Well, as luck would have it, the deadline for the CBA appears to be today. As of this writing, there has not been a deal. And I don’t really expect one by the end of the day. I said I would do another cycle if the season got delayed, so this is probably not the last time we’ll vote on the Hall. But let’s hope a deal is done and we don’t see another post like this for several months.
You should know the drill by now. And if you don’t, I wrote a primer here. In case you don’t want to read that, I said I would give the averages of the current Hall of Fame standards for context, though that is simply there to give you some sort of basis for how good something is. Here is the average Hall of Famer by position (PP = position players except catcher)
SP: 71 bWAR, 67 fWAR (3.8 bWAR per 200 IPs, 3.3 fWAR per 200 IP)
RP: 33.5 bWAR (1.6 WAR per 65 IP), 25.5 fWAR (1.3 WAR per 65 IP)
C: 53.7 WAR (3.9 WAR per 550 PAs)
PP: 68 WAR (4.4 WAR per 600 PAs)
Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs evaluate pitchers differently. There was not an appreciable difference in how they evaluated hitters, at least not on a macro scale. Individually, sure we will see some differences. But they had virtually identical career WAR and WAR per 600 PAs figures. Next, the average Hall of Fame peak by their seven best seasons and their JAWS, which factors in peak with career total.
SP: 40.7 bWAR Peak, 61.4 JAWS
RP: 23.4 bWAR Peak, 29.7 JAWS
C: 34.7 bWAR Peak, 44.2 JAWS
PP: 43.1 bWAR Peak, 55.8 JAWS
Yeah trying to figure out the fWAR peaks was... way too much work. And for position players and catchers, it would probably be the same. Just mentally downgrade a couple WAR for Fangraphs pitching and it’ll probably be right. So that’s... pretty much all the information and context you’ll need. Now the players
Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander (SP)
Career: 116 bWAR, 96.5 fWAR, 94.3 JAWS (per his 272 IP avg: 6.1 bWAR, 5.1 fWAR)
Peak: 69.5 bWAR, 52.5 fWAR
Acc: 3-time Triple Crown (W, ERA, Ks), 5-time ERA title
4-WAR seasons: 14 by bWAR, 13 by fWAR
One notable stat: From 1915 to 1920, Alexander may very well have had one of the most dominant runs of all time. In those six seasons, he averaged 292 IP with a 1.64 ERA. He led the league in these stats four times in those six years: IP, CG, shutouts, strikeouts. He also led in ERA five times, WHIP twice, and FIP twice.
Profile: Yes, he was named for that US president. Born in Nebraska, he played two seasons in the minors before being acquired by the Phillies in 1911. At 24-years-old, he made his debut and led pitchers in wins, complete games, shutouts, and innings pitched. His run was interrupted by two things: a trade by the Phillies in 1918 who anticipated he would be drafted, and them being right when he was drafted. He started three games for the Cubs and left for the war. The war destroyed him. He became an alcoholic, developed epilepsy, became deaf in his left ear, and had what would now be called PTSD. He continued his great run for a couple years, then relied more on control and finesse starting in 1921. By 1925, the Cubs got a new manager, who thought Alexander’s drinking was bad for the team. They traded him to the Cardinals, where manager Hornsby was more willing to tolerate the drinking if it helped him win. After the 1929 season, the Cardinals traded him to Philly. He lost all three efforts and was released. He was on the first ever HOF ballot, but made it on his third try in 1938.
Earl Averill (OF)
Career: 51.6 bWAR, 47.9 fWAR, 45.4 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4.3 bWAR, 4 fWAR)
Peak: 39.2 bWAR, 37.5 fWAR
Acc: 6-time All-Star (first four seasons had no ASG)
4-WAR seasons: 9 by bWAR, 5 by fWAR
One notable stat: He is the all-time Indians leader in total bases, RBIs, runs, and triples. He is also famous for hitting the ball that broke Dizzy Dean’s toe in an All-Star game, causing him to alter his throwing motion, which led to him hurting his arm and ending his career.
Profile: Usually I can find a reason why someone starts late. No such luck here. He appears to have been playing in semipro or minor league teams for several years. He spent three years with a AAA team before his contract was purchased by the Indians. He was 27 in his rookie season. He made the first six All-Star teams in existence. By 1939, he started experiencing serious back pain, and was traded to the Tigers after a slow start. He became a bench player in 1940 and had his worst season. He was released prior to 1941, signed with the Braves, and was released by them by the end of April. He received virtually no support on eight HOF ballots, but got elected via the Veteran’s Committee in 1975.
Ernie Banks (1B/SS)
Career: 67.7 bWAR, 63.3 fWAR, 59.9 JAWS (per 600 PA: 3.9 bWAR, 3.7 fWAR)
Peak: 52.1 bWAR, 48.1 fWAR
Acc: 2-time MVP, 14-time All-Star (6 of these appearances were in 3 years, so 11 year All-Star)
4-WAR seasons: 7 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: En route to his 500 career home runs, Banks hit at least 40 home runs five times between 1955 and 1960. His 512 career home runs ranks 23rd all-time and at the time of his retirement, was the 7th most home runs ever.
Profile: Banks graduated from high school in 1950 and lettered in basketball, football, and track. His high school did not have a baseball team, but he played for a semi-pro team. He was discovered by the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues while playing. In 1951, he was drafted into the Korean War. When he got back in 1953, he played for the Monarchs. Late in the season, the Cubs signed him and he even debuted that season. In 1954, he was the starting SS and in 1955, he hit 44 homers. He became the first NL player to win back-to-back MVP awards in 1958 and 1959. In 1961, a knee injury he suffered in the army flared up, caused him to sit a few games, and moved him to LF. He was only there a short while and ended up moving to 1B for good. His peak was over, but he remained a Cub until he was 40-years-old, retiring after 1971. He was first ballot with 83.8% in 1977.
Ken Boyer (3B)
Career: 62.8 bWAR, 54.8 fWAR, 54.5 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4.6 bWAR, 4 fWAR)
Peak: 46.2 bWAR, 41.5 fWAR
Acc: MVP, 11-time All-Star (He made two ASG in the same year four times), 5-time Gold Glover
4-WAR seasons: 8 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: The notable stat is perhaps the lack of one. He is perfectly designed for people to ignore him. Not a lot of homers (282), pretty good average (.287), pretty good defense (+5 per year), and pretty good hitter (116 wRC+). He led the league twice: in RBIs in 1964 and in caught stealing his rookie year.
Profile: Boyer, born in Missouri, was signed by the Cardinals as an 18-year-old in 1949. The Cardinals initially tried him at pitcher, but his bat was so good that they moved him to 3B in 1951. He served in the army for two years and returned to the minors in 1954. After he crushed that level, the Cardinals traded their starting 3B and Boyer got the job from the get go in 1955. He struggled that initial season, but the 25-year-old Boyer became a perennial MVP candidate starting in 1956. He won MVP on the 1964 World Series winning Cards. The next year, he had a down year partially due to back problems and was traded to the Mets. He struggled in 1967 and was traded midseason to the White Sox. Early in the 1968 season, he was released and signed with the Dodgers, where he saw a huge boost in his stats. But he became a pinch hitter only in 1969 and retired following that season at 38. Boyer made it to 15 Hall of Fame ballots, but didn’t get more than 25.5% of the vote.
César Cedeño (OF)
Career: 52.8 bWAR, 49.8 fWAR, 47.1 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 3.9 bWAR, 3.7 fWAR)
Peak: 41.4 bWAR, 39.1 fWAR
Acc: 4-time All-Star, 5-time Gold Glover
4-WAR seasons: 7 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: Cedeño was the second man in baseball history to hit 20 home runs and steal 50 bases (after Lou Brock), and did it three years in a row (1972-1974)
Profile: Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1967 at 16-years-old by the Houston Astros, Cedeño quickly advanced to the big leagues, debuting in the middle of the 1970 season at just 19. After a couple seasons of being an okay hitter, his bat exploded in 1972. He remained at an All-Star caliber level flirting with being an MVP candidate for the next five seasons after that. His 1978 was cut short by injury and he had a down year in 1979, but he had one more great year in 1980. After a season where he only played in 82 games, he was traded to the Reds in 1982. After a few seasons on the bench with the Reds, he was traded to the Cards for the stretch run in 1985. He lasted a couple months into 1986 with the Dodgers, but was released. His career was done at 35. He received two votes on his only ballot.
Mickey Cochrane (C)
Career: 49.9 bWAR, 50.6 fWAR, 43.2 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4.8 bWAR, 4.9 fWAR)
Peak: 36.6 bWAR, 35.8 fWAR
Acc: 2-time MVP, 2-time All-Star (no ASG in first eight seasons)
4-WAR seasons: 6 by bWAR, 7 by fWAR
One notable stat: A 137 wRC+ is what Mickey Cochrane had after 27 games in 1937 when his career abruptly ended from a near fatal head injury from getting hit in the head.
Profile: Born from an Ireland born father and Scottish mother, Cochrane played five sports at Boston University. He considered football his best sport, but signed with a minor league baseball team, because baseball was more established. He needed just one year in the minors before the majors came calling and in 1925, he became the starting catcher for the Philadelphia Athletics. He won his first MVP in 1929 and made three straight pennants from 1929 to 1931. By 1934, Connie Mack had run out of money and traded his high-priced players, which included Cochrane, who was traded to the Tigers. A World Series win, two pennants, and an MVP led to him being called Detroit’s savior. Cochrane couldn’t handle it and had a nervous breakdown in 1936. He recovered and came back for 1937, but his season and career ended when he was hit in the head. He was still just 34 and showed little sign of stopping. He was elected on his seventh ballot with 79.5% of the vote in 1947.
Dave Concepción (SS)
Career: 40.1 bWAR, 39.7 fWAR, 35 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 2.5 WAR)
Peak: 29.9 bWAR, 29.6 fWAR
Acc: 9-time All-Star, 5-time Gold Glover, 2-time Silver Slugger
4-WAR seasons: 3 by bWAR, 4 by fWAR
One notable stat: Here’s one of those weird quirks of having an All-Star game in the middle of the season. Concepcion has a run of 9 All-Star games in 10 years. The year that’s missing? Happens to be his best season according to both sites.
Profile: After Concepcion graduated high school, he played for his local team in Venezuela who also happened to be a Cincinnati Reds scout. He was signed in 1967 and made his minor league debut stateside the next year. He debuted at the beginning of 1970 at 22-years-old. His timing was fortuitous, because it was the beginning of a four pennant, two World Series win run from 1970 to 1976 on the Big Red Machine. He was a part time player for the first three seasons of his career, and shortly after he made his first All-Star team in his fourth, broke his leg ending his 1974 season early. After he had his first healthy season as a starter in 1974, he made eight consecutive All-Star teams from age 27 to age 34. He fell off massively the next season, but hung around two more seasons as a starter. He played his last three years as a bench player and retired at 40. He was on 15 Hall of Fame ballots, but never cracked 20%.
Al Dark (SS)
Career: 44 bWAR, 35.6 fWAR, 38.9 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 3.4 bWAR, 2.7 fWAR)
Peak: 33.7 bWAR, 28.4 fWAR
Acc: Rookie of the Year, 3-time All-Star
4-WAR seasons: 5 by bWAR, 3 by fWAR
One notable stat: Dark was not an elite fielder for his entire career, but for for the first half of his career, he could reasonably be called elite. He ranked top 10 in dWAR five times, all between 1948 and 1954.
Profile: Dark was a three-sport star in high school, getting offered a basketball scholarship to Texas A&M, which he rejected for a scholarship to LSU to play football and baseball (he also played basketball). He transferred from LSU before graduating to train to be an officer in the Marines in the height of World War II. When his service ended in 1946, he was both drafted by the Eagles and offered a contract by the Boston Braves. He signed with the Braves. He debuted in July of that year, but was not used as anything more than a pinch runner and pinch hitter. He spent 1947 in the minors, but earned the starting SS job in 1948 at 26-years-old. He won Rookie of the Year. After three seasons, he was traded to the Giants. After six seasons with them, he was traded to the Cards in the middle of 1956. When it became clear he needed to move off SS, the Cards traded him early in 1958 to the Cubs. He spent ‘58 and ‘59 with the Cubs as the starting 3B, then was traded to the Phillies. He was traded midseason to the Braves, and he decided to hang it up at 38 with the bench looming. He was on 16 Hall of Fame ballots, but never higher than 20%.
Dizzy Dean (SP)
Career: 43.9 bWAR, 40.9 fWAR, 45.1 JAWS (per his 217 IP avg: 4.8 bWAR, 4.7 fWAR)
Peak: 44.1 bWAR, 38.5 fWAR
Acc: MVP, 4-time All-Star (no ASG in first season)
4-WAR seasons: 6 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: Just a quick summary of his dominance: From 1932-1936, Dean led in wins twice, complete games three times, innings three times, shutouts twice, strikeouts four times, and for good measure, saves once.
Profile: Dean grew up in a household that constantly moved, with his father looking for work at various places. In 1926, he landed near Fort Sam Houston, and seeing a way out for his son, encouraged him to enlist in the Army. His hard throwing ways on the baseball field while there eventually led to interest from semipro teams and a Cardinals scout. He bought his way out of the Army in 1929 to play for a semipro team and in 1930, the Cardinals signed him and assigned him to the minors. He got a call-up in September of 1930 at age 20, but spent all of 1931 in the minors. He became a star in 1932, winning MVP in 1934 and leading Cards to a World Series. In 1937 during the All-Star game, a ball hit his foot, keeping him out of games for a couple weeks. His foot was not healed when he returned and it caused him to get bursitis in his arm when he altered his throwing motion. He was traded to the Cubs early the next season. His arm largely toast at this point, he was used as a spot starter for the next three seasons. After a one inning start in 1941 where he allowed two runs, he retired at 31-years-old. On his eleventh ballot, he was elected with 79.2% of the vote.
Brian Downing (C/OF)
Career: 51.5 bWAR, 48.4 fWAR, 40.3 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 3.3 bWAR, 3.1 fWAR)
Peak: 29.1 bWAR, 27.5 fWAR
Acc: 1-time All-Star
4-WAR seasons: 4 by bWAR, 2 by fWAR
One notable stat: At the time of his retirement, he held Angels’ team records in HRs, runs, RBIs, and doubles. Tim Salmon, Garrett Anderson, and of course Mike Trout have passed him in most of these categories, but he’s still top 5.
Profile: At 19-years-old, after failing to make the team at Cypress College, he impressed at a “all comers” tryout with the White Sox, who signed him as an amateur free agent in 1969. He made his MLB debut in May of 1973 at 22-years-old, but severely damaged his knee on the first pitch of his first game and went on the 60 day DL. He spent his time as a White Sox as a backup catcher who sometimes played the outfield. After five seasons, he was traded to the Angels. He got more playing time with the Angels, but a broken ankle in 1980 both caused him to miss most of that season and moved him to outfield full-time. At 37-years-old in 1987, he became the full-time DH. After 13 seasons as an Angel, he signed with the Rangers for his last two seasons. He retired at 41-years-old coming off a 142 wRC+. He got two votes on his only ballot.
Johnny Evers (2B)
Career: 47.7 bWAR, 49 fWAR, 40.5 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4 bWAR, 4.1 fWAR)
Peak: 33.3 bWAR, 33.8 fWAR
Acc: MVP (All-Star game didn’t exist yet)
4-WAR seasons: 5 by bWAR, 6 by fWAR
One notable stat: While Evers only had a 121 wRC+ in 1910, he walked 108 times to 18 strikeouts. That’s a 19.4% BB rate and 3.2% K rate. His career numbers were more normal, at least for the times.
Profile: As a 20-year-old, Evers signed with a Class B minor league team as their starting SS. When a Cubs scout visited another player, he also purchased Evers. The Cubs starting 2B Bobby Lowe was out due to injury, and they needed a replacement. The 20-year-old got a monthlong tryout in September and played poorly. But Lowe wasn’t healed at the start of the next season, and Evers ended up playing well enough to steal his job. The Cubs won the pennant in 1906, won the World Series in 1907, and won it again in 1908, partially due to Evers calling out Fred Merkle in a famous blunder called “Merkle’s Boner.” In 1911, he had a nervous breakdown and only played in 46 games. He recovered in 1912 and was named manager of the Cubs in 1913, but was traded to the Boston Braves at the end of the season. He won the Chalmers Award (MVP) in 1914, but was limited by injuries, suspension, and poor performance the next two. In his last season, 1917, he got released and signed by the Phillies, but at 35 he was done as a player. He was on eight HOF ballots, but the Old Timers Committee voted him with Chance and Tinker in 1946.
Rick Ferrell (C)
Career: 30.8 bWAR, 27.2 fWAR, 25.9 JAWS (per 550 PAs: 2.4 bWAR, 2.1 fWAR)
Peak: 20.9 bWAR, 18.3 fWAR
Acc: 8-time All-Star (no ASG in first four seasons)
4-WAR seasons: 0 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: Ferrell was good at throwing runners out. He led the league in four seasons and was top 10 in 10 seasons. He ranks 59th all-time in caught stealing.
Profile: Ferrell was signed out of college by the Detroit Tigers in 1926 at 21-years-old. During his stay in the minors, he asked the Tigers owner if there was a plan in place for him to get promoted. He was told to be patient. When a teammate of his - another catcher - got called up to the Reds and not the Tigers, he asked the Reds about his status. He was told to return. He looked at his contract and petitioned the commissioner, who said the Tigers and Reds colluded to keep him in the minors and Ferrell was a free agent. He signed with the Browns. He started as a backup, struggled with his bat in his second season, and his bat finally arrived in his third season. Early in the 1933 season, he was traded to the Red Sox for money reasons. He also made the first ever All-Star game as the starting catcher. Early in the 1937 season, he was traded to the Senators. He was traded back to the Browns early in 1941, spent a couple seasons with them and was traded back to the Senators in 1944. He retired in 1946 but came back as a backup in 1947. He retired for good at 41. He received very little support on three ballots, but the 1984 Veteran’s Committee elected him.
Jack Fournier (1B)
Career: 41.4 bWAR, 42.2 fWAR, 38.1 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4.1 bWAR, 4.2 fWAR)
Peak: 34.8 bWAR, 35.4 fWAR
Acc: None (played before first All-Star game)
4-WAR seasons: 5 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: Fournier had a .392 career OBP partially because he got hit by a lot of pitches. He led the league in HBPs three times and was in the top 10 eight times - notable because he got 400+ PAs in a season just nine times.
Profile: Fournier started his minor league career in 1908, but struggled for the next three years. In 1911, something clicked and he destroyed for a Class D minor league team. He was signed by the White Sox, made the team out of spring training and batted .192 in 81 PAs, getting released midseason. He went back to the minors, hit well again, and returned to the White Sox in 1913. He improved as a bench player, but only to an average hitter. In 1914, his bat clicked for the first time at 24-years-old. Fournier was known as a dreadful fielder though and when his bat declined to average in 1916, he ended up getting released early in the 1917 season. He went back to the minors, got a chance when Wally Pipp went to World War I and signed with the Yankees. He returned to the minors in 1919, and had a good enough season to gain interest from the Cardinals, who purchased his contract. When Jim Bottomley emerged, he was traded to the Brooklyn Robins. He played his last season as a Boston Brave, retiring at 37. He was not on a HOF ballot.
Juan Gonzalez (OF)
Career: 38.7 bWAR, 35.8 fWAR, 33.9 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 3.2 bWAR, 3 fWAR)
Peak: 29.2 bWAR, 27.2 fWAR
Acc: 2-time MVP, 3-time All-Star, 6-time Silver Slugger
4 WAR seasons: 3 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: Here’s a fun fact: Alex Rodriguez had a better individual season in 1996 (9.4 bWAR) and nearly an equal season in 1998 (8.5) to Juan Gonzalez’s two MVP seasons combined (8.7 bWAR).
Profile: Coming from a rough neighborhood in Puerto Rico, Gonzalez signed with the Texas Rangers as an amateur free agent in 1986 at the age of 16. He quickly progressed through the minors, debuting in September of 1989 at just 19-years-old. He got an extended look, but didn’t hit at all and spent the first five months of 1990 in the minors, and had a second extended look in September of 1990. This time he hit. In 1991, he was an everyday starter, in 1992, he hit 40 HRs for the first time, and in 1993, he made his first All-Star team. He won two MVPs during his tenure as a Ranger, but after the 1999 season, he was traded to the Tigers. He became a free agent after and signed a one-year deal with the Indians. He made his third and final All-Star game, then signed a two year deal with the Rangers. He had a down first year and an injury-shortened second. Injuries limited him the next two seasons as well. He tried to get back for a few years without making the majors, but officially retired in 2008 at 38-years-old. He was on two Hall of Fame ballots without getting voted in.
Tom Henke (RP)
Career: 23 bWAR, 20.6 fWAR, 20.2 JAWS (per 65 IP: 1.9 bWAR, 1.7 bWAR)
Peak: 17.5 bWAR, 16.4 fWAR
Acc: Rolaids Relief Winner, 2-time All-Star
2-WAR seasons: 6 by bWAR, 3 by fWAR
One notable stat: He never ranked particularly high, but Henke got MVP votes in three seasons of his career - including one where he threw only 40 innings.
Profile: Henke was drafted three times, with the last being by the Texas Rangers in the 4th round of the 1980 MLB Draft. He was an old draftee, so while it only took him two years to make the majors, he was already 24. He spent both 1982 and 1983 as a late season callup, and made the team out of spring training in 1984, but pitched poorly and ended up riding the bullpen shuttle. Over the offseason, he was selected as a compensation pick by the Toronto Blue Jays. He spent the first half in the minors, not debuting as a Jay until late July. He excelled and stuck in the majors for good. He made the All-Star team and led the league in saves in 1987. He was a member of the 1992 World Series winning Blue Jays, getting 5 saves, though he did blow the deciding Game 6 before the Jays won in extras. Now 35, he became a free agent and signed a two year deal with the Rangers, then a one year deal with the Cards. Despite a 1.82 ERA and 36 saves, he retired at 37 in 1995. He was on one ballot with six total votes.
Travis Jackson (SS)
Career: 44 bWAR, 46 fWAR, 39.6 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4 bWAR, 4.1 fWAR)
Peak: 35.1 bWAR, 36.4 fWAR
Acc: 1-time All-Star (no All-Star game in all but four seasons of career)
4-WAR seasons: 7 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: Jackson was an elite defensive SS. Over the course of his career, he rates as a +12 fielder per 600 PAs, which what earned him his nickname “Stonewall.”
Profile: At 17-years-old, he was signed by Kid Eberfield, who discovered him when he was 14-years-old and told Jackson to come to him when he was ready to begin professional baseball. He played two seasons for the minor league Little Rock team and Eberfield recommended him to John McGraw, who purchased his contract in 1922. Jackson only appeared in 3 games that year, but drew notice the next year filling in as a sub in nearly 100 games. He impressed enough to be the Giants starting SS for the 1924 season, and they made the World Series (but lost) that year. His career was defined by injuries and illness however. In 1925, he tore a ligament in his knee and missed a month. He missed the beginning of the 1927 season to an appendectomy, missed significant time to the mumps in 1930 and he missed most of 1932 to bone chips in his knee and a case of influenza. He had surgery on both knees after 1932 which caused him to miss most of 1933 as well. He was relatively healthy the next three years, making his first and only All-Star game in 1934. When his bat collapsed in 1936, he retired at 32-years-old. He was on 13 HOF ballots without much support, but the Veteran’s Committee elected him in 1982.
Randy Jones (SP)
Career: 18.8 bWAR, 21.9 fWAR, 19 JAWS (per 200 IP: 1.9 bWAR, 2.3 fWAR)
Peak: 20.2 bWAR, 22 fWAR
Acc: Cy Young, 2-time All-Star, ERA title
4-WAR seasons: 2 by bWAR, 3 by fWAR
One notable stat: During the 1976 season, a year he ultimately won the Cy Young, Jones was 16-3 at the All-Star break. Nobody has had a better record at the All-Star break than that.
Profile: Jones was drafted in the 5th round of the 1972 MLB Draft out of Chapman University by the San Diego Padres. Because he was a 22-year-old who was fully polished upon being drafted, Jones not only made his MLB debut the next season, he made 20 starts. He was a full-time member of the Padres rotation the year after and in 1975, he had the best ERA in the NL, and he did it 285 innings. He won the Cy Young award in 1976, but on the last game of that season, he injured a nerve in his pitching arm that required surgery. He had a rough 1977, but rebounded with good seasons the next two years. After he only made 24 starts in 1980, he was traded to the Mets. He didn’t have a very good 1981, only making 13 starts, and in 1982, he had to get moved to the bullpen. At 32, his career was done. He received no votes on his only ballot.
George Kell (3B)
Career: 37.7 bWAR, 38.2 fWAR, 32.9 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 3 WAR)
Peak: 28.1 bWAR, 28.8 fWAR
Acc: 10-time All-Star, batting title
4-WAR seasons: 4 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: There seems to be a bit of a disconnect between how his defense was perceived and what the numbers we have say. He led 3B in fielding percentage seven times and ranked in the top 10 eleven times. However his Total Zone runs above average for his entire career was just +21.
Profile: While playing for his hometown Swifton baseball team and attending Arkansas State on the side, Kell was recommend to a Class D minor league team by the Swifton postmaster. He was signed and while he played poorly during that initial season in 1940, he fared better and moved up to a Class B team in 1942. After batting .396 in 1943, he was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics and played one game. He made his proper debut the next year, at 21-years-old. It wasn’t until his third proper season that his bat came around, and he was immediately traded to the Tigers in 1946. The next year, he made his first of eight consecutive All-Star teams. He was traded in a blockbuster deal to the Red Sox in the middle of 1952, and they traded him just two years later to the White Sox. When the White Sox manager took a job with the Orioles, he traded for Kell in the 1956 season. He retired after the 1957 season as an Oriole at 34-years-old. He was on 16 HOF ballots, receiving a high of 36.8%, but it wasn’t until the Veteran’s Committee elected him in 1983 that he made the HOF.
High Pockets Kelly (1B)
Career: 25.6 bWAR, 28.9 fWAR, 24.7 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 2.3 bWAR, 2.6 fWAR)
Peak: 24.1 bWAR, 26.1 fWAR
Acc: None (no ASG during career)
4-WAR seasons: 1 by bWAR, 3 by fWAR
One notable stat: During the 1920s, Kelly was one of the premier power hitters. His 134 HRs rank 10th in the decade, a decade where only 13 players hit over 100 homers. (Babe Ruth hit 467 to 2nd place Hornsby with 250)
Profile: High Pockets Kelly, which is the most 1800s baseball player name that didn’t play in the 1800s, dropped out of high school to play semipro ball and was on his first minor league team in 1914. The next year, he got a call up to the Giants at just 19-years-old. He failed to hit at all in limited opportunities the next two years and in 1917, he was put on waivers and claimed by the Pirates. But he failed there too and was put back on waivers to be claimed again by the Giants. He missed 1918 to serving in World War II and got called up in the middle of 1919 and finally hit. At 24-years-old, he was finally a starter in the MLB. He saw four straight World Series appearances as the starter and in 1925, he moved to 2B when Frankie Frisch injured his hand and with Bill Terry behind him at 1B. After a solid season in 1926, he was traded so Bill Terry could take his place. He was traded to the Reds, but unfortunately for him the trade was more about getting rid of someone than planning to play Kelly. He played a few seasons for them, getting more playing time each year, but was released 51 games into 1930. He got picked up by the Cubs to finish out that year, but had to go back to the minors in 1931 and played on the bench for the Dodgers in 1932. At 36, his career was over. He was on eight Hall of Fame ballots with pretty much no support, but in 1973, Frankie Frisch led Veteran’s Committee elected him in 1973.
Carl Mays (SP)
Career: 51.4 fWAR, 43.9 fWAR, 45.3 JAWS (per 200 IP: 3.4 bWAR, 2.9 fWAR)
Peak: 39.3 bWAR, 31.4 fWAR
Acc: None (career was before All-Star game)
4-WAR seasons: 7 by bWAR, 4 by fWAR
One notable stat: Mays was an excellent hitter for a pitcher. For his career, he batted .268/.313/.350 for an 83 wRC+. He was worth over 7 wins with the bat for his career.
Profile: Mays quit high school to play on semipro baseball teams, entering the minor leagues in 1912 at 21-years-old. In 1914, he was drafted by a AAA affiliate of the Tigers, who ended up selling his contract to the Red Sox. He pitched mostly in relief in his debut season in 1915, creating attention for continuously throwing it near Ty Cobb. He became known for throwing in on hitters and was among league leaders in HBPs. He became a starter in 1916 and helped lead the Red Sox to two World Series in three years. After a slow start in 1919, he was traded to the Yankees. In a 1920 game, Mays threw a fatal pitch towards Ray Chapman, hitting him in the face and ultimately killing him. He was highly suspected of throwing a game in the 1922 World Series, so when the Yankees couldn’t trade him, they simply didn’t use him. In 1924, they found a taker in the Reds. He pitched five seasons for the Reds, but in three of them he threw less than 100 innings. He played one final season with the Giants, and his career was done at 37-years-old. He was on one HOF ballots with just six votes.
Gil McDougald (IF)
Career: 40.7 bWAR, 39.7 fWAR, 36.4 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4.5 bWAR, 4.4 fWAR)
Peak: 32.2 bWAR, 31.9 fWAR
Acc: Rookie of the Year, 6-time All-Star
One notable stat: I usually pick the dominant position of a player’s career in parentheses but McDouglad played two nearly equally and a third a lot as well. He played 599 games at 2B, 508 games at 3B, and 284 games at SS
Profile: McDouglad first got signed by the Yankees in 1948 at 19-years-old. He spent three seasons in their minor league system before making his MLB debut in late April of 1951. He played some third and some second base and ended up winning Rookie of the Year. He became the first rookie to hit a grand slam in the 1951 World Series. 3B became his dominant position in 1952, but he still played 38 games at 2B. After a third year like this, he ended up playing more 2B in 1954 and 1955. In 1956, he moved to SS. 1956 also marked his first of four straight All-Star teams. In 1958, he moved back to 2B and in 1959 he played all three positions at least 20 times. At 32-years-old, he decided to retire even though he was still a good player. He was on nine Hall of Fame ballots without much support.
Randy Myers (RP)
Career: 15.1 bWAR, 14.4 fWAR, 15.1 JAWS (per 65 IP: 1.1 WAR)
Peak: 15 bWAR, 11.7 fWAR
Acc: 2-time Rolaids Relief Winner, 4-time All-Star
2-WAR seasons: 3 by bWAR, 2 by fWAR
One notable stat: Randy Myers is 12th all-time in saves, and at the time of his retirement, he was 5th all-time in saves and was one of only 5 members of the 300 save club.
Profile: Myers was drafted 9th overall by the New York Mets as a starting pitcher. He remained a starter pitcher up until he made his MLB debut in the last game of the 1985 season. When he returned to the minors in 1986, he was used as a reliever. He didn’t play much in the majors that season either, but in 1987, he threw 75 innings and recorded his first save. He was the primary closer for two more seasons until getting traded to the Reds. He played one year there as closer and in the 2nd half of the 1991 season, he started 12 games. But the Reds traded him after the season to the Padres, and he went back to the bullpen. He reached free agency and signed with the Cubs. He led the league in saves twice in three years for the Cubs, then signed with the Orioles, where in his second season, he led the league again. In 1998, he signed with the Blue Jays, but didn’t pitch as expected and was put him on waivers. The Padres didn’t want the Braves to get him, so they claimed him expecting the Blue Jays to pull him back. But they didn’t and the Padres were responsible for his next three years salary. He spent the next two seasons injured from rotator cuff surgery. He retired at 37-years-old. He received a vote on his only ballot.
Hal Newhouser (SP)
Career: 60 bWAR, 60.7 fWAR, 57.7 JAWS (per 200 IP: 4 WAR)
Peak: 52.7 bWAR, 48.1 fWAR
Acc: 2-time MVP, 7-time All-Star, 2-time ERA title, Triple Crown (W, ERA, Ks)
4-WAR seasons: 7 by bWAR, 6 by fWAR
One notable stat: From 1944 to 1948, Newhouser’s run would rival anybody. He threw an average of 295 IP with a 2.35 ERA. He led in wins three times, ERA twice, FIP four times, strikeouts twice, and innings once.
Profile: Newhouser was signed by the Detroit Tigers at the age of 18 for $500. Supposedly, an Indians scout was prepared to sign him to $15,000, but he got there after the Tigers. Newhouser debuted the next year in 1939, but just for one game. He made the team the next year, but only made 20 starts. By 1942, he was an All-Star. In a time when many players were going to war, Newhouser was ineligible due to a leaky heart valve. From 1942 to 1948, he made six All-Star teams and won two MVPs. That run ended in 1949, though it wasn’t much of a dropoff. His true dropoff came the next year when he only threw 213 innings after throwing at least 270 for six straight years. He hurt his arm in 1950, and his workload dropped considerably. He was released by the Tigers after 1953, signed with the Indians and was their long reliever for one year, making the World Series. He pitched in two games in 1954 but retired after that. He was on 15 Hall of Fame ballots, but needed the 1992 Veteran’s Committee to elect him.
Amos Otis (OF)
Career: 42.8 bWAR, 40.2 fWAR. 37.7 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 3.1 bWAR, 2.9 fWAR)
Peak: 32.5 bWAR, 30.5 fWAR
Acc: 5-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glover
4-WAR seasons: 5 by bWAR, 3 by fWAR
One notable stat: Otis was excellent at picking his spots to steal despite also stealing a lot of bases. His 78.5% success rate ranks 86th all-time. His 434 steal attempts are more than 64 players ahead of him.
Profile: Otis was drafted in 5th round of the first ever MLB Draft out of high school in 1965 by the Boston Red Sox. I don’t know old school acquisition rules at all, but the Mets drafted him from the Red Sox in 1966 and put him in AAA. He made his MLB debut at 20-years-old in 1967, but didn’t play well and spent 1968 in the minors. In 1969, he saw more time, but played even worse so he was traded to the Royals. As a Royal, he was instantly inserted into the starting CF job and made four straight All-Star teams. In 1971, he won his first Gold Glove. In 1980, he saw his playing time decrease, but when the Royals made the World Series, he hit .478 with 3 HRs in a losing effort. After 14 seasons as a Royal, he became a free agent. He signed with the Pirates but was released before the season was over. He was done at 37-years-old. He did not receive votes on his only HOF ballot.
Lance Parrish (C)
Career: 39.5 bWAR, 43.4 fWAR, 34 JAWS (per 550 PAS: 2.8 bWAR, 3.1 fWAR)
Peak: 28.4 bWAR, 30.3 fWAR
Acc: 8-time All-Star, 6-time Silver Slugger, 3-time Gold Glover
4-WAR seasons: 4 by bWAR, 5 by fWAR
One notable stat: Parrish hits a lot of home runs for a catcher. He ranks 6th all-time in HRs with 299. In 1982, he set the AL record for HRs by a catcher in a single season with 32 which he beat two years later with 33. It has since been broken.
Profile: Parrish was drafted 16th overall in the 1974 draft out of high school by the Detroit Tigers, which allowed him to pass up on a football scholarship to UCLA. He made the majors within three years as a September callup, played in a time-sharing role in 1978 and was the starter in 1979. In 1980, he made his first All-Star team, in 1982 he won his first Silver Slugger, and in 1983, he got his first Gold Glove. When he became a free agent in 1986, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, but a poor second season with them led to a trade to the Angels. In his fourth season as an Angel, he was released in the first half due to a poor start. He rebounded a bit when he signed five days later with the Mariners. He barely played in 1993, but managed to be a backup for two different teams in his last two seasons, being done after 1995 at 39-years-old. He received nine votes, under 5%, on his only ballot.
Eddie Plank (SP)
Career: 87.7 bWAR, 67.8 fWAR, 71.1 JAWS (per his 264 IP avg: 5.2 bWAR, 4 fWAR)
Peak: 51.2 bWAR, 36.3 fWAR
Acc: None (played before All-Star game)
4-WAR seasons: 12 by bWAR, 9 by fWAR
One notable stat: Plank was the first left-hander to win 200 games and 300 games in baseball and currently ranks 11th all-time with 326 wins. He was not as fortunate in the playoffs, going 2-5 despite a 1.32 ERA.
Profile: Plank did not play baseball until he was 17-years-old when he began playing for town teams. When he was 22, he enrolled in Gettysburg Academy, just as a smokescreen to play for the college team without enrolling. Without ever actually pitching in the minors, Connie Mack was advised to sign Plank, which he did in 1901. At 25-years-old, Plank threw 260 innings and had a 5.3 bWAR season. After the As went to the World Series and lost, Plank ended up pitching just once in the final 50 games of 1906. His workload dropped considerably in 1908, dropping his average inning output from 335 IP (from 1902 to 1905) to 253 IP (from 1908 to 1913). After he was relied upon for less than 200 IP in 1914, he was released, with Mack knowing he would sign with the Federal League. When the FL folded, the owner bought the St. Louis Browns and brought Plank with him. After two seasons, he retired at 41-years-old. Plank had trouble cracking through the crowded Hall ballot, and through seven tries, didn’t make it. But the Old Timers Committee elected him in 1946.
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (C)
Career: 68.7 bWAR, 69.2 fWAR, 54.2 JAWS (per 550 PAs: 3.7 WAR)
Peak: 39.8 bWAR, 39.4 fWAR
Acc: MVP, 14-time All-Star, 13-time Gold Glover, 7-time Silver Slugger
One notable stat: For most of his career and certainly his peak, Rodriguez was the greatest at catching runners trying to steal. He was 1st in caught stealing percentage nine times and landed in the top ten 12 times.
Profile: Rodriguez was signed at 16-years-old out of Puerto Rico by the Texas Rangers in 1988 and made the majors a little less than three years later. Rodriguez made the All-Star team a year later, largely on the strength of his glove, as he also won his first Gold Glove at just 20-years-old. He had one briefly good season with the bat, but it really came around in his seventh season. Two years later, he won MVP. All the while, he was on a streak of 10 Gold Gloves and 10 All-Star games. His streak ended in 2002, also his last year as a Ranger. He signed a one-year deal with the Marlins, and led them to a World Series victory. He signed a longer deal with the Tigers, and he had his last great season with the bat in his first year. At the trading deadline of 2008, he was traded to the Yankees, but they failed to reach the postseason. He signed with the Astros for one year and was traded to the Rangers, who also failed to reach the postseason. He spent his last two years as a National, the first of which as a starter and the second as the backup. He retired at 39-years-old. He was first ballot with 79% of the vote.
Nap Rucker (SP)
Career: 47 bWAR, 32.2 fWAR, 45.9 JAWS (per his 238 IP avg: 4.7 bWAR, 3.2 fWAR)
Peak: 44.7 bWAR, 29 fWAR
Acc: None (played before All-Star game)
4-WAR seasons: 6 by bWAR, 4 by fWAR
One notable stat; From 1907 to 1916, the duration of his career, Nap Rucker was 5th in innings pitched, 5th in complete games, and 6th in shutouts. All five pitchers in front of him in those stats are Hall of Famers.
Profile: Rucker was motivated to start playing baseball when he was a printer’s apprentice and saw the headline “$10,000 for pitching a baseball.” He joined a semipro team and soon caught the eye of the minor leagues. In 1907, the Brooklyn Superbras drafted him and he had established himself enough that in his rookie season, he made 30 starts and threw 275 innings. In 1909, he tied the modern day record by striking out 16 batters in one game. When his fastball faded in 1913, he started throwing a very slow pitch that was either a curve or even a knuckleball. That was his last workhorse season, as his arm was effectively toast by 29-years-old. He only pitched effectively with two weeks rest. He made 31 starts combined in 1914 and 1915, and appeared in just 9 games in 1916, retiring after the season at 31-years-old. He was on seven Hall of Fame ballots with a high of 6.4%.
Babe Ruth (OF/SP)
Career: 183.1 bWAR, 180.8 fWAR, 124 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 9.2 bWAR, 9.5 fWAR; per 233 IP avg: 3.9 bWAR, 2.4 fWAR)
Peak: 85.3 bWAR, 90.4 fWAR
Acc: MVP, 2-time All-Star (no ASG in all seasons but 3), Batting title, ERA title
4-WAR seasons: 20 by bWAR, 18 by fWAR
One notable stat: I will eschew the obvious stats for you and point out that Babe Ruth was something of a strikeout machine, at least by the standards of the 1920s. He was either first or second in the league in strikeouts 12 times. Adam Ottavino is undoubtedly correct.
Profile: Ruth did not have very good parents growing up, and they quickly realized they were not up to snuff on taking care of him, so in 1902, he was sent to St. Mary’s, a reform school. He spent the next 12 years there, and that’s where his love of baseball developed, as well as his hitting style. He caught the attention of the minor league Baltimore Orioles in 1914, at the age of 19. He became a star pitcher and in the middle of the season, he was sold to the Boston Red Sox. For the next three seasons, he was used as a starting pitcher, throwing over 300 innings in 1916 and 1917. Beginning in 1918, he was used also as an outfielder and only started 19 games. By this point, his hitting was overshadowing his pitching. But it wasn’t until a trade to the Yankees that he gave up pitching altogether. Over the next 15 years, Ruth was the best player in baseball for the Yankees. At the end of his career, Ruth wanted to manage, but no MLB team was willing. He was promised the chance to manage by the Boston Braves owner, but Ruth realized he was deceived and retired in June of 1934 at the age of 40. Ruth made the first HOF ballot two years later, with 95.1% of the vote.
Bill Terry (1B)
Career: 56.5 bWAR, 57 fWAR, 49.9 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4.8 WAR)
Peak: 43.3 bWAR, 43.3 fWAR
Acc: 3-time All-Star (only had ASG in last four seasons), Batting title
4-WAR seasons: 9 by bWAR, 8 by fWAR
One notable stat: He has the eight highest average of all-time with a career .341 average. In fact, he is the last National League player to hit .400, which he did in 1924.
Profile: Terry started his professional career at 16, slowly rising up the ranks as a pitcher. Slowly but surely, his hitting also attracted notice and Terry started campaigning to play more in the field. He made it to the highest level of the minor leagues playing both roles, but in 1923, he completely converted to hitting as a 1B and hit .377. The New York Giants purchased his contract at the end of the 1923 season, and he make his MLB debut at 24-years-old. He spent all of 1924 on the Giants, but was barely more than a pinch-hitter. When the Giants 3B got injured early in 1925, starter High Pockets Kelly moved to 2B and allowed Terry to play as the starting 1B. In 1926, he went back to the bench. Kelly was traded, allowing Terry to start at 1B full-time in 1927. He then had nine straight seasons as at least a 3.8 fWAR player. At 34, Terry became player-manager, and in 1936, he stepped down from starting and split time at 1B. In 1937, he was retired as a player, but continued managing until 1941. He was elected on the 15th try by the writers with 77.4% of the vote.
Bucky Walters (SP)
Career: 53.5 bWAR, 36.8 fWAR, 48.4 JAWS (per his 235 IP avg: 4.1 bWAR, 2.8 fWAR)
Peak: 43.8 bWAR, 28 fWAR
Acc: MVP, 6-time All-Star, 2-time ERA Title, Triple Crown winner (W, ERA, Ks)
4-WAR seasons: 7 by bWAR, 3 by fWAR
One notable stat: About that WAR disparity: Walters had a career 69 wRC+. He played 1,700 innings in the field. Most of that was in one season. For some reason, FG treats him as a normal hitter it seems while B-R’s hitting WAR changes based on where he plays.
Profile: Walters began his career as a pitcher and infielder in 1929, but he was more successful with the bat than with pitching. The Boston Braves picked him up late in the season, but that year and another late season trial in 1933 produced nothing but bad results with the bat. When he saw the majors next, he was purchased by the Red Sox, but continued to not hit and they sold him to the Phillies in the middle of 1934. He competed for the 3B job in spring training in 1935, and he was finally convinced to switch to pitching. He was in a band box, so when he was traded to the Reds in the middle of 1939, his pitching improved. He promptly won the Triple Crown in his first full season as a Red and made five All-Star teams in six years. He injured himself in 1945, only pitching in two games past July and after 9 straight seasons of 246 innings, he never threw more than 160 after 1945. His career was effectively over after 1948, but he made one appearance as pitching coach of the Braves in 1950. He was on 15 HOF ballots with a high of 23.7%.
John Wetteland (RP)
Career; 19.1 bWAR, 16.1 fWAR, 18.1 JAWS (per 65 IP: 1.6 bWAR, 1.4 fWAR)
Peak: 16.9 bWAR, 13.1 fWAR
Acc: Rolaid’s Relief, 3-time All-Star
2-WAR seasons: 4 by bWAR, 2 by fWAR
One notable stat: There’s only so many reliever stats I can give you so I’ll repeat myself. Wetteland is 16th all-time in saves, and at the time of his retirement, he ranked 6th all-time.
Profile: Wetteland was drafted in the 12th round out of high school by the Mets, but elected not to sign. He enrolled in a community college and was drafted in the 2nd round of the January draft of 1985 by the Dodgers and he did sign. He rose through the ranks as a starter, making his MLB debut in May of 1989, starting in 12 of his 31 games. When Wetteland struggled through 5 starts in 1990, he asked to move to the bullpen. He split 1990 between the minors and majors, but mostly spent 1991 in the minors. Before the 1992 season, the Dodgers traded him to the Reds, who then traded him to the Expos before the season started. He was the Expos closer for the next three seasons, and then was traded to the Yankees for two seasons. They let him become a free agent because of Mariano Rivera and he signed a deal with the Rangers. When his Rangers deal expired after 2000, he retired at 33-years-old. He received four votes on his only ballot.
Because we have 32 players, you have 14 votes. Your deadline is Wednesday night around 9 pm. On Thursday, you’ll get the results of this ballot and the previous two. So we’ll have a huge influx of VEB voted Hall of Famers. Make sure you only vote for 14!