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    Monday, December 19, 2011

    50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame Ballot Explanations, Part 2

    This is the continuation of my explanation of my “50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame” Ballot. Part 1 can be found here. These are the next nine players that I added to the ballot in Round 1 of my cutting process, listed alphabetically. The last nine first rounders will be in their own post, so that I can elaborate more fully on each candidate. I marked on my ballot that I support all of these players for induction.

    Dick Allen, Phillies/White Sox/Dodgers/Cardinals/Athletics, 1B/3B - Allen was a little hard to get along with, explaining his frequent team changes and relatively short career (his first full season was 1964, and his final was 1977). However, the man could really hit; despite playing during a low-offense era, he hit 351 home runs and put up a .292/.378/.534 career line, good for a 156 OPS+. That puts him tied for nineteenth all-time with Frank Thomas. For his career, he had 61.2 bWAR and 67.9 fWAR.

    Sal Bando, Athletics/Brewers, 3B - I hadn’t actually heard of Bando until I started reading Adam Darowski’s Hall of wWAR project. As I mentioned in part 1, third base is overall underrepresented in the Hall of Fame, and this will start to come up more and more as I get further into my ballot. Bando is one of four third basemen that I view as those most deserving of induction now that Ron Santo is in. Two of the other three are in Round 1, while the final one got a little extra consideration due to the fact that he was up for election this year.

    Bando presented good hitting (119 career OPS+) and solid defense at an important position over an extended period of time; basically, he did a little bit of everything, and he did it all well. This led to 60.6 bWAR and 62.7 fWAR. Also of note, he had a strong peak; this is represented in his weighted WAR (wWAR) of 93. This puts him ninth among all eligible third baseman, just behind Brooks Robinson (also of note about this ranking is that, with the election of Santo, Bando is the highest-rated third baseman by this metric not in the Hall).

    Kevin Brown, Rangers/Dodgers/Marlins/Padres/Yankees/Orioles, P - The lack of support for Brown last year (his first year on the ballot) was almost criminal. He joined the ranks of most egregious one-and-dones in Hall voting history (although Jimmy Wynn receiving no votes probably still takes the cake for worst snub).

    For starters, Brown has a career ERA+ of 127, tied for 52nd all-time (for reference, Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver have ERA+s of 128, while Lefty Gomez and Jim Palmer come in just under him at 126). He racked up 2397 strikeouts in 3256.1 innings, good for 64.8 bWAR (just ahead of Carl Hubbell, at 64.4) and 77.2 fWAR (as a note, fWAR for pitchers is only calculated from about 1974 or so on, so it doesn’t allow for the historical comparisons; however, in this case, both stats seem to speak highly of Brown’s skills).

    On a related note, I used to think the lack of recent starters in the Hall was worrisome. Consider: Bert Blyleven first pitched in 1970. No starter in the Hall of Fame has a more recent rookie season (and before Blyleven got in, Tom Seaver held the title with a 1967 debut). Is it possible that we went nearly a decade and a half between debuts of Hall pitchers? But then, look at all of the starters that reach the ballot between 2011 and 2015:

    2011: Kevin Brown,
    2013: Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling
    2014: Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, Tom Glavine
    2015: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz

    And those are just the ones that I would put in the Hall. I now think the dearth of 70s/80s pitchers is less of an issue, given the explosion of talent that debuted in the late 1980s and into the 1990s.

    Bob Caruthers, Browns(Cardinals)/Bridegrooms(Dodgers)/Reds/Colts(Cubs), RF/P - Caruthers was a two-position star in the 1880s and 1890s who only played for ten seasons. His career was brilliant, despite its brevity. He had five seasons of an OPS+ of 120 or better (including a league-leading 200 in 1886) and five seasons of an ERA+ over 120 (including a league-leading 158 in 1885). Between the two parts of his game, he accumulated 71.4 bWAR (his fWAR is incomplete). This is despite the fact that he only played ten seasons, only one of which exceeded 100 games due to the shorter seasons in the 1800s. wWAR tries to account for the shorter seasons and prorate it over longer seasons; as a result, Caruthers is credited with an astounding 142.5 wWAR.

    Bill Dahlen, Colts(Cubs)/Superbas(Dodgers)/Giants/Doves(Braves), SS -Another early star. Dahlen played mostly in the 1890s and 1900s, and played a solid shortstop (Baseball-Reference has him at 13 wins with his glove, while Fangraphs puts him closer to 14) while hitting decently (109 OPS+) for the position. All of this adds up to 80.0 fWAR and 75.9 bWAR.

    Dwight Evans, Red Sox/Orioles, RF - It’s a shame being an almost-lifer with the Red Sox couldn’t get Evans the support that it did for Jim Rice. Dwight Evans is more or less a plan on how to be underrated; play solid but not too incredible defense, walk a lot (1391 walks; 3890 times on base, or more than Lou Brock, Mike Schmidt, Al Simmons, and numerous Hall of Famers), fall just short of round numbers (2446 hits, 385 home runs, .272/.370/.470 batting line, good for a 127 OPS+), and have a sustained peak rather than a short flash of brilliance. For his career, Evans totaled 61.8 bWAR and 71.4 fWAR, both well into Cooperstown territory, but his case has never gotten a lot of momentum.

    Darrell Evans, Giants/Braves/Tigers, 3B - Darrell is the second part of the third basemen quartet deserving of induction that I mentioned earlier. Between the two Evans, you have more or less every reason a player gets overlooked. Like Dwight, Darrell was a solid defender who walked a lot (1605 times; 3863 times on base, just behind Dwight), had a sustained peak, and did good at everything without really standing out.

    Darrell presents other ways to be underrated, though. For example, split your time pretty evenly between multiple teams (9 seasons in Atlanta, 8 in San Francisco, 5 in Detroit) so that no one comes to associate you with “their” team. Play an underrated position (third base, catcher, maybe center field or second base). Play in parks or time periods that hide what you're good at (for example, Darrell’s .248/.361/.431 batting line is actually good for a 119 OPS+). Also, have a similar name to another player from the same time so that you stand out less. The other Evans had 57.3 bWAR and 67.8 fWAR in his career.

    Bill Freehan, Tigers, C - Catchers don’t have a long lifespan, Freehan included. He made it about 14 seasons, so he doesn’t have the counting stats that most Hall of Famers do. However, as Adam Darowski points out in his Hall of wWAR series, catchers are fairly underrated, and Freehan is essentially the best of the tier below Ted Simmons, Joe Torre, Gabby Hartnett, et al. So, if you want a more balanced Hall, it makes sense to include players like Freehan. Looking back, I’m not so sure why I included Freehan so early in the process; his case isn’t nearly as clear cut as some of the other players here. However, he does have 52.8 fWAR (twelfth among catchers, and essentially the last one before a drop-off), 43.3 bWAR, and 69.8 wWAR. Also, the adjusted normalized wWAR from the Hall of wWAR project (which gives extra credit to shorter-careered players like catchers to put them on the same wWAR scale as other players) has him at 81.8. Like I said: I’m not sure why I included him in my first round, but he would have made the cut eventually.

    Bobby Grich, Angels/Orioles, 2B - Grich is another jack-of-all-trades who has been ignored by Hall voters. Both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference credit him with over 8 wins on defense. He was a great hitter, with a career batting line of .266/.371/.424 to go along with a 125 OPS+. And he did all of this while playing an up-the-middle position; all of that together makes Grich a Hall-level player. For further reference, Grich has 67.6 bWAR (.1 ahead of Duke Snider), 74.1 fWAR (tied with Ernie Banks and Robin Yount, among others), and 99.9 wWAR.


    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. Well, you read it, unless you don't like to count yourself as a person...

    3. i didnt read it... i read the first sentence and decided that you must be informed that no one reads this. wasting your time bud. YANKEES 4EVA.

    4. Typical obnoxious Yankees fan is typical

    5. I'm reading this. And enjoying it. Hoping Billy Pierce comes up in the next round, but otherwise I think you're right on.

    6. Looking back, I probably should have put Pierce over Saberhagen. I felt like I needed to get more recent pitchers for some reason, and probably put one too many on.