On Thursday, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced the 2015 Golden Era ballot. I wrote a preview of what the ballot could look like back in March. Honestly, the ballot itself doesn’t look too bad (far better than the last Expansion Era ballot).
Here’s my quick take on the nine players on the ballot:
- Dick Allen: He didn’t have the longevity, but he had the dominance. His personality made him a polarizing figure—he had both his strong detractors and ardent supporters. Right now, he’s most similar to Miguel Cabrera—two enormous offensive talents who were moved to first base because of poor defense at third. I’d put them both in the Hall today.
- Ken Boyer: I support Boyer for the Hall, but I also acknowledge that his Hall Rating is below the BBWAA standard. Some players have been terribly overlooked. For Boyer, the Veterans Committee is a perfectly acceptable way for him to be inducted. It’s just sad that he passed away so long ago (1982). His highest percentage before his death was 4.7%. His highest after his death was 25.5%.
- Gil Hodges: Advanced metrics aren’t terribly kind to Hodges. First basemen with 120 OPS+ figures simply don’t get in the Hall of Fame. Jeff Bagwell (149), Keith Hernandez (128), and John Olerud (129) were better hitters (and defenders, though Hodges was a good one) and they can’t get in. Hodges did manage the 1969 Mets, but how much should one pennant amidst a 660–753 managerial career get you? I wouldn’t be terribly upset if Hodges made it, but I feel there are far better candidates out there.
- Jim Kaat: He’s my official “I’m on the fence” pitcher. I would be happy for him if he got in and I wouldn’t be upset if he didn’t. I’m a little bit higher on Tommy John though.
- Minnie Minoso: Miñoso turns 89 later this month. Now is the time to get him in. By Hall Rating, he’s a borderline candidate. But there’s so much more to Miñoso’s case. He had a late start because of segregation. Then, he needed to succeed despite not only the color of his skin, but the language barrier. He was a trailblazer, the best hitter in the AL in the 1950s not named Mantle or Williams, and a tremendous ambassador of the game. The Hall of Fame screwed it up with Buck O’Neil. Let’s not let them do it with Miñoso. Do everything you can to raise awareness of Miñoso today. I wrote about him extensively in that March article.
- Tony Oliva: The reason why Kirby Puckett is a Hall of Famer and Oliva is not is simply because it’s better to burn out than fade away. Puckett’s career ended abruptly because of glaucoma. Oliva simply became a shell of his former self. In his peak, he was wonderful—he won three batting titles and led the league in his five times. But like Don Mattingly, his accolades don’t quite hold up to advanced analysis because he didn’t walk and he didn’t do it for long enough.
- Billy Pierce: Pierce is a tremendously underrated pitcher. You barely hear about him yet he had a .555 winning percentage, 3.27 career ERA, was a 7-time all star, had a pair of 20-win seasons, led the AL in ERA with a sub-2.00 mark once, and led the AL in pitcher WAR twice. Interestingly, he represents the Hall of Stats borderline. He is the 211th-best eligible player by Hall Rating, giving him a Hall Rating of 100.000. Everybody else’s Hall Rating is calculated based on how they stack up to Billy Pierce. I don’t quite have him in my personal Hall of Fame, but he’s better than several Hall of Fame pitchers.
- Luis Tiant: Tiant is one of the rare non-Hall of Famers who exceeds not only the Hall of Fame standard but the BBWAA standard. If not for that strange three-year bout with injuries and ineffectiveness during his prime, we’d probably be talking about an all-time great pitcher.
- Maury Wills: If you want to see my thoughts on Wills, just see this comment thread. He didn’t hit, he didn’t walk, and he didn’t slug. To overcome that, you need to be an all-time great defender. By advanced metrics, Wills was a league average shortstop. Even his speed is overrated because he was thrown out more than all but four players in history.
Who would I vote for?
The most urgent candidate right now is Minnie Minoso. This is the year to get him in. He’s almost 89, he’s a deserving candidate, and he’s still here to deliver a tremendous acceptance speech. I really hope the committee gets it right this time.
Here are some more articles to learn about Miñoso’s candidacy:
- Minnie Miñoso belongs in the Hall of Fame by Larry at South Side Sox
- Making the Case for Minnie Minoso by Stuart Miller for The New York Times
- Why Minnie Miñoso Should Be in the Hall of Fame, and Why He’s Not by Whet Moser in Chicago Magazine
- Minnie Minoso’s still not in the HOF? by Christina Kahrl for ESPN
- Minnie Minoso: Hall of Fame Worthy by Matt Hoeppner at Grab Some Bench!
- Will Minnie Miñoso Finally Get To Deliver His Long Overdue Hall of Fame Induction Speech Next July? by John Tuberty for Tubbs Baseball Blog
- Minnie Miñoso - Golden Era Hall of Fame Candidate and Baseball Pioneer also by John Tuberty for Tubbs Baseball Blog
- An agnostic's guide to the Golden Era Baseball Hall of Fame ballot by Steven Goldman for SB Nation
- The Hall of Fame chances for 2014's Golden Era nominees (Part 2) by Jay Jaffe for Sports Illustrated
- The Golden Era Ballot by Joe Posnanski on Joe Blogs
- Minnie Miñoso Belongs in the Hall by Dan McCloskey on Left Field
Spread the word. Write your own posts. Let’s make it impossible for Miñoso to miss out this time. I would love to see an article about him every day this month. Make it Minnie Miñovember.