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A Few Deserving Hall of Fame Players

While working on the Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame I stumbled across many players who were Hall of Fame worthy and received little to no attention on the ballot, or had just run out of time. I do not want to talk about all of these players in this two part article, but I want to make sure I cover a few of the bigger mistakes made by the BBWAA and the Veterans Committee.

Let us start at second base; the average numbers for a Hall of Fame second basemen are as follows (all average Hall of Fame numbers taken from Jay Jaffe's articles from early 2005 at Baseball Prospectus.

WARP3: 99.0
Peak WARP: 41.9
JAWS: 70.4
BRAR: 558
BRAA: 255
FRAA:  70

WARP3 is Wins Above Replacement Player, with adjustments for playing time and translated for all-time. Peak WARP is the 5 best consecutive seasons, and JAWS (Jaffe WARP Score, named for Jay Jaffe) is [(Career WARP3 + Peak WARP) / 2]. BRAR is Batting Runs Above Replacement, BRAA is Batting Runs Above Average, and FRAA is Fielding Runs Above Average. On to the players.

Bobby Grich 1970-1986
WARP3: 115.6
Peak WARP: 45.9
JAWS: 80.2
BRAR: 581
BRAA: 340
FRAA: 115

Bobby Grich is an improvement on an average Hall of Fame second basemen, so it is a complete mystery when studying the numbers as to why he remains out of Cooperstown. It is because he never reached that magical 3,000 hit plateau that he did not make it into Cooperstown. Now to compare him to a Hall of Fame second basemen from Grich's time:

Rod Carew 1967-1985
WARP3: 115.1
Peak WARP: 50.3
JAWS: 82.7
BRAR: 814
BRAA: 512
FRAA: -34

Carew beats him out in the BRAA and BRAR departments handily, but the defensive difference is not even close, with Grich winning more than hands down.

Lou Whitaker 1977-1995
WARP3: 121.7
Peak WARP: 39.9
JAWS: 80.8
BRAR: 654
BRAA: 360
FRAA: 52

I guess if you wanted to split hairs you could say Whitaker's defense was not Hall of Fame average, and his peak was not high enough, but even if you were dead serious about those two issues it is no reason for him to be dropped off the ballot with less than 5% of the vote. Bill James, in his New Historical Baseball Abstract, ranked Bobby Grich as the 12th greatest second basemen of all-time and Lou Whitaker as the 13th. With only 17 second basemen in the Hall of Fame, something is the matter, especially when a few of James' selections either weren't retired yet or were not inducted into the Hall.

When someone thinks of a third basemen who has been screwed by the Hall of Fame vote, one usually thinks of Ron Santo. I would get off on a Ron Santo rant here, but many people smarter than myself have already done so in the past. Instead, I'm going to concentrate on a few names you don't hear as often. Here are the average Hall of Fame third basemen numbers:

WARP3: 100.2
Peak WARP: 42.2
JAWS: 71.2
BRAR: 594
BRAA: 322
FRAA: 48

Let's first take a look at Darrell Evans. By the way, third base is the least represented position in Cooperstown, with only 11 inductees. Many of those have come in recent years too (Wade Boggs, Mike Schmidt, and George Brett). Here are Evan's numbers:

Darrell Evans 1969-1989
WARP3: 110.9
Peak WARP: 39.6
JAWS: 75.25
BRAR: 670
BRAA: 354
FRAA: 92

Except for a slightly smaller Peak WARP, Darrell Evans has an edge on every category. His Peak WARP is lower due to a 2.8 WARP3 season at the beginning of his 5 best consecutive seasons, so when that is taken into account the 39.6 is pretty impressive. Keeping him out is nitpicking and nothing more. Let's quickly look at a few other third basemen who deserve acknowledgement:

Graig Nettles 1967-1988
WARP3: 101.5
Peak WARP: 41.4
JAWS: 71.45
BRAR: 490
BRAA: 176
FRAA: 110

Ken Boyer 1955-1969
WARP3: 94.5
Peak WARP: 47.3
JAWS: 70.9
BRAR: 487
BRAA: 238
FRAA: 111

Buddy Bell 1972-1989
WARP3: 103.4
Peak WARP: 41.4
JAWS: 72.4
BRAR: 471
BRAA: 166
FRAA: 151

What do these three all have in common? Their hitting stats keep them out of Cooperstown contention, but the fact that they are twice as good as the average Hall of Famer defensively gives them their merit and a nice extra chunk of value. Obviously that is not something that means much to the voters, but I figured I'd point it out to you.

I'll turn my attention to Lou Whitaker's double play partner Alan Trammell now. Average Hall of Fame Shortstop numbers...

WARP3: 100.5
Peak WARP: 43.2
JAWS: 71.9
BRAR: 411
BRAA: 136
FRAA: 77

...and Alan Trammell's numbers:

Alan Trammell 1977-1996
WARP3: 117.8
Peak WARP: 50.6
JAWS: 82.4
BRAR: 531
BRAA: 248
FRAA: 102

Here we have a player who is better in every single category than your average Cooperstown shortstop; yet his induction does not seem to be coming anytime soon. The ignorance shown towards Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell is appalling, and I hope Trammell is able to get in sometime soon simply because he has stayed in baseball as a manager and the voters are reminded of his existence. That sounds bad, but it is obvious they forgot about his double play mate when they cast their ballots. Check out the WARP3 rankings for Hall of Fame shortstops, and where Trammell fits in:

Honus Wagner: 184.2
Rogers Hornsby: 151.6
Robin Yount: 127.9
Ozzie Smith: 124.0
Arky Vaughan: 122.7
Alan Trammell: 117.8
Luke Appling: 117.0
Ernie Banks: 114.8
George Davis: 109.1
Bobby Wallace: 103.7
Joe Cronin: 102.6
Lou Boudreau: 99.7
Pee Wee Reese: 99.3
Joe Sewell: 86.9
Rabbit Maranville: 85.0
Luis Aparcio: 84.9
John Ward: 81.6
Joe Tinker: 76.7
Dave Bancroft: 76.4
Phil Rizzuto: 73.3
Hughie Jennings: 70.0
Travis Jackson: 57.2

If Alan Trammell was put in the Hall of Fame today he would have the 6th highest career WARP3 score. Factor in the part where he is better than average at every category presented, and you got yourselves a Hall of Fame bound Tiger. Unless of course you've got a ballot in your hand and decide he is not worthy.

Part Two of this article will focus on a few outfielders and a few pitchers who I feel deserve induction into the Hall of Fame, or at least more consideration.