Writer’s View: The Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame

I recently posed a question to 22 baseball writers from across the country. It was a question that doesn’t have an easy answer. Given the subjectivity involved, it doesn’t even have a right answer.

“Who are the three best eligible players — not including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens — not in the Hall of Fame?”

The reason for excluding Bonds and Clemens is the likelihood they would have finished one-two on the majority of ballots. Also not eligible were players who will debut next year, and those, like Pete Rose, ineligible for enshrinement.

The writers were asked to rank their selections in order and provide a brief explanation. The results were then tabulated with first choices receiving five points, second choices receiving three points, and third choices receiving one point.

Their responses are listed below in alphabetical order, followed by the final results of the voting.

——

Dan Barbarisi, Wall Street Journal

1. Tim Raines
2. Lou Whitaker
3. Babe Adams

Raines: What more could you want from a leadoff hitter? On-base ability (career .385 OBP), speed (808 steals), extra-base power (.425 slugging, 170 HR) – Raines was near perfect, and did it playing in the offensively-depressed 1980’s. It’s a travesty he isn’t in the hall. I have to think playing in Rickey Henderson’s shadow, and before the full appreciation of on-base percentage, dimmed his star somewhat, but hopefully that will be corrected soon.

Whitaker: I sometimes wonder if the association between Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker has hurt both players by suggesting they were just two parts of a greater whole, but no matter what it’s just criminal that Whitaker just got 2.9% of the vote in his only year on the ballot. His numbers are better than Trammell’s and aren’t that far off of Roberto Alomar’s.

Adams: Okay, so this is something of a personal cause celebre even if I know he doesn’t have a case – but what an interesting pitcher! Pitching from 1906 to 1926 as a reliever, starter, swingman, whatever, Adams never walked anyone (1.3 career BB/9) and had some of his best seasons from ages 37-39, when he was averaging an ERA+ of 150 as the league was coming out of the deadball era. He won 194 games with a 2.76 ERA, but that wasn’t enough to get him into the Hall – he topped out at 9.6% in 1955.

Rhett Bollinger, MLB.com Minnesota

1. Jeff Bagwell
2. Curt Schilling
3. Tim Raines

Bagwell ranks 35th among position players in all-time fWAR, which puts him in the same company as players such as Joe DiMaggio, Roberto Clemente and Brooks Robinson. He’s a no-brainer Hall of Famer with a career .297/.408/.540 slash line with 449 homers and 488 doubles.

Schilling was a strikeout machine with great control in a 20-year career, as
evidenced by having the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball history among pitchers with 1,000 innings pitched. He also had a career 2.23 ERA in 19 postseason starts, including the famous ‘Bloody Sock’ game.

Raines didn’t hit for the average that Tony Gywnn did but still got on base at a similar .385 clip in a 23-year career. He also was an elite base stealer, as
evidenced by his 808 stolen bases, ranking fifth all-time, and his amazing 84.7% success rate that ranks second only to Carlos Beltran.

Tim Britton, Providence Journal

1. Mike Piazza
2. Curt Schilling
3. Jeff Bagwell

Piazza is probably the finest hitting catcher of all-time, and his ability to maintain production while avoiding injury at baseball’s most rigorous position puts him just ahead of Bagwell (and his in-spite-of-the-Astrodome power) on the hierarchy. Indeed, one wonders what Piazza might have done with the chance of DHing part-time in the American League.

Schilling doesn’t land on his generation’s Mount Rushmore, but he’s probably its next best pitcher. He owns, as far as I can tell, the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in major-league history, which more than compensates for a bit of an elevated home-run rate. His career WHIP is better than that of Roger Clemens and even with those of Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson. Schilling also possesses a postseason career even Jack Morris can envy, with a 2.23 ERA in 19 starts (and 2.06 mark in seven World Series tilts). My favorite part of Schilling’s postseason career is how, after each of his bad playoff starts, he responded with one of his best later in the series.

Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe

1. Mike Piazza
2. Alan Trammell
3. Luis Tiant

If he were eligible, it would be Pete Rose. Nobody represented the game of baseball on the field better, but nobody disrespected it off the field more.

Piazza is the greatest offensive catcher of our generation. Trammell was the whole package. He had excellent range, one of the most accurate throwing arms ever, and he hit, and hit for power. Tiant was an underappreciated pitcher whose numbers compare with Juan Marichal and Jim Palmer. An absolute warrior who many times pitched hurt.

Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports

1. Tim Raines
2. Alan Trammell
3. Dick Allen

Raines: Never has anyone been so unfairly penalized for not being quite as good as an immortal. Was he Rickey Henderson? No. But Jimmy Foxx wasn’t as good as Babe Ruth and he’s still in Cooperstown.

Trammell: The soft bigotry of expectations of what 1980s shortstops should be. I remain convinced that if he played the same defense he did yet only hit .245 instead of .285, he’d get more Hall of Fame votes because he’d fit a mold better. He wasn’t Ozzie, he wasn’t Cal, ergo people can’t handle him. Doesn’t mean he wasn’t deserving.

Allen: Maybe Bagwell is more deserving, but I have a soft spot for the misunderstood and disliked. If Allen played in the ‘90s-2000s he’d be Frank Thomas. The good one. Not the jerk teammate Allen actually had in the 60s.

Jerry Crasnick, ESPN

1. Jeff Bagwell
2. Craig Biggio
3. Mike Piazza

1) Yes, I would have liked to see Bagwell last a bit longer and reach 500 homers. But he was an amazing all-around player in his prime. And the numbers would have been a lot better if he hadn’t spent so much of his career playing in the Astrodome.

2) Like Bagwell, he went out there every day and relentlessly put up numbers. I’m a sucker for big milestones, and 3,060 hits make Biggio a slam dunk. Throw in 400-plus steals, the HBP record, a Robby Alomar-like career WAR and all those games at catcher, second base and the outfield, and he really should have made it on the first ballot.

3) I’m going with Piazza over the disgraced PED guys like McGwire and Palmeiro because he stands so far above the crowd as a dominant offensive catcher for so many years. Fun fact: Baseball-reference gives Yogi Berra a career WAR of 59.3, and Piazza checks in at 59.2. He’s in very good company.

Rich Dubroff, CSN Baltimore

1. Jim Kaat
2. Lou Whitaker
3. Steve Garvey

Kaat won 283 games and won 20 three times. He pitched 25 years, and unfortunately one of the reasons I think he hasn’t gotten more votes is that many of his excellent years came relatively early in his career. Kaat won 16 Gold Gloves and completed 180 games. He was good enough that teams wanted him to pitch for them when he was well into his forties.

Whitaker was the best second baseman in the American League of his generation, played for one of the best teams of its time, and stats compare favorably with Ryne Sandberg, a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame. He received just 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001 and was removed from future BBWAA consideration, and that’s a shame.

Garvey was arguably the best position player on teams that won four NL pennants, had six seasons of 200 or more hits and drove in 100 or more runs five times. I think he’s been penalized unjustly because he was seen by some as a self-promoter.

Vince Gennaro, Society for American Baseball Research [SABR]

1. Tim Raines
2. Minnie Minoso
3. Edgar Martinez

HOF voters have overlooked three particularly worthy candidates: Tim Raines, Minnie Minoso and Edgar Martinez. Raines credentials are extraordinary and should place him in the top half of all HOF’ers, instead of being on the outside looking in. In his 23 year career, he had a 123 OPS+, with a .385 OBP and over 800 stolen bases. Minoso was an OBP machine, second only to Mickey Mantle in the AL in the 1950s. His only shortcoming was that getting on base was not revered in the years that he received serious consideration for election. Edgar Martinez was victimized because he played the DH position, which lacks respect among some voters. Edgar put up a 147 OPS+ over his career, and was among the AL’s top hitters for many years, while he posted an OBP above .400 for nine consecutive seasons. The common theme among all of my candidates is their proven ability and outstanding track record of getting on base and avoiding making outs–the most important outcome for a hitter.

Jay Jaffe, Sports Illustrated

1. Mike Piazza
2. Jeff Bagwell
3. Tim Raines

Piazza: The Hall of Fame certainly ought to include the best-hitting catcher of all time; Piazza should have gotten in on the first ballot last year. Via my JAWS system, which compares each player’s career and seven-year peak value (Baseball-Reference.com version of Wins Above Replacement) to those of the average Hall of Famer at his position, Piazza ranks fifth among all catchers (http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/jaws_C.shtml), worth about an 1.3 wins per year above the average Hall catcher.

Bagwell: Another player who should have gotten in the first time around. Even in an era of heavy-hitting first basemen, and even with a shortened career, he was more valuable than all of his contemporaries at the position except for Albert Pujols, and ranks six or seventh at the position in JAWS (http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/jaws_1B.shtml) depending upon whether one counts Stan Musial as a first baseman or outfielder.

Raines: With walks, steals at an incredible success rate, and slightly more power, Raines was essentially the equal of 3,000 hit man and eight-time batting champion Tony Gwynn in terms of career and peak value (http://mlb.si.com/2012/12/17/jaws-and-the-2013-hall-of-fame-ballot-tim-raines/#more-3491). That Gwynn went into the Hall with near-unanimity on the first ballot while Raines has languished into his seventh cycle is a grave injustice whose correction takes precedence over those of some of the other ballot’s worthy players such as Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker and Curt Schilling, all of whom clear the JAWS bars at their positions as well.

Tyler Kepner, New York Times

1. Curt Schilling
2. Craig Biggio
3. Tim Raines/Jack Morris

There are lots of eligible players I believe are deserving for the Hall of Fame; if my paper let me vote, I don’t know how I would cut down to 10, the arbitrary maximum allowed per ballot. Schilling, for me, is an easy choice. He was everything you could want in a Hall of Famer: dominant in the regular season, even better in October, with a magic number of 3,000-plus strikeouts and only 711 career walks. He averaged 4.38 strikeouts for every walk. The only pitcher with a better ratio, Tommy Bond, played his last game in 1884. Biggio had more than 3,000 hits, four Gold Gloves, 400 steals and the most doubles of any right-handed hitter of all-time. If we’re not putting guys like Schilling and Biggio in the Hall of Fame, our standards are way, way too high.

As for Raines, he ranks 46th all-time in times reached base. Every eligible player above him is in Cooperstown, except for those with steroid ties and Biggio, who of course should be in. And Morris is borderline with his regular season stats, but his dominance in the 1984 and 1991 World Series makes the difference.

Kevin Kernan, New York Post

1. Mike Piazza
2. Tim Raines
3. Craig Biggio

Piazza: The slugging-est catcher. You shouldn’t have to think twice about Piazza, I voted for him last year and will vote for him again next year. Sooner or later the other writers will figure it out.

Raines: To me, Raines was a step below Rickey Henderson, and Rickey was a no-brainer as a Hall of Famer. I also covered the Padres for 10 years and while I would not put Raines in Tony Gwynn’s class as others have done, I would say Rock Raines was a game-changer in his era and deserves to be in Cooperstown.

Biggio: The second baseman represents a certain everyman’s work ethic, and that is great to have in Cooperstown, and Biggio has the key numbers, most notably the 3,060 hits. Add it up and Biggio is HOF worthy.

Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

1. Tim Raines
2. Dwight Gooden
3. Larry Walker

Tim Raines could beat you anyway he needed to. If he had different teammates or played different market or had not been born in roughly the same timeframe as Rickey Henderson, there is no way he would be eligible for this list. It’s baffling why Raines is not in the Hall of Fame. Every other borderline player carries some argument against him, even if that argument is flawed – Dale Murphy’s peak was not long enough, Larry Walker played too many games at Coors Field, Mike Piazza had too much back acne. Whatever. There is not even a BAD reason for why Raines is not a Hall of Famer. It’s not that the argument to keep Raines out is invalid. The argument does not even exist. He hit .294. He had a .395 on-base percentage. He stole 808 friggin’ bases. He made seven all-star teams. His accomplishments have become more appreciated as statistical evaluation has advanced. His longevity is crazy. I was born in 1984 – Raines made his fourth all-star team and hit .309/.393/.437. I started high school in 1998 – Raines hit .290/.395/.383 as a part-time player for the 114-win Yankees. You never hear why Raines should not make the Hall of Famer. You just don’t see his name on the ballot.

For my last two spots, I would take Doc Gooden and Larry Walker. I don’t think Gooden is necessarily the most deserving of a Hall of Fame plaque, but you said best player, and at his best no one was ever better, maybe.

Roch Kubatko, MASN Baltimore

1. Rafael Palmeiro
2. Jim Kaat
3. Dale Murphy

Palmeiro: He won’t get into the Hall of Fame because of his failed drug test, unless the voters have a sudden and drastic change of heart, but he’s part of a very exclusive club. Palmeiro is one of only four players with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray. All of them in Cooperstown. He also won three Gold Gloves.

Kaat: What’s the knock on this guy? Is it the 283 victories, including three 20-win campaigns? The 16 Gold Gloves? The 180 complete game? The 25 years in the majors? Longevity and productivity. Seems like quite an oversight.

Murphy: Murphy apparently didn’t sustain his excellence for a suitable period of time, at least in the minds of the voters who leave him off their ballots. Or maybe it’s because he fell two home runs short of 400. Murphy was named the National Leagues MVP in back-to-back seasons – 1982 and 1983. He also was a seven-time All-Star and winner of five Gold Gloves. One of the game’s truly good guys.

Bob Kuenster, Baseball Digest

1. Craig Biggio
2. Mike Piazza
3. Curt Schilling

Craig Biggio is an easy choice for election in my opinion. His 3,060 hits rank 21st on the all-time list. Only 14 players have scored more runs than Biggio’s 1,844, and only Tris Speaker, Pete Rose, Stan Musial and Ty Cobb stroked more doubles than Biggio’s total of 668. He also hit .281, stole 414 bases and set the modern record for hit-by-pitch with 285.

Mike Piazza was the best hitting catcher of his era and possibly in the history of the game. He clubbed 427 home runs and batted .308 over a 16-year career in the majors that included more than 1,600 games behind the plate. He also posted single-season high marks of 40 homers in 1997 and 1999 and a .362 BA in ’97.

Curt Schilling was a gamer who never backed down, and challenged hitters to beat his best. His 216 lifetime victories measure up to many Hall of Famers such as Catfish Hunter, Don Drysdale, Bob Lemon, Lefty Gomez or Hal Newhouser. His postseason performances were remarkable and his 4.38 strikeouts for every walk issued is the best mark among pitchers with 3,000 career punchouts.

Scott Miller, CBS Sports

1. Gil Hodges
2. Tim Raines
3. Alan Trammell/Lou Whitaker

OK, the three best players not in the HOF (we’re still working with the notion that Shoeless Joe Jackson is not eligible, correct?)

1. Gil Hodges. I will come right out here and admit that I’m too young to have seen him play. But time after time in conversation, too many old timers have told me Hodges should be in the Hall for me not to believe it. Throughout the 1950s, you could put him down for 20 or 30 home runs and 100-some RBIs, like clockwork.

2. Tim Raines: Time seems to have forgotten him, and I’m not sure if it’s because he was zapped for cocaine use or that it’s simply taken people far too long to take on-base percentage as seriously as they should. But you look at Raines’ career .385 OBP and 808 steals, it’s difficult not to see him as an HOFer.

3. Alan Trammell/Lou Whitaker: I lumped these two together because, why not? They were practically joined at the hip in Detroit as the longest-running double play combination in history. It is a travesty that Whitaker, a highly productive and terrific fielding second baseman, fell off of the ballot after just one year. And I’ve been on the Trammell HOF bandwagon for years. Talk to managers in the 1980s and if they were picking a team, most would have picked Trammell over Ozzie Smith because Trammell was so much more productive offensively, and it wasn’t like he was THAT far behind Ozzie defensively. Overall game, Trammell could help you win in more ways that Ozzie could. We can argue whether Trammell is a Hall of Famer, but there is NO WAY the difference between Smith (91.7 percent of the HOF vote) and Trammell (a high of 36.8% in 2012) is as large as the Hall voting discrepancy between them.

Troy Renck, Denver Post

1. Craig Biggio: 3,000 hits. Made successful position switch. Was more than a compiler.

2. Alan Trammell: Was consistently good at everything. That makes him great.

3. Tim Raines: One of the greatest leadoff hitters of all time. Reached base with alarming regularity. And stole them while there.

Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati Enquirer

1. Mike Piazza
2. Tim Raines
3. Jeff Bagwell

I’ll start by saying this — I have not accrued the requisite 10 years of active, continuous membership to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in order to earn a Hall of Fame vote. I say that, because having voted for other awards (MVP, Cy Young), there’s a different level of scrutiny I put on myself when submitting that ballot than when I’m speaking in a hypothetical. The point, I think I know who would get my vote and how I would vote philosophically (which seems to be half the battle these days), I don’t know for sure, because the ballot isn’t in front of me.

So, with that said, here are my top three:

Mike Piazza: There’s plenty of statistical arguments that back this up, so I’ll go with what sticks out in my mind. I was on the field for batting practice at the 1999 All-Star Game in Boston, and one hitting group was Piazza, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sean Casey. Of those, the ball seemed loudest off the bat of Piazza. It doesn’t mean much, but I’ll always remember that sound.

Tim Raines: I have yet to hear a single compelling argument for why he’s not in already. It’s unfathomable to me to look at his numbers and not write his name on the ballot.”

Jeff Bagwell: At least with Raines, voters believe they’re making some sort of baseball argument. With Bagwell, there’s none really to be made. We know the issue, everyone knows the issue. It’s, like Piazza, suspicion. The facts are that Bagwell was one of the game’s great hitters. His shoulder injury later in his career kept him from any of the game’s big, round numbers, but his rate stats are up there with the best. He was a career .297/.408/.540 hitter with a 149 OPS+. He also spent the first half of his career in the cavernous Astrodome, but still put up great power numbers.

Travis Sawchik, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

1. Curt Schilling
2. Edgar Martinez
3. Alan Trammell

Schilling: I love efficient pitchers — who doesn’t? — and Schilling is one of the most efficient pitchers in baseball history. His career 4.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks second all-time and ahead of Pedro Martinez and Mariano Rivera. He had an elite peak: three runner-up Cy Young finishes in a five-year period. His best seven seasons, per WAR (48.9), are the best of any eligible player not named Bonds or Clemens, who has appeared on a ballot and remains eligible. He was excellent on the game’s postseason stage, playing a key role in delivering three World Series titles over a six-year period. He didn’t reach some significant milestones like 300 wins, but that Hall of Fame litmus test should be revisited as few pitchers going forward will rarely reach that threshold. And, hey, 80.7 career WAR is pretty legit.

Martinez: Yes, Martinez didn’t play in the field often. Yes, some scribes could beat in him a 60-yard dash. Yes, some of his counting numbers fall short of traditional benchmarks. But, man, could he hit. Martinez ranks 41st all-time in OPS+ (147) the same number as Willie McCovey and Mike Schmidt. He is knocked because he starred as a DH. But the designated hitter has been part of the game for 40 years and Martinez is in the conversation with Frank Thomas as the game’s best DH. One of the game’s best hitters of the last forty years deserves a spot in its hall. Moreover, Martinez was the 2004 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award.

Trammell: A gifted offensive and defensive shortstop who played all 20 years of his career with the Tigers. His seven-year peak, per WAR (43.3), is superior to that of the majority of shortstops already enshrined. He won four Gold Gloves and finished in the top 10 of MVP voting three times.

Emma Span, Sports on Earth

1. Jeff Bagwell
2. Mike Piazza
3. Tim Raines

The only reason Bagwell isn’t in already is the sentiment among some voters that he may have used PEDs. I have no idea whether he did or not, so I can only revert to what I do know, which is that Jeff Bagwell was one of the five to ten best first basemen ever.

(*I think the Hall’s current most glaring omission is actually Marvin Miller, but of course he’s not a player.)

Piazza is, I would argue, the best-hitting catcher of all time. How are you going to leave out the best-hitting catcher of all time? (That’s a rhetorical question, Mr. Chass).

If you didn’t watch him play often (I saw him mostly in his somewhat faded Yankees days), you have to take a pretty close look to appreciate how great Raines was. Once you realize, it seems obvious, like one of those optical illusion drawings that’s clearly both a man’s face and a wombat playing poker now that you know how to see it. Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system confirms Raines as the best eligible left-fielder not yet in the Hall, non-Bonds division.

Runners-up: Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez

Jayson Stark, ESPN

1. Jeff Bagwell
2. Tim Raines
3. Curt Schilling

As I wrote for ESPN in January, Jeff Bagwell was, in a nutshell, one of the four greatest first basmen of the live-ball era. How many first basemen have ever strung together a dozen consecutive seasons with an OPS-Plus of 130 or better? That answer is two: Bagwell and Lou Gehrig. What other first basemen will you find in the 400-homer, 200-steal club? None. Just him.

And if you need your Hall of Famers to be men who took trips to the hardware store, remember Bagwell owns practically a complete set of baseball hardware: MVP, rookie of the year, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, Sporting News player of the year. Somehow, he missed the Nobel Peace Prize. Must have been an oversight.

Graham Womack, Baseball Past and Present

1. Jeff Bagwell
2. Dick Allen
3. Tim Raines

Players denied the Hall of Fame for any extended period tend to have a flaw, real or perceived, that voters fixate on. For Dick Allen, it was having one of the more maligned personalities in baseball history, on par with Barry Bonds, Hal Chase, or Carl Mays. For Jeff Bagwell, it was having a suspiciously large physique during the Steroid Era. For Tim Raines, it was becoming a journeyman after an outstanding start to his career.

Get past the imperfections, though, and Allen, Bagwell and Raines would make for three fine plaques in Cooperstown. Aside from Bonds, Bagwell has the most career Wins Above Replacement of any position player who’s currently eligible but not enshrined. Raines might be the second-best leadoff hitter ever, after Rickey Henderson. Allen, for his part, ranks as one of the icons of his era and should’ve been in Cooperstown 20 years ago. He’s the new Ron Santo, since the oft-overlooked Cub finally got his plaque in 2011

Anonymous Beat Writer, Large-circulation Newspaper

1. Craig Biggio
2. Mike Piazza
3. Jeff Bagwell.

Selecting worth candidates for the Hall of Fame treads through some murky waters considering the dark cloud of the Steroid Era, but if I had the opportunity to select three current candidates, I’d select Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell.

In my mind, Biggio makes it on the merit that he’s one of 28 players to record 3,000 hits, which historically has enough for induction unless your name is Pete Rose or Rafael Palmeiro.

Simply put, Piazza is the most offensively productive catcher in the game. He posted a .308/.377/.545 career slash line hit 427 homers, was a 12-time all-star, 10-time silver slugger winner and was top-four in MVP voting four times.

Bagwell compiled seven 100-run/100-RBI seasons, won the NL MVP in 2004 and was top-three in voting two other times. He hit 449 homers and 488 doubles. Combine that with a career .297/.408/.545 slash line and he deserves the nod.

I selected these three over Curt Schilling, Fred McGriff and Tim Raines, all of whom I hope eventually get inducted. They are all Hall of Fame worthy.

I think over time those stars closest tied with the Steroid Era – Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Palmeiro – will get their pass, but now isn’t the time.

——

First Place Votes: Bagwell (Bollinger, Crasnick, Span, Stark, Womack) Biggio (Anonymous Beat Writer, Kuenster, Renck) Hodges (Miller) Kaat (Dubroff) Palmeiro (Kubatko) Piazza (Britton, Cafardo, Jaffe, Kernan, Rosecrans) Raines (Barbarisi, Calcaterra, Gennaro, Kilgore) Schilling (Kepner, Sawchik)

Second Place Votes: Allen (Womack) Bagwell (Jaffe) Biggio (Crasnick, Kepner) Gooden (Kilgore) Kaat (Kubatko) Martinez (Sawchik) Minoso (Gennaro) Piazza (Anonymous Beat Writer, Kuenster, Span) Raines (Kernan, Miller, Rosecrans, Stark) Schilling (Bollinger, Britton) Trammell (Cafardo, Calcaterra, Renck) Whitaker (Barbarisi, Dubroff)

Third Place Votes: Adams (Barbarisi) Allen (Calcaterra) Bagwell (Anonymous Beat Writer, Britton, Rosecrans) Biggio (Kernan) Garvey (Dubroff) Martinez (Gennaro) Morris (Kepner) Murphy (Kubatko) Piazza (Crasnick) Raines (Bollinger, Jaffe, Kepner, Renck, Span, Womack) Schilling (Kuenster, Stark) Tiant (Cafardo) Trammell (Miller, Sawchik) Walker (Kilgore) Whitaker (Miller)

——

Point Totals:

Raines = 38
Piazza = 36
Bagwell = 31
Biggio = 22
Schilling = 18
Trammell = 11
Kaat = 8
Whitaker = 7
Hodges = 5
Palmeiro = 5
Allen = 4
Martinez = 4
Gooden = 3
Minoso = 3
Adams = 1
Garvey = 1
Morris = 1
Murphy = 1
Tiant = 1
Walker = 1




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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from February 2006-March 2011 and is a regular contributor to several publications. His first book, Interviews from Red Sox Nation, was published by Maple Street Press in 2006. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA

130 Responses to “Writer’s View: The Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame”

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  1. Spunky says:

    Another gem Dave! I’m glad to see Raines, Piazza, and Bagwell far at the top of this list.

    +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Balthazar says:

      Agreed Dave, it’s quite interesting to see what the consensus position on this is at present. If there’s a flaw, it’s the Fallacy of Recency. That is, more recent players loom largest when that may not necessarily be quite so.

      For me on who absolutely should be in the Hall: Billy Pierce, Dick Allen, Jim Kaat, Lou Whitaker, Edgar Martinez, Curt Schilling.

      Who has a solid case: Tim Raines, Alan Trammel, Craig Biggio.

      Who’re products of their time: Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmeiro . . . had great numbers, didn’t they?

      We All Know Who They Are: Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens.

      -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jason B says:

        “Products of their time” seems to be trying to draw a steroid use connection to Bagwell and Piazza without using the s-word.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jason B says:

        Also, it should be more heavily populated with recent players; the players from the 20′s, 30′s, 40′s got their shot through their normal voting process, and then the veteran’s committee. Which allowed several players in who are well below traditional HOF standards.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Devon says:

    I remember growing up in the 80′s, lovin’ baseball. At the time, I think every baseball I knew, thought Tim Raines was a future HOFer. It’s shocking to me that we’re still talkin’ about that in 2013.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. ksclacktc says:

    I like it. Let’s put those 3 in the real Hall this year. Great Job!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Anon says:

    To Me, Garvey gets to the root of what a person thinks about the HOF:
    - by “fame” there may be nobody more deserving of enshrinement. He had the consecutive games streak, was the best player on the best team, hit .300 every year, made the AS team 10 times, won 4 GG, won an MVP (with another 2nd place finish), amassed 2599 hits and was on the cover of every magazine and newspaper regularly.
    - by the numbers he’s probably not even in the top 100 on this list. HE did not walk at all, his average, while good, was not outstanding, he hit for little power (either HR or 2B) for a guy at a power position, his defense was probably vastly overrated, and he offered nothing in the bases.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Izzy2112 says:

      Also, I don’t think he was the best player on those teams.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • King Kaufman says:

      Steve Garvey was never the best player on those Dodgers teams. Ron Cey was better, and some combination of Davey Lopes, Reggie Smith and, that one year, Jimmy Wynn were usually better too. Not to mention pitching. He was the star of those teams, but not the best player.

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      • anon says:

        Good call. I really did more mean the star one of the best teams. He clearly was not the best player. My time would have been more what aGarvey supporter would sat

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      • Balthazar says:

        Reggie Smith was _definitely_ the best player. Garvey was fine and durable—but if he hadn’t played on a perennial contender nobody would even remember who he was. Looking at his contemporaries, and at who else is NOT in; having watched him play . . . I just don’t see him in this conversation. I don’t mean to diminish him at all in saying that; we should surely remember the ‘Steve Garveys’ of any time. But he simly was not an elite player, and he did not have an elite peak.

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        • GDC says:

          I would guess Gil Hodges was a lot like Garvey, steady producer on good teams getting a lot of RBI opps and willing to talk to the press, but not the “best” player on their own team, especially compared to other 1B, and that the BBWAA correctly raised the bar above both.

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      • Eric R says:

        And Jimmy Wynn — 52.8 fWAR, six years of 5+ fWAR. He didn’t get enough votes to stick around on the ballot for a while. He didn’t get a handful of ‘sympathy’ votes. He got zero.

        Dante Bichette and Tony Fernandez and Chili Davis and Dave Righetti all at least got a couple of votes.

        Maybe it was a deep ballot [12 players eventually made it], but I’d think he deserved some small amount of support…

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  5. Oscars says:

    Does Joe Torre get a life time achivement award? 62 WAR, managing of the Yankees and now the commish office?

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  6. DUTCH4007 says:

    While Lou Whitaker was always my favorite baseball player growing up I am still eternally grateful to Alan Trammel (and my father) for introducing me to the concept of positional adjustment. “He hit .343/.402/.551 while playing shortstop! George Bell poppycock”

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  7. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    Inserting Dick Allen’s Name into Serious FanGraphs Articles

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    • Holy Shit says:

      Dick Allen had a 199 wrc+ in 1972. Never realized he was that good.

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      • stan says:

        I never knew he was in the HOF discussion until I started looking at Edgar Martinez’ candidacy- and seeing Allen just ahead or just behind him in every category. Plus, he doesn’t have that DH thing hanging over his head.

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      • Balthazar says:

        Dick Allen was a seriously good hitter with mammoth power. Better than Votto while starting younger. Bad fielder, got a ‘bad attitude’ rap which his _teammates_ would NOT, and did not, agree with. He is the very first person of those not in the Hall who should be admitted.

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        • Vince says:

          Monstrous overstatement. He always had supporters among his teammates, but he also had a history of problems with teammates and managers.

          If your point is that it isn’t obvious in retrospect that he was primarily at fault, that would be defensible. If (and this is how it reads to me) you’re claiming that those who claim he had an attitude problem are essentially making stuff up, you’re making stuff up, ALL CAPS or not.

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    • derekcarstairs says:

      Richie Allen was the best offensive talent ever to pass through the Phillies’ farm system. As good as he was, his personal demons prevented his becoming an even better player.

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  8. FeslenR says:

    Love to see the support Tim Raines is getting, I hope the “Veteran’s committee” votes him in. He definitely deserves it.

    I wouldn’t worry about Piazza, he will get in, as will Bagwell.

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  9. tz says:

    Great article, thanks Dave. My top 3 would be:

    1. Bagwell
    2. Bagwell
    3. Bagwell

    No reason he shouldn’t have been a first-ballot election.

    PS – I especially liked Rich Dubroff’s ballot, which mixed two guys with “old-school” HOF qualifications (Kaat and Garvey(?!?)) with SABR-fave Lou Whitaker.

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    • Rich Dubroff says:

      My thought in coming up with these choices was that guys like Tim Raines, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio are probably Hall of Famers–and probably will be voted in in the next few years. I don’t think they’ve been overlooked. They just haven’t been on the ballot long enough.

      Sometimes it takes a few years for a player to get the requisite Hall of Fame attention.

      When I think about players who aren’t in, I think about those whose time on the Baseball Writer’s ballot has already passed and were overlooked. Kaat, Whitaker and Garvey fall into this category. (So does Tommy John.)

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      • tz says:

        Thanks Rich, makes a lot of sense. Kaat in particular seems to have been consistently overlooked since his retirement.

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      • Hornsby says:

        The interesting thing for me is that Schilling has a massive lead in WAR over everyone else.

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      • People who think they can tell jokes on this site better than Louis CK. says:

        Agreed. Way too much noise has been made about Bagwell not getting in (yet) for all the useless reasons. Piazza and Biggio too. But Raines has been on the ballot for a while and may not make it because the city he racked up the bulk of his numbers can’t begin to mount an effective campaign. He’s got to at the top of the list when the Veteran’s Committee considers his case though. Maybe he’s hurt because he wasn’t even average defensively, and a speed guy who can’t be above average on defense?

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    • garrett hawk says:

      No, tz, # 1 and 2 on that list would be Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

      Bagwell is not in yet because…well, you know.

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  10. Bad Bill says:

    It’s interesting (if unsurprising, given who were making these responses) how strongly slanted that final list is toward contemporary players. Most of the responders seemed unaware that there might have been players from previous eras who were overlooked, if not outright screwed over, by voters. And, on the flip side, those who thought they were doing the right thing by making a nod to the random old-timer often got it laughably wrong. Steve Garvey? Dwight Gooden? Babe Adams? I mean, really…

    One name I thought might appear on a “ballot” or two from writers who did look to the past is Ted Simmons. Catchers are grossly underrepresented in the Hall, Simmons’ poor defensive reputation of the time has been somewhat rehabilitated using contemporary methods, and hoo boy, the man could hit. Torre is another peculiar omission, for many of the same reasons.

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    • Detroit Michael says:

      It seems to me that most of the writers acted appropriately, that the best-qualified non-HOF players tend to be retirees recent enough that various editions of the Veterans’ Committees have not passed them over yet. 19th century player Bill Dahlen is one possible exception but is a guy like that really more qualified than Piazza, Bagwell, Biggio, Schilling, Trammell, etc.?

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      • Bad Bill says:

        I thought about Dahlen too (with my handle, how could I not?), and it turns out that based just on WAR and WAR7, his case may be just a trifle stronger than Trammell’s, well within the margin for error given how little we really know of 19th-century ball. He’s certainly another that I think shows the short-sightedness of current voters.

        Two comments. First, it might be well to separate those currently on the ballot from those who have fallen off — “best player not yet in the Hall” versus “best player who never will be in the Hall” in effect. Voting idiocy of the last couple of years makes the not-yet list look incongruous compared to essentially any other time in the Hall’s history. Second, it’ll be interesting to see how Biggio, Schilling, etc., look as Hall candidates 50 years from now. Pity I probably won’t be around to see it.

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        • JPC says:

          I don’t think era bias is why this article is inherently slanted toward modern players. More recent candidates have only been rejected on a couple of ballots, whereas the old timers have been passed over many times. Naturally, that’s going to make the more recent talent pool stronger. Throw in the fact that some hacks refuse to vote for anyone who even played in the steroid era, and the “snub” list slants even more toward recent stars.

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    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      I don’t think Gooden or Adams are bad choices. I wouldn’t put them in the Top 3, but I’d put them on a list of Top Players of whatever number the HOF has.

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      • cass says:

        Kilgore didn’t say Gooden was deserving of the HoF. He said he was one of the best players not in the HoF. He made that distinction specifically.

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  11. Angelsjunky says:

    I’m really hoping that Trammell and Whitaker go in together some day – they’re both criminally underrated. The same with Bagwell and Biggio, although their generation has the Shadow of Roids forever cast upon them.

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  12. TKDC says:

    1. Fred McGriff
    2. The Crime Dog
    3. Spokesman for Tom Emanski Defensive Drills video

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  13. Tom says:

    Did Mattingly get in and I missed it?

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  14. olethros says:

    Only ten per ballot, and I’m going to pull from all available players (other than the named exclusions above), not just those currently on the ballot. Mostly so I can put Whitaker in.

    Raines, Trammell, Whitaker, Biggio, Bagwell, Ted Simmons, Joe Torre, Mike Piazza, Rafael Palmeiro, Dick Allen.

    And there are probably ten more who should go in right now too.

    HoF voting is fucked.

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  15. Mozgov says:

    I would love to have every player on that list, but you would have a hard time convincing me any of them were a better player than Walker, better stats certainly, better health absolutely so several have a better case but his arm was in the top 5 I have seen in RF, in the 15 years between age 24-38 his 162G/660PA numbers averaged to .318/.406/.577 40-2B 6-3B 33HR 19SB 114r 111RBI while those are of course theoretical numbers they highlight the position that I hold to this day that while Bonds is by far the most talented hitter I have ever seen Walker is still the most talented baseball player I have seen> Walker for all his five tools was missing the most important one that the HOF judges players on and that is health.

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    • Captain Obvious says:

      Curt Schilling had 85 War. I love walker, and would have put him ahead of some of the guys on this list, but Schilling, man. 85 wins.

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  16. Seth Levin says:

    Not sure how Albert Belle doesnt’ get mention. Yes, he was a jerk, but so was Ty Cobb. Belle had a run that was Ruthian and he never even gets a mention.

    I also agree on Bagwell, Piazza, Schilling and Dale Murphy for differing reasons.

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    • Wobatus says:

      Ty Cobb had 149 career WAR. Belle something like 40. That’s over 100 WAR of jerk antidote.

      And Belle had a very good run, but it isn’t close to Ruthian. He topped out at 186 wRC+, which Ruth topped 12 times, and went over 230. Ruth was Bondsian.

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      • Spunky says:

        Ty Cobb had 149 career WAR. Belle something like 40. That’s over 100 WAR of jerk antidote.

        Yes, but Ty Cobb also jumped into the stands to beat a fan with no hands, slapped black men multiple times, slashed a black security guard, and he gambled on baseball, easily 1,000,000 WAR of jerk.

        Your point about Belle’s 40 WAR remains. The guy just didn’t play long enough. I just wanted to be clear that Ty Cobb not just an ass, but a terrible person.

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        • Wobatus says:

          Sure, I know, but Cobb was just a much better ballplayer relative to his era than Belle. Jerk may not be the proper term, but that was the term used in the post I was replying to.

          Here is an article on Cobb that may soft-pedal things somewhat but is a fairly thorough piece on Cobb and his racism.

          http://baseballguru.com/bburgess/analysisbburgess02.html

          And Buck O’Neill on Ty Cobb:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7zYopq-dFs

          Ty Cobb was a much bigger asshole than Albert Belle, but as far as baseball player in his time? The idea that Cobb was a much bigger asshole and therefore Belle deserves a shot because Cobb is in doesn’t really cut it. Belle isn’t being kept out because he wasn’t nice to reporters or some such. He wasn’t good enough. He also wasn’t as good as Dick Allen, who has a much better case I’d think.

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        • Spunky says:

          @Wobatus: This is a reply to your second comment; I’m unable to click “Reply” below it.

          Thanks for the article on Ty Cobb. My opinion of him as a terrible person remains, and I do feel that the article excuses a lot of his inexcusable behavior, but he’s certainly more complicated than I realized. I would still never allow him in the Hall of Fame (or Major League Baseball). But enough about Cobb. He’s in the Hall of Fame, and he’s not comparable to Albert Belle in any way.

          As before, I agree with your points about Albert Belle. He doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, for the reasons you gave.

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  17. DJG says:

    Love this topic. Here are five more “deep cuts” that weren’t mentioned by any of the writers in this article.

    1. Willie Randolph, 2. Bill Dahlen, 3. Jack Powell, 4. Rick Reuschel, 5. Bobby Grich

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    • Wobatus says:

      Wow, some nice choices. Looking at the more more recent guys, Randolph and Reuschel deserve a look more than I realized, and Grich probably should be in.

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      • Wobatus says:

        Grich was the best player in the AL per WAR in 1973, and also had the highest WAR total of any AL player from 1972-1981 (sort of his peak years). And 4th overall in that stretch behind Schmidt, Morgan and Bench, and ahead of Carew and Reggie Jackson. And Cey, who likely just misses a serious Hall discussion, although he’s close.

        In that same vein, Graig Nettles deserves discussion. Highest WAR of any AL player in 1976, 65.7 total career WAR. One of the best fielding 3Bs of all time, key part of world series winning teams.

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        • Wobatus says:

          BTW, if you are arguably the best player in a league for any 10 year stretch, and Grich is arguably that, you should be in I’d say.

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        • Balthazar says:

          Wobatus, agreed. Grich is the one of that set I’d vote for. I’d argue he was a better player than Biggio was at any time, though Biggio has longevity on his side.

          . . . Guys that do everything very well but nothing fantastically always get discussed at a discount, part of why there’s no push to get Trammell or Whitaker in the Hall presently either. There was perhaps more respect for that ‘all around’ quality with dead ball era guys, where little things, good base running, and especially consistently excellent D really _were_ more necessary to winning than 340 ft fly balls.

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    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      If you’re going back to the 19th Century, I’d also look at Ross Barnes, Cupid Childs and Dickey Pearce. I don’t think they’re eligible for BBWAA consideration. though. Lots of pre-1947 blacks aren’t in who should be IMO — Frank Grant, Grant Johnson, Bill Monroe, Dobie Moore, Alejandro Oms, John Beckwith, Dick Lundy, Luke Easter, Quincy Trouppe, Arte Wilson, Marvin Williams, Leroy Matlock, Buster Clarkson, George Scales…

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    • Forrest Gumption says:

      Bobby Grich, Dick Allen & Tim Raines are my 3 must-go-in’s.

      Not really into how the voters focussed on the 90s/00s guys. There’s plenty of glaring omissions from other decades who should be in no matter what.

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  18. Wobatus says:

    Amazing how Coors Field colors perceptions. Larry Walker has more career WAR than anyone on the list other than Schilling, Bagwell and Palmeiro. And he was only 1 shy of Palmeiro. We know why Palmeiro isn’t getting more votes, but Walker isn’t even close to getting the votes that Raines, Biggio and Piazza get get, even though he out-WARred them. Piazza, being best hitting catcher and the difficulty of rating catcher D makes him a bit of a special case.

    A lot of deserving players on the list, and some just shy of probably being hall-worthy (and some frankly well shy, like Garvey, who was good and on some good teams, but not great). Hodges may deserve it more as a combo player-manager if that were allowed.

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    • Wobatus says:

      Whoops, Kaat also has more career WAR than Walker, 69.4 to 69.

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    • db says:

      Problem with walker is he played 150 games in a season fewer times than Gary Carter, a catcher. I think you have to look as a season as a unit and he just missed too many games on average. Skill wise he had the ability, but so did Mattingly, Gooden, and many others who suffered from injuries.

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      • Sam says:

        That seems like a weird argument in light of WAR, since WAR is a counting stat. If Walker really didn’t play enough then it would be present in WAR. The fact that he missed time just means he was that much better of a ballplayer than the other guys, and since he has the WAR to pass them, played enough to show it.

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  19. I added up each score using Hall Rating according to the Hall of Stats. Here’s where each writer ranked…

    483 Tim Britton, Providence Journal
    464 Rhett Bollinger, MLB.com Minnesota
    464 Jayson Stark, ESPN
    450 Travis Sawchik, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
    445 Bob Kuenster, Baseball Digest
    439 Jay Jaffe, Sports Illustrated
    439 Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati Enquirer
    439 Emma Span, Sports on Earth
    437 Jerry Crasnick, ESPN
    437 Anonymous Beat Writer, Large-circulation Newspaper
    420 Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe
    408 Graham Womack, Baseball Past and Present
    401 Kevin Kernan, New York Post
    400 Tyler Kepner, New York Times
    397 Troy Renck, Denver Post
    387 Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports
    381 Dan Barbarisi, Wall Street Journal
    375 Adam Kilgore, Washington Post
    363 Vince Gennaro, Society for American Baseball Research [SABR]
    349 Scott Miller, CBS Sports
    299 Roch Kubatko, MASN Baltimore
    293 Rich Dubroff, CSN Baltimore

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    • Wobatus says:

      The question is, which one of the writers deserve to be “honored” in the Hall, along with guys like Grantland Rice, Ring Lardner, and Dick “Eponymous” Young.

      My vote goes to Anonymous Beat Writer, Large-circulation Newspaper.

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  20. Carl says:

    hard to take these votes seriously. Far too many guys w Steroids suspicions. Need some votes for people who were overlooked – Players like Tommy John, (most wins not in HoF) Jim Kaat (16 GG’s 283 wins), Nettles, Grich, (most WAR of any non-HoFer who isn’t still on the ballot) Whitaker, Trammel, Randolph, (higher WAR than Mazeroski) and Guidry (amazingly similar W-L record as Koufax) and Hodges.

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    • Plagarist says:

      uhm, what??? you’re really citing wins as a reason people should get in, and saying roid suspicions is enough of a reason to keep people like bagwell out? especially for a list compiled by newspaper writers (most of whom i respect, but still) saying they’re not worried enough about steriod use is ridiculous. they had the misfortune of being excellent at a time when a lot of people were cheating, and you therefore want to keep them out?

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      • Wobatus says:

        Wins have historically been something the writers took into consideration somewhat, and John, for example, also has more career WAR, 75, than a lot of guys on the above list. Mostly via longevity. But he’s one of the greats as far as longevity, and he had the first Tommy John surgery.

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      • derekcarstairs says:

        Take a look at career wins and career WAR for pitchers. There is a high correlation among the players at the top of both lists. Career wins give a good summary of a pitcher’s career.

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    • Forrest Gumption says:

      How are you using arguments for both war AND pitcher W-L in the same sentence?

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  21. Basil Ganglia says:

    Edgar Martinez gets overlooked so much that even people who don’t overlook him think that he started his career as a DH.

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    • Ozzy says:

      I’m curious if voters don’t want to vote him in because they think it will set a precedent that DHs deserve to be in the HOF. Which would be so stupid considering relievers are voted in, but still, I feel like that may be why.

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      • db says:

        No, I think Frank Thomas will get in and he was basically a DH that played 1b once in a while. I think the sense is that, if all you do is hit, you should do it for longer and obtain more milestones.

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      • DJG says:

        I think it’s more that they just don’t realize how good of a hitter he really was. Doubles and walks just don’t track as well to Hall of Famer voters as home runs and hits.

        The DH thing surely doesn’t help, but Molitor is in (rightfully so), and of the two, Martinez was the better hitter, and it’s not even close. Edgar was closer to guys like Frank Thomas and Manny Ramirez than he was to Molitor. Does the average Hall voter know this? It doesn’t seem like it.

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        • db says:

          I agree with you that the doubles and walks thing is probably underrated. I don’t think the Molitor comparison is apt. Molitor played 1500 games in the field, Edgar played closer to 500. Manny is an interesting comparison because it raises the question of the value of fielding a position badly versus not at all.

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        • stan says:

          We all know Molitor’s in because of 3000 hits, so as a compiler, he’s not really an apple to Edgar’s orange. However, if you do want to compare their rate stats, people often overlook that Molitor stole 504 bases and was caught only 131 times as well as the fact that he struck out once every 8.7 at bats. His fangraphs baserunning number was 46.6.
          Edgar was 49/30 in stolen bases and struck out once every 6 at bats. His fangraphs baserunning number is -20.9.
          Even if you ignore the fact that Molitor got a magic number and Edgar didn’t, they are still awfully close as players though not as hitters.

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        • stan says:

          If you take away 100 of Molitor’s hits (for the caught stealing) and make 500 of Molitor’s singles into doubles (for the stolen bases), isn’t he a better offensive player than Edgar anyway? That’s before you take into account the extra bases he got on the basepaths and his 4600 more innings in the field.

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        • Jason B says:

          You’re turning 500 of his singles into doubles? 500!! OF COURSE that would help slant things in is favor! You’re adding ten 50-double seasons to his numbers!

          I mean, John Jaha was better than Barry Bonds. Just turn 500 of Bonds’ HR into fly-outs and 600 of his walks into K’s. (?!?!?!)

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      • Forrest Gumption says:

        Molitor was a DH for a long part of his career too.

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  22. jerome says:

    He isn’t top 3, but if I had to list 10, Joe Torre (as a player) would have to make the list. Bobby Grich, too. Criminally underrated, both of them. Torre will certainly make it in as a manager, so at least he’ll have that.

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  23. Alex says:

    No Fred McGriff? His stats still look great. On a side-note, I spent a day with him at a charity baseball tournament once, legitimately great guy.

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    • Pirates Hurdles says:

      Crime Dog doesn’t have much of a case at all. Career 134 wRC+ is behind Pedro Guerrero, Brian Giles, Jack and Will Clark. His career WAR is the same as Guerrero. The numbers look big, but the era crushed them into perspective.

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      • Forrest Gumption says:

        I’d agree but they put Jim Rice in, who you could say the exact same thing about. Only McGriff proved he could hit away from hitter-friendly parks, Rice did not.

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  24. Dave says:

    I know Miller wasn’t dinging Raines for cocaine, but its always weird to hear that that might be in the voters’ minds. How many of them helped Molitor go in first ballot?

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  25. Gil says:

    My votes would be
    1. Tommy John
    2. Jim Kaat
    3. Harold Baines
    4. Tim Raines

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  26. Hitler But Sadder says:

    I think there should be an article called “Fringe HOF’ers” and look at Dave Stieb. He will never get in and was never really considered but from 1980-1985 he was a beast.

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  27. Ozzy says:

    This definitely made me go back and examine some of those players, and the 2 takeaways I made are these:
    1. Steve Garvey should never deserve any consideration.
    2. My god, what could have been with Dwight Gooden.

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    • Bad Bill says:

      There are some parallels between Gooden and Hal Newhouser, perhaps the ultimate WCHB pitcher. Prince Hal eventually did make it into the Hall, via the Veterans Committee; possibly Gooden will too. However, fact is, Gooden’s case isn’t as good as Newhouser’s, if you lay aside the narratives and cautionary tales.

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    • Forrest Gumption says:

      Bret Saberhagen won 2 Cy Young’s before he was 25, then, nothing. Gooden gets all the “what if” hype because of his opening 2 seasons with all those K’s, but Sabes deserves a lot of that too.

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  28. Razor says:

    1) Buck O’Neil, if not for playing/managing than certainly contributions to baseball.

    2) How is Tim Raines not in? I mean forget the “there’s not an argument to be made against him” stuff, it seems like even the writers don’t understand it.

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  29. stan says:

    How is Ted Simmons so consistently snubbed? He’s 9th all time in WAR for a catcher with 54.2- ahead of several hall of famers. He put up big hitting numbers in an era where offense was depressed in two oppressive hittig environments.

    It seems to me that people were horrified just a few years ago that Ron Santo wasn’t in the HOF despite being the 8th best 3b of all time in fWAR. Well, Simmons is 9th all time, yet he’s not even on any of these writers’ radar.

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  30. Visitor says:

    “Minoso was an OBP machine, second only to Mickey Mantle in the AL in the 1950s.”

    So the top two in the AL in OBP in the ’50s were Mickey and Minnie? That’s amazing.

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    • EricR says:

      Also if we completely ignore that Ted Williams played baseball in the ’50s.

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      • Visitor says:

        And Ferris Fain, Elmer Valo, and Eddie Yost. I guess I should have checked that first. However, looking it up ruined one of the funniest baseball facts I’ve ever heard!

        You could actually use a high enough minimum for Mantle to be number one and Minoso to be number three, but (a) Eddie Yost played more than Minoso in the decade so there’s no way to get him out of the way and (b) that requires using an absurdly high minimum (ca. 1000 games or 5000 PA).

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  31. Michael Todd says:

    Brian Downing

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  32. BenRevereDoesSteroids says:

    I don’t think he qualifies, because he only pitched about 5 or 6 years, but Toad Ramsey is a guy that may actually have a case for being the best player not in the hall.

    He has always fascinated me. Looking at his page right now, he played 6 seasons and was a 41.8 WAR player. That is 6.97 WAR a year. But the thing is, he only pitched 9 games his first year in the league. Take that year out, and he averaged 7.98 WAR per year! And he had a K/9 of 6.49 in the 1880s! He was the freaking Yu Darvish of his day! And the reason that he was so successful? Because he supposedly was the guy who invented the knuckleball.

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  33. db says:

    Ok, of three players still eligible, I vote Piazza, Bagwell and Raines, in that order (with a shout out to biggio). Interesting that McGwire gets no love. He is 8th all time in slugging and 10th in OPS, but I think the admitted steroid issue makes that a hard one. On an incidental note, I think an argument can be made that Piazza is the best catcher of all time (well, not counting Josh Gibson). Given the difficulty of rating a catcher’s defense/impact on pitching, the fact that his cERA was consistently equal or better than his team ERA (until his last couple of years), the studies that show he has far fewer wp against than would be expected and the fact that his OPS plus is 17 points higher than Johnny Bench’s (more than the difference from Johnny Bench to Darrell Porter), it makes an interesting case.

    I think the more interesting argument is concerning players that are no longer eligible or basically not going to make it based on years on the ballot. I vote for Grich, Trammell and Simmons. Great players at premium positions and all underappreciated. Hon. mention to Whittaker.

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  34. Cidron says:

    and of course, Echoing Emma Spam, Marvin Miller belongs in as well. But, given what he gave the players (and therefore, took from the owners) he likely wont get in. To much money involved from owners who (as a group) wont forget that he gave the players the power to get far more money than they used to.

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  35. HunterGbaseball says:

    Where would people have Dwight Evans? Yea? Nay?

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  36. Bookbook says:

    All the Jim Kaat love… Who knew?
    I, for one love the Tim Raines/Jack Morris juxtaposition on one slot of the ballot.
    Hard to imagine two more dissimilar cases.

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  37. Joel says:

    A lot of good candidates there. I’d like to see some of the detritus swept out of the hall, too.

    (Rabbit Maranville, anyone?)

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  38. StrikeThree says:

    Tommy John and Luis Tiant. They exchanged places on the Indians roster July 19, 1964, Luis coming up from Portland, TJ at 2-9 going down. Luis would shut out Whitey Ford & Yankees in Yankee Stadium, then go on to win 229 games, more than any Cuban pitcher, and TJ to go on to win 286 more games, and the most of anyone not in Hall.

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  39. Dwayne Carter says:

    Peter Gammons has said it’s absurd that Albert Belle isn’t in the HOF. Peter Gammons has always struck me as both old and sharp as a tack. He was old in ’89 when I started watching baseball.

    (plus Albert should get points for throwing a ball into the stands and hitting the heckler/harasser. no loose cannon. fucking accurate.)

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    • jorgesca says:

      Wow, just went on Belle’s stats, they really don’t like his defense, I wonder how his WAR would look like if it graded him as average or slightly below average. I can’t remember his defense.

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  40. buddaley says:

    Kudos to Emma Span for commenting on the egregious absence of Marvin Miller from the Hall of Fame. In my view, he belongs in the triumvirate of Henry Chadwick, Branch Rickey and Marvin Miller as a non-player whose effect on the game was uniformly positive and powerful, and along with Rickey making it more fair and just.

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  41. doggie427 says:

    Great article.I’ve long thought that the major reason keeping Raines out of the HOF was his involvement with cocaine.His stats certainly qualify him for inclusion.Dick Allen was a tremendous hitter whose largely misunderstood personality has held him out.Marvin Miller will never get past the biases of owners and Bobby Grich is out because of a collective brain fart by the HOF voters.

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  42. mtverv says:

    Darrell Evans, that is all…

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  43. Brian Parris says:

    I’m baffled that Dick Allen was only mentioned twice among all of these writer’s top three. I understand that he has shortcomings on some of the counting stats, but a wRC+ of 155 with over 7300 plate appearances is just insane. This is post-integration. Offensively, during his time with the Phillies (’63-’69), Dick Allen had at some point led the league in slugging %, OPS+(twice), OBP, triples, total bases & runs scored while the likes of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Frank Robinson, and Roberto Clemente were contemporaries. He later posted two dominant seasons with the White Sox. Jim Kaat struck me as a candidate whose credentials were high in the counting stats, but unlike Allen, not nearly as good for peak value. Certainly, a very good pitcher, but just short of HOF IMO. I should add I would say yea for Dwight Evans being a HOFer, though I don’t know if I would put him in my top 3.

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  44. Doctor_J says:

    as a lifelong Chicago baseball fan, since the late 50′s, I tend to agree that Allen might well have been nearly as good as Big Hurt had he played in the 90′s. He could really club the ball. But, he didn’t field well and had the attitude rap (justified or not). Sort of like Albert Belle (also mentioned above). Excellent discussion.

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  45. pft says:

    Unbelievable Evans is not on this list. If UZR was around in his day he would have broken all kinds of defensive records, and he could hit too.

    Cafardo should be covering soccer, not baseball.

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  46. Forrest Gumption says:

    One guy who hasn’t been mentioned yet: Kevin Brown.

    He had a 73.5 WAR for his career. That -should- be automatic HOFer. In my opinion, all players who have 70+ WAR should be in no questions asked.

    He also should have won 2 Cy Youngs, in 96 and 98, but writers weren’t on the “Pitcher W-L doesn’t actually mean much” train yet like they sort of are now. You would think a 9 WAR season on the 98 Padres – who went to the WS – would be enough, still, no. Glavine and his 20 wins and 4.7 WAR won, and Hoffman’s save total came in front of Brown and his unreal year. If he gets those 2 Cy’s, he’d probably be in the Hall now, or at least have a lot more people pulling for him than, me.

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  47. Brian Parris says:

    The real travesty is that Jim Rice is in the HOF & Dwight Evans has only been mentioned in the comments section of this article.

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  48. Jayne says:

    “Nobody represented the game of baseball on the field better, but nobody disrespected it off the field more.”

    Hyperbolic, self-fellating, amateur bullshit. No one with a real knowledge of the early history of the game (or anyone not still in 10th grade English class) would dream of making a statement like this.

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  49. Mr Punch says:

    Babe Adams … I believe there are 60-70 guys in the HOF who at some point finished behind Adams in the voting (while receiving votes). Very odd.

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  50. Caleb says:

    Sorry, but Morris and Garvey have NO place on this list. The top half of this list definitely deserves a nod, but some of the rest I don’t understand the sentiment with.

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  51. Peter says:

    I am surprised no one mentioned Lee Smith. One of the 5 best closers ever and with Sutter and Gossage in, he should make it as well. Just played for some bad teams is all.

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  52. J-Quelin says:

    Strange how the same guys are on every list… yet the HOF voters are so far out of touch that these guys are still not in (mostly). Let’s face it, the HOF is a joke. Real fans know who should be in – fug the voters. HOF voters are just a bunch of crotchety old men. They were probably good writers ten years before they earned their votes…

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    • J-Quelin says:

      Fitting that I used the ‘mostly’ quantifier when I didn’t need to. I figured I was responding to a several year old thread with some of the names in here. Biggio didn’t make it? If you are reading this post, then you know who belongs…

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  53. garrett hawk says:

    Joe Torre has a truly excellent case strictly as a PLAYER (62.3 WAR, 9-time All-Star, 1971 NL MVP).
    When you throw in his clearly HOF work as a manager (including 4 championships), how in the hell is he not in yet?

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