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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Virginia man campaigning for Roger Maris

Jay Smith, who grew up in Boston and is now the CEO of a public relations firm in Virginia, is 61 years old.

Oh, sweet synergy.

“I’m just a guy who happened to be a fan through all these years, and I thought Roger was shortchanged and deserved to be in the Hall of Fame for a variety of reasons,” said Smith, who served as the press secretary for former House Republican Leader John J. Rhodes of Arizona from 1973-77.

...“I dug deep and went into all the stats,” Smith said.

“He compares quite favorably. I still talk to a lot of baseball fans, ardent baseball fans, who just assume he is already in the Hall of Fame. I guess they didn’t get the memo.”

...Smith said he will likely attempt to contact the members of the Veterans Committee about putting Maris on the ballot.

“You come across these detractors who say he only broke the home run record once,” Smith said. “That’s like saying Jonas Salk only invented the polio vaccine once, or that Columbus only discovered America once. I think he should be in. That’s all I can say.”

Say…no…more. Judge judge.

Repoz Posted: August 07, 2011 at 11:59 AM | 58 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, hall of fame, history, yankees

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   1. Bob Evans Posted: August 07, 2011 at 01:01 PM (#3894589)
Plus side:
1. Broke HR record once
2. From North Dakota
3. Traded for Hank Bauer
4. 21 SBs in 30 tries is pretty good
5. Feels like a HOFer

Minus side:
1. Hit only 16 doubles the year he hit 61, so not a team player
2. Lifetime BA .260
3. Made a living playing a kids' game while numerous childhood diseases remained uncured
4. Doesn't really feel like a HOFer

Gotta say, that is more pluses than minuses.
   2. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: August 07, 2011 at 01:23 PM (#3894598)
n an effort to build momentum, Smith recently sent out a news release indicating that current baseball commissioner Bud Selig backed Maris’ bid for the Hall of Fame at a meeting with the Phoenix Area Chamber of Commerce during Major League Baseball’s All-Star weekend.

Smith quotes Selig: “I certainly agree that Roger Maris should be in the Hall of Fame.”


Of course he left out "...is one of the more ridiculous notions out there."
   3. BDC Posted: August 07, 2011 at 01:35 PM (#3894601)
he only broke the home run record once

Like Sammy Sosa. But Barry Bonds broke it three times, Mark McGwire broke it eight times, and Babe Ruth broke it an astounding 33 times. Get in line, Roger Maris.
   4. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: August 07, 2011 at 01:58 PM (#3894606)
In this article, fellow North Dakotan Chuck Klosterman suggests that not getting into the hall may be the \best career move Maris ever made.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 07, 2011 at 02:22 PM (#3894619)
“That’s like saying Jonas Salk only invented the polio vaccine once, or that Columbus only discovered America once. I think he should be in. That’s all I can say.”


I don't think Jonas Salk or Christopher Columbus should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame either.
   6. Wins Above Paul Westerberg Posted: August 07, 2011 at 02:33 PM (#3894623)
“You come across these detractors who say he only broke the home run record once,” Smith said. “That’s like saying Jonas Salk only invented the polio vaccine once, or that Columbus only discovered America once. I think he should be in. That’s all I can say.”

Say what you want about Maris, Columbus is truly the Jim Rice of America's Hall of Fame.
   7. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 07, 2011 at 02:34 PM (#3894624)
Barry Bonds broke it three times

Barry also broke the lifetime HR record seven times.
   8. Dale Sams Posted: August 07, 2011 at 03:55 PM (#3894653)
or that Columbus only discovered America once


Maris just lost the American Indian, Viking and Polynesian vote.
   9. LargeBill Posted: August 07, 2011 at 04:07 PM (#3894658)
Funniest part of the article to me was this bit:
In his petition, Smith outlines Maris’ case by comparing the Yankees slugger’s career with Hall of Famers Bill Mazeroski, Phil Rizzuto, Red Schoendienst and Richie Ashburn.

“They were all great ball players who had their own style that has made baseball what it is today,” Smith writes in the petition. “The only difference is they are in the Hall of Fame and Roger is not. … Isn’t it time after 41 years that Roger get the credit he deserves and he gets in too?”


This guy is asserting that the only difference between those guys and Maris is they are in the Hall of Fame and Maris is not. What!? Ignoring for a moment that those four are very marginal HoF'rs as it is, he is missing the fact that they played different positions than Maris. By all accounts Maris was a very good outfielder. However, that is not the same thing as being a very good to great middle infielder. Ashburn was an outfielder, but that is where the comparison ends. Ashburn was a speedy centerfielder who played 700 more games and had 1,200 more hits.
   10. KingKaufman Posted: August 07, 2011 at 04:55 PM (#3894667)
I just read "The Last Boy," Jane Leavy's bio of Mickey Mantle, and it's excellent. My only criticism is that she asserts at a couple of points that Roger Maris should be in the Hall of Fame, and that it's some kind of injustice and oversight that he's not, without anything to back up those statements. She doesn't even make the pro-Maris argument, just says he's not in there like he clearly deserves to be. And it's not Mantle talking, it's Leavy.

Maris doesn't belong anywhere near the Hall of Fame. Good player. Nothing like a Hall of Famer.
   11. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 07, 2011 at 05:08 PM (#3894669)
Virginia man campaigning for Roger Maris


"Roger Maris" is an elective office in Virginia? How odd.
   12. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: August 07, 2011 at 05:12 PM (#3894670)
Plus side:
1. Broke HR record once
2. From North Dakota
3. Traded for Hank Bauer
4. 21 SBs in 30 tries is pretty good
5. Feels like a HOFer

Minus side:
1. Hit only 16 doubles the year he hit 61, so not a team player
2. Lifetime BA .260
3. Made a living playing a kids' game while numerous childhood diseases remained uncured
4. Doesn't really feel like a HOFer

Gotta say, that is more pluses than minuses.



How can you say that?! Won't somebody think of the children?!?!
   13. The District Attorney Posted: August 07, 2011 at 05:45 PM (#3894684)
Klosterman says that Maris had "as good a career as anyone can have without making the Baseball Hall of Fame". That's very obviously wrong, and if you don't grant it, then I think the rest of his argument falls apart.

He also says "You cannot have a discussion about borderline Hall of Famers (or Hall of Fame voting) without referencing Maris." Also disagree there. I assume that Maris/HOF articles often get posted here precisely because it's such a stretch of an argument. I certainly don't feel nearly as constant or loud a drumbeat as there was for, e.g., Jim Rice or Phil Rizzuto. I do think that a large majority of people realize that Maris isn't really close.
   14. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: August 07, 2011 at 06:02 PM (#3894708)
Maris did get elected to the Baseball reliquary's Shrine of the Eternals. THat may be a higher honor than Cooperstown.
   15. Greg K Posted: August 07, 2011 at 06:21 PM (#3894713)
Is Maris the only back-to-back MVP not in the Hall of Fame?

(Not suggesting that merits his inclusion, just curious)

EDIT: I may be a little strange Maris-wise because aside from the Ken Burns movie most of the Maris stories I've heard in my life have been from my dad about his days with Rocky Colavito in Cleveland's outfield. I'm surprised to see he only played 160 games with the Indians. Those mid-50s Indians teams must have been fun to watch, they sure made an impression on my dad.
   16. OCF Posted: August 07, 2011 at 06:28 PM (#3894714)
Klosterman says that Maris had "as good a career as anyone can have without making the Baseball Hall of Fame". That's very obviously wrong, and if you don't grant it, then I think the rest of his argument falls apart.

The whole thing is an easily knocked down piñata, so I shouldn't bother. But to take a swing:

Rocky Colavito.

Maris and Colavito were both right fielders. Both played nearly all of their career in the AL. Colavito's career was longer by an effective 3+ years: 1841 G, 7559 PA to Maris's 1463G, 5846 PA. Both were well-respected defensively, and their dWAR is similar.

On his career, Maris hit .260/.345/.476 for an OPS+ of 127. That neutralizes to .269/.356/.491 with 290 HR.

On his career, Colavito hit .266/.359/.489 for an OPS+ of 132. That neutralizes to .272/.366/.499 with 392 HR (longer career).

But what about peak? Here's one curiosity: Colavito had a higher WAR than Maris in 1961. Looking at that 1961 season: Colavito played 163 games and had 708 PA. His triple crown: .290,45,140. His slash: .290/.402/.580. Maris played 161 games and had 698 PA. His triple crown: .269,61,141. His slash: .269/.372/.620. A few more HR for Maris balanced against Colavito being on base more often. WAR has Maris at 7.1 oWAR, 0.1 dWAR for a 7.2 total and Colavito at 5.9 oWAR, 2.0 dWAR for a 7.9 total. So the margin is defense.

Maris's 7 highest seasonal WAR: 7.5, 7.2, 4.2, 4.2, 3.7, 3.7, 3.3
Colavito's 7 highest seasnl WAR: 7.9, 6.7, 5.8, 5.4, 4.0, 3.8, 3.6

To be honest the whole thing was closer than I thought it would be. But still - there's no way that Maris's HoF case should be as good as than Colavito's.

Now: Maris was a very popular BBWAA candidate for the HoF when he was eligible. They never got him over the 75% hump. But it should never be said that he was overlooked or forgotten or that he is somehow a dark horse candidate. He was the mainstream candidate. Colavito was the overlooked one.

Added in edit: I swear I posted this before I saw that Greg(U)K mentioned Colavito.

More edit:

Is Maris the only back-to-back MVP not in the Hall of Fame?

Dale Murphy, NL 1982-83.
   17. Greg K Posted: August 07, 2011 at 06:32 PM (#3894715)
#16

Interesting post, I myself am delving into the realm of b-ref to get a better handle on these heroes I've heard about my whole life. Colavito was certainly better than I imagined. Though I assume you mean they both spent the majority of their time in the AL.

Also, how exciting must it have been to be an Indians fan in 1956 or so. You just had that 1954 season, then along comes Maris, Colavitio, Herb Score, all under 24 in 1957. The future looked so bright!
   18. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: August 07, 2011 at 06:35 PM (#3894717)
Colavito was a better pitcher.
   19. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 07, 2011 at 06:35 PM (#3894718)
“I still talk to a lot of baseball fans, ardent baseball fans, who just assume he is already in the Hall of Fame. I guess they didn’t get the memo.”


"Ardent" baseball fans don't know that Maris isn't a Hall of Famer?

In his petition, Smith outlines Maris’ case by comparing the Yankees slugger’s career with Hall of Famers Bill Mazeroski, Phil Rizzuto, Red Schoendienst and Richie Ashburn.


So: Maris is compared with a 2B, a SS, a 2B, and a CF -- the first two of those being among the most controversial Hall selections ever.

“They were all great ball players who had their own style that has made baseball what it is today,” Smith writes in the petition. “The only difference is they are in the Hall of Fame and Roger is not. … Isn’t it time after 41 years that Roger get the credit he deserves and he gets in too?”


This is disingenuous. That is not "the only difference."

Look, I would never support Maris, but the case for him is peak, and he has to be compared with corner OFs. Not with middle infielders, or great defensive CFs with much longer careers.
   20. OCF Posted: August 07, 2011 at 06:46 PM (#3894726)
...and he has to be compared with corner OFs...

Which is precisely why I compared him to Colavito. Consider also: Johnny Callison, Bob Allison, Ralph Kiner, Minnie Minoso, Bob Johnson, Frank Howard, Ken Singleton, Darryl Strawberry, Jim Rice, Jack Clark, Larry Walker. (Kiner and Rice are in the HoF, not that they're necessarily the best of the lot.) And while Dale Murphy was a CF, he seems a fair one to compare to.

...with Hall of Famers Bill Mazeroski, Phil Rizzuto, Red Schoendienst and Richie Ashburn.

So: Maris is compared with a 2B, a SS, a 2B, and a CF -- the first two of those being among the most controversial Hall selections ever.


Come to think of it, Shoendienst is no prize as a HoF selection considered as a player. I figure his election was a hybrid case in which he was given generous credit for his managing career. One can see listing Schoendienst at all as a way of referring to the '67-'68 Cardinals. Yes, Maris was a contributing member to two more pennant-winning teams there (the team of my own first fan allegiance). Of course, if the Cardinals hadn't had Maris and had given his playing time to Bobby Tolan, Dick Simpson, or whoever, they probably would have won those pennants anyway.
   21. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 07, 2011 at 06:52 PM (#3894730)
You guys are being way too hard on this piece. It all makes perfect sense once you understand that the author is using a whole lot of words that do not mean what he thinks they mean.

EDIT: And of course, I meant to say "Mr. Smith" instead of "author." I have no idea if Mr. Holtzer knows (or cares) what the words he is quoting mean.
   22. BDC Posted: August 07, 2011 at 07:04 PM (#3894738)
he has to be compared with corner OFs

Your wish is my command. Comps for Maris, corner outfielders in a range centered on Maris in terms of PAs and OPS+, ranked by WAR Fielding Runs (which are not available for a bunch of the old-timers in the comparison; the years spanned are 1893-present):

Player            Rfield   PA OPS+
Jesse Barfield       161 5394  117
J
.DDrew             89 6138  125
Roger Maris           43 5846  127
Bob Allison           30 5921  127
Jackie Jensen         28 6079  120
Lonnie Smith          24 5952  118
Cliff Floyd           13 6063  119
Sid Gordon             2 5811  129
Tommy Holmes           0 5565  122
Tommy Henrich          0 5409  132
Bob Meusel             0 6028  118
Ken Williams           0 5616  137
John Titus             0 5818  127
Topsy Hartsel          0 5793  128
Richie Zisk           
-9 5737  126
Wally Moon           
-22 5566  118
Hank Sauer           
-22 5414  123
Jay Buhner           
-77 5927  124
Danny Tartabull     
-120 5842  133 


Drew, Allison, and Jensen "feel like" very good comps to Maris: fine athletes, some problems staying healthy, MVP talents (Maris and Jensen were MVPs; Allison was a Rookie of the Year and won an OPS title, Drew ... was at least a very high draft pick. You could mix and match years from their careers liberally and nobody would know the difference unless you somehow worked the 61-HR season in. Of the old-timers, Meusel also seems a good fit, a plus defender by reputation with exceptional athletic ability.

And a Silent John Titus sighting! I became a John Titus fan when I was leafing through the Win Shares book and noticed how many solid seasons he had in the deadball days. His record looks extremely uninteresting until you remember it was compiled during the worst-ever years for hitters. He's a very close match to Maris in career OPS+ and PA, though so different in terms of context that a direct comparison is difficult.
   23. AJMcCringleberry Posted: August 07, 2011 at 07:12 PM (#3894742)
You come across these detractors who say he only broke the home run record once

I'm pretty certain I've never come across any detractors who said that.
   24. OCF Posted: August 07, 2011 at 07:14 PM (#3894743)
Lonnie Smith has + Rfield? Who knew? Of course, Smith has one weird career shape, with a terrific start, a terrific back end, and a gaping hole in the middle.
   25. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 07, 2011 at 07:17 PM (#3894748)
And a Silent John Titus sighting! I became a John Titus fan when I was leafing through the Win Shares book and noticed how many solid seasons he had in the deadball days. His record looks extremely uninteresting until you remember it was compiled during the worst-ever years for hitters. He's a very close match to Maris in career OPS+ and PA, though so different in terms of context that a direct comparison is difficult.


Plus he was the last major-leaguer to wear a handle-bar moustache until the Finley A's came along...
   26. Swoboda is freedom Posted: August 07, 2011 at 07:33 PM (#3894763)
Is Maris the only back-to-back MVP not in the Hall of Fame?

No, Dale Murphy. Frank Thomas,Pujols and Bonds are eligible yet.

All the rest are in,

C Berra
1b Foxx
2b Morgan
SS Banks
3b Schmidt
OF Mantle
P Newhauser
   27. baudib Posted: August 07, 2011 at 07:39 PM (#3894764)
I can sympathize with a Maris campaign the way I sorta sympathize with the Gil Hodges and Thurman Munson camp. They were fine players who are fairly crucial to the history of the game. Hall of Famers? eh

#15: Dale Murphy
   28. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: August 07, 2011 at 07:46 PM (#3894770)
Drew ... was at least a very high draft pick.

In 2001, Drew was probably the second-best player in the National League (.330/.426/.688) until David Wells intervened. And he was pretty stellar in 2004, as well.
   29. OCF Posted: August 07, 2011 at 08:20 PM (#3894783)
Harry Stovey did once score 23.7% of his team's runs in a season - 90 runs for a team that scored 379 in an 84 game season. The second highest R for that team that year was the 50 by the pitcher, who was the second best hitter. It was an awful team.

I think a lot of Stovey's games were played on grounds that had very deep outfield fences - if the fences were in play at all. Which would make most HR "inside the park" and Stovey was certainly very fast.
   30. Chris Fluit Posted: August 07, 2011 at 08:28 PM (#3894788)
#16
Now: Maris was a very popular BBWAA candidate for the HoF when he was eligible. They never got him over the 75% hump. But it should never be said that he was overlooked or forgotten or that he is somehow a dark horse candidate. He was the mainstream candidate. Colavito was the overlooked one.


That was actually part of Maris' difficulty. He was getting mainstream support on the writers' ballot at a time when the Veterans Committee was putting in players with single season records or accomplishments. Hack Wilson and his RBI record went in in'79. I think that the Veterans Committee of the time would have probably elected Maris as well. However the writers had a different perspective. He got enough support that he didn't fall to the Vets, but not enough to get elected. In '79, he got 29.4% of the vote. Though it should be noted that was still less at the time than the aforementioned Schoendiest (36.8) and Ashburn (30.1).
   31. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 07, 2011 at 09:21 PM (#3894798)
"Ardent" baseball fans don't know that Maris isn't a Hall of Famer?


Well, as was subsequently noted,

It all makes perfect sense once you understand that the author is using a whole lot of words that do not mean what he thinks they mean.


For instance, it's pretty clear that he thinks "Ardent" means "extremely stupid."
   32. Chris Fluit Posted: August 07, 2011 at 10:08 PM (#3894820)
It's easy to understand the Maris for Hall of Fame argument. All you need is a completely different mindset. There are a lot of people who view the Hall of Fame not as the Hall for the Greatest Players but as the Hall for Famous Players. This doesn't necessarily mean players who are simply famous such as baseball player turned TV star Chuck Connors. But it does mean players who are famous for having played baseball. Under this mindset, a player with a singular great achievement should be inducted to the Hall of Fame. For Roger Maris, the home run record should have been sufficient. The fact that he had won the MVP award the previous season- demonstrating that it wasn't a fluke- should have been the icing on the cake. This mindset is not uncommon. It's the same mindset that leads to campaigns for pitchers like Don Larsen (postseason perfect game), Denny McLain (last 30 win season) and Fernando Valenzuela (Fernando-mania).

However, a knowledgeable baseball fan will soon recognize that this mindset is problematic. It ignores a player's overall contribution to the game, which penalizes great players who are missing those singular achievements such Bert Blyleven (no Cy Young) or Alan Trammell (no MVP). It leads to the induction of specialists, such as Bill Mazeroski (best defensive second baseman) instead of well-rounded players such as Bobby Grich (top 100 in both offensive and defensive WAR). It's almost entirely subjective, which is how cases can be built for Jim Rice (American League MVP in 1978) while ignoring Dave Parker (National League MVP in 1978).

I hope it's clear that I'm explaining this mindset, not defending it. Yet it is possible to be a passionate baseball fan and hold this view of the Hall of Fame. And I'm pretty sure that's what the article meant by "ardent."
   33. Greg K Posted: August 07, 2011 at 10:45 PM (#3894832)
I hope it's clear that I'm explaining this mindset, not defending it. Yet it is possible to be a passionate baseball fan and hold this view of the Hall of Fame. And I'm pretty sure that's what the article meant by "ardent."

I do agree with most of your post. I would point out though that the article uses the word "ardent" in the sentence, "I still talk to a lot of baseball fans, ardent baseball fans, who just assume he is already in the Hall of Fame".

Maybe there's just a higher standard of ardency here at BTF, but if you don't know Roger Maris isn't in the Hall of Fame then I don't see how you are an ardent fan.

I agree with you that it is possible to be an ardent fan and think that Roger Maris deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but I'm not sure if you can be described as an ardent fan if you aren't aware he isn't in it at the moment. Maybe in other sports where the Hall of Fame is less integral to the fabric of the game it's possible...for intsance my father is a big Ti-Cats fan but was unaware Cookie Gilchrist was not in the CFL Hall of Fame. (Turns out he refused the honour due to some kind of labour dispute). It wouldn't surprise me if many ardent CFL fans didn't even know where the CFL Hall of Fame is. But baseball is a bit different.
   34. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 07, 2011 at 10:48 PM (#3894833)
When I first heard about Maris as a kid, I understood that although he had hit the most home runs in a season, he wasn't a good enough player to make the Hall. It's not particularly a difficult concept.
   35. Ryan Lind Posted: August 08, 2011 at 12:02 AM (#3894863)
or that Columbus only discovered America once


Columbus belongs in the..."pulling a homer" hall of fame, I guess.
   36. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 08, 2011 at 01:23 AM (#3894943)
I agree with you that it is possible to be an ardent fan and think that Roger Maris deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but I'm not sure if you can be described as an ardent fan if you aren't aware he isn't in it at the moment.


Which is precisely what I meant by my "ardent=extremely stupid" comment.
   37. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: August 08, 2011 at 01:28 AM (#3894951)
All you need is a completely different mindset. There are a lot of people who view the Hall of Fame not as the Hall for the Greatest Players but as the Hall for Famous Players.


I think this is why I'm starting to dig the Shrine of Eternals more than the plaqueroom at the HOF.
   38. robinred Posted: August 08, 2011 at 01:36 AM (#3894962)
I recently saw 61*, the Billy Crystal made-for-cable flick about Maris and Mantle in 1961 (it is about ten years old). It was very vanilla, but I thought the two actors (Barry Pepper and Thomas Jane) cast as Maris and Mantle were well-cast and did a good job. There is a pre-Congress McGwire scene in it, using the clips from #62.
   39. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:32 AM (#3895013)
Lonnie Smith has + Rfield? Who knew? Of course, Smith has one weird career shape, with a terrific start, a terrific back end, and a gaping hole in the middle.

You inspired me to look at Lonnie Smith's BBRef page and, whoa, where did his 1989 season come from?! 1989 was not a big-offense year, yet Lonnie hit 21 HR (in only 134 games) at the age of 33 after never topping 8 HR previously. And he never again hit more than 9.
   40. OCF Posted: August 08, 2011 at 04:03 AM (#3895158)
On that bbref page, Lonnie's defensive numbers for 1989 are, if anything, weirder than his offensive numbers.
   41. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 08, 2011 at 05:33 AM (#3895255)
Lonnie Smith has + Rfield? Who knew? Of course, Smith has one weird career shape, with a terrific start, a terrific back end, and a gaping hole in the middle.
Coincidentally, like Dave Parker's...
   42. CrosbyBird Posted: August 08, 2011 at 06:13 AM (#3895262)
Under this mindset, a player with a singular great achievement should be inducted to the Hall of Fame.

Isn't this specifically listed as impermissible in the voting rules?

6. Automatic Elections: No automatic elections based on performances such as a batting average of .400 or more for one (1) year, pitching a perfect game or similar outstanding achievement shall be permitted.
   43. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: August 08, 2011 at 06:25 AM (#3895265)
I have an unpopular opinion around here that guys like Maris and Curt Flood and Bobby Thomson and Tommy John and Jackie Robinson (and Fleet Walker for the matter) and Bill Mazeroski and Bo Jackson and Jim Thorpe and Johnny Vander Meer all deserve significant bonus points in their Hall of Fame cases above and beyond their value on the field. But in all of those cases it's either not going to be nearly enough or, as in Jackie Robinson's case, unnecessary to put them over the top. That credit should also vary greatly based on that contribution.

The two possible exceptions being Tommy John and maybe Mazeroski. John is a solid member of the HoVG and made an enormous positive contribution to the game of baseball. I'd say 'yes' on him. Mazeroski is a borderline HoVG who hit an epic home run and is regarded as the best defender at his position in history. He has two bonus point sort of things but both on the low end of those kind of bonuses. I'd say 'no' there. Maris could have been a third if he had stayed healthy for a while at the 62-64 levels of play, but he didn't.
   44. Something Other Posted: August 08, 2011 at 09:35 AM (#3895278)
This is like being back in middle school and watching the little kid get beat up. Jeez.
   45. Ron J Posted: August 08, 2011 at 01:22 PM (#3895305)
#24 Lonnie got an awful lot of assists on guys who simply assumed he'd fail to pick up the ball or would make a lousy throw. As Bill James pointed out, he had unusually small hands and small feet so he often didn't get a good grip on the ball, or would slip when trying to make a play at speed. (In one abstact James lists "balance" as one of Smith's weaknesses)

But he was fast and his instincts weren't bad. So when he made the routine play he often had the runner dead to rights.

It's worth noting that Whitey Herzog gave Smith 36 starts in CF his first year managing him.

One of my favorite James pieces is on Smith as a defender.

I would try to tell you what a bad outfielder Lonnie is, except that I confess that I would never have believed it myself if somebody had tried to tell me. I will say, though, that the real cost of Lonnie's defense is not nearly as great as the psychic impact of it all. He makes you wail and gnash your teeth a lot, but he doesn't really cost you all that many runs.

One reason for that is that he recovers so quickly after he makes a mistake. You have to understand that Lonnie makes defensive mistakes every game, so he knows how to handle it. Your average outfielder is inclined to panic when he falls down chasing a ball in the corner; he may just give up and sit there for a while, trying to figure it out. Lonnie has a pop-up slide perfected for the occasion.

Another outfielder might have no idea where the ball was when it bounded off his glove. Lonnie can calculate with the instinctive astrophysics of a veteran tennis player where a ball will land when it skips off the heel of his glove, what the angle of glide will be when he tips it off the webbing, what the spin will be when the ball skids off the thumb of his mitt.

Many players can kick a ball behind them without ever knowing it. Lonnie can judge by the pitch of the thud and the subtle pressure through his shoe in which direction and how far he has projected the sphere.

He knows exactly what to do when a ball spins out of his hand and flies crazily into a void on the field. He knows when it is appropriate for him to scamper after the ball and when he needs to back up the man who will have to recover it.

He has experience in these matters; when he retires he will be hired to come to spring training and coach defensive recovery and cost containment. This is his specialty, and he is good at it.
   46. Ron J Posted: August 08, 2011 at 01:29 PM (#3895307)
#40 James uses Smith (and a few others. Darrell Porter for instance) to talk about the issues sometimes associated with coming off coke. He's careful to say that he doesn't think coke made guys like Smith better players, merely that profound changes are often disruptive to baseball success and that coming off a drug habit is about as disruptive as anything.
   47. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 08, 2011 at 01:49 PM (#3895310)
I don't think Jonas Salk or Christopher Columbus should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame either.

Agreed. Jonas Salk is responsible for the most walks in history.
   48. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:01 PM (#3895316)
I don't think Jonas Salk or Christopher Columbus should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame either.

Agreed. Jonas Salk is responsible for the most walks in history.



That's terrible. You should have your children pushed away from you in a wheelchair.
   49. Hack Wilson Posted: August 08, 2011 at 02:02 PM (#3895317)
Christopher Columbus may be the biggest Indian killer of all time, so put him in.
   50. Chris Fluit Posted: August 08, 2011 at 03:30 PM (#3895375)
Isn't this specifically listed as impermissible in the voting rules?


Yes, it is. That doesn't mean that the mindset isn't operative, though, in spite of the rules. How else do you explain Don Larsen? A pitcher with a sub-.500 record (81-91) and a sub-100 ERA+ (though just barely at 99) stayed on the writer's ballot for 15 years and polled as high as 12% (12.1 in '76 and 12.3 in '79). It's the post-season perfect game. The rationalization is that the rules only prevent "automatic election." So Larsen- or Cone or Buehrle or anyone else- isn't automatically enshrined. They still need to be voted in. Of course, it's also possible that people aren't aware of the rule (including some of the people actually voting on the honor). Plus, I'm curious as to when that particular rule was instituted- has it been there since the beginning, or was it instituted as a reaction to some of the previous excesses?

Anyway, Larsen's Hall of Fame vote totals reveal how widespread this mindset can be. It's not a majority mindset by any means. But he consistently polled between 7 and 12%. So it's out there.
   51. DanG Posted: August 08, 2011 at 04:25 PM (#3895413)
Adding to #22, corner-OF types with similar WAR, OPS+ and PA to Maris

Rk           Player WAR/pos   PA OPSFrom   To   Age    G    H  HR   BA
1         J
.DDrew    46.6 6138  125 1998 2011 22-35 1562 1433 242 .278
'2      Roger Maris    39.8 5846  127 1957 1968 22-33 1463 1325 275 .260'
3        Sid Gordon    39.4 5811  129 1941 1955 23-37 1475 1415 202 .283
4    Bill Nicholson    39.0 6418  132 1936 1953 21
-38 1678 1484 235 .268
5     Tommy Henrich    37.6 5409  132 1937 1950 24
-37 1284 1297 183 .282
6      Ken Williams    37.3 5616  137 1915 1929 25
-39 1398 1552 196 .319
7      Lonnie Smith    37.2 5952  118 1978 1994 22
-38 1613 1488  98 .288
8       Ross Youngs    36.2 5333  130 1917 1926 20
-29 1211 1491  42 .322 H
9    Jesse Barfield    35.7 5394  117 1981 1992 21
-32 1428 1219 241 .256
10    Topsy Hartsel    34.5 5793  128 1898 1911 24
-37 1356 1336  31 .276
11      Bob Allison    34.4 5921  127 1958 1970 23
-35 1542 1281 256 .255
12       Eric Davis    34.0 6147  125 1984 2001 22
-39 1626 1430 282 .269
13      Chick Stahl    33.7 5709  122 1897 1906 24
-33 1304 1546  36 .305
14     Danny Murphy    33.4 5978  124 1900 1915 23
-38 1496 1563  44 .289
15     Tommy Holmes    32.6 5565  122 1942 1952 25
-35 1320 1507  88 .302
16       Mike Smith    31.6 5422  126 1886 1901 18
-33 1237 1456  37 .310
17       Rico Carty    31.4 6318  132 1963 1979 23
-39 1651 1677 204 .299 
   52. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 08, 2011 at 04:39 PM (#3895428)
Maris could have been a third if he had stayed healthy for a while at the 62-64 levels of play, but he didn't.

Maris might well have been elected if he hadn't had the wrist injury that robbed him of his power. Maris' 142 OPS+ for his age 24-29 seasons (1959-1964) were a pretty good start toward a Hall of Fame career. A couple more good seasons, and his vote total might have been close, with a lot more folks inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the player that held baseball's most iconic record. Had he not made it, you might even have had BBTF posters berating the electors for not giving Maris enough credit for his performance during the pitching-dominant mid to late 1960s. But with the injury, Maris' candidacy was just too dependent on that 1961 season. Still, a very good ballplayer, probably under-rated as a baserunner and fielder.
   53. BDC Posted: August 08, 2011 at 04:45 PM (#3895436)
Voros, depending on the contribution, I would agree. I think Curt Flood should (and perhaps some day will) be in as a "pioneer" as well as a HOVG ballplayer. He became iconic and drew enormous attention to the absurdities of the reserve clause, and even if Murray Chass publicizes the fact that he cheated at solitaire or something, I don't think that should matter to his professional importance in the game's history.

Though that's not quite what you're saying, it's another sidelight on the question. Certain guys can't be considered merely as the sum of their playing-field value.
   54. Chris Fluit Posted: August 08, 2011 at 06:32 PM (#3895512)
It's nice to see Mike Smith in the list in #52. I'm not sure when bb-ref changed his name from Elmer Smith to Mike, but he also pitched 1210 innings with an ERA+ of 113 for an additional WAR of 15.4 (or 16.0 when he was a straight pitcher).
   55. cardsfanboy Posted: August 08, 2011 at 06:43 PM (#3895519)
I have an unpopular opinion around here that guys like Maris and Curt Flood and Bobby Thomson and Tommy John and Jackie Robinson (and Fleet Walker for the matter) and Bill Mazeroski and Bo Jackson and Jim Thorpe and Johnny Vander Meer all deserve significant bonus points in their Hall of Fame cases above and beyond their value on the field. But in all of those cases it's either not going to be nearly enough or, as in Jackie Robinson's case, unnecessary to put them over the top. That credit should also vary greatly based on that contribution.


Outside of Ray, I don't think that is too unpopular opinion. I agree they deserve bonus points for the Hall of Fame, and also agree that it doesn't make one bit of difference. It's not the Hall of Merit or based upon just statistical value, there is a reason why there is a vote for it. I don't agree that it's about how famous a player is, as some will argue, but that there are more to every individual case than just looking at the numbers.

Heck Sugar Bear got me to agree to give Morris bonus points due to his arguments that Jack pitched better during pennant races(although I still have to reconcile that with him not pitching good earlier in the season, but it's a small bonus)...I was able to move Jack Morris up about 20 spots among pitchers, which still makes him about 50 spots from being a serious borderline candidate.
   56. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 09, 2011 at 08:09 AM (#3896110)
Outside of Ray, I don't think that is too unpopular opinion. I agree they deserve bonus points for the Hall of Fame, and also agree that it doesn't make one bit of difference. It's not the Hall of Merit or based upon just statistical value, there is a reason why there is a vote for it. I don't agree that it's about how famous a player is, as some will argue, but that there are more to every individual case than just looking at the numbers.
I think this is wrong, both logically and empirically. While the HOF does cite character as one of the voting criteria (though, as I've said before, I don't think the voters actually did that), it doesn't list... whatever you'd call the factor you're discussing. (You disclaim the idea of "fame," but I'm not sure what you would label it.)
   57. cardsfanboy Posted: August 10, 2011 at 01:37 AM (#3896694)
I think this is wrong, both logically and empirically. While the HOF does cite character as one of the voting criteria (though, as I've said before, I don't think the voters actually did that), it doesn't list... whatever you'd call the factor you're discussing. (You disclaim the idea of "fame," but I'm not sure what you would label it.)


I don't think it's wrong, I don't think it's a big deal, we are talking about the ability to move an B+ player to A- or the other way around(Kirby Puckett before his issues got out, Dick Allen, Kevin Brown, Tony Gwynn vs Tim Raines etc)

His point was that specialist or popularity or fame or infamy etc can move the needle. His point also was that in the end it hasn't probably mattered at all in changing his opinion. I don't think anyone has a problem arguing that Gwynn got in first ballot because of his specialist hitting vs Raines the equivalent player who is still sitting on the outside. That Ozzie Smith is in while Trammel is not. That Kevin Brown or Dick Allen got demerits at least partially because of their personality. That Larsen got props in the voting because of his action, or Mazeroski is in because of two rememberable things.


It's not so much bonus points as it's recognition of their (relatively)unique achievements in the game.

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