Here at Umpbump, we value all reader comments equally. But we value some reader comments a little more equally than others.
So it was with great pride that we learned that ESPN stat-head Rob Neyer decided to critique Nick’s post, 33 men (and one woman) out: the all-time worst Hall of Famers, on his blog.
You can read Neyer’s commentary here.
If you’re not an ESPN Insider, you can read the text of Neyer’s post after the jump.
Hall of Fame mistakes?
filed under: MLB
Next week I’m going to present for your consideration a list of 10 deserving Hall of Famers, including a few ex-players, but mostly non-players (because that’s where the process has truly failed for the last decade or two).
In the meantime, Nick Kapur presents a list of 33 men (and one woman) who are in the Hall of Fame … but shouldn’t be. I can’t run through the entire list in this space, but Kapur’s right: Every name on the list is questionable, and most of them clearly were mistakes. A few quibbles, though. 1. Here’s the note about Phil Rizzuto:
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.
That’s fair, mostly. I think it’s true that if Rizzuto hadn’t been a Yankee, and more to the point a longtime Yankee broadcaster, he wouldn’t have finally been elected. That said, I think it’s irresponsible to discuss Rizzuto’s Hall of Fame credentials without mentioning World War II.
Without checking, I’m pretty sure Jose Offerman didn’t lose three full seasons of his career to a global conflict. Absent the war, Rizzuto would have finished his career with roughly 2,000 hits (and probably a few more). Defensively, he was truly outstanding and would have won a bunch of Gold Gloves if they’d existed when he played. He did win the MVP Award in 1950 and might well have deserved it.
I’m not saying Rizzuto’s an obvious Hall of Famer even with the 2,000 hits. What I’m saying is that if not for the war, Rizzuto’s right up there in career value with Hall of Famers Lou Boudreau and Luis Aparicio. And nobody’s complaining about them.
2. Kapur lists Orlando Cepeda as an outfielder and writes, “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 outfielders in to the Hall.” Cepeda spent the vast majority of his career as a first baseman. I agree with the general sentiment, though. Cepeda was a fantastic player, but no more fantastic than Keith Hernandez or Norm Cash.
3. Kapur lists 11 pitchers, and he’s right: Most of them were poor choices. Ted Lyons, though? Lyons finished with 260 wins over 21 seasons with the White Sox. How many pennants did the White Sox win in those 21 seasons? Zero. How many winning seasons among those 21 seasons? Seven. How many second-place finishes? Zero. How many third-place finishes? Two. If Lyons had pitched for a decent team instead of the White Sox he’d have won around 300 games.
Oh, and then there was the war. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, Lyons was three weeks shy of his 41st birthday. But he came back and pitched in ’42, and — this is one of my all-time favorite stats — he started 20 games, completed 20 games, and went 14-6 with a 2.10 ERA that was No. 1 in the American League. By then Lyons was throwing mostly knuckleballs, and he looked like he might pitch forever. Except he enlisted, and spent the next three seasons a United States Marine. He came back in the spring of ’46 and started five games, posting a fine 2.32 ERA, but quit in late May when ownership asked him to take over as manager You’re going to kick that guy out of Cooperstown?
Anyway, if you get a chance to look at the entire list, we’ll discuss below …