Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Second-tier Hall of Famers

My current Strat-O-Matic project is based heavily on what I consider "second-tier" -- or worse -- Hall of Famers. These are guys few modern fans know much about, guys like Elmer Flick, Ross Youngs and Billy Herman. Good players all, maybe even great, but their legends are a bit obscure.

At the root of most, if not all, Hall of Fame debates is an issue few actually grapple with: Big Hall or small Hall? There seem to be a significant number of HoF voters, and an even higher percentage of fans, who sincerely believe that a plaque in Cooperstown should be reserved for the very elite. If you're not Willie Mays or Christy Mathewson, you're out.

That has never really been the standard. If one draws the line under, let us say, Bill Dickey and Whitey Ford, then how to account for the plaques for Ernie Lombardi and Herb Pennock, much less Rick Farrell or Eppa Rixey?

There are, today. 310 plaques displayed in the gallery, 215 for former major league players. (The others were chosen as executives/pioneers, umpires, managers and/or Negro Leaguers.) They were all good players at the very least. But they sure weren't all Frank Robinson.

Here's a lineup of HoF players that I think might be the worst Cooperstown has to offer (leaving out the Negro Leaguers and the 19th century guys):

C: Ray Schalk
1B: George Kelly
2B: Bill Mazeroski
3B: Freddie Lindstrom
SS: Rabbit Maranville
LF: Jim Rice
CF: Lloyd Waner
RF: Ross Youngs
SP: Rube Marquard

Now: There's no shame in being the worst shortstop in the Hall of Fame. This is not an insult to any of them.

But compare that squad to this group of left-outs:

C: Mike Piazza
1B: Jeff Bagwell
2B: Lou Whitaker
3B: Graig Nettles
SS: Alan Trammell
LF: Tim Raines
CF: Jim Edmonds
RF: Larry Walker
SP: Mike Mussina

I guarantee you, that second squad would kick the first team's behind, with a markedly superior player at each position, The gap between those lineups is the root of my displeasure with the current selection system and the continuing backlog of worthy candidates. 

1 comment:

  1. It's all in the timing... when many of those players were elected, there was certainly much less history to draw from so the selection criteria was not what it is today - the bar has been constantly raised over the years. Unfortunate to the modern day players of course.