Left field is always difficult to judge due to the fact that it is typically occupied by big bulky sluggers who are poor defenders. As such, those few that can actually field well (Yaz, Rickey, Bonds) tend to get a boosted ranking because they can stand out more. Still, if a player isn’t a big power hitter, it’s tough for them to be considered a great left fielder. Left fielders have a median score of 22948, which would be Fred Clarke’s score with 19 left fielders in Cooperstown already. Here’s how a few outsiders look:
Catching is the most stressful and demanding position on the diamond defensively. Accordingly, there tends to be less offense expected from catchers than from other players as long as they field well. However, all that changed in the 1930’s with the advent of catchers like Mickey Cochrane, Gabby Hartnett and Bill Dickey who were very good hitters. Cooperstown houses 15 catchers in the gallery, with the median score belonging to Buck Ewing, 24573. Let’s see how some outsiders rank:
Shortstops tend to be the most underrated hitters in history, mostly because they are typically known for their gloves first. However, without some positive contributions offensively, even an Ozzie Smith level defender would have difficulty making it into the Hall of Fame. Shortstop is one of the more populated positions in Cooperstown, with 22 inductees at the position. The median score for shortstops comes in between Luis Aparicio and Barry Larkin at 26116. Here are how some outside shortstops rank:
Third basemen tend to be players with limited range, but quick reflexes and strong arms. Ever since Eddie Mathews hit the scene, third basemen have needed to possess some power in order to get noticed, with the exception of great OBP skills (Wade Boggs) or tremendous defense (Brooks Robinson). Third base is criminally underrepresented in the Hall of Fame with merely a dozen inductees. The median score for third basemen is 27782, which is between Robinson and Ron Santo. Let’s see how well some outsiders rank for potential Hall of Famers. Continue reading
Second basemen tend to be the smaller, less powerful players on a team. Most are good base runners, and most hit for a high average. Like at first base, there are twenty second basemen inducted in the Hall of Fame, ranging from Rogers Hornsby to Johnny Evers. Second basemen check in with a median score of 24104, ranking between Ryne Sandberg and Joe Gordon. Let’s see where a few outside players rank: Continue reading
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
A little less than a month ago, the Hall of Fame announced the first two members of the 2017 Induction Class. These two people were also special as they are the first inductees under the new set of rules for the Veterans Committee, now known as the Era Committees. This year, the panel was to look at a group of players and executives whose main contributions came after 1988 (so called Today’s Game). The ballot consisted of the following people:
- John Schierholtz, GM of the Braves
- Bud Selig, Commissioner of Baseball
- George Steinbrenner, Owner of the Yankees
- Lou Pinella, Manager
- Davey Johnson, Manager
- Harold Baines, DH
- Albert Belle, LF
- Will Clark, 1B
- Orel Hershiser, SP4
- Mark McGwire, 1B
First impressions of the ballot were that the executives and managers are all interesting decisions, but the players are mostly lackluster.
Let’s start with the two guys that got in. John Schierholtz was the architect of the greatest team of the 1990’s, drafting, developing and acquiring several Hall of Fame players and consistantly fielding a team that was in the upper third of the NL every year. Schierholtz gave the Braves players like Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Fred McGriff, David Justice, Gary Sheffield, JD Drew, Tim Hudson, and many others that may not be current or future Hall of Famers, are certainly some of the best of their times. He’s basically the modern day Ed Barrow who founded talents like Fred Clarke and Honus Wagner. In short, Schierholtz absolutely deserved induction.
Bud Selig, on the other hand, was probably not nearly as easy a decision, despite getting all but one vote (Schierholtz got all 16). Selig did a lot to grow the game internationally, made MLB a media mogul both in TV (MLB Network is the best single-sport network out there) and on the Internet. Baseball is an incredibly profitable industry, and a lot of that has to do with what Selig did. He does have enough on his record to deserve induction.
However, many fans were upset with Selig’s induction due to the Steroid Era that occurred under his tenure. While it is true that Selig didn’t really try to stop steroids, it’s also true that none of the owners, players or media did either, so it is impossible to put the blame solely on him. It’s also important to remember that Selig sought some of the toughest penalties on PED’s of any sport, barring the olympics, and did a very good job leading the fight to clean up the game. He certainly belongs in the Hall of Fame more than Bowie Kuhn, whose efforts nearly destroyed the game in the 80’s with labor tensions (which Selig did his best to prevent from happening). So, yes, Selig was a very good pick for induction.
The two managers on the ballot (Pinella and Johnson) were weak picks. Pinella has a decent number of wins, but only 1 World Championship and no other trips to the World Series beyond that. It’s tough to say that Pinella should be inducted when in Seattle he had some of the best assemblies of talent (Ken Griffey, Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, heck even guys like Jay Buhner and John Olerud) and only won three division titles and a wild card. There definitely is the case, though, for Sweet Lou as a baseball lifer, being a very good player in his career and a decent enough manager for more than 20 years.
Davey Johnson is in pretty much the same boat, but the advantage he has to Pinella is his winning percentage was much higher. Both he and Pinella have strong cases as lifers, but the Hall of Fame doesn’t recognize that category yet.
The players on the ballot only had two guys that merited much thought. Mark McGwire, despite the PED ties, has the numbers to be a Hall of Famer much in the line of Harmon Killebrew (their careers are nearly identical with the exception of games played). Statistically, if Killebrew is a Hall of Famer, then so is McGwire. The PED’s will probably always keep him out, but if baseball didn’t police it during McGwire’s career it’s hard to use that to justify it as a reason for keeping him from induction.
The other interesting player is Albert Belle. Belle may not have been active enough to get on people’s radar for the Hall of Fame, but in 12 years hit nearly 400 homers, had a .933 OPS and 41 fWAR. A hip injury ended his career early, but there may be enough of a peak in there to be inducted, at least worth a decent look.
Hershiser would have been a Hall of Famer had he not blown his arm out before 1990. He came back in 1991 and was solid, but really wasn’t anything special and by 1994 he was done as a top pitcher. Will Clark was a very underrated player for most of his career, but a first baseman with only 284 homers doesn’t stack up well against guys with twice that total. Harold Baines had a lot of hits, but took an incredibly long time to get them (2800+ hits in over 11000 plate appearances) and did so as a DH, so no bonus points for a position.
Overall this was a fairly soft way of rebooting the Veterans Committee. In future, they need to put better players on the ballot or not even bother.
Starting on Monday, I’ll be looking at each position and going over who, based on the system used here, still deserves induction and who doesn’t.
On deck 12/26/16, first stop is first base.