My Personal Hall of Fame

A few weeks ago, I latched onto a project some of my favorite bloggers were working on. Adam Darowski of Hall of Stats and Dan McCloskey of Left Field, both of whom are colleagues of mine at High Heat Stats, and Ross Carey of Replacement Level Podcast, who seems to have far more in common with me than our blogs’ names, were hashing out a plan over Twitter to each create his own personal Hall of Fame. I was brought in when Dan warned that anyone who included Nap Rucker or Dizzy Dean in his personal Hall and left out Noodles Hahn might have to answer to me. That was all I needed to beg my way into the fray.

For a long time, I had resisted creating my own personal hall. For all the virtual ink I’ve spilled here placing the actual Hall of Famers in tiers and advocating for players on the outside to be inducted, and despite my work on the Hall of Peak Value and Hall of Could’ve Been over at High Heat, the idea of a personal Hall seemed a little hollow. Through the years, the real Hall of Fame has established a standard against which to judge candidates on various Hall ballots. It hasn’t been applied with perfect consistency, of course, nor have the writers and veterans seemed to agree as to what that standard was/is, but there is a standard there. Babe Ruth is a Hall of Famer. Tony Gwynn is a Hall of Famer. Andre Dawson is less obvious, but he meets the criteria. Darryl Strawberry wasn’t great for long enough. Rusty Staub was never great enough.

To build my own Hall of Fame is to establish my own standard. I don’t know if players of Andre Dawson’s ilk should be immortalized in bronze. I don’t know if Darryl Strawberry should get more recognition for his accomplishments. I don’t know if the Hall of Fame should honor longevity even if a player was never among the game’s greats or if it should celebrate the success of the most talented players of every generation, even if they flamed out early. I don’t know whether to equate worthiness with regular season value, whether to give extra weight to the postseason, or how to work in other factors that stats don’t necessarily pick up.

So I did what anyone would do. I made my own rules. And the result looks a lot like Adam’s, Dan’s, and Ross’s. And not all that different from the actual Hall of Fame.

I started with Adam’s indispensable Hall Rating, instantly putting everyone rated higher than Tim Keefe’s 138 in my hall. Stats aren’t everything, but these guys provided so much value over the course of their careers that it’s hard to imagine a Hall of Fame without them. Lou Whitaker, over whose case I’ve waffled in the past, was the hardest pick here, but he was a very good hitter, fielder, and baserunner for a long time and there are certainly weaker second basemen I couldn’t see leaving out.

From Hall Ratings 138 to 72, which is shared by Jose Canseco, Roger Maris and Smoky Joe Wood, I put players into “yes”, “maybe”, and “no” groups, with everyone over 100 at least on the maybe list. The most intriguing cases I ignored with my floor of 72 were probably Gavvy Cravath, who led his league in home runs six times in the 1910s, and John Hiller, a reliever for whom John Autin makes a great case (though he insists he’s not talking about the Hall) here. I should note that Dan Quisenberry had a 57 Hall Rating, three points higher than Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter’s, though I’m not sure if that’s a note about Quiz or Sutter.

With 90 players on the yes list and 148 maybes, it was time to dig a little deeper on the maybe page. I sorted the players by adjWAA, the half of Adam’s Hall Rating that focuses on peak value. I feel that longevity is well represented in the actual Hall of Fame, and that if I was going to take the time to make my own list, I might as well skew it a bit toward the players I would have changed my plans to see in their primes, rather than the guys who hung on for 3,000 hits or 300 wins. I looked at each player’s position (for consistency in comparisons), last year played (to account for the evolution of the game), and total batting runs (which I trust slightly more than fielding runs), and in most cases, I consulted his baseball-reference page, looking for black ink (leading the league in various categories), seasons missed due to war/injury, or stretches of dominant WAR totals. I even read a few SABR Bios, digging for facts about players that don’t show up in obvious places on a stat sheet.

At the end of the day, I had 184 players in my personal hall. Upon further examination when writing this piece, I swapped one pitcher for another and added four outfielders, settling at a hall of 188. There are 208 players in the actual Hall of Fame who had substantial Major League Baseball careers (I wish I could include Negro Leaguers, but there are no trustworthy stats available), so as it turns out, I was stingier than the actual voters have been.

Let’s start with the 141 actual Hall of Famers I kept in. This list includes Don Sutton, whose case I originally found to be too heavy on longevity (his ERA was eight percent better than the league average over 23 seasons), but whose 3,574 strikeouts made it hard to justify his exclusion. He’s the player I added today, at the expense of Nap Rucker, a short-career, high-peak guy who dominated the last part of the first decade of the 1900s.

By position and Hall Rating:

First Last, Pos, Hall Rating
Johnny Bench, c, 182
Gary Carter, c, 167
Carlton Fisk, c, 157
Yogi Berra, c, 135
Bill Dickey, c, 127
Gabby Hartnett, c, 121
Mickey Cochrane, c, 119
Buck Ewing, c, 115
Ernie Lombardi, c, 100
Roy Campanella, c, 77

Lou Gehrig, 1b, 242
Cap Anson, 1b, 217
Jimmie Foxx, 1b, 206
Roger Connor, 1b, 185
Dan Brouthers, 1b, 181
Rod Carew, 1b, 157
Johnny Mize, 1b, 145
Ernie Banks, 1b, 126
Willie McCovey, 1b, 125
Eddie Murray, 1b, 123
Hank Greenberg, 1b, 118
George Sisler, 1b, 112
Harmon Killebrew, 1b, 111
Bill Terry, 1b, 107

Rogers Hornsby, 2b, 292
Eddie Collins, 2b, 253
Nap Lajoie, 2b, 227
Joe Morgan, 2b, 204
Charlie Gehringer, 2b, 158
Frankie Frisch, 2b, 138
Ryne Sandberg, 2b, 130
Jackie Robinson, 2b, 126
Roberto Alomar, 2b, 126
Joe Gordon, 2b, 117

Honus Wagner, ss, 285
Cal Ripken, ss, 187
George Davis, ss, 166
Arky Vaughan, ss, 151
Ozzie Smith, ss, 147
Luke Appling, ss, 145
Barry Larkin, ss, 144
Bobby Wallace, ss, 144
Robin Yount, ss, 143
Lou Boudreau, ss, 131
Joe Cronin, ss, 125
Pee Wee Reese, ss, 120

Mike Schmidt, 3b, 229
Eddie Mathews, 3b, 191
Wade Boggs, 3b, 188
George Brett, 3b, 180
Brooks Robinson, 3b, 146
Ron Santo, 3b, 139
Home Run Baker, 3b, 123
Deacon White, 3b, 116

Ted Williams, lf, 282
Stan Musial, lf, 265
Rickey Henderson, lf, 231
Carl Yastrzemski, lf, 183
Ed Delahanty, lf, 149
Al Simmons, lf, 130
Fred Clarke, lf, 128
Goose Goslin, lf, 115
Jesse Burkett, lf, 114
Billy Williams, lf, 110
Joe Medwick, lf, 104
Willie Stargell, lf, 104
Ralph Kiner, lf, 92

Willie Mays, cf, 337
Ty Cobb, cf, 320
Tris Speaker, cf, 280
Mickey Mantle, cf, 239
Joe DiMaggio, cf, 168
Billy Hamilton, cf, 132
Duke Snider, cf, 130
Richie Ashburn, cf, 118
Larry Doby, cf, 102
Max Carey, cf, 95
Kirby Puckett, cf, 93
Hack Wilson, cf, 76

Babe Ruth, rf, 404
Hank Aaron, rf, 298
Mel Ott, rf, 227
Frank Robinson, rf, 210
Roberto Clemente, rf, 189
Al Kaline, rf, 186
Reggie Jackson, rf, 143
Paul Waner, rf, 139
Harry Heilmann, rf, 136
Sam Crawford, rf, 132
Tony Gwynn, rf, 127
Andre Dawson, rf, 122
Dave Winfield, rf, 113
Willie Keeler, rf, 98
Enos Slaughter, rf, 92
Chuck Klein, rf, 86

Paul Molitor, dh, 142

Walter Johnson, p, 337
Cy Young, p, 335
Pete Alexander, p, 252
Lefty Grove, p, 231
Kid Nichols, p, 228
Tom Seaver, p, 220
Christy Mathewson, p, 209
Bert Blyleven, p, 189
Phil Niekro, p, 186
Warren Spahn, p, 174
Bob Gibson, p, 170
Gaylord Perry, p, 169
Eddie Plank, p, 169
Steve Carlton, p, 164
Fergie Jenkins, p, 154
Robin Roberts, p, 153
Nolan Ryan, p, 143
Tim Keefe, p, 139
Carl Hubbell, p, 136
John Clarkson, p, 131
Ed Walsh, p, 131
Dazzy Vance, p, 128
Bob Feller, p, 127
Hal Newhouser, p, 127
Jim Palmer, p, 125
Amos Rusie, p, 125
Ted Lyons, p, 123
Stan Coveleski, p, 123
Vic Willis, p, 123
Dennis Eckersley, p, 122
Jim Bunning, p, 119
Rube Waddell, p, 117
Red Faber, p, 115
Juan Marichal, p, 115
Don Drysdale, p, 114
Mordecai Brown, p, 113
Joe McGinnity, p, 112
Old Hoss Radbourn, p, 112
Don Sutton, p, 109
Hoyt Wilhelm, p, 106
Whitey Ford, p, 105
Sandy Koufax, p, 101
Red Ruffing, p, 100
Dizzy Dean, p , 94
Rich Gossage, p, 89
Addie Joss, p, 85

The four Hall of Famers I added late were Max Carey, one of the game’s first great base stealers; Kirby Puckett, who packed a lot into a short career; Wee Willie Keeler, a tremendous offensive player whose WAR is dragged down by defensive metrics that seem to contradict his versatility; and Enos Slaughter, who would almost certainly be in the Hall of Stats had he not served in World War II.

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Next, by position, the 46 non Hall-of-Famers I’m adding:

Mike Piazza, c, 147
Ted Simmons, c, 111
Joe Torre, c, 111
Gene Tenace, c, 104
Thurman Munson, c, 101

Catchers are underrated by the Hall of Fame for two primary reasons: (1) they tend to play less than other position players, both on a games-per-season basis and in terms of career length, due to the physical toll the tools of ignorance take on their bodies, which keeps them from accumulating counting stats; and (2) much of their contribution tends to come on the defensive end, which is not as easily quantifiable as offense. I can adjust for number one above by lowering my Hall Rating threshold (beyond the 20 percent adjustment baked into catchers’ Hall Ratings), but number two still may not show up here, which may have cost a Bill Freehan or a Wally Schang a position in my hall.

Piazza is a no-brainer, of course, and will be in the Hall soon. Torre will get in someday thanks to his managerial career, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a future Veterans Committee were to reevaluate Munson’s tragedy-shortened career and notice that he was as valuable in 11 seasons as Ernie Lombardi was in 17. Simmons was a slugger with good defensive numbers who may suffer from a lack of black ink (though he did lead the NL in intentional walks in 1976 and 1977- he was feared!). Tenace suffered from an unappreciated skillset, barely averaging 100 games per season in his career despite his .388 on base percentage, probably because he only batted .241.

Jeff Bagwell, 1b, 165
Mark McGwire, 1b, 124
Rafael Palmeiro, 1b, 123
Dick Allen, 1b, 115
Keith Hernandez, 1b, 115

Bagwell will be in the Hall soon, but the rest of this group might never get there for various reasons. The same fans McGwire captivated with his 70 home runs in 1998 have been happy to turn their backs on him since steroids began to dominate the Hall conversation. I’m sometimes tempted to let Palmeiro be my steroid borderline, since he didn’t hit 49 homers as a clean rookie, like McGwire did, but then I look at his 569 homers and 132 OPS+ over 20 seasons and I can’t trust a Hall of Fame without him. Allen was a beast with the bat who didn’t make friends with many sportswriters, and Hernandez was perhaps the best fielding first baseman of all time and hit .296/.384/.436 in an era relatively free of gaudy offensive numbers.

Lou Whitaker, 2b, 144
Bobby Grich, 2b, 141
Craig Biggio, 2b, 128

Second base is loaded with players from the last half century who accumulated a lot of value by doing everything well, but nothing historically well. From this group, I picked Whitaker and Grich, who each added some power and some speed to their defensive excellence, but drew the line just this side of Willie Randolph, who was Whitaker without the power. Biggio, like the others here, was rarely regarded as a superstar in his prime, but hung on long enough to reach 3,000 hits and to break the modern hit-by-pitch record, and will likely make the Hall of Fame in the next few years.

Bill Dahlen, ss, 144
Alan Trammell, ss, 143

Two easy choices here. The best 19th-century player outside the Hall and a Barry Larkin clone who played in a pitcher’s era. Both should have been in the real Hall long ago.

Graig Nettles, 3b, 124
Buddy Bell, 3b, 123

Third base is a difficult position to assess. I kicked out four of the twelve Major League third baseman in the actual Hall, and could easily have added Sal Bando and Ken Boyer to bring the group back to a somewhat-respectable 12, but I didn’t see anything on either Bando’s or Boyer’s resume that screamed “Hall of Famer”. Both were decent offensive and defensive players for over a decade who succeeded by not having a major flaw in their games. Nettles and Bell, on the other hand, were two of the best defensive third basemen ever, and Nettles added 390 homers. There’s not a huge difference between these four guys, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

Barry Bonds, lf, 366
Pete Rose, lf, 150
Shoeless Joe Jackson, lf, 130
Tim Raines, lf, 129
Sherry Magee, lf, 110
Minnie Minoso, lf, 100
Charlie Keller, lf, 90

I might have gone too easy on corner outfielders, though most of these are easy to defend. Bonds is, conservatively, one of the three best players ever. Rose is both overrated and a surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famer, taken on merits only. Shoeless Joe batted .356, which would make him a Hall of Famer if he fielded like Dave Kingman and had Alfonso Soriano’s patience at the plate (he wasn’t a great fielder, but he did draw over 500 walks in a short career).

People more qualified than I have touted Raines’s case, so I probably don’t need to tell you that he reached base more times than Tony Gwynn. Magee once led the National League in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs, RBI, and total bases in a season in which he also stole 49 bases. If he hadn’t broken his collarbone in an on-field accident at age 30, he would likely have sailed into the Hall long ago. I’ll defer to Christina Kahrl to defend the ageless Minono. Keller lost time to war and injury, but was one of the best hitters in the game when healthy, slashing .286/.410/.518 and hitting five World Series home runs on the way to three championships.

Kenny Lofton, cf, 132
Jim Wynn, cf, 110

I never thought of Lofton as a Hall of Famer when he played, and I’m not surprised he fell off the ballot so fast, but I’m convinced that he belongs. With a career .372 OBP and 622 steals, he may have a better claim than Raines to the title of “second best leadoff man of all time”. Wynn didn’t have much of a case before WAR came around, but he had three different 7-win seasons as a power-and-speed guy playing in an Astrodome that suppressed hitting.

Larry Walker, rf, 151
Reggie Smith, rf, 124
Dwight Evans, rf, 123
Sammy Sosa, rf, 116
Roger Maris, rf, 72
Smoky Joe Wood, rf, 72

Here we have perhaps my three most controversial choices, back-to-back-to-back. After Walker, who was one of the best hitters ever if we’re willing to take park adjustments at face value (and I am), Smith and Evans are two of the most commonly cited outfield snubs and two of the four outfielders better than Jim Rice who played alongside Rice.

Now we get to two guys who fall well below the Hall of Stats threshold and one who was only a great hitter during the peak of the steroid era. Say what you will about how Sosa did what he did; the man hit 60 home runs three times. That’s still only happened eight times and Sosa has 37.5% of those seasons. Maris may have been a two-year wonder, but he was named MVP in both of those seasons. He was a decent fielder for a corner guy, had some patience (652 walks in 12 years), and most importantly, held the game’s most hallowed record for 37 years. There’s room in the Hall of Fame for a good player who had a phenomenal season and faded away too fast.

Wood’s case is truly unique. For seven years, he was one of the game’s best pitchers, compiling a 2.03 ERA (147 ERA+) in over 1400 innings. In 1912, he went 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA in 344 innings and won his only start in a World Series sweep for the Red Sox. After breaking his thumb fielding a bunt, he returned as a good hitter for six seasons, playing right field for the Indians and compiling a 110 OPS+. Wood was no Babe Ruth, but I’m not sure anyone else was Smoky Joe Wood.

Edgar Martinez, dh, 134

Of course.

Roger Clemens, p, 293
Curt Schilling, p, 172
Kevin Brown, p, 137
Rick Reuschel, p, 135
Luis Tiant, p, 129
David Cone, p, 128
Bret Saberhagen, p, 121
Dave Stieb, p, 114
Wes Ferrell, p, 109
Eddie Cicotte, p, 108
Wilbur Wood, p, 102
Dwight Gooden, p, 95
Noodles Hahn, p, 94

Here we have a good mix of underrated long-time stars and high-peak guys who didn’t accumulate the counting stats to make the Hall. Clemens may be the best pitcher (and perhaps the worst human being) of all time. Schilling has the best strikeout/walk ratio in baseball history. Brown led his league twice in ERA and carried two different franchises to surprising World Series appearances in consecutive years. I wouldn’t want to introduce any of them to my children, but they all belong in the Hall of Fame.

Despite his mammoth Hall Rating, I wasn’t sold on Reuschel until Adam Darowski convinced me about his incredible results in front of horrible defenses. Tiant had two sub-2 ERA seasons and was among the best pitchers in baseball during two separate stretches in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Cone pitched for both New York teams and in Boston, carrying a 121 ERA+ for 17 seasons, but never sniffed the Hall because he only won 194 games. He also struck out 2,668 hitters. Saberhagen was another guy with some all-time-great seasons and some bad ones, but he was certainly a Hall of Famer in the late ’80s, when he won an ERA title and two Cy Young Awards, and Hall Rating agrees.

Stieb is a borderline guy, but he was the real best pitcher of the ’80s, leading the league in ERA, complete games, innings pitched, and hits per nine in various years. Ferrell is more worthy than his Hall-of-Fame brother, pitching 16 percent better than league average for 15 years and compiling a 100 OPS+ as a hitter, including 107 extra-base hits. Cicotte had five seasons with ERAs under 2, but is ineligible for the Hall due to the Black Sox scandal.

The last four guys here are high-peak pitchers whose careers were short. Wood knuckleballed his way to two historic seasons, compiling 21.8 total WAR in 1971 and 1972, and pitched over 300 solid innings in each of the two seasons bookending those. Hahn led his league in strikeouts three times before his 23rd birthday, and earned a better career ERA+ (132) than Koufax, Carl Hubbell, or Bob Gibson. Dwight Gooden pitched one of the best FIP seasons of all time (1.69) in 1984, followed by one of the best ERA+ seasons of all time (229) in 1985. He was an elite pitcher for three and a half more years before drugs and injuries derailed his career, but he still managed 2,293 strikeouts (more than Lefty Grove or Pete Alexander) in 2800 innings and earned 45.1 rWAR (more than Dizzy Dean or Bob Lemon).

The three pitchers above rest just over the cut line that eliminated Nap Rucker, who approximated Hahn’s career a few years later, and Sam McDowell, who earned results not unlike Wood’s with a very different repertoire.
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The last group I’ll look at are the 66 players in the actual Hall of Fame who didn’t make my cut.

Roger Bresnahan, c, 93
Rick Ferrell, c, 50
Ray Schalk, c, 48

Bresnahan is a borderline guy who accumulated a lot of his value from walks, which makes it a bit surprising that he’s actually in the Hall. As a full-time catcher, his offensive numbers might have been enough for me, but the fact that he only caught 974 games in his career left him a little short in my estimation. Ferrell and Schalk couldn’t really hit, but got by on defensive reputations, particularly in Schalk’s case, and had long-ish careers for catchers. There are a lot of better catchers outside the Hall.

Jake Beckley, 1b, 108
Tony Perez, 1b, 94
Frank Chance, 1b, 94
Orlando Cepeda, 1b, 82
Jim Bottomley, 1b, 60
George Kelly, 1b, 41

Considering the pickiness of the current electorate, it’s amazing how many unworthy players there are in the actual Hall of Fame. Beckley is the closest among this group, putting up solid offensive numbers in the 1980s and 1900s, back when baseball was still trying to decide things like how many balls make a walk and how far the pitcher should stand from the hitter. I believe every era should be represented, but given the shallowness of the talent pool at the turn of the century, my standard is closer to Cap Anson than to Beckley.

Perez might be a Hall of Famer if we were willing to give him extra credit for his postseason performance, and I might be more willing to do so if Perez had hit better than .238/.291/.378 in the playoffs. Chance is a rare speed-and-defense first baseman with no power. He’s not an embarrassing choice, but I’m kicking out the entire poem. Cepeda was a good player, but a distant fifth-best on his early ’60s Giants teams. Sunny Jim and High Pockets both hit .300 a lot at a time when hitting .300 made you a superstar, even if you were a bronze-gloved first baseman with a short and not-exactly-legendary peak.

Billy Herman, 2b, 99
Bobby Doerr, 2b, 97
Bid McPhee, 2b, 96
Nellie Fox, 2b, 89
Johnny Evers, 2b, 87
Tony Lazzeri, 2b, 86
Red Schoendienst, 2b, 65
Bill Mazeroski, 2b, 50

William Jennings Bryan Herman is very close to the Hall. I tend to be lenient on players who missed time, especially due to war, and may have accumulated more value if active. The problem with Herman is that I can only adjust him as high as a Jeff Kent/Willie Randolph type, and he’d need to be Roberto Alomar or Lou Whitaker to make my hall.

Doerr’s .288/.362/.461 line is impressive for a second baseman, but his 115 OPS+ suggests that he was a product of hitter-friendly Fenway Park and not quite at the level of Joe Gordon (120) or Bobby Grich (125), the guys at my borderline.

The rest of this list is full of ancient relics (McPhee/Evers), postseason heroes with middling regular season numbers (Lazzeri/Schoendienst/Mazeroski), and, well, Nellie Fox, who was pretty good. They’ve all got something going for them, but none has enough of a case to ignore the sub-100 Hall Ratings.

Joe Tinker, ss, 103
Monte Ward, ss, 95
Dave Bancroft, ss, 94
Luis Aparicio, ss, 93
Joe Sewell, ss, 89
Travis Jackson, ss, 87
Hughie Jennings, ss, 87
Phil Rizzuto, ss, 76
Rabbit Maranville, ss, 71

Before the general public’s crusade against advanced metrics led Hall and award voters to discount, if not completely ignore, fielding, the Hall of Fame seemed to give a lot of extra credit to strong defensive shortstops. Tinker grades out as the best of the Tinker-Evers-Chance trilogy, though more than half of his 50.4 WAR come from his defense. If it’s true that he was that slick with the glove (he’s fifth on the defensive WAR list), it’s certainly reasonable to induct him despite below-average offensive numbers, but WAR is kind to shortstops and I’ve got 14 in my hall without including anyone with a Hall Rating below 120.

Beyond Tinker, we’ve got more ancient history (Ward/Jennings/Bancroft/Sewell), all-glove, no-hit types (Aparicio/Jackson/Maranville), and Rirruto, who needs a pretty big bonus for all the championships and his announcing career to get close to hall-level. Ask me in a few months and I might throw a bunch of these guys in, as a shortstop with a great glove can be a thrill to watch, but for the moment, I’m sticking with fourteen shortstops.

Jimmy Collins, 3b, 100
George Kell, 3b, 65
Pie Traynor, 3b, 59
Freddie Lindstrom, 3b, 50

I couldn’t justify including Collins without Bando and Boyer. I’m tempted to show some sympathy for all the third basemen and throw in Boyer, Bando, Darrell Evans, Robin Ventura, Stan Hack, and Collins, but I’m afraid I might have to add 50 guys at other positions to keep up. Kell and Traynor were .300 hitters when a lot of guys hit .300. Lindstrom seems to have been elected on the promise of his young career, as he was worth more than one win once after his 24th burthday.

Jim O’Rourke, lf, 109
Zack Wheat, lf, 108
Joe Kelley, lf, 97
Jim Rice, lf, 83
Heinie Manush, lf, 76
Hugh Duffy, lf, 76
Lou Brock, lf, 70
Chick Hafey, lf, 56

My hall is loaded with corner outfielders, and I’m sticking to my higher standards for 19th century guys by keeping O’Rourke out. Wheat had just enough black ink (a batting title and a slugging title) to impress a Veterans Committee, but not enough to register on the BBWAA vote or to make my list. I may lose some cred in Irish circles by evicting a Kell, a Kelly, and a Kelley. The rest of these guys are far below the standard, though Jim Rice’s three-year peak in the late 70s is tempting.

Earl Averill, cf, 87
Edd Roush, cf, 86
Earle Combs, cf, 74
Lloyd Waner, cf, 33

Averill was a tough cut due to an impressive batting line (133 OPS+) over a short career, but I found him just short of the borderline I established with Max Carey, who practically invented the stolen base and had a huge World Series in 1925, and Kirby Puckett, who provided more value in an even shorter career by adding solid defense to a similar batting line to Averill’s (and offered some postseason heroics himself). Looking at his defensive numbers (-32 career fielding runs), it’s hard to believe Averill stuck in center field for 93% of his career games. Roush and Combs are questionable choices, and Waner is simply one of the worst (though I recently learned, thanks to Bill Miller, that Little Poison could rake early in his career.)

Elmer Flick, rf, 103
King Kelly, rf, 101
Kiki Cuyler, rf, 87
Sam Thompson, rf, 85
Harry Hooper, rf, 82
Sam Rice, rf, 79
Ross Youngs, rf, 61
Tommy McCarthy, rf, 27

Flick is very close, as he hit 49 percent better than league average throughout his career, but there’s something about a time when a 5’9″, 168-lb. man could play right field in the major leagues that makes me wonder just how great he was. He got 0.4% of the vote his only year on the BBWAA ballot. King Kelly wasn’t much bigger, and it seems most of his 170 pounds came from his mustache.

This list is loaded with dinosaurs, right down to McCarthy, who might struggle to make a Division II college baseball team if he were alive (and in his twenties) today.

Pud Galvin, p, 108
Early Wynn, p, 104
Eppa Rixey, p, 99
Burleigh Grimes, p, 93
Waite Hoyt, p, 92
Chief Bender, p, 90
Mickey Welch, p, 90
Herb Pennock, p, 78
Bob Lemon, p, 76
Jack Chesbro, p, 76
Lefty Gomez, p, 74
Rube Marquard, p, 64
Catfish Hunter, p, 62
Jesse Haines, p, 57
Bruce Sutter, p, 54
Rollie Fingers, p, 53

I kicked Galvin to the curb after reading Edward Achorn’s biography of Old Ross Radbourn, “Fifty-nine in ’84”. The book spoke highly of Galvin, of course, but not only was baseball an entirely different game then, with barehanded catchers and corrupt umpires, but every team’s primary pitcher that season looks like an all-time great if we judge them with WAR.

Providence, of course, was led by Radbourn (111 Hall Rating), with Charlie Sweeney (14) posting even better results before quitting the team because his manager tried to pull him from a game. Boston had Charlie Buffinton (101) and Grasshopper Jim Whitney (74). Galvin pitched over 63 percent of Buffalo’s innings. New York had future Hall of Famers Mickey Welch (90) and Monte Ward (95). Larry Corcoran (33) got most of the Cubs’ work, but a young John Clarkson (131) was on the squad. A sadsack Cleveland franchise had Jim McCormick (105). Note that these Hall Ratings incorporate negative adjustments Adam made to mitigate the impact of the crazy numbers of innings these guys pitched in a season and the relatively short distance (53 feet) from which they pitched (mostly underhand through 1883).

Is it really possible that a developing, eight-team league had six of the 111 best pitchers ever and another hybrid pitcher-shortstop (Ward) who would be in the top 100 if we counted his Hall Rating among pitchers? That might be roughly akin to 13 current National League pitchers (let’s call them Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Hudson, Santana, Carpenter, Wainwright, Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Kershaw, Greinke, and Garza) all being within a minor adjustment of the Hall of Fame. A more extreme way to look at this is that there were only 24 pitchers in the NL who threw as many as 75 innings in 1884 (Ward didn’t), so one of every four pitchers in the league is in or near the Hall of Stats. Compare to 2012 and Welch is in Mike Fiers/Lance Lynn territory. Neither analogy is perfect, of course, but even without adjusting for the quality of play, I think it makes sense to limit this group’s representation in the Hall of Fame to Radbourn and Clarkson.

I won’t comment individually on the rest of these guys, but the best cases might be those of the closers at the end of the list, and I’m happy to limit my Hall to Hoyt Wilhelm, Goose Gossage, and eventually Mariano Rivera out of the bullpen. Aside from the Jurassic Era guys, I don’t see a peak here like Gooden’s or Hahn’s, or an extended reign like Sutton’s.

Those are my 188 (and the 66 I’m kicking out). What would you change?

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13 Responses to My Personal Hall of Fame

  1. Adam Darowski says:

    My Hall of Fame has 26 players that yours doesn’t have. My five favorites:

    Jack Glasscock. I could go on forever. And I have: http://www.hallofstats.com/articles/hall-of-fame-case-for-jack-glasscock

    King Kelly: In the Hall of Fame, in the Hall of Merit, in the Hall of Stats. Yet in our voting, he got 25%. That was my vote. King Kelly! Mega star! I have a hard time seeing Keller over Kelly.

    Sal Bando/Ken Boyer: Christ, I can’t pick between them. But I’d put them both in. Kind of shocked you had Bell over both. But I have Bell in, too.

    Jim O’Rourke: I get it. You hate mega stars of the 19th century. 🙂

    You include 13 players that I don’t include. I still can’t believe I have Gene Tenace out right now considering how much I’ve fought for him. I’m also very close on Jimmy Wynn, Magee, and Wood.

    • Bryan says:

      I assume that’s Wilbur Wood, as opposed to Smoky Joe. I’m close on Boyer and Bando; just feel like moving the line a little could add a bunch of guys who did everything well and nothing spectacularly.

      • Adam Darowski says:

        Thing is, you have ten third basemen in your Hall. And that includes Deacon White, who probably should be a catcher. That’s less than the real Hall!

        I think a case can be made that supporting Bando and Boyer opens up the floodgates to Bell and Nettles. But you already include them. Who would you have to consider if you added Bando and Boyer? Next 3B I see is Evans and he’s a full 11 points in Hall Rating behind the pack.

      • Bryan says:

        Randolph, Billy Herman, maybe Tinker and Wheat. Evans, Ventura, and Collins aren’t all that far behind. I don’t like having so few 3Bs, but I don’t know if I want to include guys just because their position is underrepresented.

        Besides, Rolen and Chipper are coming, then ARod and Beltre. If we’d done this in 1990, when Schmidt, Brett, and Boggs were active, would you have added Hack, Traynor, and Kell just to catch up to other positions?

        Molitor and Ripken played some third. Edgar, Killebrew, Torre…

      • Dan says:

        Great post, Bryan.

        You guys were up late last night.

  2. Lily says:

    Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It
    really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

  3. Pingback: Rethinking the Hall of Fame

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  6. Per Hall of Stats, I came here in part because you’re listed as a “small Hall” guy. That said, my Hall would probably be smaller than yours. After making a “steroids tax,” I wouldn’t have Big Mac, Raffy or Sammy in the Hall. And, on quick-career comets, no way somebody like a Maris gets in my Hall. That said, on who’s in there now that I’d give the boot? Here’s my list of batters currently in the HOF that I’d boot: http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2011/01/who-would-you-vote-back-out-of-mlb-hof_03.html

  7. Pingback: Examining the Pud Galvin Arguments | the Hall of Miller and Eric

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