitement it brings. It’s rare that a team of speedsters, like last year’s Royals, can be the best team in baseball (getting some power out of Hosmer and Morales, as well as actually getting a good start out of Cueto and a fantastic bullpen helped more than the speed, by the way). Speed can even make some players more memorable. Vince Coleman and Maury Wills would be lost to the sands of time, had it not been for their stolen base exploits, for example. Very few players can combine speed and power. Willie Mays probably did it best, but before him there was Kiki Cuyler.
Year Inducted: 1980 (Veterans Committee)
Home parks are interesting. Mel Ott hit roughly 60% of his home runs in the Polo Grounds, taking full advantage of the very short right field line. The home park argument has been something suppressing Larry Walker’s Hall of Fame case, and will most assuredly hinder Todd Helton as well. One hitter who seemed tailor-made for his home park (Baker Bowl in Philadelphia) was Chuck Klein.
Year Inducted: 1995 (Veterans Committee)
A lot of the older players have come up recently. And, to a degree that makes sense. In a study like this that compares players to each other, as well as to their respective peers, a lot of the older players get lost in the fog and end up towards the lower half of the list. Vic Willis is an excellent example.
Year Inducted: 1974 (Veterans Committee)
There are some players that are instantly recognizable as being deserving of induction. Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Randy Johnson, and a host of others are all obvious first ballot Hall of Famers, and writing about them is easy because it’s easy to explain why they are Hall of Famers. Likewise, players like Tommy McCarthy and Bill Mazeroski are easy to write about because it’s easy to explain why they aren’t great selections for the Hall of Fame. Then there are some players that have sadly been lost to the tales of time, like Sam Thompson, who people no longer recall quite as easily.
Year Inducted: 1948 (BBWAA ballot #8, 93/121)
There are some players that, during their careers, look incredible. But, due to the ever changing landscape of history, those players now look like a much lesser quality. George Sisler was regarded as one of the best first basemen ever, but now he may not even crack the top 10. Another great example of this is Pie Traynor, today’s entry.
Year Inducted: 1964 (Veterans Committee)
The Black Sox were one of the worst things to ever happen to baseball. When those players were banned, not only did people lose faith in the game, but the players that remained were probably never looked at the same again. Three members of the team eventually made it to the Hall of Fame. Eddie Collins, one of the greatest second basemen ever, Ray Schalk, the era’s best defensive backstop and Red Faber, the Sox best non-banned pitcher.
Year Inducted: 1946 (Veterans Committee)
It feels like this study has crossed a threshold. While the choices popping up are definitely low-level Hall of Famers, they are unquestionably important to the history of the game and deserving of induction. That also means that these entries become tougher because no one wants to read or write about players that are just OK selections for the Hall of Fame. SABR Bios states about today’s player, Jimmy Collins, as following:
“Jimmy Collins was an outstanding fielder and above-average hitter during his 14-year major-league career in the Deadball Era.”
There isn’t much to add to that, but let’s see what else he has to offer.