The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

50 Best Players Not in The Baseball Hall of Fame

Jeff Bagwell

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Here’s a nod to Graham Womack’s baseball blog, Baseball Past and Present. He is currently putting together a list, based on votes from his readers that he is tabulating, of the 50 best players not currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

This project also fits in well with my recent series, “Cleaning Up the Hall of Fame.” 

This is the list I submitted to him for consideration.  I chose not to include either Pete Rose or Shoeless Joe Jackson because everyone knows that both of them would already be in The Hall, if not for their alleged ethical / legal indiscretions.

The first five players on the list would receive my vote for the Hall of Fame.  Some of the other 45 players might ultimately get my vote as well, but I am undecided at this point.  After the first five, they are in no particular order.

1)  Jeff Bagwell
2)  Barry Larkin
3)  Alan Trammell
4)  Ron Santo
5)  Tim Raines
6)  Minnie Minoso
7)  Dale Murphy
8)  Reggie Smith
9)  Dave Parker
10) Gil Hodges
11) Dwight Evans
12) Lance Parrish
13) Al Oliver
14) Graig Nettles
15) Willie Randolph
16) Edgar Martinez
17) Ted Simmons
18)  Eric Davis
19)  Darryl Strawberry
20)  Lee Smith
21)  Sparky Lyle
22)  Dan Quisenberry
23)  Carl Furillo
24)  Jimmy Wynn
25)  J.R. Richard
26)  Boog Powell
27)  Larry Walker
28)  Rusty Staub
29)  Luis Tiant
30)  Thurman Munson
31)  Dick Allen
32)  Jack Clark
33)  Will Clark
34)  Don Mattingly
35)  Roger Maris
36)  Rocky Colavito
37)  Bobby Grich
38)  Tommy John
39)  Jim Kaat
40)  Tony Oliva
41)  Vada Pinson
42)  Bobby Murcer
43)  Fred McGriff
44)  Rick Reuschel
45)  Bobby Bonds
46)  Ron Guidry
47)  Keith Hernandez
48)  Ken Boyer
49)  Kevin Brown
50)  Wes Ferrell
There are, of course, many other players that could have been included on this list.  If I do this again next year, I am sure I will change my mind about certain players.
Who would you add or subtract?  I’m curious to know which of my choices you think are the worst, and which players you would have chosen instead.
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20 thoughts on “50 Best Players Not in The Baseball Hall of Fame

  1. I’m struck by Rick Reuschel on this list–not that I disagree, mind you. His career follows an almost perfect script for acheiving historical anonymity, which is to be very good for a long time on (by and large) really bad teams. His ’85 season, accomplished with what may have been the worst team in Pirate history, is just amazing.

    • “Big Daddy” Reuschel posted an amazing 9.2 WAR is ’77 for the Cubbies, too. Career WAR: 64.6. Better than several pitchers in The Hall. ERA+ 114, the same as Luis Tiant and Jon Matlack. Lots of teams would love to have a guy like that.

  2. Jason on said:

    I’m adding Cy Seymour to this list….Dead ball era with better number than many HOF’s and also started his career as a good pitcher also note he is only second to Babe Ruth for.players that started there careers as pitchers.

  3. Calvin B on said:

    What about Bill Dahlen? He played from 1891-1911. He scored over 100 runs and hit 10 or more triples his first six years in the majors. In his day, he was known as a great defensive shortstop.

  4. I would take out Strawberry. A quality player, but not HOF. 335 HRs, .259 BA career. Not an overly impressive career WAR either. I think you should start a fan petition: Lou Whitaker for HOF.

    I’m a fan of Mattingly. Watched him play as a kid. What he brought to his team and the fans was amazing. Unfortunately I think his numbers make him a long shot for Cooperstown.


    • Hi Vince, While I agree with you that Strawberry doesn’t belong in The Hall, he has no problem breaking my list of top 50 not in The Hall. For a nine year period, 1983-91, inclusive, he won a Rookie of Year award, played in eight All-Star games, won two Silver Slugger awards, finished in the top 10 in MVP voting four times, and posted an OPS+ of over 140 during that period. His home park, Shea Stadium, was always a pitchers park.
      While his career crashed and burned after he turned 30, his career WAR of 42.9 is better than many others on my list, including both Mattingly and Maris.
      I like your idea of starting a petition for Whitaker for The Hall. But first I’d like to see Trammell get in there.
      I appreciate you reading, and the comment as well.
      Thanks, Bill

  5. James M. on said:

    Glad to see you include JR Richard in the list. He is probably one of the greatest pitchers no one these days has ever heard of. He was just absolutely dominating in his day, prior to the stroke which ended his career. I never got to actually see him pitch but my family members and friends who watched his games still talk about how incredible he was more than 30 years later.

    • I only saw him pitch once or twice, as I was a really young kid back then. But I don’t remember a pitcher who was more feared at the time, even including Nolan Ryan, Seaver, etc. It really is too bad that his career ended so suddenly. As for my list, I err on the side of players who burned very brightly for a few short years vs. players that were really good, but never really dominated the game.
      Thanks for reading and for leaving the comment.

  6. The Big Red One on said:

    Liked how you tacked Wes Ferrell on there. Was Mickey Lolich on there?

    • Funny how often Mickey Lolich keeps coming up on this blog. He’s on his way to becoming a cult hero ’round these parts. Next year, he may find his way onto my list. But it’s a tight list these days.

      • The Big Red One on said:

        Frank White? Joe Carter? Frank Thomas? Ron Cey? Steve Garvey? Bobby Grich? Eric Davis? Pedro Martinez? Bob Boone? Not sure if some of these were left off because they are not yet HOF eligible (probably so since I don’t see Griffey anywhere) but if Randoph is on the list you could make a case for White. Does Omar Vizquel ever make your list?

      • That’s quite a list you got there. Grich and Eric Davis are on my list. Frank Thomas and Pedro Martinez are not eligible yet (and both should go onto The Hall rather easily.) I don’t think Vizquel is eligible yet, either. Cey, White, Carter and Boone could make someone’s top 50 list, but which players should I have left off mine to get them on? All good players but not, as I see it, obviously better than anyone else on my list. Still, next go around, I might have ten different players than I did this time.
        Send me your list, and we’ll compare notes.

  7. Well, you can now replace Santo with Whitaker if you want. Congrats to Ronnie.

  8. Ambassador on said:

    Don’t forget Lou Whittaker and Mickey Lolich!

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