Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hall of Fame Cases

I'm basing this entirely off of the stats. Winning a Gold Glove doesn't make you a good defender (see Jeter, Derek who is a terrible shortstop but should still probably make the HOF if he retired tomorrow), winning MVP's doesn't make you the league's best player (for a quick example; Jimmy Rollins this past year, who had a great year, but was behind David Wright, Albert Pujols [who's already close to being a borderline candidate], and Matt Holliday, while also making more outs in a season than anyone, ever), winning 20 games in front of a good defense with a good offense and bullpen to support you doesn't make you a great pitcher. I didn't watch these guys play, so there's no "you had to see him turn a double play" or "the guy could hit the ball a mile and had a great swing" arguments here.

Players from back-in-the-day aren't really my thing, so I wouldn't say this is at all a definitive picture of their candidacy. They're my opinions based on about 10 minutes of research a piece. It did make for an interesting lunch/break though.

Orlando Cepeda:
Had 3 great years, 3/4 more very good ones, and that's mostly it.
Hit for good power for his time with solid batting average and on-base percentage. Didn't really add anything with the glove, and it was probably a minus over the course of his career.
He's better than some other HOF first-basemen, but comes out worse then Keith Hernandez (very good OBP and very good defense), Will Clark (underrated hitter and good defense), Don Mattingly (better peak and great defense), and a few others. In fact, Fred McGriff had a better career, though his best years weren't quite as impressive.

Overall - Not a Hall Of Famer. First base isn't all about slugging, and that in and of itself doesn't necessarily make you one of the all-time greats.

Bill Mazeroski:
OBP < .300 for his career, and that's with a fairly high number of intentional walks. The guy couldn't really hit. Great glove though.
Bobby Grich, Lou Whitaker, and Willie Randolph were all better; the first 2 by a pretty good margin. Second base is a pretty stacked position in the HOF, and it can be argued that the guy who was the best ever at fielding his position deserves to be there.

Overall - Borderline; There are worse Hall Of Famers, but his overall contribution just wasn't quite enough in my book. He must have been a pleasure to watch with the glove, though.

Billy Williams:
He was consistently a very good to great hitter for almost his entire career and even added a bit with the glove. Since I'm on left fielders, Albert Belle was so good while he was playing that he should probably get in, though he's borderline overall. Billy Williams' career was better than Belle's by a larger margin than Belle's over Jim Rice's. Also of note: Rice wasn't even the best player in his own outfield as teammate Dwight Evans is actually a deserving candidate, and was much better than Rice.

Overall - Hall Of Famer.

Phil Rizzuto:
Had an outstanding year in 1950; BA .324 OBP .418 SLG .439 with great defense. Had a couple more really good years, and a few good ones, and that's it. Was done contributing to his team by age 35, and had a few so-so years between the good ones, mostly due to a drop in his defensive play as his offense was generally not very good.
Better shortstops not in the Hall include Allan Trammell and Bill Dahlen, who should be in, Dave Concepcion who's borderline, and Tony Fernandez who shouldn't be there. Bert Campaneris is about in line with Rizzuto.

Overall - Not a Hall Of Famer. Worse choice than Cepeda.

Jim 'Catfish' Hunter:
The lack of 'Catfish' threw me off at first. I'm not really sure why he's in the HOF. He was done by 32. Pretty good control but a lack of strikeouts, gave up his share of homers, probably got a little lucky on giving up less hits. Below several non-HOF pitchers like Vida Blue, Ron Guidry, Frank Viola, Orel Hershiser, Dennis Martinez, Jimmy Key, David Cone, and Jack Morris (who's below Bret Saberhagen, Chuck Finley, Luis Tiant, Jim Kaat, Tommy John, Frank Tanana, and Bert Blyleven). John and Tanana are borderline, and Blyleven is one of the better pitchers of all time. Blyleven had better control than Hunter, a much higher K rate, and a much lower HR rate. He did give up more hits, but putting their ERAs in context has Blyleven coming out way ahead.
Hunter's win totals and playoff contributions don't really do anything for me.

Overall - Not a Hall Of Famer. Maybe if he hadn't gotten injured.

Pee Wee Reese:
Only Grich and Whitaker beat him out among non-HOF short stops. Had his best year in '42 and second best in '46, so had he not had to miss that time there really wouldn't be any place to argue. Very good peak through age 30, and then solid through 38.

Overall - Hall Of Famer.

Well that's it. The Veteran's Committee let in some undeserving candidates, and a few more were voted in. Some of these guys belong in the "Hall of Very Good" or what is now generally known amongst those who look at things the way I do as the "Ray Lankford Wing Of The Hall Of Fame". A revamped Veteran's Committee should eventually let in those guys that aren't going to get voted in but deserve to be. It's a shame Roger Clemens is who he is and did what he almost certainly did, as he may very well be the greatest pitcher of all time.

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