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Friday, December 14, 2012

50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame 2012, Part 2

For the second year, I’m participating in Baseball Past and Present’s 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame project. Last time, I covered players still on the ballot. Now, I’m delving into the backlog of worthy candidates. Each player is listed with their teams (in order of games played), position, and Hall Rating from the Hall of Stats (which works similar to OPS+; 100 is the baseline for a Hall of Famer).


Dick Allen, Phillies/White Sox/Dodgers/Cardinals/Athletics, 1B/3B, 115-Most of these players appeared on my ballot last year, so I’ll probably just do a quick rundown for each player. Allen was a great hitter in a difficult hitting environment, hitting 351 home runs and posting a .292/.378/.534 (average/OBP/slugging) batting line that translates to a 156 OPS+ and places him nineteenth all-time. Granted, his career was a little short at fifteen seasons, but right ahead of him are Johnny Mize and Hank Greenberg, who each played 15 and 13 seasons, respectively. And his shortened career still led to almost 68 fWAR. I’d say he’s good enough to make it.


Kevin Appier, Royals/Angels/Athletics/Mets, P, 110-One of my two additions to the list this year that isn’t actually on an official ballot. I’ve long felt that the Hall needs to do a better job of recognizing modern pitchers. The most recent debut of a Hall of Fame starter was 1970, that being Bert Blyleven’s. Now, this isn’t to say that Appier’s case is a strong as someone like Blyleven’s; just that the Hall probably needs to do a better job of evaluating modern pitchers.

Appier would fall towards the lower end of the Hall, but that would still be enough, as seen in his 110 Hall Rating. In around 2600 innings, he had a 121 ERA+ (even though he had a 3.74 ERA) and 1994 strikeouts. He played for sixteen seasons, but only thirteen of them could be considered full seasons (the other three each saw him throw between 4 and 22 innings). In those thirteen seasons, he was worth 52 bWAR and 55 fWAR. His peak was impressive, with six of his seasons registering above 5 WAR (and a sixth that would have made it were it not for the 1994 strike)


Sal Bando, Athletics/Brewers, 3B, 116-I feel like I’m frequently lobbying for more third basemen in the Hall, to the point where it sees redundant. But it’s true. There are fifteen players representing the hot corner in the Hall. Seven were elected by the standard balloting. One of those seven actually played more games as a designated hitter. Three of the remaining six have been elected in the past two decades.

Sal Bando would have to be one of the first third basemen to go in as an effort to fix this. His career was a textbook example of why players (especially third basemen) are overlooked. He played on successful Oakland teams in the 1970s...with overshadowing personalities like Reggie Jackson and Rollie Fingers. He provided above-average offense that was masked by his park, era, and lack of shiny counting numbers (1790 hits, 242 home runs, a .254/.352/.408 batting line that translated to a 119 OPS+). He played a difficult position well enough to add several wins to his value, but he was never quite Brooks Robinson. By doing a little bit of everything, he added up to 62.7 fWAR and 57.1 bWAR in fourteen full seasons and four more partial ones.


Ross Barnes, Red Stockings (NA)/White Stockings/Reds/Red Stockings (NL), 2B/SS, 87-Barnes’ career was short (nine years, from 1871 to 1881 with two years off), but it was impressive. As a middle infielder, he carried a 168 OPS+. However, due to the shorter seasons of the 1800s, he only managed 499 games, 29.3 bWAR, and 30.1 fWAR. I’d say that it merits induction, though, as he couldn’t really control the shorter seasons of his time.


Buddy Bell, Indians/Rangers/Reds/Astros, 3B, 121-Bell is like Bando. Both were third basemen who were good all around. Bando was the better hitter, but Bell has him edged in fielding and longevity. His .279/.341/.406 batting line equals a 109 OPS+, and his extra games played got him closer to 3000 hits (2514). Both calculations of WAR have Bell as one of the best fielding third basemen in history-Baseball-Reference has him fourth, while Fangraphs has him second. Altogether, it adds to 66.6 fWAR and and 61.6 bWAR.


Tommy Bond, Red Stockings (NL)/Dark Blues (NL and NA)/Atlantics (NA)/Reds(UA)/Hoosiers (AA)/Ruby Legs (NL), P, 131-Another 1800s star. His ten year career saw him go 234-163 with a 2.14 ERA (115 ERA+). Also, he’s still the all-time leader in strikeout to walk ratio at 5.04. Granted, the game was different then (different mound height, pitching style, and it might have even been a different count needed to strikeout or walk, if I recall), but it’s still pretty impressive, especially for its time. He amassed 60.8 bWAR in his career.


Bobby Bonds, Giants/Angels/Indians/Yankees/Rangers/Cardinals/Cubs/White Sox, RF, 112-Bobby Bonds is one of 8 members of the 300-300 club (and he and his son comprise the entirety of the 300-400 home runs club), totaling 332 homers and 461 steals. Now, I don’t think that should grant him automatic induction, but he managed to pack a lot of value in his time. He hit .268/.353/.471, which, in the 1970s, meant a 129 OPS+. He didn’t add a ton of value in his glove or position, but he wasn’t an awful fielder. Overall, it meant 63.3 fWAR and 55.7 bWAR.


Ken Boyer, Cardinals/Mets/Dodgers/White Sox, 3B, 115-It’s interesting, I’ve looked at Ken Boyer’s Baseball-Reference page before, but I never really looked into his military service. It says he missed 1952 and 1953 before returning to the minors in 1954. I’m actually curious if that cost him extra games. He debuted in 1955 at the age of 24, and although his hitting was a little weak (94 OPS+), he made up for it with his glove. He hit well in the minors before that too, for what it’s worth. Maybe that would have got him closer to a milestone.

As is, he managed 2143 hits and 282 home runs, as a well as a .287/.349/.462 batting line and a 116 OPS+ in fifteen seasons. His good fielding added in to his total value, ending with 63.3 fWAR and 58.7 bWAR. In that time, he had seven seasons of 5+ bWAR and eight of 5+ fWAR, despite only having thirteen seasons with more than 100 games. That’s a pretty great peak.


Kevin Brown, Rangers/Dodgers/Marlins/Padres/Yankees/Orioles, P, 136-Now that Blyleven is in the Hall, Kevin Brown is probably the best pitcher outside Cooperstown (since Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling haven’t technically gone through an election yet). His 211-144 record may seem low, but it comes with a .594 winning percentage above Hall members like Steve Carlton, Don Sutton, and Jim Bunning (granted, wins and losses are stupid ways to evaluate pitchers). His 3.28 ERA translates to a 127 ERA+ that matches up well to players like Curt Schilling and Hal Newhouser, and his 1.22 WHIP is on level with Whitey Ford, Warren Spahn, and Nolan Ryan. He also put up 2397 strikeouts in 3256.1 innings. All together, it was worth 64.5 bWAR and 77.2 fWAR, which makes him one of the best modern starters, all things considered.

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