Hall of Fame Hopefuls- Right Field

Yes, this post is a couple of days late.  After reworking the center field post to up the median, it made sense to do it in right field as well, since the Veterans Committee has really watered down each position.  There were 10 center fielders voted in by the Veterans Committee, compared to eight by the BBWAA.  Out of the 24 right fielders inducted into the Hall of Fame, 11 were inducted by the Veterans Committee, and with very few exceptions are some of the lowest ranking players in Cooperstown.  As such, instead of the typical median score, a modified one using the lowest ranking BBWAA-inductee (Wee Willie Keeler) as the base score will be used.  That gives a median score of 29056, between Roberto Clemente and Paul Waner.

Should be definites:

1. Vladmir Guerrero

Score: 29660

Most similar to: Dave Winfield

Next eligible: 2017 (BBWAA)

Suggested Team: Expos

Synopsis: Vlad Guerrero is currently hovering around the 75% mark for induction.  He has all the numbers needed, it would seem.  He hit .318, pounded 449 homers in his career, drove in nearly 1500 runs (playing a lot of years on terrible Montreal teams) and the reputation of a great fielder (great arm, poor range).  He should be a lock for his first ballot, especially since there are no steroid whispers about him.  The only thing that may hold him back was that he ended his career early and was a DH the final few years of his career when he was merely a good hitter, not a great one.  Still, Vlad was one of the best of all-time when it came to hitting, even if he only played in roughly 15 seasons.

2. Gary Sheffield

Score: 29613

Most similar to: Winfield

Next eligible: 2017 (BBWAA)

Suggested team: Marlins

Synopsis: Gary Sheffield was one of the most dominating right handed bats of all-time.  The Iron Sheff hit over 500 homers in his career, had a wRC+ of 141, drove in over 1600 and finished just shy of 1000 extra base hits in his career.  Like with Sosa, the steroid connections will probably keep him out of the Hall, but Sheff’s got a great case for induction.

3. Sammy Sosa

Score: 26170

Most similar to: Sam Crawford

Next eligible: 2017 (BBWAA)

Suggested team: Cubs

Synopsis: Despite probably using steroids, no other player (Bonds, McGwire, not even Ruth) ever had as many 60 home run seasons as Sammy Sosa did, achieving it three times in his career.  Sosa hit over 600 homers in his career, drove in more than 1600 runs and in his prime was a good defender and base runner.  Sosa’s steroid connection likely leaves him out of the Hall of Fame, but he still is definitely a great player.  Many have said that without steroids Sosa would be no where close to the Hall of Fame.  However, before 1998, Sosa had already accumulated 207 homers and was hitting 30 a year like clockwork.  It’s likely he would end his career with numbers similar to Dawson had he maintained that pace, and might have in fact made the Hall of Fame.

4. Larry Walker

Score: 26051

Most similar to: Crawford

Next eligible: 2017 (BBWAA)

Suggested Team: Rockies

Synopsis:  Larry Walker is getting killed on the ballot because of Coors Field.  That’s dumb and stupid.  Here are three road slash lines.  See if you can tell which one is Walker’s:

a) .277/.330/.459

b) .259/.311/.462

c) .278/.370/.495

Did you guess C?  Good job!  Player A is Jim Rice and Player B is Ernie Banks.  Overall, most players hit better at home than they do on the road, but that’s why we use park-adjusted stats to help us neutralize those.  Walker’s wRC+ of 140 is excellent, and ranks 17th since 1989 (the year Walker started).  Walker hit well in Montreal and St Louis, his other two stops, so the home-field factor doesn’t apply.  The only real mark against Walker would be that he didn’t play in 2000 games, so he doesn’t have a lot of the counting stats.  However, Walker was a fantastic base runner and fielder in his career, and should have been inducted a while ago.

Close but not quite

5. Bobby Abreu

Score: 23981

Most similar to: Andre Dawson

Next eligible: 2020 (BBWAA)

Synopsis: This one is one of the most shocking scores yet.  The only reason that he isn’t bumped up to “probably yes” is that there hasn’t been a movement surrounding him a la Raines and Blyleven.  Bobby Abreu didn’t have massive power (only 288 homers), didn’t drive in a large amount of runs (1363), and wasn’t really the best hitter during his time (129 wRC+ is very good).  And yet, Abreu’s total package is incredible.  He was an excellent base runner (400 steals, 33.8 base running runs), a solid fielder overall (-33 runs fielding thanks to a lot of poor years on the backend of his career), and was excellent at the little things like drawing walks (.395 OBP) and reaching base (just shy of 4000 times on base in his career.  Seriously!).  Maybe a couple of years down the road, Abreu will get the Raines treatment, but the outlook is bleak on that.

Going to get in due to cultural significance:

6. Ichiro Suzuki

Score: 19844

Most similar to: Keeler

Next eligible: Still active

Suggested team: Mariners

Synopsis: Ichiro may go down as the single most overrated statistical hitter in the game’s long history.  He may also go down as one of the most culturally significant players in the game. Had he debuted earlier, like many rookies do, he would have been a statistical lock for induction.  The fact that he found success here after being successful in Japan for as long as he was is incredible and worthy of induction itself.  Ichiro may not have been an average hitter for most of the last six seasons, but he should waltz into the Hall of Fame.

Stay tuned for the next update.

On deck, 1/14/17: On to the starters.  We’ll cover all generations at one shot.

 

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