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.

You're outta here!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 Who is this mystery man Beckley?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. Senator Jim BunningHe 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!!!

Harry Hooper!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!Bowie Kuhn

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.

The first hot baseball wife?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.

The Hall always has room for one more beloved Yankee 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.

Tinkers to Evers to Chance29-31. 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.

Horrible name for a street

61 Responses to “33 Men (and one Woman) Out: The All-Time Worst Hall of Famers”

  1. Nick Kapur says:

    @theycutthepower – thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    You make good points about Lyons, and I think you’ve convinced me that he was an “above average” pitcher for most of those years, but you’d have to do more to get me to believe that he is worthy of the Hall of Fame.

    For the record, when I say “mediocre”, I mean “mediocre for a Hall of Famer.” Because really, none of these guys was mediocre compared to everyone.

    As for Newhouser, I generally include 1946 as part of the war years because while many players were back, not all of them were back yet, and many of those that were back were rusty. Certainly Ted Williams didn’t seem to rusty, and some players were able to keep up their skills on Armed Services teams, but lots of players were not. In any case, the quality of competition did not return all the way to prewar levels until 1947.

    But the main thing about Newhouser is, would he have been a Hall of Famer without that wartime boost? I think he is already a borderline candidate even if we completely ignore the fact that he pitched during the war. Three great seasons and a few good ones doesn’t stack up well with most of the pitchers in the hall of fame, who were great for many, many years. To to my mind, when you consider the context, we have to take Newhouser out.

  2. Philip Huang says:

    Jake Beckley hit .300 more than just “sometimes”. He did it 13 times, including four in the “deadball era”.

    His OPS is 125 so he had some power too – fourth in career triples. On the leaderboards for extra base hits for many years, long career, profiles a bit like Palmeiro (w/out the juice)

    Career totals of 1600 runs, 1575 RBIs, 2930 hits. Those totals must have been among the all-time best when he retired – considering Cap Anson had the most hits with 3000 when he did. Beckley is still FIRST in total 1B putouts and chances, and second in games played behind Eddie Murray (another similar guy).

    And BTW, his top 9 comparables are in HOF.

  3. Sarah Green says:

    Philip, at least you got your comps from Baseball Reference (I’m assuming). I still demand to know where the Willits-Ellsbury comp came from. But I don’t think that dude is coming back.

    Regarding our friend Beckley, I don’t really think you can say he had some power (though he did have a whopping 10 talljacks in 1892). More like he had a lot of speed (which explains both the extra base hits and the steals). He’s the archetypal dead ball era hitter: get the bat on the ball and run as fast as you can.

    Now, Nick probably wasn’t that fair to him. After all, he played in an era when no one was expected to hit for power, even the corner guys. And I’d say finishing with a lifetime BA of over .300 after 20 years is pretty impressive (though it doesn’t put him in the top 100). He does rank 33rd all-time in career hits—pretty good. So maybe it’s not quite fair of Nick to ask if anyone’s ever heard of him. After all, he did die in 1918.

  4. I don’t feel too strongly for or against Jake Beckley. While I do have to give the guy props for being a consistent hitter throughout his career, if we’re going to give credit to Beckley for hitting over .300 in the dead-ball era, then we need to account for the fact that for the first half of his career, his BAs weren’t so superior to everyone else. From 1889-1899, the league batting average was .279. As a comparison, the MLB average in 2007 was .268. The argument that Beckley was a .300 hitter so often doesn’t have as much weight when you consider this. He basically batted 11% better than the average hitter of his day, which today would translate to a BA of around .295. In fact, in 1894, everyone and their grandmothers hit over .300 (league average was .309). Don’t get me wrong, it’s still impressive. Just putting it into context.

  5. I know this post is months old, but I’m resurrecting it to leave a comment, and in contrast to the previous comments I’m actually going to take issue with your view on the one woman inductee.

    Did you read the wikipedia article on Effa Manley? Or anything else about her?

    She managed all aspects of the Eagles baseball club, guided it to a Negro League World Series, and made a huge difference in raising the profile of the entire Negro League. It’s widely acknowledged that she, and not her husband, was actually the Treasurer for the Negro National League, and that she was the most adept promoter and marketer in the league.

    Even more importantly she fought to get better schedules, better working conditions and better salaries throughout the entire league – she and her husband even sponsored a Puerto Rican league team to make sure that the players would have money coming in during the off-season.

    She fought to stop MLB teams from taking NNL players without compensation, and finally established the precedent that Negro League contracts should be honored by MLB clubs when she negotiated the sale of Larry Dobbs contract to the Cleveland Indians – making Dobbs the first black player in the American League by the way. After that MLB owners had to negotiate compensation instead of simply ignoring the preexisting contracts.

    On top of that she used the team and her standing to promote civil rights issues.

    These are monumental achievements for a black woman in the 1930s and 1940s.

    (I realize that it’s debatable whether Manley was actually black or not, but she was perceived to be black most of her life)

  6. …good article though by the way. I should’ve mentioned that before the rant.


  7. Braystreet says:

    Tony Perez”Doggie” to his Reds teammates because
    he bit the pitcher with men in scoring position,
    and Orlando Cepeda are examples of men who compiled deceptively poor batting statistics du-
    ring a pitchers’ era.As for Newhouser,he had a
    21-win,18-win and 15-win season AFTER W.W Two,so
    his selection to Cooperstown isn’t as bad as it appears.Red Schoendienst was,after Jackie Robin-
    son,the National League’s best second baseman in
    the 50′s.

  8. Braystreet says:

    MP,Dizzy Dean(who definitely DOES belong in The
    Hall),advocated blacks being in the bigs in the 30′s when few other whites opened their mouths on
    the subject(when they weren’t denigrating blacks,
    that is.)And Diz and Satchel Paige were boys!

  9. All those who the worst hall of famers should be in a special wing:THE HALL OF FAME FOR THE CRAZIES.

  10. What Adam said. Research really isn’t very hard, I don’t think you have any excuse.

  11. This post compelled me to look stuff up.

    Chick Hafey career WARP3: 31.8

    Holy christ, Adam Dunn has a 25.7 and he still has nearly a decade to go and plays defense like a blind man.

  12. Sir:
    I am a Cub Fan, not a White Sox Fan, so defending Ted Lyons is a stretch for me, but justice is justice and as a professor my math is better than fair:

    Your pick of Ted Lyons as a No-No Hall of Fame choice displays a lack of understanding of mathematics.

    For instance had Babe Ruth played at Wrigley field in the NL, instead of the parks of the American League where the average CF fence was 450 feet and the alley’s 405 feet instead of today’s average of CF-405 and alley’s 380, and the mound height then of 18” against today’s 10” and today’s livelier ball, Ruth would have hit according to the stats of several scientists, 1140-1250 home runs including over 104 one year-1921. (The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs, Bill Jenkinson.) In his book Bill shows more than 40 balls hit over 405 which were either caught, or doubles or triples that year alone.

    The rigors of Pitchers for Sub .500 teams were incredible. During Lyons era of 21 years with the White Sox their record was 943-1513 a .384 win/loss average against Lyons 260-230 .531 Win loss ave. with a .367 era, translated to meaningful stats, he completed 72.9 % of his starts. Reversing the Sox Win loss records from .384.% to a .531 % would show Lyons at a record of 352-. If math is not your thing, I suggest looking at the stats of his Games, 594, with 484 started, 356 completed and of the 110 games in which he did not start but appeared in he finished 94.

    Using those stats in a meaningful reversal, his stats on a team which won at a .531 clip would boost his record to 352 wins-165 losses, or .684 and would drop his ERA to 2.67. However, even with his .367, he would with a strong team have won the 352 games shown above.

    A stress Conversion of his .367 ERA, if pitching for a team which winning % was the same as his with the number of complete games and games finished of 450 at a 531 %, would increase his win ratio to .684 or 352 wins 165 losses. He is presently at 260 wins 22nd above many Hall of Famers, the above would raise him to 9th. Mathematics is a ratio stat

    It is less difficult to win 300 games with a team which has a winning record every year, so the stats of pitchers who do and which have outstanding defenses and offenses, is always better that if they played with perrenial losers like the White Sox were in Lyons era.

    In complete games he ranks 22nd, below him are the following, many of which are Hall Of Famers;

    George Mullin 353 23 Charlie Buffinton 351 24 Chick Fraser 342 25 Clark Griffith 337 26 Red Ruffing 335 27 Silver King 329 28 Al Orth 324 29 Bill Hutchison 321 30 Burleigh Grimes 314 31 Joe McGinnity 314 Red Donahue 313 33 Guy Hecker 310 34 Bill Dinneen 306 35 Robin Roberts 305 36 Gaylord Perry 303 37 Ted Breitenstein 300 38 Bob Caruthers 298 39 Lefty Grove 298 Pink Hawley 297 41 Ed Morris 297 Mark Baldwin 296 43 Tommy Bond 294 44 Brickyard Kennedy 293 45 Eppa Rixey 290 46 Early Wynn 290 Bill Donovan 289 48 Bobby Mathews 289 Bert Cunningham 286 50 Wilbur Cooper 279 51 Bob Feller 279 Sadie McMahon 279 Jack Stivetts 278 54 Jack Taylor 278 Charlie Getzien 277 56 Red Faber 273 57 Mordecai Brown 271 58 Frank Dwyer 270 59 Jouett Meekin 270 Fergie Jenkins 267 61 Elton Chamberlain 264 62 Matt Kilroy 264 Jesse Tannehill 263 64 Doc White 262 65 Rube Waddell 261 66 Jack Chesbro 260 67 Red Ehret 260 Carl Hubbell 260 Larry Corcoran 256 70 Chief Bender 255 71 Bob Gibson 255 Steve Carlton 254 73 Frank Killen 253 74 Paul Derringer 251 75 Win Mercer 251 Sam Jones 250 77 Ed Walsh 250 Eddie Cicotte 249 79 Stump Wiedman 249 Herb Pennock 247 81 Bobo Newsom 246 82 George Bradley 245 83 Hooks Dauss 245 Phil Niekro 245 Harry Howell 244 86 Juan Marichal 244 John Ward 244 Jack Quinn 243 89 Bert Blyleven 242 90 Deacon Phillippe 242 Bucky Walters 242 Sam Leever 241 93 Kid Gleason 240 94 Addie Joss 234 95 George Uhle 232 96 Carl Mays 231 97 Tom Seaver 231 Harry Staley 231 Earl Moore

  13. BlackCowboy says:

    Adam,Effa Manley was a white woman whose black husband was a Negro League owner,but Abe Manley was totally ineffectual,so Effa ran all aspects of the club’s management,rare for a female in ANY business in the 30′s and 40′s,but as far as I know,she was the Negro Leagues’ sole female ow-

  14. david somers says:

    Not a bad list. I’d agree with others that Manley, Beckley, and Lyons have decent cases for being in the Hall.

    But you should expand the list to include:
    Kiki Cuyler, Edd Roush, Earl Averill, Earle Combs, Heinie Manush, Hack Wilson, Rabbit Maranville, Pie Traynor, Ross Youngs, and Jim Bottomley.

    Did you know that: Bancroft, Lindstrom, Travis Jackson, High Pockets Kelly, Ross Youngs, Billy Southworth, Hack Wilson, & Bill Terry all played with Frankie Frisch and all of them except Terry got into the Hall via the veterans committee. Some of the worst players in the Hall. 7 of those Hall of Famers played together for 3 seasons – the result – one pennant, a 2nd place and a 4th place. You’d think 7 Hall of Famers on one team should dominate.

    • Bill Terry was a dominate player. He was the last 400 hitter in the nl. The others I agree. I also have a problem with George Kell. The man would have won 6 or 7 gold gloves if it had been around during his career.

  15. Beckley, Perez, Lyons, those guys are okay. Ditto Maranville. He’s in there for being around forever and for his glove. Ruffing was excellent. Guys like Hoyt, Pennock and Rixey aren’t any better than Dennis Martinez, Rick Reuschel and Mickey Lolich, this is true. Bunning, Cepeda and Faber are reasonable at least.

  16. Context. Granted some players got in by playing on certain teams, and the choice of executives is just a joke. But what is missing from Baseball-reference.com is context. How did these players compare to others in the league at that time? Compared to their teammates? Clutch performance? Also many of these early Hall of Famers were player/managers so while their numbers might not be impressive their contribution to their team is. Prior to 1933 there was no All Star game but I think All Star Appearances provide a better context on how to compare them to their contemporaries.

  17. I’m not going to bother doing the research, but Red Faber DID play for some pretty bad White Sox teams (pretty much right after their entire starting lineup was kicked out of baseball following the Black Sox scandal). Winning 20 games for a horrible team is an accomplishment of it’s own, not to mention doing it 4 times. And the horrible teams also explains his high loss total.

  18. The All-Star game is nothing more than a popularity contest.

  19. My how times changed – Time was when being a Yankee was enough to consider you for The Hall… Now it’s enough to keep you out.

  20. firstblackladdiebrad1953 says:

    Perhaps Rick Ferrell is in Cooperstown because as Detroit Tigers GM,he helped keep the Bengals lily-white until ’58,when Osvaldo (Ozzie) Virgil,Sr.,a dark-skiined Dominican-first in MLB-joined the club June 6,1958,a month before my fifth birthday.(Larry Doby was the Tigers’ first AFRICAN AMERICAN,hitting Tiger Stadium’s diamond Apr.10,1959.)Don’t laugh;there are at least EIGHT knowns KKKers in Cooperstown!!!!!

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