Year Inducted: 1953 (Veterans Committee)
There can be times where it seems that this study favors those who had long careers over short ones. There is some truth to that, in that most of the best players played upwards of 20 or more years in their careers so there may be some inherent bias because of it. That isn’t always the case, of course. Some players stick around a long time as just average players and that doesn’t equate them to being great players. Nolan Ryan and Hank Aaron had long consistent careers, but were excellent players at their peaks and aged gracefully. Some players, though, can play for a long time at an average level and still make it into the Hall of Fame like Bobby Wallace did.
Wallace was an average hitter for over 24 years, a somewhat impressive feat. He hit .268/.332/.358 for a wRC+ of 104. He collected over 2300 hits, including 34 home runs, 391 doubles and 141 triples. He played in fewer than 2400 games and drove in 1121 runs while scoring 1057. As a baserunner, he stole over 200 bases but was worth -26 runs on the base paths according to Fangraphs. Offensively, there isn’t much that is worthy of induction.
However, defensively, he developed a reputation as the best shortstop in the game. And, Fangraphs backs up the sentiment. He was worth 257 runs defensively in his career, which to this day is still 13th all-time and 10th for shortstops. His defense played a major part of his career WAR of 62.4. After 24 seasons and 2300 games, a WAR of 62.4 isn’t very impressive. For reference, Luke Appling in roughly 50 more games was worth 10 more wins. And, Arky Vaughan was worth 10 more wins in roughly 600 fewer games. Wallace was an excellent shortstop but not a great one overall.
Having said that, he does have a place in the Hall of Fame. Following his career, he became a manager, scout and umpire. Wallace was involved with the game for a long time and was a very solid overall player. Baseball should recognize players like him.
Stay tuned for the next update.
On deck, 8/3/16 this lefty from Cincinnati was known for his control and retired with over 260 wins.