A few weeks back, I made the bold claim that I could easily think of at least 20 Hall of Famers who should not be in the Hall, upon which Coley promptly challenged me to write a post naming names.
At first I was a bit worried as to whether I would be able to deliver the goods, but as I went down the list I was amazed at how many unworthy players had somehow snuck their way into the Hall over the years. I tried to give the benefit of the doubt as often as possible, and with many players there was at least an argument that could be made, but in the end, I was still left with 34 people who simply have no place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It’s not that some of these guys weren’t good players, or nice people, but awarding them baseball’s highest honor and putting their names and plaques along side the true immortals of the game makes a mockery of everything that the Hall stands for.
If I were commissioner of baseball, I would immediately call a one-time election to de-elect unworthy Hall of Famers, and these 34 names would top the ballot (in alphabetical order, not order of worstness) . .
1. Dave Bancroft, SS – Nobody can think of a good reason why the Veteran’s Committee elected Bancroft to the Hall in 1971, other than the fact that Bancroft had been a good friend and teammate of then-presiding Committee poobah Frankie Frisch. Although it is important to recognize that Bancroft was a shortstop, his numbers compare very poorly to almost all other middle-infielders in the Hall, with the exceptions of Phil Rizzuto, an equally questionable selection who also appears on this list, and Bill Mazeroski, who was perhaps the greatest fielding second baseman of all time, and thus gets more of a pass on his offense.
2. Jake Beckley, 1B – Anyone ever heard of Jake Beckley? Anyone at all? There is a reason why you haven’t, which is that he really wasn’t all that great, especially for a first baseman. But he was elected by the Veterans Committee nearly a century after he played because the Veterans like people who hit over .300, and Beckley sometimes hit over .300.
3. Jim Bunning, P – His big accomplishment was that he won 100 games and had 1000 strikeouts in each of the two leagues. But overall he was just 224-184. He was, however, a powerful and influential US Congressman when the Veterans Committee elected him in 1996.
4. Morgan Bulkeley, Executive – Served as president of the National League for one (1) year. Yep, that is what he did.
5. Orlando Cepeda, 1B – Nobody would deny that Cepeda was a pretty good hitter, but for a first baseman his numbers are poor compared with the rest of the guys in the Hall. His career stats have become a popular low-end benchmark for people to compare with when trying to make the case for putting other marginal players in to the Hall.
6. Red Faber, P – Had a few decent seasons along with numerous mediocre to terrible seasons. He did win over 20 games four different times, but that was only because he was pitching 40-50 games those years. In his four 20-win seasons he also lost 14, 13, 15, and 17 games. That is not quality, just quantity. And it is certainly not Hall of Fame level dominance.
7. Rick Farrell, C – A very popular pick for the worst Hall of Famer of them all, Farrell’s top comps according to Baseball Reference are some dudes named Deacon McGuire, Jim Gantner, Claude Ritchey, Tony Cuccinello, and Billy Jurges. Um. Yeah. Top catcher comp is Tony Pena. Anyone for putting Tony Pena in the Hall?
8. Chick Hafey, OF – A kind of okay player when he was actually on the field, Hafey only played one or two complete seasons, and only had three seasons of hitting even 20 home runs. But damn! This man has a career batting average of .317!! Clearly, that means he must have been awesome!!!
9. Jesse Haines, P – Unbelievably mediocre pitcher who is one of the most baffling Hall selections of all time.
10. Harry Hooper – I defy you to give me any justification at all for why Harry Hooper is in the Hall of Fame. Playing in the Dead Ball Era, he posted a career batting average of only .281 as an outfielder. He doesn’t seem to have been particularly good at anything.
11. Waite Hoyt, P – 237-182, 3.59 ERA, only won 20 games twice. Only in the Hall of Fame because he was a New York Yankee.
12. Travis Jackson, SS – With a career OPS+ of 102, I guess he must be in for his defense or something, but then again, we are talking about the same Travis Jackson who once made 58 errors in a season. A most befuddling selection.
13. George Kell, 3B – Kell’s Hall of Fame plaque calls him “solid” hitter and a “sure-handed” fielder. Huh. Well, that sounds good and all, but it doesn’t exactly bespeak Hall of Fame awesomeness. He did lead the AL in batting average one season. I guess that’s kind of cool.
14. George Kelly, 1B – A 109 career OPS+ is simply terrible for a first baseman. Terrible!
15. Bowie Kuhn, Commissioner – Fought the advent of free agency tooth and nail, but failed anyway. Proposed putting black players in a separate and unequal wing of the Hall of Fame. Tried to ban Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle from baseball forever in 1983. Only known achievement in 15 years as commish: introducing nighttime World Series games, which everyone hates now anyway. Perhaps worst of all, his induction makes Bud Selig a lock for the Hall by comparison.
16. Tony Lazzeri, 2B – Elected in 1991 at a time when the Veterans Committee was going through a phase where it thought it had better elect any player who was ever associated with the 1927 Yankees.
17. Ted Lyons, P – Had a few good seasons, and many, many mediocre ones. His ERA was as often above 4.00 as not. Compiled a very uninspiring record of 260-230, despite pitching for 21 seasons.
18. Freddie Lindstrom, 3B/OF – Only played until age 30. Only collected 1747 hits. Seems to have been elected by the Veterans Committee solely because he once hit .379 in a season, in 1930.
19. Effa Manley, Executive – Apparently picked entirely for PC reasons, she was the wife of the owner of a Negro League team, and is currently the only woman in the Hall of Fame. She was a civil rights activist, which is honorable, but her primary baseball-related activity was her well-documented hobby of sleeping with many of the players on the team.
20. Tommy McCarthy, OF – His statistics were pretty poor by the standards of his day. He really only had three good seasons, and nobody with a 102 OPS+ should be allowed anywhere near the Hall of Fame, at least not without paying admission like everyone else.
21. Rube Marquard, P – Had three great seasons in a row from ages 24-26. Problem was, he kept pitching until he was 38, while struggling to be even league average, compiling a career ERA+ of only 103.
22. Hal Newhouser, P – Newhouser was a mediocre pitcher who suddenly had three seasons for the ages from 1944-1946, while all the good hitters were away fighting in World War II. Once they they returned, and Newhouser was no longer pitching against minor leaguers, he went back to being mediocre. A classic example of the Veteran’s committee paying no attention whatsoever to context.
23. Tony Perez, 1B – First basemen are vastly over-represented in the Hall of Fame, and Tony Perez is arguably the worst first baseman in the Hall. But Joe Morgan will not rest until the entire Big Red Machine is in the Hall, and Joe Morgan has a lot of friends.
24. Herb Pennock, P – 240 wins, 3.60 ERA, 106 career ERA+
25. Eppa Rixey, P – Career record of 266-251. Ouch.
26. Phil Rizzuto, SS – His top comp is Jose Offerman. The only other Hall of Famer in his top ten comps is the even more undeserving Johnny Evers. Even Phil Rizzuto didn’t think he should have been in the Hall of Fame. But he had the unbeatable combo of being a Yankee and also being a lovable Yankee. Eventually, the Veteran’s Committee just couldn’t resist.
27. Red Ruffing, P – His 3.80 career ERA is one of the worst in the Hall. Only in because he was a New York Yankee.
28. Red Schoendienst, 2B – It’s really, really hard to think of any career accomplishments for Red Schoendienst. Um, I guess he once had a season of 200 hits. Oh, and he led the national league twice in at-bats. And he does hold the record for most doubles in a three-game span! But he also had a career OBP of .337 and a terrible career OPS+ of only 93. His selection is another oozing black sore on the sorry history of the Veteran’s Committee.
29-31. Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, Frank Chance, SS-2B-1B – These guys are ONLY in the Hall because somebody happened to write a catchy poem about them. Tinker’s top 20th century comp is Ozzie Guillen; Evers has Mark McLemore on his list; and Chance (a first baseman) has Darryl Hamilton among his top comps. And statistically, they weren’t even good at turning double plays!
32. Lloyd Waner, OF – Let’s face it: Lloyd Waner is only in the Hall of Fame because he played alongside his much more talented brother, and once they put Paul in the Hall, it seemed only fair to put Lloyd in too. Lloyd did manage to finish with a career average over .300, but he only played 5 full seasons without significant injury or benching, and had a career OPS+ of 99, meaning he was actually a below average hitter for his era
33. Vic Willis, P – Sure he won over 20 games 8 different times. But this was from 1898 to 1910, and he was routinely starting 40 games and tossing over 350 innings a season. Compared to his peers of the day, he was thoroughly mediocre. This was long understood, and he was not tapped for the Hall until 1995, when a cock-eyed Veterans Committee looked back and saw only those 20-win seasons without any consideration of context or era.
34. Tom Yawkey, Owner – Last owner to sign a black player. Passed on chances to sign Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays. His team never won a World Series. Seriously, it’s time to rename that street already.