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Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Dave Parker

The final word of the year goes to the Pirate great.

This article is one in a series which analyzes the candidates on the 2002 BBWAA ballot
for the Hall of Fame, using Bill James’s “Keltner List”, a series of questions designed to
bring into greater focus the arguments for and against a player’s enshrinement in the Hall
of Fame .

 

Dave Parker, a right fielder with a powerful throwing arm, won three Gold Gloves, two
NL batting titles and the 1978 NL MVP with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the late 1970s.
After the Pirates’ triumph in the 1979 World Series Parker signed a five-year contract that
called for $1 million per season, the first MLB contract to do so.  The signing made
Parker into a target; his subsequent struggles made him the most unpopular player ever to
wear a Pirates uniform.  Parker was the target not only of relentless abuse, but even of
missiles thrown from the stands.  It was not known at the time that Parker’s struggles
were partially due to cocaine use, which Parker ceased in 1982.  As Parker’s severe knee
problems came under control, he had a second productive phase to his career as the
cleanup hitter for Pete Rose’s Cincinnati Reds and enjoyed his last years as a cleanup-hitting DH in Oakland (winning a second World Series ring in 1989) and Milwaukee,
before a final swansong in 1991 with the Angels and Blue Jays.

 

Parker played 2466 major league games, batting .290 with 339 home runs, scoring 1272
runs and driving in 1493.  He had 2712 career hits.  His career adjusted OPS+ is 121.
All-time, Parker stands 50th in games played, 51st in hits, 38th in total bases, 27th in
doubles, and 41st in RBI.  He is also in the top 100 in several other categories.  But
Parker was never very well defined by the numbers, making the Keltner list in his case
very interesting indeed.

 

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was
active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

 

Yes.  It was frequently suggested during the late 1970s that Parker was the best player in
baseball, this idea gaining momentum after Parker won the 1978 National League MVP award in a walk over Steve Garvey. 
It began to swell with his All-Star Game appearance in
1979, where he had two memorable assists in right, including the famous gunning-down
of Brian Downing at the plate, to keep the game tied at 6-6 in the bottom of the eighth.  It
crested with his postseason performance in 1979 when he hit .345 to help the Pirates to
the World Series crown.  If you had conducted a poll (of fans or of writers) before, during
or after the 1979 season and asked who was the best player in baseball, Parker would
probably have led that poll.

 

Was Parker ever actually the best player in baseball?  His main competition during 1977-79 (in my view) was Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, Jim Palmer, Ken Singleton, Ted
Simmons, George Foster, Dave Winfield, Fred Lynn, and Jim Rice.  There are good
reasons for preferring Parker to any of them, but on later evidence we might reasonably
prefer Schmidt.  Rod Carew and Joe Morgan had slipped in ‘78 and ‘79 to the point they
were really no longer in the running.  He is at least close to being the best player, and is a
very reasonable choice for the best player in baseball in ‘78 and ‘79.  By that I mean the
actual best player as opposed to the guy having the best year.

 

Bill James named Parker as his “best player in the major leagues” for 1978, but this is
simply due to Parker’s 37 WS leading the majors.  It’s not really a serious list of who the
best player actually was.

 

2. Was he the best player on his team?

 

He was the best player on the Pirates from 1975 through 1979, although Willie Stargell is
1A through this time.  He was also the best player on the 1980 Pirates although Mike
Easler had a clearly better season.  He was the best player on the ‘85 Reds as well, and
there is a good argument that he was also the best in 1986, although by the end of that
year it was clear that Eric Davis was their best player.  At 39 years of age, he had a claim
at being the best player on a bad Brewer team in 1990, although he would have to duel with
Teddy Higuera, Gary Sheffield, Paul Molitor, and Robin Yount for that honor.  All in all,
he was the best player on his team in six to seven seasons.

 

Parker led his team in win shares in 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, and 1985.  In 1984 he led all
Reds position players in WS and was second by one to Mario Soto.  In 1976, Richie Zisk
had a good year and edged Parker by one win share.

 

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the
league at his position?

 

Yes and yes, but not for a long period.  He was the best right fielder in baseball from
1977-79, ahead of Ken Singleton, as well as Jim Rice and Dave Winfield.  He was the
best right fielder in the NL from 1975 to 1979.  When he rose to prominence again in the
mid-80s, he was no longer the NL’s best right fielder as Tony Gwynn and Darryl
Strawberry had come into the league.  In his years as a DH, Parker may have been the
best (against inferior competition) but never led DHs in win shares in any year.

 

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

 

Yes.  His Pirates won a tight NL East race ‘74 with the young Parker playing an important
bench role as the fourth outfielder late in the season, essentially usurping the role of Gene
Clines.  In ‘75, they won again, with Parker now taking Richie Zisk’s place in right while
Zisk moved to left to cover Willie Stargell’s move to first base.  Parker led the team in
home runs and RBI, came third in MVP voting, and they won the division by 6.5 games.
In ‘76, the Pirates eventually came a distant second to Philadelphia, but a Pirates team that
had been 10.5 out at the end of August caught fire, going 13-4 to start September.  They
closed to within three games of the Phillies, but that was as close as they got.  Parker
again played a pivotal role, leading the Pirates in RBI with 90.

 

In ‘77, the Pirates finished second again, five games behind the Phillies.  This was
Parker’s first great year; he won the batting title, led the Pirates in everything except home
runs and RBI (Bill Robinson), and won his first Gold Glove.  He was third in the MVP
voting again.  In ‘78, they came second again, squeezed out by 1.5 games by Philadelphia.
Especially notable is a momentous Friday doubleheader on September 29, with the
Pirates trailing the Phils by 3.5 games and needing to sweep the Phillies in a four-game
series at home to take the division.  The Pirates beat the Phillies 5-1 and 2-1, with Parker
going 2-for-4 and scoring a run in each game.  On Saturday, he went 2-for-5 with two
runs scored and two RBI, but the Pirates lost 10-8 in a legendary game; Phillies starter
Randy Lerch got the win and hit two home runs in his own cause.  During September, as
the Pirates struggled to keep in touch with the streaking Phils, Parker hit a phenomenal
415/478/720.  In August and September, Parker had 60 RBI in 60 games.

 

‘79 was We Are Family… one of the most legendary pennant and World Series winners of
all time.  Stargell won the MVP, but Parker was the team’s best player and had a monster
September (365/451/538).  The race was a very close one over the Expos.

 

I recount all of these years in detail, because they exemplify Parker’s case, which I will
discuss in the conclusion.  He was so central, and so valuable, in so many interesting
pennant races.

 

Parker still had considerable involvement in pennant races over the next decade.  In 1980,
the Pirates actually led the league into September, but fell apart to finish third and Parker
had a disappointing season.  After a bad start, though, he was a terror in August to keep
the team in first place.  The ‘81 Pirates, falling apart, never challenged.  The ‘82 team
finished fourth but only eight games out in a tightly bunched race; Parker, playing
intermittently, was not a factor.  The ‘83 team was involved in a good race, but the Pirates
finished six back of the Phillies, largely due to an indifferent August and September.
Parker had a very disappointing year, and though he was better in the stretch drive he did
not play to his previous standard.

 

The trade that brought Parker to Cincinnati in ‘84 meant that he was part of both ends of
one of the 80s’ better turnaround teams; the Pete Rose Reds.  Rose took over a struggling
Redlegs club from Vern Rapp at the tail end of the ‘84 season, in which Parker had largely
repeated his moribund ‘83 year.  In ‘85, the Reds (having gone 70-92 the year before, in
fifth place in the NL West and 22 games out) rode a huge comeback season from Parker
and a 20-win rookie in Tom Browning, and were 7 games over .500, but 7.5 games out of
first, on the morning of September 1st.  Parker once again had a monster stretch drive.  In
September, he hit 386/435/667 and drove in 33 runs; the Reds went 19-9, and made a run
at the Dodgers that fell short.

 

In ‘86, the Reds finished second again, ten games back of the Mike Scott/Nolan Ryan
Astros.  Parker, who played all 162 games, hit well but the Reds never mounted a
sustained challenge.  In ‘87, the Reds came second again, this time to the Giants.  Parker
played a great deal, but after a good start he had a poor summer; a better September was
too little, too late.  Parker’s move to Oakland in 1988 put him back in with another
pennant winner.  The A’s won going away, finishing 13 ahead of the Twins and winning
the ALCS before losing to the Dodgers.  Parker played some left field and DHed a lot for
the A’s, and managed over 400 plate appearances, managing a solid contribution to a team
with little power at the bottom of the order.  Parker took over as the primary DH in 1989,
and the A’s won the pennant again, as Parker was second on the club in home runs and
led in RBI with 97.  This time, the A’s won the World Series over the Giants, netting
Parker a second ring.  In 1990, Parker played for just the third bad team of his career in
Milwaukee, but in 1991 after a late-season trade from California he had a bit part in the
Blue Jays’ drive to the AL East crown, hitting .333 in 13 games.  The Jays were not
threatened in September; so Parker’s contribution to that team is minimal.

 

Throwing out that brief Toronto appearance, Parker played for five pennant-winners and
seven second-place clubs, and two other clubs that finished below second in tight pennant
races.  Fourteen is a very large number of pennant races to have been involved in.  He
was pivotal in the greater number of those fourteen pennant races, and his record in
September in pennant races is superb.

 

5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?

 

Yes.  Parker was a regular (and a pretty good one) at 38 and 39, and even had 541 PA at
the age of 40.  However, this was all as a DH.  He did play the outfield every day until he
was 36.

 

6. Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

 

No, since Eddie Murray is also eligible this year.  There are other players with better
claims than Parker (Santo, Gary Carter, probably Bert Blyleven, possibly many others).

 

7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?

 

Using Bill James’ similarity scores, the two most similar players to Parker are in the Hall
of Fame - Tony Perez and Billy Williams.  None of the next eight are in, but several are
currently on the ballot or are not yet eligible.  The other eight are Harold Baines, Andre
Dawson, Al Oliver, Jim Rice, Rusty Staub, Chili Davis, Dwight Evans, and Vada Pinson.
All are candidates, although only Dawson seems more likely than not to go in.

 

Parker is quite similar to Perez, whose selection was and is widely debated.  Billy
Williams, who was elected by the Writers, was probably a small step ahead of Parker as a
player due to his greater consistency.

 

Parker had 327 career win shares.  Other players with 322-332 win shares are Ernie
Banks, Will Clark, Richie Ashburn, Bobby Grich, Tommy Leach, Sam Rice, Gabby
Hartnett, Ozzie Smith, Reggie Smith, Ron Santo, Fergie Jenkins, Enos Slaughter, Willie
Davis, and Red Ruffing.  There are fourteen men in this group (Parker makes 15) and
thirteen are eligible (Clark is not yet eligible).  Of those 13, eight (Banks, Ashburn, Rice,
Hartnett, Ozzie, Jenkins, Slaughter, and Ruffing) are in the Hall of Fame, while Santo and
Grich are popular candidates.  The 327 win shares put Parker 118th all-time as of 2001.

 

8. Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

 

A qualified “yes.”  Parker scores 41.1 on the “Hall of Fame Standards” test; the average
HOFer scores 50.

 

Parker scores 125.5 points on the “Hall of Fame Monitor” test; a score over 100 is a
“likely Hall of Famer.”

 

Parker scores 26 points on the Black Ink Test and 145 points on the Gray Ink test; both
put him almost right at the average for a Hall of Famer (27 and 144, respectively)

 

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse
than is suggested by his statistics?

 

There is some slight evidence.  Park effects are minor, but important.  Over his career,
Parker’s run environment was perhaps 3% higher than average, perhaps slightly more in
his best years.

 

Parker defensively was never quite as good as his reputation; he had a tremendous
throwing arm but was prone to over-using it, resulting in high error totals.  His three Gold
Gloves were probably not all deserved, although he was a very good right fielder in those
days (James has him as being worthy of one Gold Glove, in 1978).  His fearsome
reputation may have resulted in him being a deterrent to baserunners; I can’t really be
sure.

 

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

 

Among the right fielders who were/are eligible for the Hall but not yet inducted are Andre
Dawson, Tony Oliva, Dwight Evans, Bobby Bonds, Ken Singleton, Reggie Smith, Bobby
Murcer, Rusty Staub, Rocky Colavito, Roger Maris, Gavy Cravath, Tommy Henrich, and
Harold Baines.  Jose Canseco isn’t eligible yet.

 

Parker is ranked by Bill James (in the New Historical Abstract) as the best out of all of
these players.  He trails Dawson by 13 career win shares, is 20 behind Smith, and 31
behind Staub, and ahead of all other eligibles.  He trails only Singleton in his top 5
seasons by win shares.

 

On the weight of evidence, I think he is the best right fielder eligible.  I think this will
draw howls of derision, since there are excellent candidates to choose from, particularly
Oliva and Dawson, but also Evans, Staub, and Singleton.  I tend to be generous to two of
Parker’s traits; the player who has a long career, and the player with a high peak.

 

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If
not, how many times was he close?

 

Parker won the 1978 NL MVP, and was in the top 10 six times.  He really only had three
seasons (77-79) where he would have been a defensible MVP, but managed to come third
and second on two additional occasions.  Six top 10 finishes is a very respectable total.

 

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he
play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the
Hall of Fame?

 

Parker made seven All-Star appearances, and managed in 1978 to win the MVP without
having been selected to the All-Star team.  He had one other season, 1975, where he
deserved to make the team, and probably did not deserve his 1980 berth.  Seven
appearances is not an unusual number for a Hall of Famer, nor is it unusual for a non-Hall
of Famer.

 

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team
could win the pennant?

 

Yes, it happened in 1975 and 1979 and nearly happened another four times (1976-78 and
1985).

 

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for
any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in
any way?

 

Parker signed the first-ever contract that called for one million dollars per year, breaking
an important psychological barrier.  The contract was a sensation, and caused something
of a furor with traditionalists, who predicted the imminent financial death of baseball…
something that happens every time a player signs a record contract, but entertaining
nonetheless.

 

Parker’s problems with substance abuse, and his later testimony at the trial of Curtis
Strong, did help to change the game by putting the drug issue front and center.  That trial
gave Peter Ueberroth the excuse he needed to tear up the agreement MLB had made in
1984 with the MLBPA on drug policy, and led to the punitive, cat-and-mouse, MLB drug
policy that failed Darryl Strawberrry, Dwight Gooden and Steve Howe and fit in perfectly
with the political tenor of the times.  Essentially, Ueberroth scared off the union by
insisting on mandatory testing, and wound up with an antagonistic relationship over drugs
that continued right up to 2002.

 

Parker also had the first personalized and recognizable home-run trot.  Parker would
begin his trot by heading towards the dugout, taking a very wide turn around first base.
(Parker himself says that the home-run trot is not intended to be showboating, but rather a
celebration like a touchdown dance or spiking the ball in football.)  Parker was also the
first player to wear an earring, which is not really “equipment” but is an accessory almost
ubiquitous in the modern game.  The earring led to a denunciation (in hindsight) of a later
owner, Marge Schott, who legendarily said that “only fruits wear earrings”.  Parker was,
in part, indirectly responsible for Schott’s first suspension from baseball when it became
known thanks to a 1992 court case that Schott, amongst other sins, had referred to Parker
and Eric Davis as her “million-dollar n***ers”.

 

Parker himself, true to form, is not shy about letting his influence be known.  As he said
in 2000 to a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter, “My mark is on the game.  I revolutionized the
salary in baseball.  From the home-run trot to the earring, my mark is on baseball.”  In the
end, though, while Parker had much more effect on the game than most star players, there
is nothing of great significance that would amount to a reason to vote for him.

 

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the
Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

 

I want to say “yes,” but I think I have to say “maybe no.”

 

I am very conflicted about this.  Parker has an awful reputation, that much is certain.  Bill
James in the New Historical Abstract named Parker as his choice for “A Better Ballplayer
than a Human Being” in his “The 1980s in a Box” section, and that is against some
serious competition.  Was Parker actually guilty of a lack of sportsmanship or character?
There are, essentially, two main pillars on which his critics can support their argument -
substance abuse and awful media and fan relations.  Parker almost ruined his career due
to recreational cocaine use, which he stopped in 1982 when he realized the negative
consequences to his play.

 

Dave Parker wasn’t a drug pusher like Willie Stargell, and he didn’t enable teammates and
others like Keith Hernandez, both of whom are much-beloved players.  He didn’t destroy
his career like Darryl Strawberry, either.  Parker was tough as nails, too, which is
something that people choose not to remember since it doesn’t fit their profile of what
Dave Parker was.  He played hurt, and he played hard even when he was hurt; he had a
badly broken jaw through that marvelous stretch drive in 1978 where he slugged .720 in
September.  When he finally started missing time in 1981, it was due to bad knees… not
your garden-variety knee injuries, which had bothered him during the 1979 and 1980
seasons, but a knee that, one story says, would swell up until it was larger than a
volleyball.

 

He did, though, cause problems for his own career.  Those bad knees didn’t happen all by
accident; Parker had gained a lot of weight and his cocaine use had become a self-admitted problem.  The cocaine apparently interfered with his ability to rehabilitate
properly, and the lifestyle wasn’t making it any easier for him to keep his weight under
control.  The way I see it, that is the extent of Dave Parker’s “character problem.”  It is
related totally to his performance on the field (Parker was a recreational user, but nothing
more) and is fully reflected in his numbers; we shouldn’t need to punish him further than
the damage he already did to his career.

 

I found a record of another incident which shows Parker to be less than a gentleman.  In
the early part of the 1980 season, Bill Madlock was taunting a Pirates farmhand - Jess
Zaske - challenging him to throw harder in batting practice.  Parker and some other
players, who were waiting their turn in the cage, shouted to Zaske to “hit him.”  Zaske
came inside and Madlock charged Zaske and punched him.  Oddly enough, despite an
incident like this, Parker was apparently much-beloved by his teammates, particularly
during the Cincinnati years as he grew into a type of elder statesman, and a leader of
various ballclubs during his travels.

 

It’s easy to look at the words and actions of others, twenty years after the fact, and cry
“racism,” but a lot of people have pointed to Parker as a victim of racial animus.  When
he was the “Cobra,” early in his career, he was truly loved by the Pittsburgh fans, who
remembered Clemente with fondness and hoped Parker would duplicate his feats.  Then
Parker signed a million-dollar contract before the 1980 season, and all hell broke loose.
Parker donned a gold earring, the first player to wear one, and fans and media took this as
the action of a self-aggrandizing jerk.  People took his deliberate and unique home-run
trot to be showboating egomania.  Suddenly, Parker was the fall guy for “selfish
ballplayer,” especially when he had a poor 1980 as the cocaine, and serious knee
problems, started to interfere with his play.  His home fans began to boo him
unmercifully, even throwing things at him - this was not a good era to take your kids to
the park - and a triangle of antagonism developed between the media, the fans, and Parker
himself.  A lot has been written about Barry Bonds, another superlative black player who
incurred the wrath of Pittsburgh, and frequently people have wondered whether the hand-wringing with regard to his clubhouse armchair, his muscled physique, and his taciturn
disposition toward the press would have the same prominence if Bonds were white.
Some of the same analysis would have applied to Parker, and it was all the more vicious
for Parker’s struggles to recapture his form.  Bonds, though, never ripped the fans at every
turn, something Parker became noted for.  His hurt at being booed turned to anger, and he
lashed out at his tormentors in the press, then lashed out at the press, leading to more
negative stories, leading to more booing, whence the cycle would be repeated.  All this
made Parker seem even more unpleasant, self-absorbed and egomaniacal at every turn.

 

It’s not that Parker wasn’t a self-aggrandizing jerk, but the million dollar contract, the
earring, and the weight gain and substance abuse problems (which were not revealed until
later) weren’t connected to that.  Parker wasn’t ever shy about telling you how great he
was, and even today he thinks it’s ridiculous that he is out of the Hall of Fame, and he will
tell you in no uncertain terms, even belittling the candidacies of more deserving players
(Gary Carter, for one) in doing so.  This tends to rub people the wrong way, but while it
may point to a certain lack of character, I do not like to judge Parker as a player based on
what he may have said to the media, or how the fans may have envied or despised him.
That does not seem to be relevant to me.  But it cannot be denied that Parker is hard to
vote for, not least because of his avowed contempt for the voters.

 

Conclusion

 

In my view, Parker is a tough case.  Parker himself believes that the numbers make his
case obvious, but in fact the raw totals show exactly the opposite; a player who is not
notably better than many of the other players he competed against, who are now listed
with him on the Hall of Fame ballot.  But even on a hard, numbers-based standard, Dave
Parker is clearly a very reasonable choice for the Hall, as his raw Win Shares total of 327
would indicate.

 

Parker has scored better on the Keltner list than I would have anticipated.  Of the fifteen
questions, nine (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 11, 13, and 14) provide convincingly positive reasons to
vote for Parker.  Three questions (7, 10, and 12) could provide support either way.  Only
three of the questions (the toughest one, number 6, plus 9 and, unfortunately, 15) can
provide meaningful support for an argument against inducting Parker.  Parker’s superb
score underlines a weakness of the Keltner List; it works best for players with a normal
(or relatively normal) career shape.  A player like Parker, who is a slightly above-average
player for a very long time, but who also spends five years as one of the three of four best
players in the game, will score very well because they get a lot of the “peak” questions
and a lot of the “career” questions, while still not sustaining overwhelming numbers.

 

Why doesn’t he receive stronger support?  Aside from the fact that question number 15
tends to take over somewhat during these debates, Parker had the misfortune of suffering
a steep decline in performance immediately after his biggest successes, and immediately
after signing a groundbreaking contract.  Parker was one of the first players since the
bonus babies of the 1950s and 1960s whose position in the public eye was dominated by
his contract rather than his play.  The Dave Parker we tend to remember now, is the 250-pound outfielder struggling with his weight, or the later Cincinnati Red, rather than “the
Cobra,” baseball’s most feared player.

 

I have, in previous years, both included Parker and left him off of my mock ballot
depending on the competition and other irrelevant factors.  Having gone through this
exercise, I will probably not leave him off again.  The main reason is that, while Parker’s
season and career totals put him at the cusp of the Hall of Fame, his perennial
involvement in pennant races puts him over the edge for me.  Not only is Parker’s career
record in September superb (Parker has an 810 OPS for his career, but his career OPS in
September is 843) but also, his involvement in fourteen pennant races over his nineteen
seasons (fifteen races if you count his Toronto cup of coffee) shows that those September,
more often than not, were important games.  Parker had a long career, that included five
straight seasons that are the equal of any five seasons of anyone on the 2002 ballot.  I
think Dave Parker belongs in the Hall of Fame, but if Parker ever gets what he thinks is
his due, it will probably not come soon.

 

J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: December 31, 2002 at 06:00 AM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Eric Enders Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:14 AM (#607884)
Kudos, Craig. This is one of the better installments in the series.

Not trying to demean Parker's credentials, but I wonder if his excellence in September is all that unusual. Personally, I would expect most, if not all, outstanding players to have better career records in September than during the rest of the season. That's because the good teams (i.e., the ones with outstanding players on them) are still trying their hardest to win games in September, while teams that are out of the race tend to experiment with the lineup and give minor leaguers playing time. That's bound to have an influence on statistics; one example I'm aware of is that a wildly disproportionate percentage of no-hitters have been thrown in September. I wonder if Dave Parker, and most other players of his caliber, don't have better September stats simply because they were usually facing weaker competition during that month.

If anyone knows of any studies done on this topic, please share.
   2. Scott Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:14 AM (#607886)
Two quick negatives re Parker:

1. Low walk rate: .290 BA but .339 OBP (in contast to a league average OBP of .333).

2. Bad use of speed: 57% SB success rate.

I'm on the fence, but I just wanted to add these small observations.
   3. Scott Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:14 AM (#607887)
Also: I'm struck by how deep the HOF's "bench" is for RF, compared with how shallow it is for CF. For RF, there are several who would be solid choices -- Dawson, Evans, and Parker, to name just a few of those listed in Keltner factor #10. For CF, the pickings are much slimmer.

Bill James distinguishes OF positions this way:
(1) If you're an outfielder, they make you a CF if you're fast and have a good enough arm.
(2) If you have a good arm but aren't fast enough, you're a RF.
(3) LF ends up being (a) those with bad arms and bad legs (Luszinski and other butchers), as well as (b) those with the speed but not the arm for CF (Brock, Raines, the late-career Henderson).

Parker seemed to have speed, early in his career; was he ever a CF? was he blocked by an incumbent Pittsburgh CF?
   4. Aaron Gleeman Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:14 AM (#607889)
Parker was never a CF for more than a dozen or so games and even that was very early in his career.

He was blocked by Al Oliver in the early Pittsburgh days.
   5. Flynn Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:14 AM (#607890)
That's usually the case, Scott.

There are exceptions though - Yaz was good enough to play CF (and did at times, until he was 44 years old), but played LF because of the special requirements LF places on Fenway Park. The same may be said of Dewey Evans, as RF is pretty big at Fenway too.
   6. John Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:14 AM (#607891)
Scott--Pirates CF was at first Al Oliver, then Omar Moreno. I think.

Agree with Eric that this is a good article. I'm also on the fence with Parker. RF is a "deep" position as far as guys on the outside looking in, and I think that Dewey and probably Bobby Bonds have to go in before Parker. Ultimately, I think all three are probably worthy choices, Dawson slightly less so.
   7. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:14 AM (#607892)
I would have to say nay for Parker. He looked like a sure-fire HoFer during the seventies, but wasn't really anything special by the eighties.

I agree that Bonds and Dewey (Reggie Smith was another better player who was left off the ballot years ago) go in before him. There are too many rightfielders that are comparable to the Cobra that are outside the doors of the Hall.
   8. Gold Star for Robothal Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:14 AM (#607893)
Wow, I never thought of Parker as a serious Hall of Fame Candiadate before. Good work.

One question,

"Dave Parker wasn't a drug pusher like Willie Stargell..."

How was Stargell known as a pusher? This is news to me. Am I missing something here?
   9. Eric Enders Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607894)
Tony,
At the infamous Curtis Strong drug trial in Pittsburgh, there was testimony that Stargell often passed out greenies (I think) to other players in the clubhouse. Stargell vehemently denied the accusation and as far as I know, nothing was ever proven one way or another.
   10. MattB Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607896)
Excellent analysis.

The only place where I'd like to see more, though, is number 10. The HOF vote is essentially a comparative vote (Is the candidate better than the other possibilities), and just looking at Win Shares might not be the best way to analyze. Especially among players who all had long careers with high peaks, Parker might just come out on top because of his longevity.

In my mind, the best right fielder not in the Hall is either Dwight Evans or Ken Singleton (I'm leaning toward Ken, for the higher peak). Dave Parker would be third. It's not an obvious ranking, so I'd want to see more than one stat in deciding to through my weight behind Parker over Singleton.
   11. tangotiger Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607897)
I agree, this is the best in the series.

Parker has tough comps. For example, looking only at players born since 1930, there are 40 players who can compare to Parker in terms of PA (+/- 1000).

Out of those players, using my own version of sim scores, his best hitting comps among "hitting positions" are:
Dawson Andre
Perez Tony
Oliver Al
Baines Harold
Davis Chili
Downing Brian
Garvey Steve
Evans Darrell
Baylor Don
Pinson Vada


Looking at the best hitters in the same group of high-PA guys, I've got
Mantle Mickey
Schmidt Mike
Killebrew Harmon
McCovey Willie
Mathews Eddie
Williams Billy
Boggs Wade
Santo Ron
Gwynn Tony
Raines Tim
Clemente Roberto
Evans Dwight
Carew Rod


And then it falls off into the next level of hitters

Perez Tony
Evans Darrell
Downing Brian
Dawson Andre
Parker Dave
Oliver Al
Baines Harold
Davis Chili
Pinson Vada
Garvey Steve
Baylor Don


I agree with the other poster. How you view Dave Parker is how you view the threshhold to allow players in.
   12. Marc Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607900)
What, no review of Jim Rice? Back when Dave Parker was at the peak of his powers, it was really Jim Rice who was his competition for "best player." Not that either of them really was. We hadn't yet realized just how good Mike Schmidt was at that time.

So, it would have been oh so natural to have combined the two. And without going through a detailed review of Jim Rice's numbers, I just don't remember that it was ever obvious that Parker was any better than Rice. I guess that is why Rice has been running ahead of Parker in HoF voting, in fact, by a huge margin of 260-66 votes last year, and 298-84 the year before that. Yet one poster said that it was Andre Dawson of all the recent RFs who was most likely to gain entry to the HoF (214 votes last year).

Offensively, I guess that Rice and Parker are fairly comp, and then Parker's arm is the tie-breaker...I mean, I think that is the nutshell version of the two. But how come Rice gets four times as many votes from the BBWAA? And how come Rice gets no respect here?
   13. tangotiger Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607901)
Kenny didn't have the "length" that Parker did. I've got the following comps (based on hitting, not position), with the same PA requirements as noted above:

Singleton Ken
Torre Joe
Powell Boog
Hernandez Keith
Santo Ron
Matthews Gary
Clark Will
Lynn Fred
Downing Brian
Rice Jim


It's a tradeoff between a higher overall quality against lower playing time. I'm surprised that Kenny came out so well.

In terms of 1b/of guys on the line to decide on, here's my list, in order of hitting only: Perez, Rice, Hernandez, Singleton, Murphy, Dawson, Joey Belle, Baines, Parker, Lynn, Downing, Al Oliver, Jose Canseco, Chili Davis.

If you throw in fielding as well, Keith, Dawson, Murphy move to the top. So, where do you draw the line?

Tough call.

BTW, Joe Torre comes out looking when I run my numbers. He's before my time, and I don't know how good his fielding was at C/3B. But Joe might be another borderline guy.
   14. Dan Szymborski Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607903)
Marc,

Jim Rice is coming, as are the remaining ballot members.
   15. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607906)
If the average offense level over the course of each player's career was part of the similarity score I wonder if Perez and Williams would still be at the top.

Excellent point, Lenny. Similarity scores don't take into account park effects (of course, this wouldn't help Williams) either.

Of the three (Williams, Perez and Parker), Williams would make the cut (though close).
   16. tangotiger Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607907)
As a sidenote, my sim scores do take lg/era into account, but do not take park. They are based only on hitting.
   17. fracas' hope springs eternal Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607908)
Andre Dawson, Al Oliver, Jim Rice, Rusty Staub, Chili Davis, Dwight Evans, and Vada Pinson. All are candidates, although only Dawson seems more likely than not to go in.

A minor point: Rice appears more likely than not to go in, given that he's garnered more than 50% of the vote the last three years. He actually dropped a couple of percent last time, but percentages were depressed across the board by the retirement announcements of no-doubt HOFers Ripkin, Gwynn, and McGwire.

In the final analysis, Parker is the kind of guy I'd like to vote for if there weren't so many outfielders with similar candidacies. The fact that there are so many means that I'd have to open the door a little too wide, and so I'm forced to reject them all. None of Rice, Dawson, Parker, Baines, etc. stand out from the rest far enough to make my cut.
   18. Scott Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607915)
1. A rule of thumb re broderline candidates: if letting him in would open the door to 8 more guys about as good, just say no -- because that means we're dipping down the talent pyramid into territory where there too many "very good" players to pick just 1 or 2.

2. Marc & Tango: Parker is better than Rice. Bill James called Rice "probably the most overrated player of the last 30 years: (A) He benefitted a LOT from Fenway, which increased run-scoring almost 20% during Rice's best years; two years when Rice hit 39 HR (1977 & 1979), he hit 27 at Fenway & 12 on the road. (B) Several little things make Rice's BA slightly less impressive, i.e., mediocre walk totals (for such a feared power hitter) and a lot of double plays. I'd thought Rice should go in until I read all that.
   19. tangotiger Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607918)
Bill James called Rice "probably the most overrated player of the last 30 years:

And?

(A) He benefitted a LOT from Fenway, which increased run-scoring almost 20% during Rice's best years; two years when Rice hit 39 HR (1977 & 1979), he hit 27 at Fenway & 12 on the road.

Just because Rice was able to take more advantage of Fenway than his teammates, that's a minus? Discount all the Sox players *to the same degree*. Don't discount Rice more.

Rice slugged 100 more points at home than on the road.
http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/Jricej001.htm

Dewey's split was 70 points
http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/Jevand002.htm

The 1979 Redsox was 126 points!
http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/WBOS1979.htm

The 1986 Redsox had a reverse split.
http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/WBOS1986.htm

Once you apply your park factor, you can't apply another one on top of that. I agree that my numbers didn't include park.


   20. John Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607921)
Slightly off-topic, but...a few people have mentioned Ken Singleton as an additional/alternative HOF candidate to Dave Parker. I'd never really thought of him in that way, and looking over his baseball-reference page doesn't really sell me on the idea, apart from consistently exceptional OPS+ and OBP. I mean, Wally Joyner and Ruben Sierra show up on his similarity scores, for goodness sakes, but then he's the 18th-best RF of all-time, per the NHBA. Anyone who really watched him play care to tell me what I'm not seeing?
   21. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607925)
Thanks for all the great comments guys. I intended the piece to get people talking; I'm glad to see it had that effect. One preliminary point: I am in favour of the "Large Hall" concept (that the Hall should admit members at the same rate as it has historically, perhaps with a small increase to account for higher quality of play) and it is only on that basis that Parker merits selection to me. He isn't one of the 150 best players of all time, for example.

Now to some specific points that people have raised:

the allegation that Willie Stargell was a "drug pusher" was particularly vengeful/hateful

In short, no it isn't... particularly since I don't hate Stargell and have no desire for vengenace of any kind. Stargell does deny it, but it is well documented from several independent sources including testimony under oath from THREE former teammates that he distributed amphetamines in the Pirates' locker room, and even encouraged abstainers to take them. I should have noted that charges were never pressed and that Ueberroth didn't take action against Stargell (or Bill Madlock)... which means squat as far as I am concerned. He didn't take any action against Willie Mays either, in fact apparently he never even made a pretence of investigating the claim against Mays.

The testimony by John Milner, at least, was defense testimony (Berra and Parker were prosecution witnesses); Milner had nothing to gain from telling anything but the truth under oath. The revisionist myth that Stargell wasn't involved with drugs, which begun with the book Out of Left Field, was just that... revisionism. An equally stupid revisionism was the "everyone was doing it" defense, which holds just as little water. Amphetamines were illegal at the time, and everyone knew it.

I haven't gone back to the testimony from U.S. v. Strong but we can, by all means, if you like.

The point about mentioning Hernandez and Stargell was simply that the media in particular are as twisted a bunch of hypocrites as you could find, and the fans' views of a player that are filtered down to us through the media reflect this. Some players get a free pass, and others are forever tainted... and none of this should matter to us in thinking about the Hall.

Incidentally, I am not a Parker fan... I find Parker a pretty distasteful character, actually. I do appreciate what he was as a player, and I do think he was hard done by, by both the fans and the media.

Unless you were around the Pirates for the times of Bonds and Parker, I don't think you can legitimately compare Bonds to Parker as you have done.

The comparison was only as to how they were received by the fans and media, and to attempt to give a contemporary referent to Parker's treatment and the possibility that there was an element of racism in it. I didn't think the two players acted the same way... Parker was an ass to the fans, Bonds never was. Your own attitude towards the second-best player in 121 years of Pirate history speaks volumes about how Bonds was treated in Pittsburgh. I don't want to get into Barry Bonds arguments as well, but he did not fail "year after year" in the postseason for the Pirates... he played very well in the 1992 series, and though he didn't get any extra-base hits in 1990, he had a .375 OBP and scored four runs, more than any other Pirate.

The Zaske you referred to was not Jesse, but LHP Jeff Zaske.

Thanks for the clarification, and you are of course correct. The original source I borrowed the story from gave the name as "Jess", and I failed to check it properly.

A minor point: Rice appears more likely than not to go in, given that he's garnered more than 50% of the vote the last three years.

fracas is of course correct about this, and it as stupid of me not to say Rice is not only the most likely to make it of Parker's uninducted comp group, but also a shoo-in to go in (whether or not he is a good candidate). I think Dawson is also likely to make it.

Also re Rice, tangotiget pointed out that it doesn't matter in analyzing Rice, that he seemed ideally suited to his park. I agree with this for the most part; however if we are asking whether someone was a great player (as opposed to a valuable player... for example, if we are asking who "the best player in baseball" is) then I think someone who was uniquely helped by his park should have it counted against him. If Ed Williamson hits 27 home runs because he had a leftfield fence at Lakefront Park that was 250 feet away from the plate, we don't just capitulate and say he was the best power hitter of the 19th century.

Normally we want to know how someone's impact was, and these questions don't matter. But once in a while we are genuinely interested in how good someone was... there, we need to adjust for peculiarities of parks and their individual effects on hitters.

Back when Dave Parker was at the peak of his powers, it was really Jim Rice who was his competition for "best player." Not that either of them really was. We hadn't yet realized just how good Mike Schmidt was at that time.

Not just Rice and Parker. George Foster was yet another player at the time, other than Schmidt, Rice and Parker, who had a strong public claim on the "best player" category in 77-78-79. I think Foster was a better player than Rice at the time.

I think you are right to say that Schmidt was in fact baseball's best player during the late 1970s. Parker was right behind, but in my view he was behind. But Parker would be a very defensible choice.

The only place where I'd like to see more, though, is number 10. The HOF vote is essentially a comparative vote (Is the candidate better than the other possibilities), and just looking at Win Shares might not be the best way to analyze.

You're absolutely right, MattB. I should have expanded that section in the article... I actually did a fairly exhaustive review of the candidates, but only mentioned the WS analysis. I will try to repost that material here later... it's only in the form of notes and some number-crunching right now though.

Bobby Grich may be a popular HOF candidate among Primer readers. But he certainly has not been popular with actual HOF voters.

Lenny, you are absolutely correct. But Grich is a very popular candidate "amongst ourselves", as it were... and that is the audience I am addressing. If we think that Grich is a HOFer, and Parker has a similar qualification, I think it's a point in favor or Parker.

If the average offense level over the course of each player's career was part of the similarity score I wonder if Perez and Williams would still be at the top.

I should have addressed this in the article... in their careers, park-adjusted, the league OPS (offensive context) was .730 for Billy Williams, .720 for Tony Perez, and .727 for Parker. Of the eleven players on the comp list, Staub and Al Oliver have easily the lowest-scoring offensive context, and Baines and Dwight Evans easily the highest-scoring.
   22. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: December 31, 2002 at 02:15 AM (#607927)
My edition of Total Baseball is the sixth, so these numbers may be a little out of date. I wanted to give a "second opinion" to win shares on question #10, though... so here is the TPR for the top candidates in right field...

Reggie Smith 35.0
Dwight Evans 30.4
Andre Dawson 29.9
Bobby Bonds 29.5
Rusty Staub 27.6
Rocky Colavito 25.6
Tony Oliva 24.9
Dave Parker 23.0
Ken Singleton 20.9
Gavy Cravath 18.9
Harold Baines 17.8
Tommy Henrich 14.5
Bobby Murcer 12.9
Roger Maris 11.7

I think TPR is a horrible ranking, but this is at least something.
   23. strong silence Posted: January 01, 2003 at 02:15 AM (#607936)
The vigor and effectiveness of this argument for Parker to be in the HOF shows the author did great research. Congratulations on a wonderful essay.

I would like to be so bold as to suggest we add another question to the Keltner List.

The Keltner List as it is currently written neglects the one aspect of evaluation that perhaps is the most dangerous yet perhaps is the most useful. The question is: What is our memory of this player?

It is dangerous because it undercuts the whole point of sabrmetrics that a player evaluation based on statistics is the only conclusive method of evaluation.

Asking ourselves to recall our memories of a player is useful because our memories hold we think is the most important aspect of a player's career. Does one remember a great play? Does one have a memory of how a player performed in the 7th game of the World Series? Does one remember the player's attitude to the game like some remember Rose for his hustle or Stargell for his playfulness and not taking the game too seriously?

What is the very first thing that comes to mind when a player is mentioned? Is it how he did not hit in the clutch? Is it an error he made? Is it how he stood at the plate? For me I think of the word contact when I think of Ichiro or Rod Carew.

For example I just saw a highlight of Morgan's hit to win Game 7 of the '75 Classic. It might have been the first time I seen it since the actual hit. (I'm 38 years old now so I was about 10 when I saw it live.) My memory of the hit was that it was a line drive. The actual hit was a texas-league bloop that fell 10 feet in front of Lynn. My MEMORY served to highlight the greatness of Morgan. In my mind he drove in the winning run in the best WS of all time and my memory exaggerated his hit for the purpose of enhancing his greatness.

As a kid I was in the car with my grandfather in Pittsburgh. We passed a sign for the town of Carnegie and my grandfather said with all the pride of a Pittsburgh steelworker that Honus Wagner was from Carnegie. There was a sentimental quality to his voice. My grandfather was not a talkative man but that memory was important to him so it was important to me too. That memory is useful for evaluating Wagner because he had been storing this fact in his mind for at least 60 years by the time he told me this.

The obvious corollary is that one might have memories of the negatives for one reason or another. Some players are antagonistic and volatile as lightning rods. With Bonds I think of poor playoffs and rude behavior. Because I am an adult I can hold conflicting views. I think that he is one of the 5 greatest ever but I also think he does not show the qualities that I respect and admire. We must take these memories of frailties adn errors into our evaluation of a player too.

So to get to the point: What is our memory of Parker? Certainly The Throw must be included because it is included in nearly every compendium of baseball highlights that exists. Does Winner come to your mind? The last time the Pirates won the World Series he was the best player on the team. The last time the A's won the WS he played a role. So one must remember him as a winner. I put him in this category - "Great Players who were Also Winners" I put Rice and Evans in another category I call "Great Players who were Not Winners" because when the time came to put up or shut up they did not come through.

Fair? You bet it is because winning and clutch performance is a legitimate factor in our evaluation of a player. We put labels on people for a reason. A sociologist or psychologist can explain it better than I can but players get this label for a good reason.

A sabrmetrician might say that only sabrmetrics can determine whether that labes is deserving or not. I agree. I disagree with those who say that one World Series or two World Series is too small a sample size. What one player does in his only shot at a title is the only thing we have. We can't say that if a player got another shot he would perform better because we can't predict the future. Think Mazeroski here. His homer in the '60 WS is perhaps one's only memory of him and puts him in a different class of players than Biggio, or Bret Boone or Davey Lopes to name a few.

I guess the point is for each fan to dig up those memories and determine for himself if they are relevant to evaluating whether a player belongs in the HOF.
   24. strong silence Posted: January 01, 2003 at 02:15 AM (#607937)
The vigor and effectiveness of this argument for Parker to be in the HOF shows the author did great research. Congratulations on a wonderful essay.

I would like to be so bold as to suggest we add another question to the Keltner List.

The Keltner List as it is currently written neglects the one aspect of evaluation that perhaps is the most dangerous yet perhaps is the most useful. The question is: What is our memory of this player?

It is dangerous because it undercuts the whole point of sabrmetrics that a player evaluation based on statistics is the only conclusive method of evaluation.

Asking ourselves to recall our memories of a player is useful because our memories hold we think is the most important aspect of a player's career. Does one remember a great play? Does one have a memory of how a player performed in the 7th game of the World Series? Does one remember the player's attitude to the game like some remember Rose for his hustle or Stargell for his playfulness and not taking the game too seriously?

What is the very first thing that comes to mind when a player is mentioned? Is it how he did not hit in the clutch? Is it an error he made? Is it how he stood at the plate? For me I think of the word contact when I think of Ichiro or Rod Carew.

For example I just saw a highlight of Morgan's hit to win Game 7 of the '75 Classic. It might have been the first time I seen it since the actual hit. (I'm 38 years old now so I was about 10 when I saw it live.) My memory of the hit was that it was a line drive. The actual hit was a texas-league bloop that fell 10 feet in front of Lynn. My MEMORY served to highlight the greatness of Morgan. In my mind he drove in the winning run in the best WS of all time and my memory exaggerated his hit for the purpose of enhancing his greatness.

As a kid I was in the car with my grandfather in Pittsburgh. We passed a sign for the town of Carnegie and my grandfather said with all the pride of a Pittsburgh steelworker that Honus Wagner was from Carnegie. There was a sentimental quality to his voice. My grandfather was not a talkative man but that memory was important to him so it was important to me too. That memory is useful for evaluating Wagner because he had been storing this fact in his mind for at least 60 years by the time he told me this.

The obvious corollary is that one might have memories of the negatives for one reason or another. Some players are antagonistic and volatile as lightning rods. With Bonds I think of poor playoffs and rude behavior. Because I am an adult I can hold conflicting views. I think that he is one of the 5 greatest ever but I also think he does not show the qualities that I respect and admire. We must take these memories of frailties adn errors into our evaluation of a player too.

So to get to the point: What is our memory of Parker? Certainly The Throw must be included because it is included in nearly every compendium of baseball highlights that exists. Does Winner come to your mind? The last time the Pirates won the World Series he was the best player on the team. The last time the A's won the WS he played a role. So one must remember him as a winner. I put him in this category - "Great Players who were Also Winners" I put Rice and Evans in another category I call "Great Players who were Not Winners" because when the time came to put up or shut up they did not come through.

Fair? You bet it is because winning and clutch performance is a legitimate factor in our evaluation of a player. We put labels on people for a reason. A sociologist or psychologist can explain it better than I can but players get this label for a good reason.

A sabrmetrician might say that only sabrmetrics can determine whether that labes is deserving or not. I agree. I disagree with those who say that one World Series or two World Series is too small a sample size. What one player does in his only shot at a title is the only thing we have. We can't say that if a player got another shot he would perform better because we can't predict the future. Think Mazeroski here. His homer in the '60 WS is perhaps one's only memory of him and puts him in a different class of players than Biggio, or Bret Boone or Davey Lopes to name a few.

I guess the point is for each fan to dig up those memories and determine for himself if they are relevant to evaluating whether a player belongs in the HOF.
   25. Michael Posted: January 01, 2003 at 02:15 AM (#607939)
I agree with many others, that this was an excellent article and the one that come closest to changing my mind about a candidate. Ultimately, he seems like one of a large pack of right fielders who are borderline candidates. Especially given that the next generation of players benefit from a higher offensive environment, I wouldn't want to induct Parker and most of his comps into the HOF.

Parker was sued by the Pirates for breach of contract due to his drug abuse and the effect on his performance. While he recovered and had a long productive stretch in the latter part of his career, it's hard to erase that impression for me. Your article mentions 1980, but the whole 1980-1984 era was only average (in terms of productivity and durability), a pretty big gap from ages 29-33 for a HOF position player.

   26. DanG Posted: January 01, 2003 at 02:15 AM (#607944)
tangotiger wrote:

"BTW, Joe Torre comes out looking when I run my numbers. He's before my time, and I don't know how good his fielding was at C/3B. But Joe might be another borderline guy."


Win shares rates Torre a grade C catcher, a B- firstbaseman and about a D at thirdbase (2.12 WS/1000, same as Killebrew). He did win a gold glove at catcher, by default and with his bat.

With Joe's combined contribution, he stands a fair chance at election. He is certainly deserving.
   27. Scott Posted: January 01, 2003 at 02:15 AM (#607948)
I lean against Parker, but one thing bugs me. His stats make him seem like the sort of guy who'd garner a lot of support. A lot of HOF debates are between those who value peak performance and those who value longevity (e.g., John/Kaat). Parker has BOTH a high peak and some impressive longevity stats.

Does anyone doubt that he'd be in if he (a) were a cuddly cute guy (e.g., Puckett) or (b) played at least some of his good years in better media markets (e.g., Winfield, Dawson).

Hell, I'll go out on a limb a bit further: does anyone else notice that almost ALL of the players derided as "attitude problems" are black? Parker, Dick Allen, Barry Bonds, Albert Belle, and, increasingly, Griffey Jr. Seems like most of these guys are/were jerks, don't get me wrong. But I can't help but think that being a jerk is held against black players but not white players.
   28. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: January 01, 2003 at 02:15 AM (#607952)
Parker is "distasteful," yet you're building a HOF case for him by slandering Willie Stargell. Great. What's next, supporting Pete Rose by tossing in some salacious tidbit about Joe Morgan?

People treat Parker as if he were the worst miscreant to ever tread the outfield turf. I think that's bull, and I wanted to point to a reason why. I have nothing against Stargell either... but Stargell is a convenient comparison because he was a teammate of Parker's, and the incidents described were happening at the same time.

A lot of what we do when we talk about the Hall is to make comparisons... comparisons to the other candidates, comparisons to players in the Hall, comparisons to players not in the Hall. In trying to respond to the argument that Parker isn't worthy of the Hall of Fame because of his behaviour, I chose to make a comparison to some other players' behaviour.

If it was inappropriate, please explain why. I would certainly consider having the piece changed if it is.
   29. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: January 01, 2003 at 02:16 AM (#607958)
Clarification point : _Out of Left Field_ isn't revisionist as I said... "whitewash" is a better term. The authors babbled on about how Stargell was drug-free, but of course the contradictory evidence hadn't come out yet. Sorry for the mixup.

In the end, ironcitytt knows more about the Pirates of that era than I do, and others should keep that fact in mind. Both of us know less than the players who testified in court, and you should keep that in mind too.

As far as Barry Bonds goes, that argument has been rehashed too many times here.
   30. Cuban X Senators Posted: January 02, 2003 at 02:16 AM (#607961)
As an Alexandria Dukes fan, it's very nice to see Jeff Zaske's name in print -- if I were given to making resolutions, it'd inspire me to resolve to rediscover the joys of minor league ball.

As far as proposed Ques. 16, my prevailing memory of Parker is that he had presence in the batters' box; perhaps that was imprinted on me as a young O's fan watching the '79 Series slip away. There was a certain ####-suredness about Parker that made him imposing. When he became less dangerous, his girth compensated to maintain his usual imposing level.

It is truly impressive that Parker could make himself such a viable candidate with such a huge chasm blown (oops, no pun intended) through the 5 years just after a player's normal peak. It is that chasm that prevents me from checking his name on my sim-ballot.

Anyone else notice that whatever plate discipline Parker may have been developing went away, and never returned, when the alleged effects of cocaine led to Parker's decline? Might be a study there for someone -- the effect of documented cocaine use on plate discipline.
   31. fracas' hope springs eternal Posted: January 02, 2003 at 02:16 AM (#607972)
Nuke Pooch: please see Dale Murphy's Keltnerization.

   32. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: January 07, 2003 at 02:19 AM (#608141)
In the end, Parker got 10% this year, enough to prolong him on the ballot, but not enough to mark him as a credible candidate for the future. In a year in the near future where there is a crowded field of candidates, Parker will likely slip off the ballot.

Jim Rice and Andre Dawson, with whom I feel Parker is very comparable, received 52% and 50% respectively.
   33. jimd Posted: January 08, 2003 at 02:20 AM (#608219)
Excellent analysis. I learned things about Parker that I never knew; I do confess to not paying close attention to the NL during much of his career.

Comparing the 4 offensive stars on the ballot using:
Black ink, grey ink, HOF Standards, HOF Monitor

Bl - Gry - HS - HM

11 - 181 - 56 - 155 - Eddie Murray

33 - 176 - 43 - 147 - Jim Rice

11 - 164 - 44 - 118 - Andre Dawson

26 - 145 - 41 - 126 - Dave Parker

Murray doesn't have the black ink, but he wins the other categories.
The other 3 are pretty even on HOF Standards (and on the wrong side of the HOF average),
but Rice beats them out in the other categories. Dawson vs Parker is then a tossup.

Murray and Rice also had the "churlish" reputation attached to them.
To my knowledge, Dawson never acquired that tag.

I'd say Murray is in because he appears qualified to the writers, regardless of his rep.
Rice's short career hurt him in the HOF Standards, and that is what's holding him back.
If the "rep" has anything to do with anything, it's showing up in the Dawson vs Parker voting.
It would require a poll of the electorate to determine whether it's the cocaine or the
press relations (assuming an honest answer is even obtainable).

I tend to doubt that either Dawson or Parker will make it before Jim Rice does.
   34. jimd Posted: January 08, 2003 at 02:20 AM (#608225)
I did forget two others that deserve the label offensive stars:

Bl - Gry - HS - HM

11 - 181 - 56 - 155 - Eddie Murray

33 - 176 - 43 - 147 - Jim Rice

11 - 164 - 44 - 118 - Andre Dawson

23 - 111 - 34 - 130 - Dave Mattingly

31 - 147 - 34 - 116 - Dale Murphy

26 - 145 - 41 - 126 - Dave Parker

They don't look that different from Parker; they did only slightly better than him in the voting, too. The interesting question is why Dawson did so well.

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