December 01, 2003
Hall of Fame time

The Hall of Fame ballot has been released, and I think it's safe to say that the two top newcomers, Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley, are the two favorites for enshrinement this year. It's the returning players that interest me more, and my list of who I'd vote for if I had a vote is as long as usual: Molitor, Eckersley, Ryne Sandberg, Rich Gossage, Bert Blyleven, and Tommy John. This represents a slight change from last year, in which I voted for Alan Trammell but not Ryne Sandberg. I took another look at their stats and concluded I had it backwards then.

You will note I am not voting for Andre Dawson or Jim Rice, the two non-qualifying players with the highest vote totals from last year. Nor am I tempted by Joe Carter, Jack Morris, Dave Parker, Dale Murphy, and a whole host of other Hall of Very Good near-misses. If you want to get into an argument about their merits but feel worn down by purely statistical discussions, may I suggest Bill James' "Keltner List", a series of 15 more subjective questions about a player's merits that can help clarify things. A good application of the Keltner List is here. Happy hunting!

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 01, 2003 to Baseball | TrackBack

Blyleven and Santo.

These two have been robbed for far too many years.

Blyleven won 287 games with mostly bad teams, struck out 3,701 batters, notched a career 3.31 ERA and is on the outside. If he could have stuck around long enough to win 13 more games -- even if he lost 40 more in the process and raised his career ERA to 3.70 -- he'd be first ballot just because he hit the "magic number" 300. That's Cooperstown logic.

And Santo. My goodness -- the inability to consider the era he played in is unbelievable. I think they look at his numbers (.277/.362/.464, 342 HR) and see nothing spectactular. However, in the low-offense era he played (1960-1974), how many were better? Very few; probably only Eddie Mathews (whose career only partially overlapped) was better. He led the league in OBP twice, won five straight Gold Gloves and much more. He hit 30 HR in four straight years, in an era when 30 HR wasn't trivial. At the time he retired, he was probably one of the best five 3B ever to play the game. The problem is, the two greatest ever -- Schmidt and Brett -- rose to prominence when Santo was becoming eligible, and Santo's numbers paled in comparison to theirs.

Posted by: Tim on December 1, 2003 3:30 PM

Oh, and I know Santo isn't eligible this year (but becomes eligible in the veterans' committee, if I recall correctly). I'm just venting.

Posted by: Tim on December 1, 2003 3:32 PM

That Keltner list (take that, Joe DiMaggio!) is an interesting form of measurement. Aside from all his pitching stats, Tommy John would meet the "did he change anything about the game" criteria in spades, considering Dr. Jobe's groundbreaking surgery was first performed on TJ.

Posted by: Linkmeister on December 1, 2003 5:42 PM

I wouldn't argue with any of the choices Chuck listed. I also think Ron Santo belongs, however, he did play in the same era as Brooks Robinson.

Ron Santo is to Chicago what Gil Hodges is to New York, a guy who belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Posted by: William Hughes on December 1, 2003 7:07 PM

Santo isn't on the ballot, as his 15 years are up. He can only be considered by the Veterans' Committee. I agree that he deserves enshrinement.

The Keltner List got its name from a grassroots fan group that (unsuccessfully) championed Keltner for the HoF. It's a pretty useful tool, I think. I thought of "Tommy John Surgery", too, when reviewing the list for this post.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on December 1, 2003 10:11 PM

Santo does not belong in the Hall. What is happening is that because of a few bad entries of people that shouldn't be there, not the bar is being lowered to let guys like Santo in. Santo was a good player. True. But a Hall of Famer? No. Two years of this and five years of that just means he had a couple of good years with the rest of his career being nothing special. And if he goes into the HOF, how do you justify having all those Hall of Famers from that 69 Cubs team when they won nothing but a ticket to off season golf? C'mon. Stop with the Ron Santo stuff. He had his uniform retired by the Cubs. That's enough.

Posted by: rich h on August 22, 2004 8:23 AM