Baseball BeatDecember 06, 2004
Wade Boggs: A First-Ballot Hall of Famer (Part One)
By Rich Lederer

The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) mailed out the 2005 Hall of Fame ballots to more than 500 voting members during the past week. The list of candidates features 12 players who are eligible for the first time plus 15 holdovers from the 2004 ballot in which Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley gained election. The voting results will be announced on Tuesday, January 4, 2005.

According to the Rules for Election to the Hall of Fame, "voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

There is a newcomer whose record and contributions to his teams rank among the best ever. His career totals speak for themselves.

Wade Anthony Boggs
Bats Left, Throws Right
Height 6' 2", Weight 197 lb.
Born: 6/15/58, Omaha, NE
'82-'92 BOS, '93-'97 NYY, '98-'99 TB


          G    AB     R     H   2B  3B   HR   RBI    BB   SO  SB
Boggs  2440  9180  1513  3010  578  61  118  1014  1412  745  24
  AVG     OBP     SLG     OPS     OPS+
 .328    .415    .443    .858     130

Wade Boggs averaged 200 hits and 94 walks per 162 games for his entire career. Only Lou Gehrig (204, 113) has averaged more hits and walks per 162 games. Richie Ashburn (190, 89), Eddie Collins (190, 86), Charlie Gehringer (198, 83), Stan Musial (194, 86), and Tris Speaker (204, 80) were close but not quite at Boggs' level in terms of hits and walks.

There have been others, of course, who have exceeded Boggs' averages in one or the other by a wide margin, such as Ty Cobb (224), Rogers Hornsby (210), Joe Jackson (216), Nap Lajoie (212), Al Simmons (214), and George Sisler (222) in hits and Max Bishop (140), Barry Bonds (137), Rickey Henderson (115), Mickey Mantle (117), Mark McGwire (114), Joe Morgan (114), Babe Ruth (133), Frank Thomas (122), Jim Thome (117), Ted Williams (143), and Eddie Yost (124) in walks.

In short, Boggs was an on-base machine. To wit, Boggs ranks among the top 22 in six different hitting categories (involving getting on base) among all players since the turn of the last century.

All-Time Career Totals and Rankings

Hits                3010       20th
Doubles              578       12th
Walks               1412       22nd
Times on Base       4445       17th
On Base Pct         .415       17th
Batting Avg         .328       20th

As you can see, we're not talking just about a Hall of Famer here. We're looking at one of the truly elite players in the history of the game. Boggs ranks among the top four third basemen of all time and the greatest 20 non-pitchers from the post-expansion era (more on both in Part Two, which is scheduled to run tomorrow). He is a legitimate first-ballot HOFer, a player in which there should be ZERO questions about his qualifications.

During the past 10 years, the following players were elected in their first year of eligibility:

Year       Player             Pct
2004       Paul Molitor       85.2
2003       Eddie Murray       85.3
2002       Ozzie Smith        91.7
2001       Dave Winfield      84.4
           Kirby Puckett      82.1
2000       N/A
1999       George Brett       98.2
           Robin Yount        77.5
1998       N/A
1997       N/A
1996       N/A
1995       Mike Schmidt       96.5

*excludes pitchers

The eight first-ballot honorees over the past ten years have garnered an average of 87.6% of the vote. Let's take a look to see if Boggs is worthy of a similar percentage of the total vote.


               AVG     OBP     SLG     OPS     OPS+
Boggs         .328    .415    .443    .858     130       
Molitor       .306    .369    .448    .817     122
Murray        .287    .359    .476    .836     129        
Smith         .262    .337    .328    .666      87
Winfield      .283    .353    .475    .827     129
Puckett       .318    .360    .477    .837     124
Brett         .305    .369    .487    .857     135
Yount         .285    .342    .430    .772     115
Schmidt       .267    .380    .527    .908     147

Wtd Avg .293 .363 .454 .817 124

Boggs has the best career batting average and on-base percentage. He is just below the mean for slugging average and is above the norm for OPS and OPS+. Mike Schmidt's greatness stands out as well.


               TOB        TB
Boggs         4445      4064
Molitor       4460      4854 
Murray        4606      5397
Smith         3565      3084
Winfield      4351      5221
Puckett       2810      3453
Brett         4283      5044
Yount         4156      4730
Schmidt       3820      4404

Average 4055 4472

Eddie Murray rules here. It didn't hurt that Steady Eddie is the only player in the group to play in 3000 games. Boggs is about 10% above the average in times on base and 9% below the average in total bases in 6% fewer games.

In addition to the offensive measurements listed above, I thought it would be instructive to analyze these nine players by a more comprehensive system such as Win Shares (which takes into account, among other things, defensive contributions).


               WS     >30     >20      WS/100
Boggs         394       5      10        16.2
Molitor       414       2      10        15.4
Murray        437       3      15        14.4
Smith         325       1       8        12.6
Winfield      415       2      12        14.0
Puckett       281       2       9        15.8
Brett         432       4      11        16.0
Yount         423       4      10        14.8
Schmidt       467       9      14        19.4

Average 399 4 11 15.4

Boggs is just about in line with the norm in terms of the number of Win Shares and seasons with over 30 and 20 but is nearly one full win share per 100 games above his peers (ranking second behind Schmidt). Michael Jack stands out once again, leading in three of the four ways I chose to use Win Shares.

I would conclude from this study that Boggs is not only fully qualified but is likely to receive close to 90% of the vote. Only 15 non-pitchers -- Cobb, Ruth, Honus Wagner, Williams, Musial, Willlie Mays, Hank Aaron, Brooks Robinson, Johnny Bench, Carl Yastrzemski, Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson, Schmidt, George Brett, and Ozzie Smith -- have ever received such a high percentage of the total so it would be noteworthy if Boggs could reach that level. Hard to believe that more than 10% of the voters thought Joe DiMaggio (twice), Mantle, Frank Robinson, and Morgan weren't worthy of the HOF.

Is Boggs as good as DiMaggio, Mantle, (Frank) Robinson, and Morgan? No, he is a cut below those four greats. However, I have no doubt that Boggs was a better player than (Brooks) Robinson -- which is significant given that they played the same position -- Carew, and Smith and is arguably in the same ballpark as Yastrzemski, Jackson, and even Brett.

It is also important to note that voters have become more liberal over the years with respect to voting for players who are eligible for the first time. In other words, I am quite confident that if DiMaggio, Mantle, Robinson, and Morgan -- as well as Collins, Jimmie Foxx, Hornsby, Mel Ott, and Speaker -- were put up to a vote today that they would indeed get at least a 90% share.

I think it is safe to say that Boggs will easily exceed the minimum threshold of 75% and could get as much as 90% of the vote. I would put the over/under at 88%.

Tomorrow: Part Two. A more in depth review of Boggs' accomplishments plus how he ranks among the all-time great third basemen and post-expansion era hitters.


I'm at the age now (25) where players now becoming eligible for the Hall of Fame played during my youth. I always knew Boggs was very good, but I was not aware that he was great.

Startling numbers you mentioned, Rich. Nice article, looking forward to Part Two.

Good work, Rich. People ought to know just how good Boggs was. I got a good chuckle out of a Rocky Mountain News writer that quipped Boggs was "no Rose" in his column.

Has anyone done such a good examination of Jack Morris and his credentials?

Very interesting stuff, Rich, though I'm going to expect him to get a lower percentage than you're thinking. Why? Because Boggs' value came more from his OBP than from his SLG%, and I think some writers will find his lowish home run totals less-than-sexy. I still think he gets in, but I'm guessing he'll be closer to the 80% mark.

I hear ya Alex.

I have three "open" ballots so far...Boggs is not on two of them.

I hope that is a function of small sample size.

Wade's number of doubles went south after he left Boston? Maybe the Wall helped him? No power-no speed no glove no arm- Left Boston and NY -BEACAUSE HE WAS UNWANTED-SIGNED WITH Tampa local boy -then released after his milestone-I know he could of hit a lot more homeruns if he wanted too.
Not a team player -he was not a dominant player
but he had a great on base % thats a IIII mentality.