Right field is the most densely populated position in the Hall of Fame, with 24 inductees. A full third of the (eight) are bumped to make room for better players. The spectrum is wide here, with players ranging in value from Enos Slaughter (a great player) to Tommy McCarthy (a head scratcher).
Just four players are added in their place, but they were four damn good players who I'm happy to see added.
These eight players are in the Hall of Fame, but did not make it into the Hall of wWAR:
- Enos Slaughter: This omission doesn't feel very good because (a) Slaughter only misses becuase of the higher baseline for LF/RF/1B and (b) he lost three years to the war and easily would have made it, had he played. Perhaps I need some sort of adjustment for time lost to war. Slaughter missed his age 27, 28, and 29 seasons—in other words, his prime. He posted WAR figures of 3.7, 4.0, 3.6, and 7.1 before departing and 5.0, 3.8, 5.0, and 5.4 upon returning. Take the worst of those seasons and multiply it by three—he would have made it.
- Kiki Cuyler: Cuyler was inducted on the strength of a .321/.386/.474 batting line (of couse, I say that but it was probably just the .321). In his era, that was a 125 OPS+ (good, but not Hall of Fame good). He ran well and was a decent fielder, but at 49.6 WAR and 68.4 wWAR he just didn't produce enough for the Hall of wWAR.
- Harry Hooper: Interestingly enough, Harry Hooper has all the characteristics of a guy Hall of Fame voters would pass over, leaving us saberists to support him. He hit an "okay" (for a Hall of Famer) .281 with an OBP 87 points higher (.368). He was a great outfielder by Total Zone, too (77 runs). He falls short of the Hall of wWAR, but he did make it to the Hall of Fame as a 1970s Veteran's Committee pick.
- Sam Thompson: It's not difficult to see why Sam Thompson was inducted. His batting line was .331/.384/.505. His OPS+ was 146. He posted 431 batting runs and was pretty much average in other aspects of his game. He had a batting title. He had a .400 season. He was an RBI machine. What's the problem then? He takes a big hit from the positional adjustment (–92), plus he didn't play all that long (1410 games). He played at an above average rate, but not for long enough to compile value above replacement to get into the Hall of wWAR. It's somewhat Koufaxian, except of course that Koufax was crammed his value into his final few seasons (which really bumped his WAE and WAM way up). Thompson was excellent through his entire abbreviated career, so the peak numbers don't give him as much of a boost.
- Sam Rice: Clearly, I have it in for corner outfielders named Rice. The Sam edition hit .322/.374/.427 and finished just 13 hits shy of 3000. But his OPS+ was just 112 because of the era in which he played. That translated to 190 batting runs, which is good, but isn't a ton. He was good on the bases (45 runs) and in the outfield (56 Total Zone runs), but that still isn't enough to overcome the positional adjustment. His 51.1 WAR is only boosted to 61.1 by his relatively weak peak.
- Chuck Klein: Klein is often talked about as one of the players in history most aided by his home ballpark. Klein's .320/.379/.543 numbers eye-popping, but they are "tamed" to just a 137 OPS+, thanks to park and era adjustments. Still, that's 296 batting runs. Unfortunately, he takes additional hits for his position adjustment and again for being a below-average fielder. When it's all said and done, he comes in at 39.2 WAR and starts looking like Jim Rice. His wWAR bumps him to 54.4, still considerably far behind the pace.
- Ross Youngs: Youngs was a teammate of Frankie Frisch, which goes a long way to explaining his Veteran's Committee induction. He passed away at the age of 30, leaving behind a ten-year career in which he hit .322/.399/.441. While he was worth just 36.2 WAR for his career, one can understand how a player who's life ended way too early after batting .300 in nine of ten seasons would get in. Unfortunately, it doesn't hold up for the Hall of wWAR.
- Tommy McCarthy: Apparently, he's in the Hall of Fame for inventing the hit & run. If that's the case, he should be in as a pioneer. But he's not. He's in as a player. And he's the worst selection there has ever been. He was an average hitter for about 1200 games with a teenie bit of defensive value. I'd rather induct Oddibe McDowell just because he has an awesome name. Other players in the vicinity of McCarthy's 19.0 WAR: Dave Kingman. Claudell Washington. Carl Everett. Rich Aurilia. Casey Stengel. Bip Roberts. Ken Oberkfell. Glenn Davis. Merv Rettenmund. Shannon Stewart. Shane Mack. Gorman Thomas. Randy Velarde. You get it.
These four players are not in the Hall of Fame, but are now being inducted to the Hall of wWAR:
- Larry Walker: It seems way too many people dismiss Walker out of hand because of the Coors Field factor. But through the magic of ballpark adjustments, we can actually view his numbers on a level playing field with his peers (and other players from history). And guess what—he's a Hall of Famer and the best right fielder not enshrined. Between the 384 batting runs, 40 baserunning runs (he did steal 230 bases), and 96 Total Zone runs (remember those seven Gold Gloves), there's really nothing he couldn't do. He had a blistering peak, including a 9 WAR season when he won the MVP award. Walker's 67.3 WAR goes up to 95.0 wWAR when you add in the peak value. That's 11th among eligible right fielders (just ahead of Tony Gwynn).
- Reggie Smith: Reggie Smith suffered from playing in the wrong era. He'd be a superstar now, particularly in sabermetric circles. He had a solid batting line of .287/.366/.489, but since he played in a depressed run environment, that actually comes out to a 137 OPS+. He posted 332 batting runs, which is interesting when you compare him with Walker. Walker's rate stats are inflated while Smith's are depressed, but they still come out to similar value. Sure, they're 52 runs apart, but Walker is cut down from a huge ballpark adjustment and era adjustment. Meanwhile, Smith gets a huge boost from the era in which he played and certainly some from ballpark (he spent a few years in Los Angeles, a park that certainly suppresses offense). In addition to the offense, he was worth 80 Total Zone runs in the field (and rated pretty close to average on the bases). He rates 15th among right fielders with 84.6 wWAR (from 63.4 WAR).
- Bobby Bonds: Instead of debating whether or not Barry Bonds will get in the Hall of Fame, perhaps we should spend more time debating whether or not his dad should have gotten in. According to wWAR, he should have. And when I dig deeper, I tend to agree. He's probably not in because of .268 batting average and 1886 hits. But then you can throw other old school anecdotes out there about how he was the first two-time 30/30 man (and did it five times). He also was the second player (after Willie Mays) to reach 300 home runs and 300 steals. When he retired, he had the leadoff home run record. But more than that, he has 278 batting runs, which get a nice bump from his plate discipline (85 points separate his batting average and OBP). He was good at everything else, too—43 runs on the bases, 47 runs in the field, and positive figures in all other components (except for positional adjustment). The all-around excellence leads to 57.0 WAR, 80.6 wWAR (placing him just ahead of Dave Winfield for 16th among right fielders), and a Hall of wWAR nod.
- Dwight Evans: I swear, this will be the last time I bring up Jim Rice in this series. I've been beating this drum for a while, but I'm glad to see it actually happen. Evans was the best outfielder for the Sox in the 1970s and 1980s, not Rice. In fact, Rice even rates behind fellow Sox outfielder Fred Lynn by advanced metrics. While he gets in, Evans essentially represents the borderline for corner outfielders (along with Andre Dawson, who I'm kind of surprised to see hold on to his induction). Evans hit .272, but of course had an OBP 98 points higher (told you that's a trend for overlooked players). Add in 385 home runs and he was worth 350 batting runs. That's a lot. His 65 Total Zone runs are greatly influenced by a historically valuable arm. Despite taking an enormous positional hit from playing right field for so long, he still comes in at 61.8 WAR and 79.1 wWAR.
These five players are either still active or retired and not yet eligible for the Hall, but have already met the threshold to be inducted to the Hall of wWAR:
- Sammy Sosa: It's probably not much of a surprise that Sosa compiled 325 batting runs in his career (unless you thought it would be higher, but he didn't walk a ton and got off to a slow start). What might be more surprising is the 106 Total Zone runs he's worth. That's a whole lot. It offsets his positional adjustment and boosts his WAR to 59.7. His ridiculous peak (including seasons like 2001's 11.4 WAR) boosts his wWAR to 90.8. That ranks 13th among right fielders, right behind Gwynn.
- Gary Sheffield: Sheffield could hit like Sosa, but he also had an incredible batting eye. As a result, he puts up a mind-boggling 582 batting runs. That's 30th all time, regardless of position. What cuts down Sheffield's value is his –180 Total Zone runs. Between that and his –95 positional adjustment, he gets knocked down to 63.3 WAR, still an amazing total. His wWAR total of 87.8 slots in right behind Sosa.
- Vladimir Guerrero: Man, it's easy to forget that Vlad has been a .320/.383/.563 hitter in his career. That comes out to 437 batting runs, which is amazing for a guy who doesn't walk much. He has accumulated 59.2 WAR so far, and 85.4 wWAR once you factor in his peak. His defensive numbers even rate well (42 runs), but of course a lot of the credit goes to his arm. He ranks 16th among right fielders (including Sosa and Sheffield), just ahead of Wee Willie Keeler.
- Ichiro Suzuki: Man, I really wish we'd had him in the U.S. all along. Despite not debuting until his age 27 season, Ichiro has already provided Hall of wWAR-level value. He excels in every aspect of the game with 140 batting runs, 49 baserunning runs, and a staggering 137 Total Zone runs (that's in just ten seasons). He has even saved 40 runs just by avoiding double plays. He has never had a season below the 3.0 WAE threshold, so his peak bumps his 55.2 WAR to 84.1 wWAR.
- Bobby Abreu: I had a tough time believing this one. But Abreu managed to stay under the radar early on in Philly despite being an absolute monster. From 1998 to 2005, he averaged 35 batting runs, 7 Total Zone runs, and 5.6 WAR. When you pile up 44.5 WAR in an 8-year stretch, it's not surprising when you end up with 58.2 in your career. The peak pushed his wWAR to 80.8, which puts him on the borderline near the likes of Evans, Winfield, and (Bobby) Bonds.
Up next, DHs. Then on Monday, pitchers!