Of the 208 Hall of Stats inductees, 69 are not in the Hall of Fame (as of this article’s publishing). 46 of them have a Hall Rating of 110 or better. I consider this group solidly above the Hall of Fame borderline. I’d have a difficult time arguing against any of them for the “real” Hall of Fame.
Once you get below that 110 Hall Rating, the talent pool swells quickly. While 46 eligible non-Hall of Famers fall between that range of 110 and 363, 23 more squeeze between 100 and 110. 48 more come in between 90 and 100 (and so on).
What’s the makeup of the 46 non-Hall of Famers who sit comfortably in the Hall of Stats?
3 Are Banned
Since the Hall of Stats doesn’t care about lifetime bans, Pete Rose and Joe Jackson are honored here. Many fans believe these are the two best players outside the Hall. The Hall of Stats does not agree, ranking Rose 6th and Jackson 17th.
Jackson’s low ranking is mostly due to his career being aborted after his age 32 season (because of his suspension). The only position players in the Hall of Stats with fewer plate appearances than Jackson are Gene Tenace and Charlie Bennett. Both are catchers and both hover near the borderline, nowhere near Jackson’s ranking.
Rose drops a few slots for the opposite reason. He lasted so long chasing the hit record that he diluted his own value. Hall Rating is actually kinder to Rose than Baseball-References’s unadjusted WAA.
There’s one more banned player in the Hall of Stats. Along with Jackson and seven other teammates, Eddie Cicotte was also thrown out of the league for his involvement in the Black Sox scandal. Cicotte was older than Jackson (he had just finished his age 36 season), but he was still enjoying his late career renaissance (with 29.5 WAR in his final four seasons). The fact that he posted a 111 Hall Rating and was still producing at that level shows me that he was a true Hall of Fame talent.
14 Were on Last Year’s Hall of Fame Ballot
And none of them were elected. These 14 players break down into three sub-groups.
Ties to PED Use
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are two of the ten best players to play the game. Do I like them as people? No. Did they cheat? Probably. But they were just so good that a Hall of Fame without them is simply ridiculous. Inducting them doesn’t mean you’re admitting they’re perfect people. If that were the case, we’d have a Hall of Fame made up of… Dale Murphy.
Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa are trickier. Bonds and Clemens exceeded Hall of Fame standards by so much that you need not consider the extent to which PEDs helped them. For Palmeiro, McGwire, and Sosa, this is a question you need to raise as they sit much closer to the borderline. It’s much more of a judgement call, and for a somewhat analytical person like me, that sucks.
Of course, in 1998 we praised these guys for saving baseball. Now we’re keeping them out of the Hall of Fame because of the steps they took to save baseball. That feels wrong to me. Everyone screwed up during that era—players, executives, the league, the press, the fans… everyone.
Suspicion of PED Use
Apparently they had big arms at a time when having big arms meant you were dirty—even if your record was clean. These two omissions bother me the most because of that. The Hall of Stats is a place where Bagwell and Piazza don’t have to face this bullshit.
You can also add Craig Biggio to this group. I don’t feel he’s the slam dunk candidate others give him credit for, but I certainly think he’s a legitimate Hall of Famer. Sadly, when his name hit the ballot we started hearing PED speculation we’d never heard before. Ridiculous.
They Were Just Underrated
Then there are the players who aren’t tainted with PEDs. Voters just don’t realize how good these guys were, apparently. Curt Schilling, for example, ranks 16th all time among pitchers. The fact that he didn’t get in on the first ballot is baffling when you think of it that way. Larry Walker’s Hall Rating puts him at the same level as Rod Carew or Rose, but voters can’t get over the Coors Field problem. The thing is, WAR accounts for park factors and Walker still comes out way ahead.
Edgar Martinez is much like Walker in the respect that voters are completely disregarding him for something rather than adjusting for it. In Edgar’s case, it’s the fact that he was a DH. WAR adjusts for position (even DH). Edgar takes a big hit, but he still rates as very Hall-worthy. Tim Raines is the latest saber darling now that Bert Blyleven was inducted. If he had just swung away more instead of walking so damn much, he’d be in.
Alan Trammell and Kenny Lofton… these are guys who were simply good at everything. And those types of players tend to be underrated. They could both hit. They could both run. They could both field. They both played premium positions. They both had MVP-caliber seasons. They both were overshadowed by teammates who weren’t as good. They both belong.
7 are Old Timers (Pre-Integration)
With Deacon White’s induction into the Hall of Fame, should we bother to add even more 19th Century players?
If they’re deserving, then absolutely.
At least two players from that era still need to be inducted: Bill Dahlen and Jack Glasscock. I think Dahlen is essentially a lock in three years when the Pre-Integration committee votes again. He came very close this past fall.
Glasscock faces a tougher journey. He wasn’t even included on the latest Pre-Integration ballot—a rather ridiculous omission. I wrote an article detailing his overwhelming Hall of Fame case and I’ll be pulling for him to win the SABR Nineteenth Century Overlooked Legend Award for 2013.
Clark Griffith is in the Hall of Fame as a Pioneer/Executive, but he has a really good case as a player, too. There are other 19th century stars I’d like to see inducted, but their Hall Ratings are below 110.
Early 20th Century
A couple of my favorite old time pitchers—Wes Ferrell and Urban Shocker—have very similar career values and Hall Ratings. They are joined by another pitcher who had a much different career path. Jack Quinn is known more for his longevity (pitching until he was 50) while Ferrell and Shocker saw their tremendous peaks shortened by injury (and in the case of Shocker, eventually death).
Sherry Magee is a rarity—an early 19th century offensive player who remains underrated. The Hall of Fame is overflowing with pre-World War I hitters, but Magee has somehow managed to remain under the radar.
12 Are Eligible via the Golden Era or Expansion Era Committees
These twelve players have been eligible to appear on a Veterans Committee ballot so far (but have failed to gain induction). While all were eligible to appear on a ballot, not all of them have.
- Bobby Grich has never appeared on a ballot. His skillset was a mix of power, patience, position, and defense… a combination that doesn’t lead to a quick induction.
- Luis Tiant has received some support from the Veterans Committee. Still, in 2009 he finished behind Maury Wills, so who the hell knows.
- Reggie Smith is similar to Grich in that he did everything. For some reason, that doesn’t get you much support for Cooperstown.
- Graig Nettles and Buddy Bell are probably the two players in history most like Brooks Robinson. Neither could field quite like Robinson, but both had long careers and could provide similar (if not more) value with the bat. Neither Bell nor Nettles has appeared on a ballot.
- Ken Boyer and Sal Bando are two more very similar third basemen. Like Nettles and Bell, they are each other’s most similar player on the Hall of Stats. Boyer has at least been on some Veterans ballots, though he has not performed all that well. Bando’s support has been non-existant.
- Dick Allen has been on several ballots, but has not received the support his numbers suggest. Story of his life.
- Ted Simmons has appeared on one ballot. All we know is that he received less than 50% of the vote… and that Dave Concepcion did in fact receive 50%.
- Joe Torre has received decent support (though not as much as Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, and Jim Kaat). He’ll eventually get in as a manager, but that will diminish his tremendous playing career.
- Bobby Bonds has appeared on some ballots but received hardly any support—curse of the well-rounded player. One of his most similar players —Minnie Miñoso—would also be on this list had he not missed time because of the color line.
- The day Jim Wynn gets on a Veterans Committee ballot is the day I…
10 Aren’t Eligible for the Veterans Committee Yet
These are the most recent snubs. The Writers didn’t put them in and they haven’t had their chance with the Veterans yet.
- Lou Whitaker, like many on this list, lasted only one ballot. He received 15 votes (2.9%).
- Kevin Brown was on the ballot the year Bert Blyleven was inducted. While Blyleven was clearly the best pitcher outside of the Hall of Fame, Brown actually ranked #2 by Hall Rating. He received a dozen votes, totaling just 2.1%.
- David Cone failed to win 200 games, but most of his other numbers point to a Hall of Fame career. I was a bit slow to come around on Coney, but now I’m on board. Cone received 21 votes (3.9%) on his only Hall of Fame ballot.
- Dwight Evans should have gotten into the Hall of Fame long before Jim Rice. At least he can say he was on the ballot more than one year—three years, in fact (peaking at 10.4%). Defense alone doesn’t get you into the Hall, but when combined with Evans’ offense, it should.
- Keith Hernandez also spent more than a year on the ballot. In fact, he spent nine years on there (peaking at 10.8%). Once again, he’s a defense and offense combo. And like Evans, much of his offense came from plate discipline—something that wasn’t considered sexy until recently.
- Rick Reuschel received two Hall of Fame votes (0.4%). Two. Reuschel is another who wasn’t an obvious Hall of Famer to me. I had to dig deeper—very deep. But now I’m convinced he belongs.
- I came around on Willie Randolph even later than Reuschel. In fact, I’m still kind of on the fence with him. He’s Whitaker without the power. I’ll put my efforts behind Whitaker first. Randolph was named on five ballots (1.1%).
- Bret Saberhagen certainly had a Hall of Fame peak. He just couldn’t stay healthy. He received 1.3% of the vote (seven votes).
- Dave Stieb surprises you. He was probably the best pitcher of the 1980s, yet he only received seven Hall of Fame votes (1.4% while Joe Carter received 3.8%). Among non-Hall of Fame 19th century pitchers, only Clemens had more WAR than Stieb through age 32.
- Kevin Appier actually received a Hall of Fame vote, which surprises me. He totally flew under the radar. I’m not convinced he’s a Hall of Famer, but he’s convinced me to consider him a possibility.
Do They All Belong?
I’d much rather see all of them in than none of them. I’m less bullish on Sosa, Griffith, Quinn, Magee, (Bobby) Bonds, Wynn, Randolph, and Appier. The other 38? I’m sold.
Like I mentioned earlier, I support some players with less than a 110 Hall Rating as well. But this group rates so well statistically that it’s hard to say no.
The populations of the Hall of Fame and Hall of Stats overlap by about two thirds. It’s the group of players above that gives the Hall of Stats its own personality, independent of the “real” Hall of Fame.