Wade Boggs: A First-Ballot Hall of Famer (Part One)
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
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
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
There have been others, of course, who have exceeded Boggs' averages in one or the other by a wide margin, such as
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
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
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+.
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
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
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,
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,
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.