Change-UpJanuary 03, 2008
The Outsiders
By Patrick Sullivan

For this column I had considered comparing the best of those on the outside looking into Cooperstown to the bottom players enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I soon realized that would be a useless exercise, however, as most everyone agrees that "better than the worst" should not be the standard. If everyone better than Rick Ferrell is to be enshrined, Cooperstown may have to invade Bowerstown, Toddsville, Hartwick and Middlefield just to make room.

Instead I decided I would just assemble a lineup of the best not in the Hall and let readers determine for themselves if any of these eight are Hall-worthy. Either this weekend or next week, maybe I will turn my attention to the pitchers but for now it's the position players. Readers of this site already have a pretty good sense of who the most glaring omissions are amongst the hurlers.

So without further ado, here is my All-Overlooked starting eight.



Ted Simmons - .285/.348/.437 - 117 OPS+ | 95.3 WARP3

Simmons played 19 seasons, was rarely injured and as his B-Ref page sponsor notes, he "had more RBIs than Bench, more runs than Carter, more hits than Berra or Fisk."

Hard to say it much better than that.

First Base

Will Clark - .303/.384/.497 - 137OPS+ | 105.2 WARP3

Clark's peak was tremendous, and there is little doubt that toiling for the better part of his career in Candlestick Park hampered the general public's appreciation for him. A terrific gloveman, Bill James famously ranked Clark among the best first baseman in baseball history in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. A Hall with Orlando Cepeda, Jim Bottomley and Tony Perez ought to be able to make some room for Clark.

Second Base

Bobby Grich - .266/.371/.424 - 125 OPS+ | 121.1 WARP3

Grich won four gold gloves, finished in the top-10 for bases on balls in a season six times (he was hit by a ton of pitches too) but failed to live up to the electorate's standards in the team-dependent numbers like runs or RBI. I would love to know why, say, Bobby Doerr has a better case than Grich.

He edged Lou Whitaker for this slot, whom Rich has convinced me should also be enshrined.

Third Base

Dick Allen - .292/.378/.534 - 156 OPS+ | 92.8 WARP3

Allen's shoddy defensive work over the course of his career harmed his candidacy but it is tough to imagine a hitter of Allen's greatness on the Cooperstown outs. His career OPS+ number is greater than Hank Aaron's.


Alan Trammell - .285/.352/.415 - 110 OPS+ | 129.4 WARP3

Trammell should be such a lock, yet he probably will not get in again. There is a tier of middle infielder that the electorate seems to overlook, whose offense does not stack up to the HOF position players further to the right of the defensive spectrum and whose defense does not stack up (at least in reputation) to their peers at their own positions. Think Trammell and Luis Aparicio, and Grich versus Bill Mazeroski.

This should be addressed.

Left Field

Tim Raines - .294/.385/.425 - 123 OPS+ | 123.9 WARP3

I would say Rich tackled this one pretty thoroughly last week.

Center Field

Andre Dawson - .279/.323/.482 - 119 OPS+ | 105.3 WARP3

I have come around on Dawson. His superior defensive work as a center fielder early in his career combined with his exceptional power numbers overcome his crummy on-base. Without injuries, I have a feeling his case would be a real slam dunk.

Right Field

Dwight Evans - .272/.370/.472 - 127 OPS+ | 120.2 WARP3

He was every bit the offensive force Jim Rice was, he played longer and won eight gold gloves. I addressed Evans's case in my first Change-Up column here at Baseball Analysts.


So have at it. Tell me why those eight do not belong in the Hall, and which position players you think are more glaring omissions.

Edit: For Will Clark/Bill James ranking accuracy


Update (01/04/08): Rob Neyer disagrees with me on Clark (he would put Keith Hernandez ahead of him), thinks Santo belongs ahead of Allen and Murphy ahead of Dawson.

As far as first base goes, a vote for Hernandez ahead of Clark places a whole lot of faith in the superiority of the mustached man's glove. Clark has him comfortably on the OPS+ front, and notched just a few less plate appearances over the course of his career. Maybe Keith really was that good a fielder but to my eye Clark looks like the superior option.

The Santo over Allen argument is all about fielding and longevity. Allen was a way better hitter (156 OPS+ vs. 125) but Santo has five gold gloves and about three full seasons worth of plate appearances over Santo. Still, I am comfy with my choice.

Murphy over Dawson is fair, but here is why I favor The Hawk. He and Murphy had similarly awesome peaks, but Dawson's was ended by a stroke of utter misfortune - his horrible knee injury on that Montreal turf. Murphy just kinda faded.


I got to watch a lot of games for two of the players listed living in both Montreal and Boston. I think Andre Dawson was one of the most exciting athletes I ever saw play. He was a great centerfielder/great arm and had amazing speed. If he played 10 years later he would have been a no doubt HOFer even with his injury history. Unfortunately for him he played in the wrong market and wrong era. Now he's known as a slow slugger on the Cubs. I think that needs to be taken into consideration as well as with his stats. I like Dwight Evans but nobody ever thought of him as HOFer while he played for the Red Sox even though he was always very good (and underappreciated).

Good choices. I particularly like the Will Clark and Dwight Evans selections.

Perhaps we don't want to go back so far, and I certainly consider Raines the left fielder most worthy, but it is too bad that Indian Bob Johnson is so neglected. Good enough to play some center field also, he played for 13 years, most of the time full-time, and had no real decline phase or preparation phase either,

Over that career, his lowest OPS+ was 125 and his best was 174 at age 38 in 525 ABs, his next to last year. He ended with a .296/.393/.506 line and an OPS+ of 138. Most years he was in the top 10 in OPS, Slugging and home runs.

Along with Sherry Magee from a still earlier era, he was a real star who is generally forgotten.

I have another comment about the HOF process. Sportswriters and sports radio are obsessed with how much money players make, whether players are worth their salaries, and which players their team should sign or keep. I'm surprised that a player's career earnings are not part of the HOF measurement since almost all of the players up for consideration are from the free agency era. Seems to me that a player's career earnings as compared to their peers reflects how much a player was valued by baseball as much as award voting (especially for position players). I'm pretty sure Jim Rice was paid more than Dwight Evans for example so it stands to reason that the Red Sox viewed him as a more valuable player. I think the high paid players are under more scrutiny and pressure than other players. Would be interesting to see over time how players measure up. I believe that the players believe that the guys who are paid the most are the best and probably would prefer that title to the other awards handed out by writers.

I love the Indian Bob case, too. I think he is unfairly punished for having accumulated some numbers during the early war years. His peak came in the mid-to-late 30's.

As you mention, his lowest OPS+ season was 125! And here we are debating slugger Jim Rice's case, with a career number of 128.

For those who like the more traditional stats, in only one year, his second, did he strike out more than he walked (58BB-60K). Otherwise, he had years with 98BB-65K (1937) and 99BB-59K (1939) and a high of 76 Ks once.

He hit over .300 five times and over .290 four more times. To start his career, he hit 20+ home runs for 9 consecutive years and totaled 8 years with 100+ RBIs (7 straight) and two more with 90+. He also scored 100 runs 6 times and had 90+ four more times. He averaged over 30 doubles per year, hitting 40 and 44 in two seasons. In 8 of those seasons he was an all-star.

In his 13 seasons, he played in 140+ games 10 times, including his last two years, and in 138 twice more. Only in 1943 did he miss substantial time appearing only in 117 games. He had over 600 plate appearances in 9 seasons and close to 600 in every season but one when he had 502.

So we have a durable player whose traditional as well as more advanced stats indicate he was an elite performer.

I think Indian Bob was ignored because he played on one of the WORST teams in American League history (that being the post-1932 Philadelphia Athletics). Talk about not getting any visibility.

I personally think Harlond Clift should be in the Hall. He did in fact play for the worst team in the AL in the 30's. I haven't had the chance to look up his numbers, but he would compare favorably with any of the 3bs in the Hall.

That's right, the more closely you look at Andre Dawson, the better his case is. A good article up at the Hardball times website today, showing his WPA numbers are very good, and that doesn't even include his defense. Bottom line, 22nd all time in extra base hits, and no 20th century CF with anything remotely like his qualifications has ever been left out of the hall.

The only thing is that OBP. I think Andre is the perfect storm of what the absolute lowest OBP (as an OF) that should be in the HOF is, and hopefully if he is elected people don't buy arguments for slow LF with similar OBP.

I totally agree with Simmons and Trammell as HOFers. Glad to see the history buffs making the case for Indian Bob. Great article.

Re Bob Johnson, John Brattain wrote a terrific guest column for this site two years ago. What held Indian Bob back more than anything else is the fact that his rookie season was at the age of 27. Johnson's rate stats were of the quality of other Hall of Famers but his counting stats came up a bit short because of the late start. He will always be a part of the Hall of the Very Good.

I agree with Will Clark being extremely underrated especially with such a great peak. But Bill James lists him at no. 14 in the 2001 historical abstract (behind Donnie Baseball strangely enough) and also lists Dick Allen at 1B, right behind Clark at no. 15. But I do wish Clarkie got more consideration than he did.

A while ago (probably at least 5 years) I made a list of, for a bunch of counting stats like HR and RBI, who had the greatest total who was not in the Hall of Fame (despite being eligible). Andre Dawson turned out to be at the top of a lot of the lists.

Mark B, thanks a lot. I edited the post. I am not sure why I thought that but I appreciate you clearing it up.

I'm from the Bay Area, so I got to see The Thrill and Big Mac at their best. I loved watching them both but I have to go with McGwire at 1b. At 2b, my favorite overlooked candidate is Joe Gordon. Gold Glove caliber D, probably would have been a 40HR/yr hitter had he not spent his prime in Yankee Stadium. James does a comparison between Doerr/Gordon in "The Politics of Glory".
I notice that Gary Carter had to wait too long to make the Hall. Could spending their prime years in Montreal be a factor in their being overlooked?

On that last comment, I meant Raines and Dawson, of course.

I did not want to leave this thread without also commending you for selecting Grich. No need to review all the numbers, but he was a second baseman with power and terrific on base skills. He was also deemed an outstanding fielder. While he did have injury problems, he still managed better than 140 games in 9 of his 17 seasons and finished with an OPS+ of 125, only once under 100 (98) after his first brief appearance in the majors.

Good article , all of the players mentioned have some merit for the hall. The article brought up a memory of some kind of rift between Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro, does anyone remember what that was all about ?

Am surprised nobody mentioned Santo. Among third basemen, he ranks in the top half dozen in career TOB, TB, HR, RBI, RC, XBH, and BB. He also won five Gold Gloves. Led the NL in BB 4x and TOB 3x. Played 154 or more games every year from 1961-71, including 160 or more seven times. Eight consecutive years with at least 86 BB.

Sure, Santo benefited by playing home games at Wrigley Field and his road stats aren't all that impressive, but Ernie Banks and Billy Williams also benefited in a similar manner. His omission from the HOF is not the same injustice as Blyleven's but he is enough of a borderline candidate to get some pub when it comes to players who have been overlooked by voters.

WRT: anti-Expo fervor in HOF selection.

Carter: absolutely a HOF worthy candidate.

Raines: definitely so IMO.

Dawson doesn't bother me if he makes it in. I *think* I'd vote for him; it's not really fair to downgrade him for late career knee problems when they were inflicted on him by having to play on bad turf early in the career, so I'd tend to give him a smidge of leeway on the injury front.

All that said, is anyone else bothered by the notion that a team could have three HOF batters for many years and still didn't win anything significant? It wasn't as though they were facing another dominant team year after year, either. So maybe in the back of our minds is the thought that at least some of what determines HOF worthiness is post season success, and it takes more regular season success to overcome the lack of rings, at least as Expos.

While it would certainly be a shame if Tim Raines were not elected to the Hall of Fame, in his first year of eligibility, its premature to attempt to rectify a true shame that has yet to be committed.

On the other hand, the players that straddled baseball's era of integration have been neglected by the Hall. And its far more important to look at a player like Minnie Minoso as the left fielder deserving of enshrinement. His accomplishments in neither league alone would get him into the Hall. But he integrated the White Sox, 2 and a 1/2 seasons before Ernie Banks broke the color line on the north side. He is a 7 time All Star, 3 time Gold Glove winner, 3 time stolen base champion, 10 time league leader in hit by pitches, 130 OPS+, .298 hitter, .389 OBP, and most importantly, a pioneer.

Minoso spent 1947 and 1948 with the New York Cubans, and didn't get a chance to play full time in the MLB until he was traded to the White Sox in 1951.

Admittedly, his gimmicky comeback attempts in 1976 and 1980 detract from his resume. But 10 at bats as a publicity stunt from the mind of Bill Veeck, can't out weigh what he accomplished in the prior decades.

re: Bob Johnson, having 4 seasons during wwII (when he landed his career ops+ high) doesn't really help his case considering the competition was so weak at the time.

Outside of Raines, who I think should be in the Hall, but probably shouldn't be on this list, at least not until next week when he is "officially" rejected to members of the BBWAA, the only other player I think is Hall-worthy is Dick Allen. The others all just miss in my book.

Also, regarding Clark's ranking in the Historical Baseball Abstract, James had Clark at #14 all time (which certainly counts as one of the top first baseman ever), but he also had him behind Mattingly, who he rated at #12, but ahead of Keith Hernandez at #16.

My guess is if James did a new version, he'd have Clark just ahead of Mattingly simply because Clark played for a few more years after the Abstract was published, and by James' own admission, he was very conservative when ranking players who were still playing. Mattingly has already retired, while Clark was still active.

That said, Mattingly's ranking by someone as respected as James certainly has to make one wonder if Mattingly deserves a second look. There are 1B who are in the Hall ranked significantly lower than Mattingly, and several in front of him, such as McGwire and Bagwell, who were no doubt chemically enhanced. I don't view Mattingly as a HOFer, but I would vote for him before Jim Rice and others.

Those 4 war years were completely in line with his performance in his first 9 years. In fact, except for 1944 when he moved to Boston, they were probably slightly less impressive.

As noted, he did not arrive in the majors until he was 27, so by the war he was an older player who still performed excellently. Because he only had the 13 years, his counting stats are unimpressive, although he had more RBIs and doubles than Hank Greenberg who also played for 13 seasons, and generally on better teams. (In no way am I suggesting he was as good as Greenberg.) And nearly as many home runs as Al Simmons had in 20 years with a higher OPS+ than the great Simmons, by the way. He also had more home runs and a higher OPS+ than Goose Goslin, another outfielder who played a lot in the 1930s, and altogether for 18 years.

A hall of famer should be someone that doesn't need an argument to be made for them.

For me, any player you have to come up with reasons why they should be in the hall of fame, shouldn't be in it.

They make it in, great. Good for them and their fans.

But I ain't gonna cry myself to sleep if they don't get in.

The only guy on this list that meets my criteria of yes/no, is raines.

As for the rest of my ballot

Blylevin, TJ, goose, mcgwire, lee smith

Who are "at the bench" in this lineup?
C.- Joe Torre, Bill Freehan
1B.- Mark McGwire?,Rafael Palmeiro, Keith Hernandez, Fred McGriff, Norm Cash, Will Clark, John Olerud
2B.- Joe Gordon, Lou Whitaker, Willie Randolph
SS.- Bill Dahlen, Vern Stephens, David Concepcion, Tony Fernandez
3B.- Al Rosen, Stan Hack, Darrell Evans, Heinie Groh
LF.- Charlie Keller, Sherry Magee, Albert Belle, Frank Howard, Bob Johnson, Minnie Miñoso
CF.- Jim Wynn, Dale Murphy, Wally Berger, Wally Berger
RF.- Reggie Smith, Tony Oliva, Rocky Colavito, Dave Parker, Larry Walker

"A hall of famer should be someone that doesn't need an argument to be made for them."

I keep on encountering this argument, and it's just plain wrong. Every player whose career value depends significantly on BB rate needs to have an argument made for them, because most BBWAA voters consider the BB a meaningless offensive stat.

In the alternate universe where OBP rather than BA was a Triple Crown stat, Raines, Grich, and Dwight Evans were all easily elected.

There are other persistent biases in the voting. Players who played their careers in horrible parks, players who were excellent all-around but didn't do one thing superbly, defensive value at offensive positions ... it's a long list.

The proposed rule of thumb might work if voters were overvaluing or undervaluing guys by just 10-20% at max, but they're not anywhere close to that.

That's a cool list, Manuel. I like it.

And I agree with Eric. There are all sorts of players who merit advocacy because of the numerous traits that contribute to teams' winning efforts that the BBWAA overlooks.

Great list.
RE. Dick Allen.
He's a personal favorite and a guy I've thought was HOF worthy for a long time. His offensive credentials are obvious, even to HOF voters. He lost support because his career was relatively short (true) and his defense was crappy. To this last point, I can't argue the subjective nature of defense (I was a little kid when I saw him play, in Anaheim, and laugh out loud when Nolan Ryan struck him out four times in a game...). But if you look at the range factor stuff in his Baseball Reference stats you'll see he wasn't, at least statistically, a horrible fielder. Yeah, his fielding percentage was slightly below average at 3B and the OF (where he spent about half his career), but his range factor at both positions was well above league average. At 1B, where he spent the other half of his career, Allen posted a league average fielding rate and well-above average range factor. He was, in short, an excellent defensive first baseman, not a bad or even so-so first baseman. Statistically, at least... He was also enough of an athlete that managers tried him at 2B and SS. Given all that, and given that his OPS was HIGHER THAN HANK FREAKING AARON over a 15-year carreer, his lack of HOF-ness is a puzzle.

"A hall of famer should be someone that doesn't need an argument to be made for them.

For me, any player you have to come up with reasons why they should be in the hall of fame, shouldn't be in it.

The only guy on this list that meets my criteria of yes/no, is raines.

As for the rest of my ballot

Blylevin, TJ, goose, mcgwire, lee smith"
I do not understand this comment. Obviously, Blyleven, TJ, Goose, McGwire & Lee Smith all do need arguments made for them since they have not been elected, and it is likely the same will apply to Raines. So how can you keep them on your ballot if that is your criteria?

Actually, everyone on your ballot is a perfect example of a player who needs to have arguments made for him and reasons given for election, not just because he is not already elected but because his greatness as a player is not always obvious. Someone like Raines or Blyleven does not on first glance seem to be an all-time great; it is only after analysis that their true greatness becomes clear.

Incidentally, I find this hard to believe, and I may be misunderstanding the facts, but the 2007 HOF yearbook indicates that Stan Musial was elected in 1969, but he retired after the 1963 season, 6 years earlier. That suggests he was not elected in his first year of eligibility. Is it possible that Musial was not a first ballot HOFer?

Bob: Musial was a first-ballot HOFer. He retired after the 1963 season, sat out for five years (1964-1968), and was elected in 1969. The same rules apply to all players.

Sandy Koufax: retired in 1966, voted into the HOF in his first year of eligibility in 1972.

Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn: last season was 2001, voted into the HOF in 2007.

Tim Raines: last season 2002, eligible for the first time in 2008.

Ok, Rich, I see that. But then how is it that DiMaggio was elected in 1955 (according to the yearbook) and retired after the 1951 season?

There are some surprising names who had to wait. Mickey Cochrane was elected in 1947 after retiring in 1937. I would have thought he was a no-brainer. Dickey also had to wait from 1946-1954 and Hartnett from 1941-1955. Berra also seems to have missed on the first vote as he retired in 1965 but got in in 1972. Others who had to wait include McCovey, Greenberg, Eddie Mathews, Al Simmons, Reggie Jackson & Paul Waner. I can guess at the arguments against in each case, but I think in most cases time has erased the memory of them.

I should have checked other players before commenting on Musial. I see that you are absolutely correct. Thanks. There are a few anomalies, some due to early deaths or other factors, but that would not explain the DiMaggio case.

Joe DiMaggio is an interesting case. Excluding 1945 (when all players were eligible, including active players), one could argue that he was elected in his *third* year of eligibility.

Here are his vote totals:

Year   Votes    Pct 
1945      1     .4% 
1953    117   44.3% 
1954    175   69.4% 
1955    223   88.8% 

When the Hall of Fame was established in 1936, all players were eligible, retired and active. Writers could vote for anybody but were discouraged from voting for current major leaguers up until 1946 when an official one-year waiting period was put into effect. The five-year waiting period was established in 1954, although an exception was made for Joe D. because of his high level of previous support. As a result, he was elected in 1955, or two years earlier than he would have under today's rules.

Thanks Rich. Interesting information.

In "The Luckiest Man Alive" Eig says that in 1939 the BWAA"voted to waive its normal election process and immediately nominate Gehrig to the baseball Hall of Fame." I assumed that meant that the rule was already in place, but apparently it wasn't.

After Lou Gehrig retired in the middle of the season in 1939, the BBWAA agreed to hold a special election for him at the Winter Meetings in December. Gehrig was the lone candidate on the ballot and was voted into the HOF. Interestingly, Gehrig's vote total has never been revealed.

The BBWAA also agreed to postpone the next regular election until 1942, as the initial quota of 10 inductees from the 20th century had been met.

Allen a way better hitter than Santo? That comment somewhat destroys the credibility of an otherwise intelligent analysis here. Allen was a marginally better hitter and a significantly inferior fielder. Certainly Santo was more superior as a fielder than Allen was as a hitter.

And if your going to throw out an intangible like Santo's career being longer, you have to give Santo credit for playing as a juvenile diabetic at a time where doing so was far more difficult than even today. But I say neither should be cut any slack so you take Santo's numbers for what they are, but longevity is still a point in his favor.

As you note, nobody was elected in 1940 or 41, but there must have been another election in 1939, probably before the Gehrig choice which was on December 7. Aside from Gehrig, which as you point out was a special case, there were 10 men elected in 1939, most of them primarily for their executive role (Comiskey, Spaulding, Bulkeley) or from the 19th century (Cummings, Radbourn, Ewing, Anson, Keeler). There were two 20th century players also in Eddie Collins and Sisler.

I probably should read some more about the actual history of the HOF. By my count, at the end of 1939, there were 26 members of the HOF, 7 primarily executives (although Spaulding played quite a bit too), 6 from the 19th century (although McGraw was probably there as a manager) and including Gehrig 13 from the 20th century (although I suppose Keeler could be considered 19th century and so could Cy Young). Eliminating Young, Keeler and Gehrig, it was indeed 10 players from the 20th century. I did not realize there was such a quota at the time.

Career AVG / OBP / SLG:

Allen: .292/.378/.534
Santo: .277/.362/.464

Santo had two seasons with an OPS+ over 156, Allen's career figure.

Yes, Bob, the voters added those other players in January 1939 via the normal channels.

I have to concur with Sully on the Allen vs. Santo issue when it comes to hitting. Now, one can favor Santo for his fielding (or for the fact that he played his entire career at the hot corner whereas Allen played more games at first base than third), but it would be next to impossible to make an objective case that he was a better *hitter* than Allen.