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The Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame

Yesterday, I wanted to link to an article I saw via David Pinto on Baseball Past & Present. Only, I couldn't link to it because apparently Rob Neyer already had—and the server went down (the server was aneyerated?). The article is simply called The 50 best players not in the Hall of Fame. And gosh do I love articles like this.

Here's the process author Graham Womack used:

Rather than base this on my opinion or some all-powerful stat, I decided to go a different direction– I sought votes from fellow baseball writers, researchers, and anyone else interested. I created a 300-player super ballot and began sending it out on November 22. In all, 63 people voted between the 22nd and December 4, including yours truly. The only rules were to vote for 50 players and to not pick anyone who’d played in the last five years. There wasn’t any ranking system required. Total number of votes received determined a player’s place on the list.

Instead of simply linking, though, I want to dissect the list a bit—particularly, by position. Then, let's compare the list to the highest career rWAR by position. I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like a blast. So, here we go.

With Graham's List, I'll include the placement each player had in the Top 50. In the rWAR List, I'll include the career rWAR. I'll also limit the rWAR List to the same number of players as on Graham's List.

Starting Pitchers

Graham's List rWAR List
1. Bert Blyleven
17-Tie. Luis Tiant
25-Tie. Tommy John
28-Tie. Jim Kaat
31-Tie. Ron Guidry
36-Tie. Jack Morris
38-Tie. Kevin Brown
43. Orel Hershiser
49-Tie. David Cone
90.1 Bert Blyleven
66.3 Rick Reuschel
65.1 Tony Mullane
64.8 Kevin Brown
64.7 Jim McCormick
60.1 Luis Tiant
59.0 Tommy John
58.8 Jerry Koosman
57.5 David Cone

Blyleven, Tiant, John, Brown, and Cone appear on both lists.

Relief Pitchers

Graham's List rWAR List
36-Tie. Lee Smith (26)
38-Tie. Dan Quisenberry (25)
30.3 Lee Smith
28.2 John Hiller

Quiz wasn't far behind, but Hiller is extremely underrated.


Graham's List rWAR List
13. Ted Simmons (44)
20-Tie. Joe Torre (36)
47. Thurman Munson
48. Bill Freehan
55.6 Joe Torre
50.4 Ted Simmons
48.7 Gene Tenace
43.8 Wally Schang

Schang is followed by Munson and Freehan.

First Basemen

Graham's List rWAR List
5-Tie. Jeff Bagwell (53)
10. Pete Rose (47)
11. Dick Allen (46)
16. Fred McGriff (38)
17-Tie. Will Clark (37)
20-Tie. Mark McGwire (36)
22-Tie. Keith Hernandez (34)
24. Gil Hodges (33)
27. Don Mattingly (31)
28-Tie. Rafael Palmeiro (30)
34. Steve Garvey (28)
44-Tie. Buck O’Neil
79.9 Jeff Bagwell
75.3 Pete Rose
66.0 Rafael Palmeiro
63.1 Mark McGwire
61.2 Dick Allen
61.0 Keith Hernandez
57.6 Will Clark
56.8 John Olerud
52.9 Norm Cash
50.5 Fred McGriff
47.1 Mark Grace
44.9 Ed Konetchy

There were a LOT of first basemen here. If you're wonder why Rose is here, that's because I used the position the player appeared at the most. Obviously (and unfortuntately), O'Neil didn't get a chance to get any rWAR.

Second Basemen

Graham's List rWAR List
2-Tie. Roberto Alomar (55)
14. Lou Whitaker (43)
22-Tie. Bobby Grich (34)
69.7 Lou Whitaker
67.6 Bobby Grich
63.5 Roberto Alomar

Perfect match, player-wise but not ranking-wise.

Third Basemen

Graham's List rWAR List
2-Tie. Ron Santo (55)
35. Ken Boyer (27)
40-Tie. Darrell Evans
44-Tie. Graig Nettles
66.4 Ron Santo
61.6 Graig Nettles
60.8 Buddy Bell
60.6 Sal Bando

Boyer and Evans are right behind Bando.


Graham's List rWAR List
4. Alan Trammell (54)
8. Barry Larkin (49)
40-Tie. Bill Dahlen
49-Tie. Dave Concepcion
75.9 Bill Dahlen
68.9 Barry Larkin
66.9 Alan Trammell
58.7 Jack Glasscock

Concepcion is way behind at 33.6.

Left Field

Graham's List rWAR List
5-Tie. Joe Jackson (53)
7. Tim Raines (50)
31-Tie. Albert Belle (29)
31-Tie. Minnie Minoso (29)
64.6 Tim Raines
62.9 Joe Jackson
59.1 Sherry Magee
53.2 Bob Johnson

Minoso finished right after Johnson. Belle's total is just 37.4.

Center Field

Graham's List rWAR List
17-Tie. Dale Murphy (37)
44-Tie. Jimmy Wynn
59.8 Jimmy Wynn
57.2 Willie Davis

Murphy ranks at just 44.2 WAR.

Right Field

Graham's List rWAR List
12. Dwight Evans (45)
15. Larry Walker (42)
25-Tie. Tony Oliva (32)
28-Tie. Dave Parker (30)
40-Tie. Roger Maris
67.3 Larry Walker
63.4 Reggie Smith
61.8 Dwight Evans
57.0 Bobby Bonds
55.0 Jack Clark

Oliva (42.4), Maris (39.8), and Parker (37.8) are more Jim Rice-like. Smith, Bonds, and Clark are quite underrated.

Designated Hitter

Graham's List rWAR List
9. Edgar Martinez (48) 67.2 Edgar Martinez

If you were wondering, #2 on the DH list for non-Hall of Famers retired five or more years? Jose Canseco.

Personally, I think Graham's List leans a little heavily towards recent players. Granted, the career rWAR list tends to do the same. Personally, I think that has more to do with longer player careers (from better medical care) more than anything. But it's amazing to see guys like Dahlen rate so highly by rWAR but are buried on this list a bit.

Graham's article lists every player who received a vote—plus it's a great read. You should really check it out.