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Archive for the tag “Willie Mays”

Major League Baseball All-Star Game Records

The first MLB All-Star Game was played at Comiskey Park in Chicago on July 6, 1933.  Babe Ruth hit the first All-Star Game home run, leading the A.L. to a 4-2 win over the N.L.

Here are several MLB All-Star Game records which may peak your interest.

Original description: Willie Mays, standing, w...

Willie Mays batted .307 in 24 All-Star Game appearances.

Most All-Star Games played:  24 (Three players)

1)  Stan Musial

2)  Willie Mays

3)  Hank Aaron

Most All-Star Game At Bats:  75, Willie Mays

Most All-Star Game Hits:  23, Willie Mays (.307 All-Star Game batting average)

Highest All-Star Game career Batting Average (minimum, 5 games):  .500, Charlie Gehringer (10 for 20)

Most All-Star Game Runs Scored:  20,Willie Mays

Most All-Star Game Stolen Bases:  6, Willie Mays

Most All-Star Game Home Runs:  6, Stan Musial

Most All-Star Game RBI:  12, Ted Williams

Number of batters who led-off an All-Star Game with a home run:  5

1)  Frankie Frisch, N.L., July 10, 1934

2)  Lou Boudreau, A.L., July 6, 1942

3)  Willie Mays, N.L., July 13, 1965

4)  Joe Morgan, N.L., July 19, 1977

5)  Bo Jackson, A.L., July 11, 1989

Number of Grand Slams in All-Star Game history:  1, Freddy Lynn, A.L., 1983.

First inside-the-park home run in an All-Star Game:  Ichiro Suzuki, 2007.

Most home runs in one All-Star Game:  2, five players

1)  Arky Vaughan, N.L., July 8, 1941

2)  Ted Williams, A.L., July 6, 1946

3)  Al Rosen, A.L., July 13, 1954

4)  Willie McCovey, N.L., July 23, 1969

5)  Gary Carter, N.L., August 9, 1981

Most All-Star Game Total Bases:  40, Stan Musial and Willie Mays

Best single All-Star Game performance, position player:  Ted Williams, July 9, 1946.  Williams slugged two home runs, lashed a pair of singles, and drew a walk, for ten total bases.

Only All-Star Game steal of home:  Pie Traynor, on the front end of a double-steal with Mel Ott, 1934.

Most career strikeouts in All-Star Games:  17, Mickey Mantle

Most career doubles in All-Star Games:  7, Dave Winfield

Most career triples in All-Star Games:  3, Willie Mays and Brooks Robinson

Most career All-Star Game Bases on Balls:  11, Ted Williams

Most times grounding into double plays, career:  3, Joe DiMaggio and Pete Rose

Most career All-Star Game Wins:  3, Lefty Gomez

Most career All-Star Game Losses:  2, six pitchers

1)  Mort Cooper

2)  Claude Passeau

3)  Whitey Ford

4)  Luis Tiant

5)  Jim “Catfish” Hunter

6)  Dwight Gooden

Most Career All-Star Game Balks, 2, Dwight Gooden

Most All-Star Game Innings Pitched, Career:  19, Don Drysdale

Most All-Star Game Strikeouts: Pitcher, Career:  19 Don Drysdale

Most All-Star Game Innings Pitched, one game:  6, Lefty Gomez, July 8, 1935

Most hits given up in one inning in an All-Star Game:  Tom Glavine, 1st inning of 1992 All-Star Game, surrendered seven consecutive hits.  Allowed nine hits overall, the most hits given up by one pitcher in an All-Star Game.

Most consecutive strikeouts by a pitcher in one game:  5, Carl Hubbell, A.L., 1934,  and Fernando Valenzuela, N.L., 1986.

Most runs allowed in a single All-Star Game:  7, Atlee Hammaker, N.L., 1983.  All 7 runs were scored in the 3rd inning.

First player ever selected to an All-Star Game as a write-in candidate by fans:  Rico Carty, 1970

First time the Designated Hitter rule was used in an All-Star Game:  1989

Largest Attendance for an All-Star Game:  72,086, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, August 9, 1981 (This game was played on a Sunday, the only time an All-Star Game was played on a weekend.)

Smallest Attendance for an All-Star Game:  25,556, Braves Field, Boston, July 7, 1936

Longest Game By Innings:  15, Anaheim Stadium, July 11, 1967 (N.L. won the game, 2-1)

Shortest Game By Innings:  5, Shibe Park, Philadelphia, July 8, 1952 – Rain.  (N.L. won the game, 3-2)

Fewest players used in an All-Star Game, one team:  11, A.L., July 6, 1942

Fewest players used in an All-Star Game, both teams:  27, A.L. (15), N.L. (12), July 6, 1938

Shortest 9-Inning Game, By Time:  1 Hour, 53 Minutes, Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis, July 9, 1940, (N.L. won 4-0).

Number of All-Star Games played:  83, the N.L. has 43 wins, the A.L. has 38 wins, and there have been two ties.

Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com

Baseball-Almanac.com

Baseball’s Surprising Stats: Mickey Mantle

Which of the three Triple-Crown categories is least impressive?

Home Runs will always be impressive, both for sheer crowd-pleasing spectacle and as an always relevant and useful statistic.  The Dead Ball era has been dead for nearly a hundred years now, and it ain’t coming back.

Batting Average has lost some of its luster over the years as on-base percentage has increasingly gained traction as a measure of a hitter’s ability to avoid outs.  But when a player like Tony Gwynn or Wade Boggs wins numerous batting titles, we understand that we are watching special players.

I submit, therefore, that Runs Batted In is the least impressive of the three Triple-Crown categories.  I’m certainly not the first person to make this statement, and I’m sure I won’t be the last.  But I would like to use the career of a specific Hall of Fame player to illustrate my point.  That player, of course, as you can see from the title of this post, is Mickey Mantle.

English: New York Yankees centerfielder and Ha...

English: New York Yankees centerfielder and Hall of Famer . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, as you very likely already know, Mickey Mantle was a fabulous run producer.  Among the statistics in which he led the A.L. during his 18-year career are the following: Offensive WAR: 10 times; Home Runs:  4 times; Runs Scored: 5 times; Runs Created: 7 times; Walks: 5 times; Adjusted OPS+: 8 times; and Total Bases: 3 times.

The Mick also drove in 1,509 runs in his career, good for 51st place all-time as of this writing, but he ranked a more impressive 20th all-time upon his retirement.

We should be able to expect, then, that he drove in over a hundred runs several times over the course of his career.  After all, he hit in the middle of Yankee lineups thick with offensive punch, teams that were wildly successful primarily due to their ability to generate more runs than most other teams in their league.

Yet a check of Mantle’s career stats reveals that, surprisingly, he topped 100 RBI in a season just four times in his career.  By way of contrast, his center field rivals in New York City at the time, Willie Mays and Duke Snider, enjoyed ten and six 100 RBI seasons, respectively.

This raises the following question:  How many times did Mickey Mantle lead his league in Runs Batted In?

If you are aware that Mantle won the 1956 Triple Crown, then you are by definition aware that he led the league in RBI at least once.  Well, you may be surprised to learn that 1956 was the only year in his career that he actually did lead the A.L. in RBI.

Español: foto de Mantle NY Yankees

Español: foto de Mantle NY Yankees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a very logical reason why Mantle enjoyed so few 100 RBI seasons.

To drive in lots of runs, one needs, of course, lots of runners on base to drive in.  As it turns out, the Yankees from around 1957 through at least 1964, had a series of low to mediocre on-base percentage players hitting ahead of Mantle in the lead-off and #2 slots in their lineups.

Here are the primary culprits:

1)  Bobby Richardson, career on-base percentage: .299. (played steadily from ’57-’66)

2)  Tony Kubek, career on-base percentage:  .303 (played from ’57-’65.)

3)  Gil McDougald, career on-base percentage:  .356 (played from ’51-’60.)

4)  Hector Lopez, career on-base percentage:  .330 (played w/ Yanks from ’59-’66.)

5)  Clete Boyer, career on-base percentage:  .299 (played w / Yanks from ’59-’66.)

6)  Phil Linz, career on-base percentage:  .295 (played w / Yanks from ’62-’65.)

Folks, as you can see, with the exception of Gil McDougald, that’s one lowly bunch of on-base percentages.  But taking a closer look at Gil McDougald, after 1957 his on-base percentages during his final three seasons were .329 / .309 / .337.  Those numbers mesh well with the rest of his teammates listed above.

This serves to illustrate my original point that RBI totals are often misleading because a player can’t drive in teammates who are unable to consistently get on base.

The RBI stat survives today, however, as one of baseball’s “masculine” stats.  The so-called run producers are, by definition, supposed to have gaudy RBI totals by season’s end to justify their enormous paychecks. Runs Batted In will probably remain popular as stats go, but it should be kept in proper perspective.

After all, if Mickey Mantle couldn’t find a way to annually lead the league in this stat, how much credence should we put into it in the first place?

Now here’s a final aside that might really surprise you.

Although Mays, Mantle and Snider combined for twenty, 100+ RBI seasons in their careers, these three Hall of Famers produced JUST TWO RBI titles between them, Snider in ’55 and Mantle in ’56.  Willie Mays never led the league in RBI.

Baseball’s Surprising Stats: Stan Musial

This is the tenth installment of my series, “Baseball’s Surprising Stats.”  If you are interested in revisiting any of the first nine, you’ll find links to each of them under Recent Posts over to the right.

The greatest players tend to be the ones who are most consistently excellent over time.

From 1956 to 1969, for example, Hank Aaron never accumulated less than 6.6 WAR in any season.  Willie Mays scored at least 99 runs in every season from 1954 to 1966.  Pitcher Warren Spahn had thirteen 20-win seasons during the period 1947-63.

Stan Musial was another one of those remarkably consistent players.

English: St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer as ...

English: St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer as he was depicted on his 1953 Bowman baseball trading card. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are several different ways to measure Musial’s consistency.  For example, Musial scored at least 100 runs in every season from 1943-54.  He also drove in at least 90 runs for 13 straight years, from 1944-57.  Taking a look at OPS, he never dipped below .900 for 15 consecutive years, from 1943-58.

This remarkably consistent excellence begs the question, “What was the worst season of Stan Musial’s career?

I decided I would use OPS+ as my means of measurement.  This statistic combines Musial’s annual on-base percentage plus his slugging percentage, adjusted for league and park factors.  An OPS+ of 100 is exactly average (as with an I.Q. score.)

Taking a look at Musial’s annual OPS+ from his early 20’s to his late 30’s renewed my appreciation for his greatness.  He led the N.L. in OPS+ six times in his career, topping out at an astounding score of 200 in 1948.

So in which season did Musial post his lowest OPS+?  Tossing out those seasons after he was already 38-years old,  Musial’s worst year was 1947 when he posted an OPS+ of “only” 134.  For 16 consecutive seasons, then, his OPS+ was at least 134, and was usually considerably better.

So how “bad” is an OPS+ of 134?

Derek Jeter has topped OPS+ of 134 just once in his career, back in 1999.

Hall of Famer Lou Brock NEVER ONCE reached an OPS+ of 134 in his 19-year career in a season in which he accumulated at least 500 plate appearances.

Roger Maris topped 134 OPS+ twice, in each of his two MVP seasons.

The immortal Cal Ripkin, Jr. reached that level just three times, and never once past age 30 in a full season.

English: An image of Hall of Fame Major League...

English: An image of Hall of Fame Major League Baseball player Stan Musial. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And remember folks, we’re not talking about Musial’s average season.  We’re talking about his worst season.

Recent Hall of Fame inductee Andre Dawson met or exceeded 134 OPS+ just five times, topping 140 just twice.

Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, a remarkably consistent player in his own right, garnered an OPS+ of 134 or better eight times, just half the number Musial claimed in his career.

Over the years, numbers like 500 homers, 3,000 hits and a .300 career batting average have become de facto (for better or worse) benchmarks by which a player’s Hall of Fame worthiness is measured.

At some point, though, a player will come along who will exceed one or two of those marks who will probably not be a worthy candidate for the Hall of Fame.

Dave Kingman, for example, came within 58 home runs when he reluctantly retired after the 1986 season, during which he slugged 35 homers.  If some G.M. had bothered to sign him, Kingman could have reached 500 home runs in another season and a half.

But as anyone who ever saw Kingman play can attest, he was decidedly not Hall of Fame worthy.

Harold Baines finished his career just 134 hits away from the “magic” 3,000 hit mark.  Baines was a  fine player, and there are worse players in The Hall, but Baines was never truly a Hall of Fame-worthy candidate.  His career WAR, for example, was just 34.0; Musial’s was 123.4.

The point is, there are players who, due to arbitrary and context-less standards, can be considered pretenders to Hall worthiness.

Then there are the serious Hall of Fame players, exemplified well by Stan Musial, who, in their worst seasons are better than the vast majority of other players in all but their very best seasons.

Let me leave you with one final stat regarding Stan Musial.  In his 22-year career, he accumulated 3,630 hits.  1,815 of those hits were made on the road, and the other 1,815 hits were made at home.  You can’t get any more consistently excellent than that.

The Baseball Hall of Fame: A Qualitative Analysis, Part 4

If the decade of the 1970’s is known primarily as the decade of uninhibited excess, that also applies to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame during that decade.  An astonishing 36 former Major League ball players were inducted during the ’70’s, 22 of them by the Veteran’s Committee alone.

As we have seen here, here, and here, through 1969, approximately 30% or more of the players elected to the Hall of Fame were either borderline candidates, or were outright mistakes.  This percentage would become worse by 1980.

Now let’s take a look at what the ’70’s had to offer.

1970:  BBWAA – Lou Boudreau  V.C. Earle Combs, Jesse Haines

Primarily a member of the Cleveland Indians, Boudreau was arguably the best shortstop in the A.L. during the 1940’s.  He led the A.L. in fielding percentage every single season from 1940-49.  He also led the league in overall WAR by a position player in both 1943 (6.7) and 1948 (10.5), winning the A.L. MVP award in ’48.  A career OPS+ of 120 is very solid for a shortstop, and his career WAR of 56.0 is Hall-worthy.

Combs in a photograph taken while he was playi...

Image via Wikipedia

Earle Combs was the starting center fielder for the ’27 Yankees.  He had a great year in ’27 posting a triple slash line of .356 / .414 / .511, with an OPS+ of 141.  He also led the league in hits (231) and triples (23) while scoring 137 runs.

But Combs got a late start in the Majors, not becoming a full-time starter until he was 26-years old.  He enjoyed nine productive seasons with the Yankees, but a career WAR of 44.7 (despite a career .325 batting average) is sub-par for a HOF candidate.

Combs was a very good player, but not quite Hall of Fame good.

At first glance, Jesse Haines appears to have been the Rick Reuschel of his era (the ’20’s and ’30’s.)  They each won a little over 200 games, tossed over 3,000 innings during 19 seasons,, and posted ERA+’s a little better than Replacement Level.

But Reuschel had a much higher WAR than Haines (66.3 to 33.8.)  If Reuschel doesn’t belong in The Hall (although a case can be made that he does), then Haines certainly does not, either.

1971:  V.C.  Dave Bancroft, Jake Beckley, Chick Hafey, Harry Hooper, Joe Kelley, Rube Marquard

Apparently, the Veteran’s Committee had fond memories of Dave, Jake, Chick, Harry, Joe and Rube.  But are all six of them really solid choices for the Hall of Fame?

Bancroft could field well, but as an overall player, he appears to have been a hybrid of Gary Templeton and Phil Rizzuto.  Led the league in times caught stealing (27) in his rookie year.  Career WAR:  46.4.  Not a positive addition to The Hall of Fame.

Beckley had a career WAR of 61.5.  He was never really a great player, but was consistent over a lot of years.  He led his league in triples once, and nothing else over a 20-year career.  He never finished higher than 5th place in WAR in any season.  Reasonably decent addition to The Hall, but not a true immortal.

Chick Hafeywas a rich man’s Mike Greenwell.  Hafey could hit pretty well, but didn’t remain productive for very long.  Won a batting title.  Average defensive outfielder.  Just 1,466 career hits.  Career WAR:  29.5.  Not a useful addition to The Hall.

Harry Hooper, Boston AL (baseball), cropped, h...

Image via Wikipedia

Harry Hooper played alongside Tris Speaker and Duffy Lewis in the great Red Sox outfield of the early 1900’s.  Of the three, however, only Speaker deserves to be in The Hall.  Hooper’s career triple slash line stands at .281 / .368 / .387.

Career OPS+ 114.  Career WAR: 52.5.  An excellent defensive outfielder with a career Def. WAR of 8.4.  At best, however, a borderline HOF’er.

Joe Kelley is certainly one of the most anonymous players in the Hall of Fame.  Enjoyed a few fine seasons in the 1890’s playing for Brooklyn.  His 194 career triples are 9th best of all-time.  Career OPS+ is a very decent 133.  Career WAR:  55.5.  About as borderline HOF as they come.

In 1912, pitching for the Giants, Rube Marquard was a great pitcher.  He led the Giants, and the N.L., with 26 wins.  The previous year he had led the league with 237 strikeouts.  But by age 27, he was a shadow of his former self.  He hung around the majors to win 201 games, but his career WAR: 28.5, reveals how little he actually accomplished over the rest of his career.  Marquard does not belong in The Hall.

1972:  BBWAA – Yogi Berra, Sandy Koufax, Early Wynn  V.C.  Lefty Gomez, Ross Youngs

Yogi Berra won ten World Series rings.  Career WAR:  61.9 (fifth best among catchers.)  358 career home runs.  Three MVP awards.  Strangely, Berra never led the league in any offensive category even once in his career.  That seems pretty unlikely for such a good hitter who played nearly 20-years, if you think about it.

Few players in baseball history have attained the untarnished legendary status of Sandy Koufax.  During a six-year period, 1961-66, he was among the very best pitchers who ever lived, winning three Cy Young awards in his last four seasons.  He struck out over 300 batters three times, tossing four no-hitters in his career.  Koufax compiled an astounding 47.6 WAR during those half-dozen years, an average of 7.9 WAR per year.

He accomplished all of this with style, dignity and professionalism seldom equaled in baseball history.

In 23 years in the Majors, Early Wynn enjoyed about five very good seasons and several other decent ones.  He topped 20 wins five times, led the league in strikeouts twice, and  finished his career with an even 300 wins (against 244 losses.)  Career WAR: 52.0.  Career OPS+ 1o7.  Even with 300 wins, Wynn is a borderline HOF’er.

The Veteran’s Committee must have confused Lefty Gomez with Lefty Grove.  But Gomez, despite pitching for the great Yankee teams of the 1930’s, won just 189 games in his career.  He led the league in wins twice, ERA twice, and ERA+ twice.  Basically, he had two great years and a few other good ones. Career WAR:  43.0.  Does not actually belong in The Hall.

Ross Youngs:  One of the most random of all Hall of Fame choices.  Young played just ten seasons in the Majors, from 1917-26 for the Giants.  He was a legitimate hitter, posting a career batting average of .322 and a career OPS+ of 130.  But he compiled just 1,491 hits in his career, and scored only 812 runs. His career just wasn’t long enough nor impressive enough to merit Hall induction.  Poor choice.

1973:  BBWAA – Roberto Clemente, Warren Spahn  V.C.  George Kelly, Mickey Welch

Roberto Clemente:  Warrior on the field, apostle of peace off the field.  Lived and died a hero to millions.  Even the Hall isn’t big enough to encompass his legacy.

Warren Spahn:  Who is the greatest left-handed pitcher in baseball history?  Spahn has a legitimate case.  His 363 career victories are the most since the end of WWII, and the sixth most in history.  He reached 20-wins in a season a ridiculous 13 times, leading the league in wins eight times.  His career WAR: 93.4, is 11th best among pitchers in MLB history, and is second only to Lefty Grove among left-handers.  An obvious choice for The Hall.

George “High Pockets” Kelly is yet another early 20th century Irishmen in The Hall.  The V.C. was also going through a Giants fetish at this time, thus a player with 819 runs scored, an OPS+ of 109, and a career WAR of 24.3 is in The Hall.  But he did have a cool nickname.

Mickey Welch

Image via Wikipedia

Mickey Welch:  My favorite stat for Welch is that he won 44 games in 1885, and did NOT lead the league in that category.  His 574 innings pitched in 1880 (age 20) also did not lead the league.  He won 307 games against 210 losses.  Career ERA+ 114.  Career WAR: 56.5.  Ah, hell. Put him in.  They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

1974:  BBWAA – Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle  V.C.  Jim Bottomley, Sam Thompson

It’s beautiful symmetry when two long-time teammates go into The Hall together.  Mantle and Ford are not only two of the greatest Yankees of all-time, they are both among the greatest players who ever lived.  Mantle is in the top ten.  Ford is a top 40 pitcher.  Both are certainly qualified for The Hall.

Jim Bottomley was a slugger for the Cardinals in the 1920’s and early ’30’s.  He won the N.L. MVP award in 1928.  He drove in a lot of runs, pounded his fair share of extra base hits, and finished with a career OPS+ of 124.  A crummy defensive player, Bottomley finished with a career WAR of 32.4.  I don’t quite see a HOF caliber player here.

Sam Thompson was a 19th century player who led his league in one category or another 21 times.  An OPS+ of 146 is very impressive.  Not a high career WAR, but they played somewhat fewer games per season back then.  He’s a legit HOF’er.

1975:  BBWAA – Ralph Kiner  V.C.  Earl Averill, Billy Herman

I seem to remember Bill James casting aspersions on Kiner’s selection to The Hall.  Kiner played only ten seasons in The Majors with the Pirates in the 1940’s and ’50’s, but led the league in home runs in each of his first seven consecutive seasons.  He also drew a lot of walks, scored a lot of runs, and drove in a lot of runs through age 30.

But after that, his career went downhill fast.  Although his career OPS+ is a very impressive 149, his WAR is just 45.9.  Sort of a cross between Jim Rice and Rocky Colavito.  Sprinkle in just a touch of Dave Kingman.  Bake at 375 degrees on a hot Pittsburgh summer day, and voila, you have yet another borderline HOF’er.  Bon appetit!

For some reason, Earl Averill got a very late start in The Majors, not breaking in until he was already 27-years old.  Played centerfield reasonably well for the Indians in the ’30’s piling up some pretty nice offensive numbers for a decade.  But his late start and rapid descent after age 36 results in a relatively low career WAR of 45.  If Averill’s in, there is no excuse to fuss and fight over Jim Edmonds’ candidacy a few years from now.

A well-respected player, Billy Herman was a ten-time N.L. All-Star selection.  During his 15-year career with the Cubs and Dodgers, he had three 200-hit seasons, topped 2,300 hits, and led his league once each in hits, doubles and triples.  Not much power.  Good fielder.  Career OPS+ 112.  WAR: 55.6.

If we arbitrarily establish that every position player with a career WAR of 55.0 or higher automatically gets into The Hall, then we have 141 position players (Jack Clark representing the last man in.)  But we lose three great catchers:  Bill Dickey, Mickey Cochrane and Buck Ewing.  If we drop the standard down to 50.0, we gain those three, plus we add Ted Simmons and Gabby Hartnett (as well as Cesar Cedeno, Ron Cey and Fred McGriff.)  Not that the Hall of Fame should exactly mirror the Hall of WAR, but the question is, how exclusive do you want The Hall to be?

1976:  BBWAA – Bob Lemon, Robin Roberts  V.C.  Roger Connor, Freddie Lindstrom

Bob Lemon – The bastard child of Allie Reynolds and Hal Newhouser.  Three-time winner of the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year award.  Seven-time All Star.  Seven time 20-game winner.  Led league in complete games five times.  207-128 record.  3.28 ERA.  Career ERA+ 119 is the same as Ron Guidry and Warren Spahn.  WAR: 42.4.  Took about a dozen years for the BBWAA to finally decide this one.  If you prefer the more modern stats, he’s probably not your man.  But he’s not a poor choice, either.

Robin Roberts is a solid member of the Hall of Fame.  For six consecutive seasons, 1950-55, he won at least 20 games, adding 19 wins in 1956.  During that stretch, this Phillies ace led the N.L. in wins four times, complete games and innings pitched five times, and strikeouts twice.  Won 286 games against 245 losses.  He also led all N.L. pitchers in WAR four times.  Career WAR of 80.9 is outstanding.

Roger Connor was one of the finest corner infielders of the last two decades of the 19th century.  Career OPS+ 153 is outstanding.  WAR: 87.2.  Kudos to the V.C. for getting this one right.

Freddie Lindstrom:  Yet another Giant who played in the mid-to-late 1920’s and early ’30’s.  Led N.L. in hits once.  Had a pair of 231 hit seasons.  Reached 100 games played in just eight seasons.  Career WAR:  29.2.  There is really no objective reason why he should be in The Hall of Fame.

1977:  BBWAA – Ernie Banks  V.C.  Amos Rusie, Joe Sewell

Ernie “Let’s Play Two” Banks, except these days you have to spring for a day-night doubleheader.  Ah, nothing is sacred anymore.  “Mr. Cub” began his career with Chicago at age 22 in 1953, and retired with Chicago at age 40 in 1971.  Won back-to-back MVP awards in 1958-59.  Ranks 21st on the home run list with 512.  Easy choice for The Hall.

Amos Rusie pitched for just ten seasons between 1889 and 1901.  Won a lot of games.  Lost a lot of games.  Pitched a ton of complete games, as was the fashion back then.  Seems to have been one of the better pitchers of his era.  ERA+129.  WAR:  60.6.  And, of course, he played for the Giants.  The “ayes” have it.

English: Photo of Joe Sewell, Published by Bai...

Image via Wikipedia

Joe Sewell was a pretty good shortstop who played primarily for Cleveland in the 1920’s.  Had one of the worst years in history attempting to steal bases.  In 1927, he attempted to steal a base 19 times, and was thrown out 16 times.  Ouch.  Career OPS+ 108.  A good player, but not really good enough for The Hall.

1978:  BBWAA – Eddie Mathews  V.C.  Addie Joss

Who was the greatest third baseman in history before Mike Schmidt came along?  It must have been Eddie Mathews.  A true immortal.

I’ve been intrigued by Addie Joss for a long time.  As far as I know, he is the only player in The Hall for whom they waived the Ten Year Rule, as Joss was struck down with a fatal disease (meningitis) after just nine years in the Majors.

His career numbers are unbelievable.  In five of his nine seasons, his ERA was under 2.00.  His career ERA of 1.89 is the second best in history, accumulated in over 2,327 innings pitched.  His career WHIP, .0968 is the best in Major League history.  His ERA+ of 142 is sixth best in history among starting pitchers who pitched at least 1,500 innings.  The Veteran’s Committee was right to waive the Ten Year Rule for Joss.

1979:  BBWAA – Willie Mays  V.C.  Hack Wilson

Willie Mays:  Among the top five, maybe the top three, players who ever put on a baseball uniform.  I always wondered why when Ted Williams was still alive, he, not Mays (nor Aaron for that matter) was always introduced as the Greatest Living Player.  Williams was the greatest natural hitter, but Mays was the better all around player.

Hack Wilson was a barrel-chested masher who still holds (and probably always will) the record for most RBI in a season (191 in 1930.)  Led N.L. in home runs four times.  Had six seasons with over 100 RBI.  But do you know what?  He still finished his career with fewer total RBI than Jeff Conine.  Also hit 56 home runs in 1930, but finished his career with only 244 homers, one less than Mickey Tettleton.   Played centerfield, but not very well.  Career WAR: 39.1.  Not a HOF’er.

Our overall tally, then, for this decade is 16 definite HOF’ers, 8 marginal choices and, unfortunately, 12 poor choices.  In effect, Hall voters may have missed the mark on up to 56% of their choices, an astoundingly high total.  The 1970’s, then, severely undermined the argument that only the best of the best are worthy of Hall induction.

If there ever was a Golden Age of Hall induction, clearly, we appear to be moving further away from it.

Perhaps the situation improved during the 1980’s.  We’ll check out that decade next time.

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