This is the fourth round of voting for the VEB Hall of Fame. This round does not include either Negro League players nor any players who played primarily in the 1800s. I created a list of players, which ended up totaling 503 players, comprised of players with 40+ WAR on either Baseball-Reference (bWAR) or Fangraphs (fWAR), players who won an MVP or Cy Young (with at least 20 WAR), players who made the actual Hall of Fame, and and high-ranking career relievers by WAR or by saves. Then I used a random number generator to select 32 players to go on the first ballot.
In case you missed it, 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
Sal Bando (3B)
Career: 61.5 bWAR, 56.2 fWAR, 53 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4.2 bWAR, 4.1 fWAR)
Peak: 44.4 bWAR, 41.4 fWAR
Acc: 4-time AS
4-WAR seasons: 8 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: While one might not necessarily call him clutch, Bando pretty much performed exactly the same in the postseason. Across 44 games in six different postseasons, Bando had a 115 wRC+ compared to his 121 wRC+ in his career.
Profile: Drafted in the 6th round of the first ever MLB Draft in 1965 out of ASU, Bando debuted the next year for the Kansas City Athletics. He stayed with them through their move to Oakland, making five straight postseasons. He signed as a free agent with the Brewers, which is where he ended his career. He received three votes on his only HOF ballot.
Jim Bottomley (1B)
Career: 35.8 bWAR, 37.7 fWAR, 29.6 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 2.6 bWAR, 2.7 fWAR)
Peak: 29.6 bWAR, 31.2 fWAR
Acc: MVP (ASG started when he was 33 and past his prime)
4-WAR seasons: 4 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: Here is a fascinating thing about context. Jim Bottomley hit 219 career homers which does not merit a mention about his ranking all-time on B-R. But he was top 10 seven times, including one as a league leader. He is 96th all-time in doubles, while only being in the top ten five times, though twice as the league leader.
Profile: Sometimes, things fall in your lap. A police officer who knew Branch Rickey saw Bottomley play, recommended the Cards sign him. He signed Bottomley in 1920, and sold him to minor league clubs for a few seasons until he was deemed MLB worthy. He debuted in 1922, late in the season, and was the starting 1B in 1923. After four World Series appearances with the Cards, he was traded to the Reds in 1933. He finished his career as a St. Louis Brown. He maxed out at 33.1% of the vote, but the Veteran’s Committee voted him in 1974.
Harry Breechen (SP)
Career: 41.3 bWAR, 36 fWAR, 37.4 JAWS (per 200 IP: 4.3 bWAR, 3.8 fWAR)
Peak: 32.6 bWAR, 28.6 fWAR
Acc: 2-time All-Star, ERA title
4-WAR seasons: 4 by bWAR, 2 by fWAR
One notable stat: He is the only pitcher to win consecutive games in the World Series. He threw a complete game with the Cards down 3 games to 2 in the 1946 World Series, then replaced the Game 7 starter with runners on 2nd and 3rd, nobody out, giving up the lead, but throwing two scoreless innings as Cards took back lead. He had a 0.83 ERA in 32.2 World Series innings.
Profile: Breechen had the double whammy of being a late bloomer and being in a ridiculously stacked farm system. He perfected the screwball in the minors at 23 that caused the Cards to sign him and despite good numbers, then spent the next five seasons in the minors without getting a real shot. Benefiting from being exempt from military service due to a boyhood injury, he became a swingman during the war years. When the Cards got a new manager in 1946 and injuries prevented him from the unpredictable schedule of a swingman, he moved to starting full-time. He was released by Cards in 1952 when he was 37 and played one more year with the Browns. He was on seven HOF ballots without any real support.
Phil Cavarretta (1B)
Career: 37 bWAR, 34.5 fWAR, 31.7 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 2.9 bWAR, 2,7 fWAR)
Peak: 26.4 bWAR, 24.8 fWAR
Acc: MVP, 4-time All-Star, batting title
4-WAR seasons: 2 by bWAR, 3 by fWAR
One notable stat: Cavarretti took a long time to be a good player and that’s mostly because he was insanely young when he started. He was the youngest player in baseball for his first two years and one of the four youngest for his first four seasons. He was last living person to face Babe Ruth.
Profile: Signed out of high school at 17-years-old by the Cubs, he debuted later that year and played in 7 games. He struggled with his defense and with injuries. He had a 63 wRC+ season in 1938 and played in less than 100 games combined in 1939 and 1940 due to breaking the same ankle twice. In that half season, his bat came around and stuck. His career pretty much ended in 1951, but he still occasionally played as player-manager. He barely played in his last two seasons for the White Sox. He was on 14 HOF ballots and his last ballot was his highest percentage, at 35.6%.
Stan Covelski (SP)
Career: 66.6 bWAR, 51 fWAR, 56.2 JAWS (per his 272 IP avg.: 5.9 bWAR, 4.5 fWAR)
Peak: 50.8 bWAR, 37.2 fWAR
Acc: 2 ERA titles (career predated ASG and most awards)
4-WAR season: 8 by bWAR, 9 by fWAR
One notable stat: It makes sense for a guy who finished in the top 10 in ERA nine times, but Covelski threw a good number of shutouts. He led the league twice, placed top 10 in the league 9 times and has the 54th most shutouts of all time with 38.
Profile: Working in the coal mines as a child, he caught the attention of a semipro team in 1909. Late in the 1912 season, Connie Mack of the Athletics signed him, and he made his debut shortly after. Stuck behind an excellent pitching staff, he was sent back to the minors. In 1915, he learned the spitball while on loan with a minor league club, but the Athletics lost the rights to him. He got traded to the Indians where he got his first real shot at 26-years-old. He stayed an Indian until he was 35-years-old, when he was traded to the Senators. He lasted two years there, got released, and spent his last season as a Yankee in a limited role. He was only on six HOF ballots, but got elected in 1969 by the Veteran’s Committee.
Johnny Damon (OF)
Career: 56.3 bWAR, 44.4 fWAR, 44.6 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 3.1 bWAR, 2.4 fWAR)
Peak: 33 bWAR, 28.5 fWAR
Acc: 2-time All-Star
4-WAR seasons: 7 by bWAR, 4 by fWAR
One notable stat: Johnny Damon both stole a lot of bases and didn’t get caught much doing it. His 79.84% stolen base rate ranks 66th all-time, with just 12 players in front him having more steals than his 408 career steals.
Profile: Drafted 35th overall by the Royals in the 1992 MLB Draft, he debuted late in the 1995 season. It took him a few seasons to learn how to hit, but by 25-years-old, he was an above average hitter. One year before he hit free agency, he was traded to the Athletics for one year. He then signed a four-year deal with the Red Sox, being part of their first World Series win in 86 years. He signed with the rival Yankees when he hit free agency again at 32. After four productive seasons (and another championship), he had one-year FA deals with the Tigers, Rays, and Indians before retiring at 38. He got 8 votes on his only ballot.
Wes Ferrell (SP)
Career: 60.1 bWAR, 50.8 fWAR, 57.2 JAWS (per his 235 IP avg.: 5.4 bWAR, 4.6 fWAR)
Peak: 54.4 bWAR, 41.8 fWAR
Acc: 2-time All-Star (no ASG in first four seasons)
4 WAR seasons: 8 by bWAR, 7 by fWAR
One notable stat: Wes Ferrell may very well hold the distinction of being the 3rd greatest hitting pitcher of all-time since 1900. For his career, he had a 100 wRC+ in 1,345 PAs. Smokey Joe Wood has a 111 wRC+, but he eventually stopped pitching. When he was actually pitching, it was a 92 wRC+.
Profile: Growing up in a family of seven boys, he was the brother of eventual Hall of Famer Rick Ferrell. He got signed by the Indians in 1927 at the age of 19, but didn’t get a real shot until two years later. He made the first ever All-Star team in 1933, but faltered down the stretch. When he felt the Indians made an unfair offer, he refused to sign, so they traded him to the Red Sox in May. He pitched well up until 1937, and after 12 bad starts, he was traded to the Senators, where he bounced back. That was his last good year, but he played for three more teams before he retired at just 33. He was on six HOF ballots, but seven was the most votes he got.
Elmer Flick (OF)
Career: 52.7 bWAR, 56 fWAR, 46.8 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4.9 bWAR, 5.2 fWAR)
Peak: 40.9 bWAR, 43.5 fWAR
Acc: Batting Title (His career ended before really any awards began in 1910)
4 WAR seasons: 9 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: I’m going to assume Flick was fast. He led the league in triples for three straight years, finished in the top 10 nine times and is 30th all-time in triples. In addition, he led the league in stolen bases twice and was in the top ten six times with 330 career stolen bases.
Profile: In 1898, Flick was signed as a backup outfielder for the Phillies, but quickly became the starter thanks to a back injury forcing Sam Thompson into retirement. Flick and several Phillies were disgruntled with management and wanted to leave, and when the AL started stealing NL players, Flick signed with the Philadelphia Athletics. He only managed to play 11 games because the Phillies filed an injunction against him and other Phillies, saying they were still under contract. Realizing they had no power outside of Pennsylvania, he signed with the Cleveland Bronchos with Nap Lajoie (at which point they became the Cleveland Naps, which is crazy) He played out the rest of his career in Cleveland. He was only on one ballot, but in 1963 got elected via the Veteran’s Committee.
John Franco (RP)
Career: 23.6 bWAR, 16.1 fWAR, 19.3 JAWS (per 65 IP: 1.2 bWAR, 0.8 fWAR)
Peak: 15.2 bWAR, 9.3 fWAR
Acc: 2-time Rolaids Relief winner, 4-time All-Star
2 WAR seasons: 4 by bWAR, 0 by fWAR
Notable stat: Most relievers start as a starter or debut late or burn out quickly. Franco played from 23 to 42, most of them healthy, and because of that, he holds the NL record for most games pitched with 1,119. He also has the fifth most saves of all time.
Profile: Drafted in the 5th round of the 1981 draft by the Dodgers out of St. John’s, Franco was traded less than two years later to the Reds. He debuted at 23, and was the team’s regular closer by 25. He was traded to the Mets in 1990, which is where he stayed the rest of his career aside from his very last season, when he only pitched 15 innings for the Astros. He received 27 votes on his only ballot.
Bill Freehan (C)
Career: 44.8 bWAR, 44.8 fWAR, 39.2 JAWS (per 550 PAs: 3.6 WAR)
Peak: 33.7 bWAR, 34.1 fWAR
Acc: 11-time All-Star, 5-time Gold Glover
4 WAR seasons: 6 by bWAR, 4 by fWAR
One notable stat: Freehan and Mickey Lolich currently hold the record for most games started by a battery with 324, however the Wainwright-Molina battery is 20 starts away from surpassing them.
Profile: Born in Detroit, he attended the University of Michigan so that he could play both football and baseball. The Tigers signed him to a $100,000 bonus in 1961. He had a timeshare in his first season and was the first string catcher in his second at 22. He then stayed the Tigers catcher until he retired. He received just two votes on his only ballot.
Brian Giles (OF)
Career: 51.1 bWAR, 54.6 fWAR, 44.2 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 3.9 bWAR, 4.2 fWAR)
Peak: 37.4 bWAR, 40.9 fWAR
Acc: 2-time All-Star
4-WAR seasons: 6 by bWAR, 8 by fWAR
One notable stat: Brian Giles had ridiculous plate discipline. For his career he walked in 15.1% of plate appearances while only striking out in 10.7%. With pretty good power, it led to a career 136 wRC+
Profile: Drafted in the 17th round out of high school by the Cleveland Indians in the 1989 MLB Draft, it took until the very end of the 1995 season to make his debut. He had to fight for every PA he got with Cleveland, hitting for a 153 wRC+ in 143 PAs in 1997, and posting 6.1 combined fWAR with less than 900 PAs combined over the next two seasons. When he was traded to the Pirates, he was finally a full-time starter. He reached a new level with them, which he pretty much maintained through a trade to the Padres at 32-years-old. He retired a Padre at 38. He didn’t receive a vote on his only ballot.
Jackie Jensen (OF)
Career: 27.9 bWAR, 32.5 fWAR, 26.3 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 2.8 bWAR, 3.2 fWAR)
Peak: 24.7 bWAR, 28 fWAR
Acc: MVP, 3-time All-Star, Gold Glover
4-WAR seasons: 2 by bWAR, 4 by fWAR
One notable stat: On the television show Home Run Derby in which baseball sluggers were pitted against each other week to week, Jackie Jensen played 4 times. He won twice, but lost to Mickey Mantle twice. No shame in that.
Profile: A two-sport star in college, he helped lead the University of California to an undefeated record and a Rose Bowl victory in a year he placed 4th in Heisman voting. He left college to sign with a minor league team, which got sold to the Yankees in 1950. He was exclusively a backup and got traded to the Senators after a couple seasons. He established himself with the Senators and after two years, got traded to the Red Sox. He had an intense fear of flying, and it did not help that MLB expanded to the West Coast at this time. After his age 32 season, he abruptly retired. He tried to return in 1961 after one missed year, but he he wasn’t good and retired again. He was on six ballots with no more than 3 votes.
Ralph Kiner (OF)
Career: 48.1 bWAR, 47.6 fWAR, 45.4 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4.6 WAR)
Peak: 42.7 bWAR, 41.3 fWAR
Acc: 6-time All-Star
4-WAR seasons: 6 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: Kiner led the league in HRs for his first seven seasons. He is one of seven players to have four seasons of 30 HRs, 100 RBIs in their first five years in the big leagues.
Profile: As soon as Kiner graduated high school, he signed with the Pirates in 1941. A few seasons into his minor league career, he served in World War II as a Navy pilot. Being an unknown minor leaguer, unlike the majority of MLBers who served, he didn’t get to primarily play baseball while overseas. When he returned from the war, he made the team out of spring training in 1946. Instantly a sensation, he stayed a Pirate until 1953 when he was traded due to salary disputes to the Cubs in a 10-player trade. He spent a season and a half with the Cubs and was traded to the Indians. He retired at 32 because of a back injury. He needed 15 HOF ballots, but he was voted in by the writers in 1975.
Sandy Koufax (SP)
Career: 53.1 bWAR, 54.5 fWAR, 47.4 JAWS (per his 220 IP avg: 5 bWAR, 5.2 fWAR)
Peak: 46 bWAR, 49.1 fWAR
Acc: MVP, 3-time Cy Young, 7-time All-Star, 5-time ERA title
4-WAR seasons: 6 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: How do I limit it to one? He led the league in ERA in his last five seasons of his career and in FIP in his last six. He had a 0.95 ERA in 8 postseason games. He had the highest K/9 in baseball six times. He currently ranks 22nd all-time in K/9, but was 1st when he retired. In fact, not only did every single pitcher who ranks higher pitch after him, everyone pitched waaaaay after him, with the exception of Nolan Ryan.
Profile: Signed before the 1955 season as a “Bonus Baby,” Koufax probably could have used seasoning in the minor leagues. If you were wondering why it took him so long to become SANDY KOUFAX, that might be why. He considered quitting after the 1960 season, but lucky for him and us, 1961 was the first year he became SANDY KOUFAX. He was forced to retire early due to arthritis in his left elbow at age 30. In 1972, he became the youngest player to make the Hall of Fame with 86.9% of the vote on his first ballot.
Marty Marion (SS)
Career: 31.9 bWAR, 30 fWAR, 28.9 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 3.1 bWAR, 2.9 fWAR)
Peak: 25.8 bWAR, 25.2 fWAR
Acc: MVP, 8-time All-Star
4-WAR seasons: 3 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: While he was not a particularly good hitter, Marion was one of the best defenders ever. He ranked first in the league in dWAR 3 times and placed in the top 10 for ten straight seasons. He’s 21st all-time in dWAR.
Profile: Signed out of Atlanta, Georgia, Marty Marion had to work his way up the insanely stocked farm system of the Cardinals in the late 1930s. He finally made the team in 1940, largely on the strength of his glove. A childhood leg injury prevented him from serving in World War II which allowed him to thrive. When the Mexican League was threatening to steal MLB players, Marion was one of the representatives who met with the owners to ask for some modest amenities to prevent people from leaving, including what ended up being the most important, a pension plan. Marion stayed with the Cards through 1951, and missed the 1951 season completely due to knee surgery. He played two seasons with the St. Louis Browns, who grabbed any ex-Cardinal they could to stay afloat. He was on 14 HOF ballots, getting as high as 40%, but never made it.
Joe Morgan (2B)
Career: 100.4 bWAR, 98.8 fWAR, 79.8 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 5.3 bWAR, 5.2 fWAR)
Peak: 59.2 bWAR, 58.5 fWAR
Acc: 2-time MVP, 10-time All-Star, 5-time Gold Glover, Silver Slugger
4-WAR seasons: 9 by bWAR, 11 by fWAR
One notable stat: Morgan ranks 6th all-time in the “Power-Speed” stat created by Bill James with 268 career homers and 689 career stolen bases. Listening to him as an announcer, you’d also have no clue he had a 16.5% career BB rate.
Profile: Unsigned due to his size after high school, he attracted the attention of multiple teams with his play in a two-year college in California. He signed with the Houston Colt .45s and debuted at 19-years-old in 1963, but he didn’t get in more than a handful of games until 1965. He then was pretty good for the Colt ‘45s, making two All-Star games in seven years. They traded him to the Reds, and he reached a new level. He made the next eight All-Star games. He reached free agency, and played for four teams in the next five years. He retired at 40 and was first ballot when eligible.
Al Oliver (OF)
Career: 43.6 bWAR, 43.4 fWAR, 35.9 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 2.7 WAR)
Peak: 28.1 bWAR, 27.6 fWAR
Acc: 7-time All-Star, 3-time Silver Slugger
4-WAR seasons: 3 by bWAR, 2 by fWAR
One notable stat: Perhaps because he was top 10 in average 9 times, Al Oliver got a surprising amount of MVP votes, getting at least one vote in 10 seasons, with the highest being 3rd.
Profile: Oliver signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent one year before the MLB Draft. He rose through the system, debuted in 1968 and was a regular the next year at 22-years-old. In 1971, Oliver was a part of what is believed to be the first all-black lineup in MLB history. When he turned 31, he was part of a 4-team trade and landed in Texas for the Rangers. He spent four seasons with the Rangers, and then was promptly traded five times in his last four years. He retired in 1985 at 38. He received 19 votes on his only ballot.
Dave Parker (OF)
Career: 40.1 bWAR, 41.1 fWAR, 38.7 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 2.4 WAR)
Peak: 37.3 bWAR, 36.9 fWAR
Acc: MVP, 7-time All-Star, 3-time Silver Slugger, 3-time Gold Glover
4-WAR seasons: 5 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: I’m not sure I’ve seen a career like this, at least in terms of WAR. Age 24 to 28 goes normally for an elite player, he suddenly drops off a cliff at 29. Seen that before too, though rare. But then at 34, he randomly has another elite season. At 35, back to his post-peak self. Weird.
Profile: Drafted in the 14th round by the Pirates, he debuted three years after his draft year, in 1973 at the age of 22. He then remained a Pirate until he hit free agency, which happened 11 years later. He signed a deal with the Reds, where he stayed for a few seasons until he was traded Oakland. He played for three teams in last two seasons. He retired in 1991. He was on 15 Hall of Fame ballots but never got more than a quarter of votes.
Tony Perez (1B)
Career: 54 bWAR, 58.9 fWAR, 45.2 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 3 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR)
Peak: 36.5 bWAR, 38.4 fWAR
Acc; 7-time All-Star
4-WAR seasons: 6 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: Not necessarily a stat people care about anymore and he was on the Big Red Machine, so plenty of opportunities, but he did drive in at least 90 runners for 11 straight seasons, which included six 100 RBI seasons. He had a seventh 100 RBI season a few seasons after that run.
Profile: Signed out of Cuba at just 17-years-old by the Cincinnati Reds, it took him four years to make his MLB debut and an additional three years to become a full-time starter. In that season, he made his first All-Star team at 25. He made his last All-Star team at 34-years-old in 1976, at which point the Reds traded him to the Expos. He reached free agency for first time with Expos. He signed with the Red Sox, Phillies, and then spent his last three years on the bench with the Reds. He retired at 44. He was elected by the writers on his 9th ballot.
Darrell Porter (C)
Career: 40.8 bWAR, 40.8 fWAR, 34.9 JAWS (per 550 PAs: 3.4 WAR)
Peak: 29.1 bWAR, 29.2 fWAR
Acc: 4-time All-Star
4-WAR seasons: 2 by bWAR, 3 by fWAR
One notable stat: He ranks 18th all-time among catchers in BB% (13.8%). He has more plate appearances than anyone in front of him. In fact, among catchers with at least 5,000 plate appearances, he ranks 4th, though when Yasmani Grandal qualifies, he’ll likely drop to 5th.
Profile: Born in Joplin, Missouri, Porter was drafted out of an Oklahoma City high school 4th overall in the 1970 draft by the Brewers. He debuted the next season, though played little enough that he was still a rookie in the 1973 season. After a down season in 1976, he was traded to the Royals. He finished his Royals career with three straight AS appearances. In the 1980 offseason, he signed with the Cards, won a ring with them, and was released after five seasons. He played two more years with the Rangers, retiring at 35. He did not receive a HOF vote.
Willie Randolph (2B)
Career: 65.9 bWAR, 62.1 fWAR, 51.1 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4.2 bWAR, 3.9 fWAR)
Peak: 36.3 bWAR, 34.9 fWAR
Acc: 6-time All-Star, Silver Slugger
4-WAR seasons: 9 by bWAR, 7 by fWAR
One notable stat: During his playing career, Willie Randolph has the 6th best K/BB ratio among hitters with at least 1,000 plate appearances. He had a better wRC+ than two of the five hitters above him. The other three? Wade Boggs, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose.
Profile: Drafted in the 7th round of the 1972 MLB Draft out of a Brooklyn high school by the Pirates, he soon found himself traded to the Yankees after just 30 MLB games in 1976. He was then at least a 2 WAR player for the Yankees for the next 13 seasons. At 34, he finally signed with a new team, the Dodgers, who traded him in his second season with them. He played for two more teams in two years before he retired at 37. He received 5 votes on his only ballot.
Ray Schalk (C)
Career: 33.2 bWAR, 22.4 fWAR, 29.5 JAWS (per 550 PAs: 2.9 bWAR, 2 fWAR)
Peak: 25.8 bWAR, 17.9 fWAR
Acc: None (Career ended before ASG started)
4-WAR seasons: 2 by bWAR, 0 by fWAR
One notable stat: Here’s something interesting. Schalk averaged 479 PAs during the 11 year stretch where he played the most. He reached 550 PAs once. And yet, he was 1st in games caught 7 times.
Profile: He garnered the attention of the White Sox at 18 primarily for his aggressive approach to the catching position. Catchers of the day were large and slow of foot, and Schalk was tiny, fast and agile. He expanded what a catcher could be and was considered the best defensive catcher of his era. Considered so honest that gamblers didn’t even approach him about throwing the 1919 World Series, he remained a White Sox through that scandal and effectively played his whole career with them. He was on 15 ballots and didn’t make it, but made it on the Veteran’s Committee in 1955 on the same year of his last ballot with the writers.
Frank Schulte (OF)
Career: 23.7 bWAR, 30.8 fWAR, 21.7 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 1.9 bWAR, 2.5 fWAR)
Peak: 19.6 bWAR, 22.3 fWAR
Acc: MVP (Chalmers Award in 1911, no ASG in his career)
4-WAR seasons: 0 by bWAR, 2 by fWAR
One notable stat: He is the first of four players to be in the 20-20-20-20 club, with 21 homers, 21 triples, 30 doubles, and 23 stolen bases. Nobody did it again until Willie Mays. That was naturally his MVP season.
Profile: Schulte was purchased by the Cubs after a couple seasons on a Class B minor league team. He established himself as one of the power hitters of the day, complete with what constituted a lot of strikeouts for the time. He played as a Cub from 21 to 33, and was traded in the middle of 1916 to the Pirates. After another year with them, he played for two more teams in his final two years, retiring at 35. He received 1 vote on the 1935 HOF ballot.
Urban Shocker (SP)
Career: 54.7 bWAR, 40.4 fWAR, 51.9 JAWS (per his 223 IP avg: 4.6 bWAR, 3.4 fWAR)
Peak: 45.1 bWAR, 32.2 fWAR
Acc: None (career ended before first ASG)
4-WAR seasons: 8 by bWAR, 4 by fWAR
One notable stat: Shocker had an excellent K/BB ratio in his career, placing first or second in the league four times and in the top 10 seven times.
Profile: In the minors, Shocker alternated between pitching and catching, but a broken finger remained permanently crooked and allowed him to throw a curveball effectively. So he switched to pitcher full-time. After the 1915 season, the Yankees picked him up. He wasn’t used a whole lot for the Yankees and was traded to the St. Louis Browns for 2B help after 1917. His 1918 season was interrupted by fighting in World War I briefly. Shocker won 20 games in four of the six seasons after that for the Browns. The Yankees traded back for him in 1925 and he stayed long enough to be a part of that 1927 Yankees team. He signed for the 1928 season, but pitched in one game and was released for poor health. He died later that year of heart failure while he had pneumonia.
Warren Spahn (SP)
Career: 92.4 bWAR, 74.8 fWAR, 75.7 JAWS (per his 269 IP avg.: 4.7 bWAR, 3.8 fWAR)
Peak: 51.4 bWAR, 38.2 fWAR
Acc: Cy Young, 17-time All-Star (two All-Star appearances in 3 seasons, so 14 year All-Star)
4-WAR seasons: 14 by bWAR, 9 by fWAR
One notable stat: Spahn was absurd at throwing complete games. He threw the most complete games in the league from 1957 to 1963. He was 37 in 1957. He had two other seasons he led in CGs aside from that. He threw the most IP four times in career.
Profile: Warren Spahn’s dad wanted to be a big leaguer but was too small so he taught his son. His son wanted to be Lou Gehrig, but his dad knew he might be too small so he also taught him to pitch. When the high school team already had a guy at 1B, he reluctantly moved to pitching full-time. He signed with the Boston Braves in 1940. He made his MLB debut at 21 in 1942, and then spent the next three years serving in World War II. When he returned, he was in a swingman role for one season and became a full-time starter in 1947. He stayed with the Braves as they moved from Boston to Milwaukee. He pitched until 1944, stayed with the Braves until 1943. He received a vote on a 1958 ballot while he was still playing, so he effectively got in first ballot in 1973.
Frank Thomas (1B)
Career: 73.8 bWAR, 72.1 fWAR, 59.6 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4.4 bWAR, 4.3 fWAR)
Peak: 45.4 bWAR, 46.8 fWAR
Acc: 2-time MVP, 5-time All-Star, 4-time Silver Slugger
4-WAR seasons: 9 by both bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: Thomas is obviously well-known for his 521 career homers, but what he may be less well-known for is his on-base skills. He ranked first in the AL in OBP four times and ranks 21st all-time.
Profile: A three-sport star in high school, Thomas was disappointed he was not drafted in 1986 and went to Auburn on a football scholarship. He also played for the baseball team (obviously). When he got injured twice his sophomore season in football, baseball became his sole sport. He was drafted 7th overall by the White Sox in the 1989 draft. By 1991, he was 3rd in MVP voting at just 23-years-old. He stayed a White Sox until he was 38, and played with three teams in his final three years. He was first ballot with 83.7% of the vote in 2014.
Joe Tinker (SS)
Career: 53.2 bWAR, 55.5 fWAR, 43.1 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 4.5 bWAR, 4.7 fWAR)
Peak: 33 bWAR, 33.8 fWAR
Acc: None (career ended well before All-Star game existed)
4-WAR seasons: 6 by bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: Not a stat, but fun fact: he is very, very likely not a part of the greatest double play combo in MLB history. They never led the league in double plays. In fact, when “Tinker to Evers to Chance” was written, it’s possible Tinker and Evers weren’t speaking together. They did not get along.
Profile; After he was signed by the Cubs, Tinker won the starting shortstop job in spring training 1901. He became their regular SS for the next 11 years. Due to high salary demands and not wanting to play under Evers, who was recently hired as the player-manager, Tinker was traded to the Reds to become their player-manager. He missed time to give a blood transfusion to his wife and the Reds went 64-89. The Reds owner wanted him to resign as manager, and when Tinker refused, he was fired. He jumped to the Federal League for two years. 1916 was his last year. He was on 8 hOF ballots, but the Veteran’s Committee elected him in 1946, just before his death.
Virgil Trucks (SP)
Career: 42.4 bWAR, 42 fWAR, 36 JAWS (per 200 IP: 3.1 WAR)
Peak: 31.4 bWAR, 30.4 fWAR
Acc: 2-time All-Star
4-WAR seasons: 3 by bWAR, 4 by fWAR
One notable stat: He was discharged from the Navy two weeks before the World Series. MLB waived the rule that you had to be on a roster by September 1st and he pitched and won Game 2. Him and Chris Carpenter (in 2012) are the only pitchers to win a playoff game with no regular season wins.
Profile: The Tigers signed Trucks as a free agent in 1938, but it took him until 1942 to get more than a cup of coffee in the big leagues. After two good seasons, he went to serve in the Navy. He returned for one regular season game and two postseason games. In 1953, when he was 36, he was traded to the Browns, who traded him to the White Sox in the middle of that season. He was traded back to the Tigers for one year, then two more trades before his last year. His career ended in 1959 when he was released in April by the Yankees. He received four votes on his only ballot.
Honus Wagner (SS)
Career: 130.8 bWAR, 138.1 fWAR, 98.1 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 6.7 bWAR, 7.1 fWAR)
Peak: 65.3 bWAR, 68.7 fWAR
Acc: 8-time batting title winner (no ASG during career)
4-WAR seasons: 15 by bWAR and fWAR
One notable stat: I can give you a bunch of different stats, but I’ll keep it simple. His 8th best season was 8.4 fWAR and his 11th best season was 7 fWAR. He had 14 seasons over 6 fWAR!
Profile: Wagner’s older brother, Butts Wagner (not a joke), suggested his brother when his Inter-state League team needed help in 1895. Wagner played for five teams that year. He followed one of the owners of those teams to their newly bought team in 1896. He was then sold to the Louisville Colonels in 1897. In 1899, the NL went from 12 to 8 teams with the Colonels being one of the teams eliminated. The owner of the Colonels was also half owner of the Pirates and took Wagner with him. He then spent his entire career with the Pirates, retiring at 43. He was elected by 95.1% of writers on the first ever Hall of Fame ballot.
Dixie Walker (OF)
Career: 45.1 bWAR, 41.6 fWAR, 38.2 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 3.5 bWAR, 3.3 fWAR)
Peak: 31.4 bWAR, 30 fWAR
Acc: 5-time All-Star, Batting Title
4-WAR seasons: 5 by bWAR, 4 by fWAR
One notable stat: Walker was what one might call a late bloomer. He made his first All-Star game at 32-years-old and got MVP votes for every subsequent season until he was 37.
Profile: Acquired by the Yankees in 1930, was sent to the minors until 1933 with the exception of 2 games in 1931. His first year convinced people he was headed for stardom but he barely played the next two years due to injury, and after getting traded early in 1936 to the White Sox, he missed most of that year to injury too. He had his first healthy season in 1937... and was promptly traded to the Tigers. Unfortunately for him, he was traded for a very popular player, and so Detroit fans didn’t like Walker. He was put on waivers and purchased by Brooklyn in 1939. He became popular in Brooklyn and stayed there until 1947. He requested to be traded for the 1948 season because he did not want to play with Jackie Robinson because he was black. He lasted two more seasons before his career ended at 38. He was on four HOF ballots, but received 6 votes in his best year.
Bob Welch (SP)
Career: 43.4 bWAR, 38.9 fWAR, 36.9 JAWS (per 200 IP: 2.8 bWAR, 2.5 fWAR)
Peak: 30.1 bWAR, 25.8 fWAR
Acc: Cy Young, 2-time All-Star
4-WAR seasons: 4 by bWAR, 2 by fWAR
One notable stat: In 1990, Welch won 27 games in his Cy Young winning season, which was the most since Steve Carlton in 1972. He’s the last pitcher to win over 25 games in a season.
Profile: Drafted 20th overall out of Eastern Michigan University by the Dodgers in the 1977 MLB Draft, Welch debuted the next season at 21-years-old. In his first full season as a starter, he made his first All-Star team at 23. He remained a Dodger until 1987, when he was traded to the Athletics prior to the 1988 season. He finished his career with Oakland, retiring in 1994 at 37. He received one vote on his only ballot.
Rick Wise (SP)
Career: 31.9 bWAR, 44.9 fWAR, 32.2 JAWS (per 200 IP: 2 bWAR, 2.9 fWAR)
Peak: 28.2 bWAR, 28.6 fWAR
Acc: 2-time All-Star
4-WAR seasons: 2 by bWAR, 3 by fWAR
One notable stat: We all know wins and losses aren’t a good stat. But this is the best stat I have. Wise was in the top 10 in losses four times in his career, leading the league once with 19.
Profile: Signed by the Phillies before the MLB Draft existed in 1963. He debuted in 1964 at the age of 18, and despite throwing 69 innings, he was in the minors for all of 1965 and part of 1966. In 1967, he finally cracked the rotation. He made his first All-Star team in 1971 and then was, uh, traded for Steve Carlton. Straight up. He actually had two good years before being traded to the Red Sox. He was the relief pitcher who got the win in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. (Fisk homer game). He was traded to Indians for a couple seasons and then signed with the Padres, which is where he ended his career at 36. He didn’t receive any votes.
Wilbur Wood (SP)
Career: 52.1 bWAR, 36.9 fWAR, 47.9 JAWS (per 200 IP: 3.9 bWAR, 2.7 fWAR)
Peak: 45.7 bWAR, 32.5 fWAR
Acc: 3-time All-Star
4-WAR seasons: 5 by bWAR, 4 by fWAR
Notable Stat: Kind of amazing he didn’t win a Cy Young in his two best seasons, when he threw 710 combined innings of 2.23 ERA ball. According to bWAR, he was worth 22.4 WAR in those two years. fWAR isn’t as high, but it’s still 14.8 in two seasons.
Profile: He has a classic knuckleballer’s career. He was signed by the Red Sox in 1960 as a free agent, made his debut in 1961, but then spent the next three years barely playing in the majors. He got traded to the Pirates, barely played with them and spent all of 1966 in the minors. In October, he got traded to the White Sox. There, he learned the knuckleball out of desperation from Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm. He spent three seasons as an effective bullpen piece before being moved to rotation. He then started over 40 games the next five straight years due to being a knuckleballer. A line drive to the kneecap ended his 1976 season and when he returned in 1977, he wasn’t the same. He retired a year later at 36. He was on six ballots, but all with less than 10% of the vote.
Ross Youngs (OF)
Career: 32.7 bWAR, 36.2 fWAR, 31.8 JAWS (per 600 PAs: 3.6 bWAR, 4.1 fWAR)
Peak: 30.8 bWAR, 33.9 fWAR
Acc: None (career ended before All-Star break)
4-WAR seasons: 2 by bWAR, 6 by fWAR
One notable stat: In seven of the nine seasons he played, Youngs was in the top 10 in on-base percentage, although he never led the league.
Profile: Purchased by the New York Giants in August 1916, he went to spring training in 1917 and was sent to a minor league club. He got called up late in the year and batted .346 in 7 games at 20. Then for the next seven years, he was a reliable member of New York’s outfield. He stopped the streak with his worst season in 1925. He bounced back in 1926, but in August, he was diagnosed with Bright’s disease, a kidney disorder. He was too ill to play and died at 30 in October of 1927.
NEW RULES: There are 34 players on this ballot. You have 15 votes this time. YOU HAVE 15 VOTES THIS TIME. On Monday, I will finally release the results! And I’ll reveal my plans for future ballots as well, which will continue after a short break this year. Again, you have one extra vote because there are two extra players.