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Monday, March 07, 2022

Fansided: Examining the Hall of Fame case for New York Yankees legend Graig Nettles

Combine it all and Nettles has a career rWAR of 67.9. That includes nine seasons with an rWAR of at least 4.0.

That WAR is also the fifth-highest among non-Hall of Famers who have been on at least one HOF ballot, made their debut after 1901, and without a “character” clause issue (PED users, Pete Rose, and Curt Schilling). He’s behind Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich, Rick Reuschel, and Kenny Lofton.

Elected to the Hall of Merit in 2006.

DanG Posted: March 07, 2022 at 11:08 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: graig nettles, hall of fame, hall of fame candidates, yankees

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   1. JRVJ Posted: March 07, 2022 at 12:48 PM (#6066913)
I certainly think Nettles should be inducted.

Having said that, isn't there some nefarious incident of Nettles bullying some player while with the Padres, circa 1984? I seem to remember something like that.
   2. Jack Sommers Posted: March 07, 2022 at 03:18 PM (#6066939)
1970-1978, Nettles 9 year peak, top 10 in WAR

Rk           Player WAR/pos   Age    G   PA   AB   R    H  2B 3B  HR RBI  BB   SO  SB  CS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS       Pos
1        Joe Morgan    64.2 26
-34 1331 5782 4703 935 1342 249 46 164 688 978  472 460  99 .285 .407 .463 .869      *4/H
2         Rod Carew    53.7 24
-32 1248 5423 4802 759 1657 226 77  57 584 513  482 235 102 .345 .407 .460 .867   43/HD57
3      Johnny Bench    53.3 22
-30 1305 5468 4765 719 1268 245 18 268 933 620  823  52  22 .266 .348 .494 .842 *2/3975H8
4     Graig Nettles    51.8 25
-33 1412 5856 5162 702 1309 197 15 232 758 597  664  28  23 .254 .332 .432 .765   *5/H67D
5         Sal Bando    48.3 26
-34 1397 5796 4897 702 1255 205 23 186 769 760  656  52  34 .256 .359 .422 .780  *5/DH634
6    Reggie Jackson    47.8 24
-32 1309 5376 4664 755 1272 246 22 263 833 612 1140 174  77 .273 .361 .504 .865    *98/DH
7         Pete Rose    47.5 29
-37 1441 6679 5895 978 1837 354 59  75 521 688  432  85  49 .312 .386 .430 .816   579/H83
8       Bobby Bonds    45.6 24
-32 1333 5930 5182 927 1417 231 50 255 771 664 1233 346 124 .273 .356 .485 .841   *98/DH7
9    Thurman Munson    43.3 23
-31 1300 5389 4876 648 1426 210 27 109 653 396  524  47  47 .293 .347 .414 .761 *2/DH9735
10     Reggie Smith    42.8 25
-33 1218 5082 4412 735 1291 234 38 215 718 590  619  74  38 .293 .375 .509 .884   98/3H5D 

Provided by View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 3/7/2022.
   3. BDC Posted: March 07, 2022 at 03:39 PM (#6066945)
The BB/SO ratios in that era look hilarious now. Jackson and Bonds are the only ones close to 2020s-normal-looking.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: March 07, 2022 at 03:42 PM (#6066946)
He’s behind Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich, Rick Reuschel, and Kenny Lofton.

Worst HoF argument ever!

It does explain why he's not in and that his exclusion is hardly unique. Nettles might be the prime example of two phenomena -- the challenge of the late bloomer and the HoF peak followed by long but dull solid play. He didn't get a full-time job until he was 25. Now he put up 5 WAR in that first season suggesting he could have at least held his own at 23-24 but we'll never know. That started an excellent 9-year run of 52 bWAR.

But of course by then he's 34. His decline phase is a pretty good decline phase -- 16 WAR for ages 34-40, including 3 WAR at age 40, but mainly as a platoon player. He hung on for bits of 3 more years -- ending in Montreal! who knew? In the end, he had an amazing career for a late bloomer, making it over 10,000 PA. So in the end, he overcame the late start.

He also made the mistake of having his defensive peak overlap with Brooks so he only won a couple of late GGs. And he overlapped with Schmidt. And when Brooks retired, Brett came in. And of course the BBWAA had little problem ignoring Santo, a close Nettles career comp. He was cursed with a low BA too.

So Nettles is almost a perfect storm of reasons why borderline (or better) players don't make the HoF. If not for the late start, he might very well have made it. If he played regularly at 23-24 (and maybe earlier), he'd certainly be over 400 HRs (but probably not 450), 2500 H and a shot at 1500 RBI. Instead, he was "not quite the next Brooks Robinson" ... but of course Brooks shouldn't be a minimum standard.

He was one of my fave non-Cubs growing up ... until he landed on the 84 Padres of course. But one of the reasons he was one of my faves was he was under-rated (Yankee legend?). I can't say I ever thought of him as a HoFer, not sure who I would have picked between him and Buddy Bell (probably Nettles). He's deserving of the real HoF and the HoM and, depending on my mood, the WDHoF but I can't get too worked up about his exclusion.
   5. sunday silence (again) Posted: March 07, 2022 at 03:53 PM (#6066948)
He was famous for pulling Bill Lee's arm out of the socket, apparently. I dont know of any other such incidents but I seem to remember him being not well thought of as a person.

While Walt's analysis is a good opening salvo, are you forgetting his play in the world series? It seems like Nettles has a strong narrative aspect to his career which could only have helped his chances. As well as having stats that are pretty much borderline w/ a number of other 3b including Bando, Allen, Buddy Bell, Darrel Evans, Boyer, Cey and probably someone else Im forgetting.

To me that's the biggest reason, its a log jam at third. Votes got split, passions are divided, and future votes will be split. Nothing more complicated than that.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: March 07, 2022 at 03:56 PM (#6066949)
That list in #2 is interesting: Nettles, Bando, Bonds, Munson, Smith not in the HoF. A lot of that is that WAR didn't exist yet, some of it is that some of those aren't particularly impressive 9-year totals.** Which is another way of saying that of course it's a very specific time period as opposed to, say, best 9-year runs between 1965 and 1985.

** Cs aside, the "not quite minimum" WAR7 for a HoFer is around 42 so a WAR9 is probably around 50. That's where the specificity is kinda misleading with regard to some players -- Bonds' WAR7 is 41 for example, his 6-WAR 69 not included above. Reggie Jackson's WAR7 is 47, his best 9-year consecutive run is 54.
   7. dejarouehg Posted: March 07, 2022 at 03:59 PM (#6066950)
Was a big fan of his though not a NYY fan.
Thought he was a great example of, if defense really is as important as some like to say, then he deserves to be in the Hall.
Best defensive 3B I've ever seen and I started around 72 in earnest so I caught Brooks in later years.
Has been rumored to have made some anti-semitic comments.
Beat the crap out of Reggie, so he can't be a complete a-hole.
Known as a great fighter.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: March 07, 2022 at 04:01 PM (#6066952)
He was famous for pulling Bill Lee's arm out of the socket, apparently. I dont know of any other such incidents but I seem to remember him being not well thought of as a person.

He once broke his bat and six superballs flew out of it.
   9. sunday silence (again) Posted: March 07, 2022 at 04:02 PM (#6066953)
Oh he also used a corked bat. Well superballs actually, they came flying out of the bat when it broke. He blamed it on a fan who gave him the bat. Yeah sure.


I think you can definitely make a case that Nettles might have just a little bit of an edge over the other borderline HoF at 3b. One is the world series stuff and the other that he might be very much underrated by the TZ system used to rate fielding. He hit 30 def. runs saved early in his career which suggests he was really superior at that position; and the system obviously regresses stuff alot, so its likely that a bit of his extreme ability has been regressed out. I havent really studied it though.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: March 07, 2022 at 06:41 PM (#6066966)
What WS stuff? His overall postseason performance is not good. He did well in just one WS but he played in only 3 of the 6 games. He won a ALCS MVP (in a series the Yanks swept) and did well in another ALCS. He never hit a HR in the WS with a WS line of 225/309/250 in 94 PA.

I don't know about "splitting" -- most of the ignored 3B didn't come anywhere near getting elected. Nettles shared his ballots with the end of Santo's ballots, but they never totalled more than 45%. Schmidt had his year on the ballot but didn't really have much impact on the totals for those two. Bell was one and done in the same year but obviously his 1.7% wasn't gonna do anything for Santo or Nettles. Bando (0.7%) was well out of the way before Nettles hit the ballot and made no difference to Santo. Cey was also one and done before Nettles hit the ballot.

If rather than "vote splitting" you mean "there were a lot of similar very good but not great 3B with the double misfortune of sharing some of their era with Brooks, Schmidt and Brett" which meant they (a) looked second-rate compared to those three and (b) didn't even stand out from their own crowd and so (c) were perceived as not being close to HoF-worthy even though they were at least close ... that's a reasonable argument.

Probably the closest we can get to "splitting" might be Santo and Boyer. They both suffered from being "not as good as Brooks" in voters' eyes but maybe if only one of them had existed then he might have moved up the backlog and eventually squeaked over. They shared 11 ballots and in 1988 they totalled 50%, made it to 53 in 1993 and Santo eventually added another 18% to his total so it's feasible. But that basically assumes nobody voted for both which seems unlikely.

This year there was a lot of speculation that Vizquel's demise helped Rollins. I don't know how it turned out but among the first 150 or so votes that Ryan tallied, this wasn't true. Very few of the folks who dropped Omar were voting for Rollins. There was no evidence of a "I should vote for a SS but won't vote for Vizquel anymore so I'll vote Rollins" phenomenon. The folks who thought Vizquel had been worthy didn't think Rollins was even if no longer voting for Vizquel; the folks who think Rollins is worth didn't think Vizquel was this year or last year (or probably ever).

So it's possible that voters were either Boyer voters or Santo voters (or neither)... but then you have to believe that the vast majority of Boyer voters would have voted Santo if Boyer wasn't on the ballot. Rollins-Vizquel would suggest not though.
   11. sunday silence (again) Posted: March 07, 2022 at 07:09 PM (#6066967)
   12. Walt Davis Posted: March 08, 2022 at 07:50 PM (#6067091)
Three excellent plays in a WS in which he hit 4 for 25 is HoF-worthy post-season heroics?
   13. BDC Posted: March 08, 2022 at 08:41 PM (#6067096)
The Dodgers had taken a 2-0 lead in games and were threatening to take the lead at several points in Game Three, and it seemed like every time they had a chance, Nettles would make a highlight-reel play. Those plays were re-shown endlessly, and honestly they are still the first thing I think about when Nettles' name comes up.

Maybe the hype was not justified; there was more concentrated interest in the WS in that era of less postseason fatigue than there would be for a World Series today, and that may be illogical. But it was a very big deal at the time.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: March 08, 2022 at 09:43 PM (#6067099)
can confirm on the narrative that Nettles "proved on the big stage" that he was Brooks-like in that World Series.

fair point that it may have been wildly overhyped. but it definitely was hyped at the time.
   15. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 08, 2022 at 11:37 PM (#6067107)
It was Game 3 of the 1978 Series, the Yankees were already down 2-0 and Guidry had nothing that night (gave up 8 hits and 7 walks). The Yanks would have lost with their ace if not for Nettles' defense, gone down 3-0, and the series would have been virtually over.
   16. The Honorable Ardo Posted: March 09, 2022 at 08:27 PM (#6067184)
In the late 1980s, no one was being voted in by the writers with a .248 career batting average. Does Nettles belong? Absolutely yes.

On the 1969 Minnesota Twins, Nettles played a plurality of games in left field, and Harmon Killebrew a plurality of games at third base - not one of Billy Martin's best ideas. Nonetheless, Nettles credited Billy with making him into a major leaguer when they were both at Triple-A Denver in 1968. He "adored" Martin according to this 1986 LA Times feature.
   17. baxter Posted: March 09, 2022 at 11:08 PM (#6067208)
5 and 14 yes, yes on the narrative for the fielding in the WS; I can't remember what Robinson's hitting totals were in 70 WS, but the play of Nettles against LA seemed like a repeat. I think there is a tape (recording) somewhere of Tommy Lasagna cussing about Nettles (not as good as Kingman's performance or would you throw @ Bevacqua, but in the neighborhood--I hope I am not confabulating it)

Couldn't stand him, Damn Yankees, but I'd like to see him the HOF

Wow, Robinson hit like monster in that series; don't remember that at all; the diving plays, the diving plays.

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