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.
Traynor was the man at the hot corner for the Pirates for 18 years, hitting .320/.362/.435 with a wRC+ of 109. Traynor may have the most hollow .300 batting average of all-time, as 1800 of his 2400 hits went for singles. His yearly hits were approximately 100 singles, 20 doubles, 9 triples and 3 home runs. He was excellent at hitting singles, but third base quickly became a power position after his retirement thanks to Eddie Mathews, and Traynor can’t compare with what Mathews and other future third baseman were doing. He was a decent runner, though. He stole over 150 bases and was worth almost 16 runs as a base runner.
Defensively, he was fairly average to slightly below, at least statistically. He was worth only about 19 runs defensively. His fielding suffered some from a late-career arm injury. While sliding into home plate, the opposing catcher fell on his arm causing tremendous damage despite not breaking it. His last few years were played on a mostly dead arm, causing a sharp decrease in his abilities.
Traynor, for a decent amount of time, was looked at as the best third baseman in the history of the game. And, with the initial thoughts towards batting average, as well as the lack of any rigorous defensive stats, it’s not hard to see why that was so. However, in more recent times, the game has seen Hall of Famers such as Wade Boggs, Brooks Robinson, Mathews, Mike Schmidt and George Brett completely blow Traynor’s numbers and place in history away, with several other potential future Hall of Famers like Scott Rolen and Adrian Beltre. While history shouldn’t forget about Traynor, he should be remembered as one of the first best third basemen. This more than justifies his selection to the Hall of Fame.
Stay tuned for the next update.
On deck 8/22/16: This Hall of Fame slugger was second in career home runs to only Roger Connor upon his retirement.