Year Inducted: 2000 (BBWAA, ballot #9, 385/499)
As most people (ie the two people who read this blog) know, a lot of the numbers used to judge players are more advanced, sabermetric numbers. However, it’s important to recognize when the more traditional stats, despite their flaws, can capture the value of some players. RBI’s are the best example, as every team needs to score runs in order to win and if a player has a lot of RBI’s, he most likely has had a great season. Is it definitive? No. Does it really show the talent of a player? No, but it does a decent job at looking backwards at a player’s season to see how he contributed to his team. Some players have ridden high RBI totals to a Hall of Fame career. A great example of this would be Tony Perez, the RBI man on the Big Red Machine.
Perez hit .271/.341/.463 in 23 seasons for a wRC+ of 121. He picked up 379 home runs along with 505 doubles and 79 triples. His claim to fame was his RBIs, which he collected nearly 1700 of in his illustrious career, along with scoring 1272 runs. Perez, of course, had multiple opportunities to drive in runs by being on the Big Red Machine and hitting behind Pete Rose and Joe Morgan, along with being in the same lineup as Johnny Bench and George Foster, but he took advantage of his opportunities quite well. Perez was also not just a slugger, as he collected over 2700 hits in his career and over 500 doubles to go along with his home runs. He also wasn’t terrible defensively. He wasn’t a Gold Glover, but he was good enough to be worth +14 runs from his fielding after an incredibly long career.
Perez was also a model of consistency early in his career. After platooning for a few years, Perez hit at least 18 home runs and drove in at least 90 from 1967-1977, several times topping 100 RBI in that stretch. Along with being an excellent clubhouse presence, Perez quickly became a vital cog in the Big Red Machine.
Perez is not without his flaws, however. He had a long decline period, and an argument could be made that he hung around too long as he retired while in his 40s and was a shell of his former self offensively, spending many of his latter years as either a DH or a pinch hitter. But, Perez was definitely an excellent hitter in his prime, and well worthy of his induction.
Stay tuned for the next update.
On deck 9/14/16: This little second baseman put the go-go in the Chisox.