First basemen are typically big sluggers (ie Willie McCovey and Harmon Killebrew) that are poor to average defenders, but there will occasionally be one that hits for a high average without a ton of power (ie George Sisler) or is a good defender. The Hall of Fame currently hosts 20 first basemen, ranging from Lou Gehrig to Frank Chance. The median score for first basemen is 21066, which ranks between Hank Greenberg and Jake Beckley. The best way to determine a player’s Hall of Fame candidacy would be to calculate what his score will be, then compare it within his position. If he grades out with similar Hall of Famers, then he probably would be a good candidate. If he grades only with low-ranking Hall of Famers, then he probably shouldn’t be inducted. While the following list isn’t meant to be exhaustive (and isn’t for any position that will be covered here), here’s a list of former, current and future candidates for induction at first base: Continue reading
Year Inducted: 1939 (BBWAA, special election)
It was a day never before seen on a baseball field. Between the games of a double header against the Washington Senators, the Yankees decided to honor one of their living greats while they still could. The quiet link between the Babe Ruth years and the Joe DiMaggio years could no longer play baseball due to an incurable disease. Lauded with fan appreciation and gifts befitting a king, the quiet leader of the club stepped forward to address the public, and issued what many believe to be baseball’s equivalent of the Gettysburg Address. A man who knew he would face his end painfully and abruptly, took full courage and said in front of a sold out Yankee Stadium that he thought he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth because he got to play baseball. That was Lou Gehrig in a nutshell, quiet yet dignified and whether he would admit it or not, often times larger than the game itself.
Year Inducted: 1969 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 317/340)
Player salaries today are huge, which is what a free agent market tends to do. No one should really begrudge a player for seeking out the highest bidder, as most people would do the same if that option was open. Still, baseball wasn’t always like that. In 1958, a player on the Cardinals hit .337/.423/.528, an impressive line made even moreso by the fact that he was 37 years old. The next season, he slumped badly to a line of .255/.364/.428. Most players would take it as a down year and try again the next season. Only one man would go to the team’s front office and ask for a pay cut, because he didn’t earn his pay. That was Stan Musial in a nutshell.
Year Inducted: 1951 (BBWAA, ballot #7, 179/226)
Babe Ruth’s single season home run record was considered one of the most hallowed records in the entire sporting world. Not only was it thought to be untouchable, but it was seen as the zenith season, one that if someone were to surpass it would have to be the greatest season on record. But, only five years after the record was set, there was a serious challenge to it. A right handed slugger from Philadelphia hit 58 homers, and would have tied Ruth’s record had 2 additional homers not been erased due to rainouts. The event must have traumatized Jimmie Foxx because, to his dying day, he carried the two box scores around with him to prove that he did, in fact, hit 60 homers in one season.
Year Inducted: 2003 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 423/496)
When the topic of switch hitters is brought up, the usual name linked as the best one ever is Mickey Mantle. And there really is no debate about it, Mantle is the best. But who would come next? Is it Pete Rose, who got tons of hits but provided little power? Is it Lance Berkman or Chipper Jones, both of whom had great batting eyes and lots of power? Or would it be Eddie Murray, one of the most consistent hitters in baseball history?
Year Inducted: 1939 (Veterans Committee)
Record keeping has always been the lifeblood of baseball statistics. This was, of course, insanely difficult in the era before computers and electronic databases. In the pre-1900’s era, every team had their own scorekeeper, and there weren’t any overseers from the league. As such, many errors were made that for a long time were passed down from generation to generation. Along with that, with baseball in its infancy, rules and stats were constantly in a state of flux. For example, there was at least one season where walks were counted as hits. Many historians have gone back and modified the stats for those old time players, but controversy remains. Some sites will use the old totals, some will use some of the corrections, some use all of the corrections and it can get confusing for studies such as this. The player that suffers the most from this is Cap Anson.
Year Inducted: 2014 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 478/571)
Baseball loves its number clubs, doesn’t it? The 300 win club, 3000 strikeout club, 500 home run club, and others are used as benchmarks for greatness. However, there is one club that relatively few people talk about: the .300/.400/.500 club. In all of baseball history, roughly 20 players have maintained a .300 batting average, .400 OBP and .500 SLG for their entire careers. This is a feat that legendary hitters like Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio haven’t accomplished. Not surprisingly, most of them are in the Hall of Fame that are eligible (Joe Jackson was part of the Black Sox Scandal and Lefty O’Doul only had 3000 plate appearances so he should be disqualified), or will be in the near future (with the possible exception of Manny Ramirez). One of the most overlooked players of this club is Frank Thomas.