Modern Era Hall of Fame Ballot: Garvey, Mattingly, Murphy, Parker

This is the second post covering the Modern Era Ballot for the Hall of Fame. For a look at the pitchers, click here. The introduction below might look familiar.

Last week, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced 10 candidates for consideration for the Modern Era ballot, which includes executives and players whose careers took place mainly from 1970 to 1987. This year, the candidates include one non-player, Marvin Miller, and nine players from that era: Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons, Luis Tiant and Alan Trammell. Among the player candidates, we have an interesting mix: some who make their claim with a high peak, those who have longevity on their side, and one player with both. Over the course of three posts, I’m examining all the candidates. Today, we’ll look at our first four position players.

First, a brief word on the rules and procedures of this ballot, which is an updated version of the old Veteran’s Committee. Baseball has been separated into eras, with Early Baseball (1871-1949), Golden Days (1950-1969), Modern Baseball (1970-1987), and Today’s Game (1988-Present). Most players up through 1969 have had their cases considered many times. As a result, during this cycle (2016-2020), the Early Baseball and Golden Days players are scheduled to be evaluated just once, in 2020, with Modern Baseball and Today’s Game receiving consideration every other year from 2016 to -19. There are 16 voting members on the Committee for election, and players must receive 75% of the vote with voting members limited to four votes.

In my evaluation of each player, I’ve included a collection of numbers. Besides WAR, the rest of these come from a system I devised (introduction here) that provides an escalating scale of points for all above-average seasons (HOF Points) averaged with WAR to come to a total HOF Rating. The averaged and median numbers that follow are first for all Hall of Famers at their respective positions. The BBWAA averages and medians are for those Hall of Famers voted in by the writers, who have historically had tougher standards.

Here are today’s three players, in order of merit:

Dale Murphy
Player Rating Inductee Benchmarks
(Center Fielders)
HOF
Points (Peak)
WAR HOF
RATING
HOF
AVG
HOF
MEDIAN
BBWAA
AVG
BBWAA
MEDIAN
31 44.3 37.7 64.6 49.2 92.1 77.1

Dale Murphy was one of the best players in baseball in the early to mid-80s, outproducing a host of Hall of Famers in that timeframe and winning two MVPs. Murphy averaged five wins per season from 1980 to -87, an eight-year peak which undersells his greatness at the time a little bit because he was roughly average in 1981 and 1986. In the other six years, he averaged six wins per year. During that period, he still only ranked ninth among position players, behind six Hall of Famers, Keith Hernandez, and Alan Trammell — and directly ahead of four other Hall of Famers. The 80s were a great time to have a favorite position player, perhaps less so on the mound.

When we cherry-pick Murphy’s best years, he’s looks great, just not as great as many of the players from his era who also had great seasons outside of those years. In 1988, for example, he produced a 2.6 WAR season. That’s fine, but it also represents the only above-average season he recorded outside of the 1980-87 period. His 119 wRC+ is good, especially for a center fielder, but it’s less than Bernie Williams’ 126 and well below Jim Edmonds’ 132. Murphy’s career places him among the bottom-third of Hall of Fame center fielders, with names like Earl Averill, Kirby Puckett, and Hack Wilson, which means he would have some similar company in the Hall of Fame. (For more on HOF Rating, click here.)

The problem for Murphy is that he’s behind guys like Willie Davis, Reggie Smith, Bernie Williams, and Jimmy Wynn — and well behind Jim Edmonds and Kenny Lofton. Murphy’s peak was short and great. He lacks any other years that could be considered even “good.” Ultimately, that’s what places him short of the Hall of Fame and behind many other center fielders who were either good for a very long time (like Lofton) or great for a similar period of time with many other good years (like Edmonds).

Don Mattingly
Player Rating Inductee Benchmarks
(First Basemen)
HOF
Points (Peak)
WAR HOF
RATING
HOF
AVG
HOF
MEDIAN
BBWAA
AVG
BBWAA
MEDIAN
28 40.7 34.4 59.1 57.1 66.3 57.1

Don Mattingly has an MVP of his own and, from 1984 t0 -87, he hit .337/.381/.560. That’s good for a 152 wRC+ and the best in baseball for players with at least 2,000 PA. At his peak, he had above-average power. He also walked more than he struck out over the course his career. Mattingly’s lifetime mark of .307/.358/.471 is good for a 124 wRC+. Unfortunately, injuries cut his career short, and he managed to play only a dozen full seasons. At his best, from 1984 to -87, Mattingly averaged six wins a year, which was good for fifth among MLB position players during that timeframe. The four players ahead of him are Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, and Cal Ripken. The three behind him are Mike Schmidt, Tony Gwynn, and Alan Trammell. At his peak, Mattingly fit among elite.

Unfortunately, his best four seasons represent the bulk of his Hall of Fame case. He had five other seasons during which he recorded between two and four wins, but his career 124 wRC+ mark still resides below the figures produced by players like Will Clark and Fred McGriff. His HOF Rating falls well below the standard among first baseman. Ultimately, he profiles more closely to Jesse Barfield, Albert Belle, Carlos Delgado, and Mark Teixeira, falling short of Will Clark and Fred McGriff. He had a good run, but it wasn’t long enough to propel him to the Hall of Fame.

Dave Parker
Player Rating Inductee Benchmarks
(Rightfielders)
HOF
Points (Peak)
WAR HOF
RATING
HOF
AVG
HOF
MEDIAN
BBWAA
AVG
BBWAA
MEDIAN
27 41.1 34.1 63.1 51.5 85.0 71.8

Dave Parker fits well with the group of players considered here today. From 1975 to -79, Parker had a 147 wRC+ and averaged six wins per season, winning the 1978 MVP in the process. His 30.3 WAR during this period was surpassed by only George Brett, George Foster, Joe Morgan, and Mike Schmidt. He outproduced Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson, and Dave Winfield during the same timeframe.

Parker had an excellent peak, and unlike Mattingly or Murphy, he played a lot more seasons. Unfortunately, he didn’t do much with those years. By the end of the 1979 campaign, Parker had recorded 31.3 WAR in his career. He’d produce just 10 more wins over the next 12 seasons, though, half coming in 1985. Parker was a starter during most of that time and his second-best season was worth 1.2 WAR. He had a 143 wRC+ for the first seven seasons of his career, just a 107 wRC+ in his last 12 years.

Parker was well-known for his arm strength, and his 137 outfield assists rank seventh all-time among right fielders. That might even sell his prowess short considering that runners were afraid to advance. His 134 errors are also the most all-time for a right fielder, negating some of his defensive value. Parker was an above-average hitter his entire career, recording a 120 wRC+ overall. He played a pretty long time, too, compiling more than 10,000 plate appearances, but he only had six seasons during which he was even an average player. His 2,712 hits are impressive, but his 7% walk rate rendered him just solidly above average.

Among the 24 Hall of Fame right fielders, he compares favorably only to Tommy McCarthy (who last played in 1896) and Ross Youngs (on Frankie Frisch’s Giants teams). He’s probably in the same tier as Don Mattingly, which puts him in a group with guys like Jesse Barfield and Albert Belle, but behind players like Bobby Abreu, Cesar Cedeno, Luis Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, and Fred Lynn. Parker was great for a five-year stretch, but there are a good number of players with five really good seasons, and many of those guys fall short of the Hall.

Steve Garvey
Player Rating Inductee Benchmarks
(First Basemen)
HOF
Points (Peak)
WAR HOF
RATING
HOF
AVG
HOF
MEDIAN
BBWAA
AVG
BBWAA
MEDIAN
13 37.8 25.4 59.1 57.1 66.3 57.1

Garvey is an interesting inclusion on this list. He was certainly famous, and in a time where batting average was considered incredibly important, he hit over .300 six times and produced a lifetime .294 batting average. He also played in 160-plus games on nine occasions. Garvey didn’t strike out much, in just 10% of his plate appearances. He also didn’t walk much (5%), though, and his power was pretty average (.152 ISO). The high batting average made him a productive offensive player, but his lifetime on-base percentage was just .329. He does have an MVP and performed well in the playoffs, but he has just three seasons of four wins or better. In that MVP season, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Mike Schmidt all had better seasons than Garvey.

Garvey played first base, which cuts into his value quite a bit. His 116 career wRC+ is good, but during his career, the average wRC+ for a first baseman was 111. That makes Garvey above average, but the peak wasn’t particularly impressive, nor are the career numbers sufficient to get him in the Hall. Among others not in the Hall of Fame, Fred McGriff had a 134 wRC+, Will Clark’s was 132, Mark Grace’s was 120, and Gil Hodges’ was 121.

Garvey’s Hall of Fame rating, which combines peak and total value, is well below average for first basemen and ranks above just one Hall of Fame first baseman, George Kelly (a.k.a. High-Pockets), who is only in the Hall of Fame because he played on Frankie Frisch’s Giants teams in the 1920s. Garvey had a good career, and while the MVP and the high batting average are nice, we have the benefit of looking at his stats through a broader spectrum, and it indicates that Garvey is well short of the Hall of Fame in terms of production and value.

We hoped you liked reading Modern Era Hall of Fame Ballot: Garvey, Mattingly, Murphy, Parker by Craig Edwards!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

newest oldest most voted
tyke
Member
tyke

According to hallofstats.com, here are the rankings for those included in this post (100 is an average HOFer):

D. Murphy: 87 (369th all-time, 32nd among CF)
D. Parker: 78 (443rd all-time, 39th among RF)
D. Mattingly: 78 (447th all-time, 38th among 1B)
S. Garvey: 61 (681st all-time, 59th among 1B)

I wouldn’t personally vote for any of these guys, but I could squint and see an argument for Murphy.

Jim
Member
Member
Jim

I see where Lou Whitaker is at 145, 6th among second basemen, and Alan Trammell is at 143, 12th at short. So how the hell is Whitaker not even on the ballot?

sadtrombone
Member
sadtrombone

IMO, Dick Allen, Whitaker, Trammell, Bobby Grich, Dwight Evans, and Kenny Lofton are the guys that should be on the veterans committee ballots. I don’t see most of the guys on it this year as being worth it.

Slappytheclown
Member
Member
Slappytheclown

Best List i’ve seen, just add on Tommy John and Ted Simmons from above. The ONLY others that deserve some discussion are Tiant and Morris, the rest I can name any number of other similar players. Simmons in particular should be in – look up catcher WAR from 1971-1980 (10 year period) and he is second to Bench, and a close second at that. I know he didn’t break 60 War, but we should not be grading C like OF or 1B – a great 10 year peak of AVERAGING 5+ WAR should be enough for a guy like Simmons, way better case than Parker, Murphy, Garvey, etc.

The Duke
Member
The Duke

I think it’s possible they are staging the groups to maximize the chance of the best guys getting in. There are a lot of guys on this ballot who simply can’t get 75% of the vote so maybe a couple deserving guys like Simmons and trammel can muster 12 votes.

Next time they add a bunch of HOVG guys with Whitaker and maybe he gets in too

BenZobrist4MVP
Member
BenZobrist4MVP

I believe in Hall of Stats 100 is actually considered the threshold, not the average, for HoFers.

tyke
Member
tyke

thanks for clarifying!

The Duke
Member
The Duke

I don’t see the murphy case but I do see a case for Parker. Huge peak, 2700 hits, and a great arm. I wouldn’t vote for him but I wouldn’t have a problem with him going in. He’s got the Daryl strawberry, if only thing.