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Constructing a Hall of Fame Out of Non-Hall of Famers

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In line with how things have gone in recent times, the announcement of the vote on Sunday from certainly one of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s eras committees was followed by loads of debate.

The 16-member jury of players, executives and writers assembled for the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee unanimously agreed to elect Fred McGriff, a slugging first baseman, while it rejected Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two of essentially the most achieved players in baseball history, almost actually due to their connections to performance-enhancing drugs.

McGriff’s election may not sit well with those that consider the Hall of Fame is a spot just for the perfect of the perfect. But with 493 home runs and 52.6 profession wins above alternative, McGriff is nowhere near the worst first baseman ever elected to Cooperstown.

Many top-tier players are excluded from the Hall of Fame — and never all of them were connected to drug use. Other players have been elected with lesser statistics. This has led to some confusion about what constitutes a Hall of Fame profession, and that is all ahead of the announcement in January of the writers’ ballot for the category of 2023, which incorporates a candidate, Carlos Beltrán, who may encourage much more debate.

One technique to evaluate the candidates is to check, at each position, the highest player who is just not within the Hall of Fame, using profession wins above alternative, as calculated by Baseball Reference, to the worst Hall of Fame player. For instance, below, catcher Wally Schang is just not within the Hall of Fame, but catcher Rick Ferrell is.

(For every position, a player was required to have spent a minimum of 51 percent of his profession there, apart from a relief pitcher, who qualified at 75 percent. Players elected primarily for off-field contributions weren’t included, as were players from the Negro leagues since the available statistics don’t paint a good picture of their total value.)

Catcher

Profession WAR: 47.9, which is best than eight of 18 Hall of Famers
Lowest WAR amongst Hall of Fame catchers: Rick Ferrell, 30.8

You would possibly have expected to see Thurman Munson’s name here, but Schang has a narrow edge over each Gene Tenace (46.8 WAR) and Munson (46.1). In 19 seasons opened up over five franchises from 1913 to 1931, Schang hit .284 with a .393 on-base percentage. He didn’t have much power, but he was considered a great defensive catcher and he won 4 World Series. He appeared on the writers’ ballot five times but peaked in 1960 when he got 11 votes.

In 18 seasons, Ferrell had a lower batting average (.281) and on-base percentage (.378) than Schang, but he had a great fame as a defensive catcher and was lauded for his durability. Ferrell never managed even 1 percent on a author’s ballot, but he was elected by the veterans’ committee in 1984.

First Base

Profession WAR: 71.9, which is best than 13 of 19 Hall of Famers
Lowest WAR amongst Hall of Fame first basemen: George Kelly, 25.6

While never a dominant player, Palmeiro compiled his technique to 3,020 hits and 569 homers, making him certainly one of only seven players within the 3,000-500 club. But his profession led to ignominy after he followed up a strident performance in front of a congressional committee, through which he wagged his finger and shamed steroid users, by testing positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol five months later. He lasted 4 years on the writers’ ballot, peaking at 12.6 percent of the vote, and received fewer than 4 votes from Sunday’s committee.

Kelly was a solid player, winning two World Series with the Recent York Giants and leading the league in home runs once. His election by the veterans’ committee has typically been attributed to his former teammates’ voting him in.

Second Base

Profession WAR: 75.1, which is best than 13 of 19 Hall of Famers
Lowest WAR amongst Hall of Fame second basemen: Bill Mazeroski, 36.5

Sweet Lou did every thing well. He collected 2,369 hits and 244 home runs, had a .363 profession on-base percentage and played terrific defense throughout his 19 seasons. His exclusion is probably a results of his value coming from so many various places, which makes nothing particularly stand out. He fell off the writers’ ballot after one yr because he was named on only 15 of 515 ballots.

Mazeroski couldn’t hold a candle to Whitaker offensively, with a .299 profession on-base percentage and 138 home runs. But he delivered certainly one of the most important hits in major league history when his walk-off homer gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a shocking World Series title in 1960 and that, coupled together with his strong defensive fame, was enough for the veterans’ committee in 2001.

Shortstop

Profession WAR: 117.6, which is best than 21 of twenty-two Hall of Famers
Lowest WAR amongst Hall of Fame shortstops: Phil Rizzuto, 42.2

Rodriguez won the A.L.’s Most Useful Player Award 3 times and finished his profession with 3,115 hits, 696 home runs, 2,086 R.B.I., 329 stolen bases and a World Series ring. He was an excellent defensive shortstop who transitioned into being a wonderful third baseman. All of that was ruined for voters by his steroid use. The extent of his use won’t ever be known, but he has admitted to using drugs from 2001 to 2003 with the Texas Rangers and was suspended for the whole 2014 season after an M.L.B. investigation revealed more use. In his first yr on the writers’ ballot, he received 34.3 percent of the vote.

Rizzuto was a .273 profession hitter who didn’t have much power, but he played good defense, was beloved by the whole baseball world and won seven World Series titles as certainly one of the faces of a permanent Yankees dynasty, which was enough for the veterans’ committee in 1994.

Third Base

Profession WAR: 70.1, which is best than six of 13 Hall of Famers
Lowest WAR amongst Hall of Fame third basemen: Freddie Lindstrom, 28.3

It’s hard to jot down off 2,077 hits and 316 home runs as an aside in a player’s profession, but with Rolen the story was all the time his defense. Standing 6 feet 4 inches and weighing 245 kilos, he looked like a hulking first baseman but patrolled the best side of the infield like a shortstop, leading to eight Gold Glove awards and 21.2 defensive wins above alternative. He was named on 63.2 percent of the ballots in last yr’s writers’ vote — his fifth yr on the ballot — and stands an honest likelihood of election next month.

If Rolen were elected, the highest spot on this list would go to Graig Nettles, a longtime Yankees great, who had 68 WAR over 22 seasons.

Lindstrom was a terrific player early in his profession, considered by lots of his peers to be amongst the perfect to ever play the sport, but injuries meant his profession wouldn’t live as much as expectations. His last standout yr got here when he was 24.

Left Field

Profession WAR: 162.8, which is best than 21 of 21 Hall of Famers
Lowest WAR amongst Hall of Fame left fielders: Chick Hafey, 31.2

Major League Baseball’s profession record-holder in home runs (762) and walks (2,558), Bonds won seven M.V.P. Awards, holds the single-season home run record with 73, stole 514 bases and was an above average fielder for many of his 22 seasons. On talent, he is taken into account by many to be the perfect player in baseball history, but his connections to performance-enhancing drugs, particularly in his surge as a hitter late in his profession, have kept him out of the Hall of Fame. In 10 years on the writers’ ballot, he steadily improved, peaking at 66 percent last yr, but he was named on fewer than 4 ballots in Sunday’s committee vote.

Hafey won a batting title and two World Series, but he is usually considered among the many least deserving Hall of Famers. The gap between him and Bonds is so large that you could possibly add Ted Williams’s profession WAR to Hafey’s and also you’d still be 9.6 wanting Bonds’s.

Center Field

Profession WAR: 70.1, which is best than 11 of 17 Hall of Famers
Lowest WAR amongst Hall of Fame center fielders: Lloyd Waner, 29.6

Appearing on the ballot for the primary time this yr, Beltrán was a effective all-around player, with 435 home runs, 312 stolen bases, 2,725 hits and a .837 profession on-base plus slugging percentage. His defensive fame is maybe overblown, as advanced statistics indicate he was a poor fielder within the second half of his profession, but in his prime he could do every thing. His standing for voters could have been harmed by his central role within the Houston Astros’ elaborate sign-stealing scheme in 2017.

If Beltrán were elected next month, the highest spot on this list would go to Kenny Lofton, the speedy leadoff hitter for several teams, who had 68.4 WAR.

Waner hit .316 for his profession and picked up 2,459 hits, but all indications are that he was a below-average outfielder, didn’t do much as a base runner and is among the many least achieved Hall of Famers. His election is a head-scratcher attributed by some to his connection together with his brother, Paul, who was a much better player and more deserving inductee.

Right Field

Profession WAR: 67.2, which is best than 14 of 24 Hall of Famers
Lowest WAR amongst Hall of Fame right fielders: Tommy McCarthy, 16.2

It is difficult to contextualize Evans’s numbers due to inflation of the steroids era, but he hit 385 home runs, 332 of which got here between 1976 and 1989 — the fifth most within the majors during that span. Perhaps underappreciated in his era for a strong .370 on-base percentage, he won eight Gold Glove awards and was beloved in Boston. He lasted only three years on the writers’ ballot, falling below the 5 percent threshold to remain on the ballot when he received only 18 votes in 1999.

McCarthy, a nineteenth century player for multiple teams, helped pioneer the hit-and-run play and is credited with 468 stolen bases, but his election by the veterans’ committee in 1946 is widely considered one the Hall of Fame’s biggest mistakes.

Designated Hitter

Profession WAR: 28.5, which is just not higher than any Hall of Famer
Lowest WAR amongst Hall of Fame designated hitters: Harold Baines, 38.8

Baylor had three 30-homer seasons, won one Most Useful Player Award, led the majors in R.B.I. once and stole 52 bases in 1976. But he was a one-time All-Star, never had even 4 WAR in a single season and was good, not great, for many of his 19 seasons. He lasted two years on the writers’ ballot but never got greater than 2.6 percent of the vote.

All 4 designated hitters within the Hall of Fame (Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz and Harold Baines) have more WAR than Baylor. Few would argue Baylor should join them, and lots of have suggested there’s already one too many D.H.s within the Hall due to Baines’s controversial election by the Today’s Game Era Committee in 2019.

Starting Pitcher

Profession WAR: 138.7, which is best than 72 of 74 Hall of Famers
Lowest WAR amongst Hall of Fame starting pitchers: Rube Marquard, 34.7

The one pitchers in baseball history with more WAR than Clemens are Cy Young (165.6) and Walter Johnson (152.3). Clemens’s 354 wins and 4,672 strikeouts are eye-popping, particularly for his era, and his seven Cy Young Awards drive that time home. He won the M.V.P. Award in 1986, struck out 20 batters in a game twice, won two World Series rings and was an 11-time All-Star. His connections to performance-enhancing drugs resulted in his falling off the writers’ ballot after the utmost 10 tries, together with his peak coming in his final yr when he was named on 65.2 percent of the ballots. He received fewer than 4 votes from Sunday’s committee.

Marquard led the N.L. in wins once (26 in 1912) and losses once (18 in 1918), had a robust 1.58 E.R.A. in 1916 and … that’s about it. The writers never gave him greater than 13.9 percent of the vote, but he was inducted by the veterans’ committee in 1971.

Reliever

Profession WAR: 35.0, which is best than five of nine Hall of Famers
Lowest WAR amongst Hall of Fame relievers: Bruce Sutter, 24.5

Like a somewhat lesser version of Dennis Eckersley, Gordon was a solid starter for plenty of seasons before turning into a great reliever. He had a 17-win season in addition to a 46-save season and is certainly one of only five pitchers with 130 or more wins and 150 or more saves. Despite having 7.2 more profession WAR than Billy Wagner, Gordon received only two votes in his lone appearance on the writers’ ballot in 2015. Wagner, who saved 422 games, crossed the 50 percent threshold last yr in his seventh appearance on the ballot and still stands an honest likelihood of getting in with three more ballots to go.

Sutter, who died in October, led the league in saves five times and was a pioneer of sorts for the fashionable closer, which helps explain his election despite his modest profession statistics in 12 seasons.

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