Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

The Hall of Fame Case for Dwight Evans

In a change of pace, some comments as for why Evans isn’t in the Hall:

First, let’s talk about why Evans got no love from the BBWAA when he was on the ballot between 1997-99. And I mean no love: Evans received just 5.9% of the vote in his first year, 10.4% in his second, and then dropped off with only 3.6% of the vote in his third.

There were a few reasons for this.

The first was the arc of his career. He was, not unreasonably, considered a defense-first outfielder early in his career, not breaking out with the bat until he was almost 30. He was extraordinarily productive in his 30s, but the perception of him being a glove man who, sure, could help you with the bat, as opposed to a great all-around ballplayer, stuck despite the fact that he broke out so thoroughly on offense later. Almost every Hall of Famer went from phenom in his early 20s to great in his mid-to-late 20s, to excellent and then solid veteran into his late 30s. Evans didn’t look like that and Hall of Fame voters have always had a hard time assessing guys who don’t look like that.

The second reason is one that we discussed when we talked about Evans’ contemporary, Lou Whitaker: even with the late offensive surge, so much of his value was tied up in defense and on-base ability, and those are parts of the game that were either ignored or greatly discounted by the ball writers who covered him in the 70s and 80s and who made up the BBWAA electorate when Evans hit the ballot.

So, what chance does he have of getting out of this predicament?

 

QLE Posted: December 03, 2019 at 09:48 PM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dwight evans, hall of fame

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. John Northey Posted: December 04, 2019 at 01:59 AM (#5905436)
One can only hope that the Vet voters will have some guys who have stats knowledge beyond H/HR/RBI thus able to see that Evans was indeed one of the all-time greats. A heck of a lot better than popular but not HOF by any stretch guys like Don Mattingly.
   2. Rally Posted: December 04, 2019 at 08:05 AM (#5905448)
He was extraordinarily productive in his 30s, but the perception of him being a glove man who, sure, could help you with the bat, as opposed to a great all-around ballplayer, stuck despite the fact that he broke out so thoroughly on offense later.


He'd have a better peak case if he had the opposite progression on offense, aligning his best hitting years with his best fielding years. His time as a truly great all-around player was short, mostly 1981-82. Before that he wasn't a great fielder, after that he was not a great fielder. He still won gold gloves for a few more years, but in the mid 80s he was an older guy with a great arm but not a ton of range. It's not just Total Zone telling us that, the team decided he should play less outfield and more 1B and DH at that time.

Historically gold gloves were lagging indicators. He should not have been still winning them in 83-85, but he should have won two in 1974 and 1975.
   3. Blastin Posted: December 04, 2019 at 08:35 AM (#5905450)
I don't understand why we're posting basically the entire series of these from Hardball when Jaffe's been over there doing his unparalleled analysis for weeks. No offense to Craig, who does fine, but if we're going to be following a series, it's that one.
   4. . Posted: December 04, 2019 at 09:15 AM (#5905455)
No one ignored either his defense or his on base ability BITD; that’s another historical revisionist lie. All that happened was that voters rightly didn’t give him post-career full reputational credit for walking a lot. Since getting a hit in a major league game is a much more impressive athletic and aesthetic feat than drawing a walk, people should applaud this rather than bemoan it.
   5. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: December 04, 2019 at 09:25 AM (#5905458)
The vagaries of time and perception....

By the time I was watching baseball, he was nominally indistinguishable from Jim Rice offensively (and still quite distinguishable defensively).

True story: My first time doing the phantom wank-wank motion was pointing out this fact to an older baseball fan who got all spittle-flecked screeching 1978 which led to my employing the pantomime mockery I had recently been introduced to.
   6. Rally Posted: December 04, 2019 at 09:53 AM (#5905472)
Before that he wasn't a great fielder, after that he was not a great fielder.


D'oh

Before that he wasn't a great hitter, after that he was not a great fielder.

Fixed
   7. Carl Goetz Posted: December 04, 2019 at 10:22 AM (#5905486)
"All that happened was that voters rightly didn’t give him post-career full reputational credit for walking a lot."
Not sure what this even means.

"Since getting a hit in a major league game is a much more impressive athletic and aesthetic feat than drawing a walk, people should applaud this rather than bemoan it."
Atheltic and aesthetic considerations aside, drawing a walk has value towards a player's team scoring runs and thus winning games. This value is not as high as the value of a hit, but it is far greater than what was realized by writers (and the mainstream baseball world) in the 70s & 80s. His on-base ability may not have been completely ignored, but it was drastically undervalued.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: December 04, 2019 at 10:33 AM (#5905489)
(and still quite distinguishable defensively).


Perhaps, but not the way you think.

From 1982-87, before Rice became primarily a DH, Rice had -1.5 dWAR. Evans had -5.1.

Over at Fangraphs, it's -59.1 for Evans, -25.2 for Rice.

In all honesty, I don't know if Rice was actually better during that time frame. Evans was clearly better when they were both young. But Dewey slipped considerably, and Rice was always more competent with the glove than he gets credit for.

   9. QLE Posted: December 04, 2019 at 10:58 AM (#5905502)
I don't understand why we're posting basically the entire series of these from Hardball when Jaffe's been over there doing his unparalleled analysis for weeks. No offense to Craig, who does fine, but if we're going to be following a series, it's that one.


When Jaffe was running that series for the VC, I wasn't able to follow it due to pressing commitments in other regards- and the impression that I have is that we shouldn't be providing links to articles a significant amount of time after publication.

As for "why post this", three reasons- keeping the Thibs thread free to discuss the BBWAA voting, a desire to encourage the discussion of baseball on a baseball-related site, and a feeling that, once I've committed, that I need to continue to the bitter end.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: December 04, 2019 at 11:24 AM (#5905527)
As for "why post this", three reasons- keeping the Thibs thread free to discuss the BBWAA voting, a desire to encourage the discussion of baseball on a baseball-related site, and a feeling that, once I've committed, that I need to continue to the bitter end.


Works for me. It's not like we typically discuss the FAs anyway.

   11. villageidiom Posted: December 04, 2019 at 01:25 PM (#5905606)
"All that happened was that voters rightly didn’t give him post-career full reputational credit for walking a lot."
Not sure what this even means.
I think it means that voters knew Evans walked a lot, but it was kind of like knowing Jason Varitek caught a lot of no-hitters. Like, there are material stats and there are fun facts; and at the time Evans having been a perennial league leader in walks was seen as a fun fact, while now we know it's a material stat. The material stats to BBWAA voters at the time were batting average, HR, and RBI, and maybe hits to the extent that average doesn't tell the compilation story. Walks aren't any part of that.
   12. Rough Carrigan Posted: December 04, 2019 at 01:26 PM (#5905607)
The thing is, Evans wasn't just a glove guy in the first part of his career. But he was wildly inconsistent. He had some terrific months. He hit .306/.407/.718 in May 1978 with 11 homers. He had other months almost as good before 1980. But he might follow the great month with a month where he had a .600 OPS. Going the full Hriniak just smoothed things out.
   13. PreservedFish Posted: December 04, 2019 at 01:36 PM (#5905609)
The material stats to BBWAA voters at the time were batting average, HR, and RBI, and maybe hits to the extent that average doesn't tell the compilation story. Walks aren't any part of that.


BBWAA were the loudest of all baseball fans, due to their position, but they could be dumb as twelve donkeys, and how much did they actually represent baseball thought?

Did Evans think his walks were just fun facts? Did his managers? Did the opposing pitchers?
   14. Rally Posted: December 04, 2019 at 02:15 PM (#5905623)
In all seriousness I think the prevailing opinion was that walks were just something that randomly happened and were mistakes by the pitcher. If Evans walked more often than Rice it just meant pitchers had trouble finding the zone when Evans was at the plate. But it was all on the pitcher, just random that it happened when Evans was batting. No more meaningful than if some batter had more outfielders drop flyballs when he was up. No manager thought walks were not important, they would all get pissed off when their pitcher starts an inning by walking the bases loaded.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 04, 2019 at 02:21 PM (#5905627)
If Evans walked more often than Rice it just meant pitchers had trouble finding the zone when Evans was at the plate.
Wouldn't that mean that Evans was more TEH FEARED than Rice?
   16. The Duke Posted: December 04, 2019 at 02:35 PM (#5905636)
I think Simmons and Whitaker are going in (and maybe Miller). It’s hard to get more than two with the way it is structured. But if Evans can crack 50% he’ll have a good shot in a couple of years. He and Grich would be the obvious next two ( and maybe Munson who should get a longer look)
   17. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:04 PM (#5905651)
In all seriousness I think the prevailing opinion was that walks were just something that randomly happened and were mistakes by the pitcher. If Evans walked more often than Rice it just meant pitchers had trouble finding the zone when Evans was at the plate. But it was all on the pitcher, just random that it happened when Evans was batting.


I think this exaggerates the backwardness of 1970s-80s era thinking. There absolutely WAS a view by some people that walks were a "pitcher-only skill", but I think you have to go pretty far back into history to find that being the prevailing view (but, for example, walks were an official pitching statistic for several years before they became an official hitting statistic). But by the 1970s it was certainly understood that some batters had better "eyes" than others and that was reflected in some batters drawing more walks by design, not merely by luck. I was an Orioles fan and Orioles announcers certainly understood, for example, that Ken Singleton had an exceptional batting eye and drew a lot of walks - I remember radio and TV announcers making comments to the effect that because of Singleton's reputation for having such a good eye that he was more likely to get the benefit of the doubt from umpires, the thinking being that if Ken Singleton didn't swing at it, it must not have been a strike.

I'm not saying folks in the 1970s and 1980s fully understood on-base percentage and valued walks correctly. Just noting that the ability to draw walks as an actual batting skill that some batters were better at than others was at least partially understood. And it was certainly understood by at least some of Dwight Evans's managers - the most common lineup position for Evans to bat in his career was second because of his ability to get on base for the big boys to drive in - or wipe out via the double play in the case of Jim Rice.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:08 PM (#5905654)
#14 is pretty spot on. There was recognition of some super-hackers (Sanguillen) but mostly these guys were identified as "tough outs" (Buckner, Beckett) because they didn't K. There was recognition that sluggers would be pitched around (i.e. a good thing for the pitcher under the circumstances) ... but of course the sluggers should try to counter that by expanding their strike zones because they were RBI men. The only player I recall getting credit for walking a lot was Rose who "would do anything it takes to get on base" ... apparently even take an unmanly walk. Later Rickey and Boggs also got credit for this.

So walks were either the result of sloppy pitching or were a strategic weapon against sluggers but hitters had pretty much nothing to do with it. The big disconnects then were the 300 BA with the 330 OBP was popularly considered better than the 270 BA with the 350 OBP (with no real consideration of their respective ISOs unless they were vastly different) and the difference between a slugger that wouldn't take his walks vs. one that would. (Unless it was Kingman who was derided for all of his Ks.)

Spot quiz: higher career OBP, Killebrew or Brett? (answer obvious by the asking and it depends on how you handle Brett's 1800 more PA)
   19. DanG Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:29 PM (#5905663)
Among players retiring in the 20th century, Dwight Evans has the most Runs Created of any eligible candidate for the HOF. He also has the most RBI + Runs scored.

Here are the HOF candidates leading in RC who have aged off the BBWAA ballot:

Player          RC  Rbat    R  RBI    PA From   To
Fred McGriff  1704 399.5 1349 1550 10174 1986 2004
Dwight Evans  1612 352.7 1470 1384 10569 1972 1991
Rusty Staub   1533 279.9 1189 1466 11229 1963 1985
Mark McGwire  1529 545.5 1167 1414  7660 1986 2001
Darrell Evans 1499 231.7 1344 1354 10737 1969 1989
Dave Parker   1451 212.9 1272 1493 10184 1973 1991
Chili Davis   1416 218.0 1240 1372  9997 1981 1999
Will Clark    1415 353.4 1186 1205  8283 1986 2000
Mark Grace    1403 223.3 1179 1146  9290 1988 2003
Lou Whitaker  1395 209.4 1386 1084  9967 1977 1995 
   20. Howie Menckel Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:40 PM (#5905666)
The only player I recall getting credit for walking a lot was Rose

Rose also famously sprinted to first base whenever he got a walk because - well, he was "Charlie Hustle," after all
   21. villageidiom Posted: December 04, 2019 at 04:11 PM (#5905679)
BBWAA were the loudest of all baseball fans, due to their position, but they could be dumb as twelve donkeys, and how much did they actually represent baseball thought?
They represented 100% of the Hall of Fame vote, which was the point.
   22. PreservedFish Posted: December 04, 2019 at 04:12 PM (#5905680)
I mean, when I was 9 years old I understood that walks were valuable. I suspect that the extreme idiocy of the media painted an unrealistic picture of real opinions in baseball. The 80s were the peak of the "RBIs = MVP" thinking, anyway, but if you look at the 50s you look at guys like Berra, Rizzuto, Fox, Aparicio, and Schoendist doing great in the MVP voting. That was the era of the Walking Eddies - did baseball men once have a more holistic understanding of hitter value but then lost it? Or was 'RBIz rule' just some stupid macho vogue among the talking heads?

They represented 100% of the Hall of Fame vote, which was the point.


Well, yes, the comment that I responded to, but SBB asserted that walks were not valued at the time and that we should more or less honor the values of the time. I think it's an interesting broader topic anyway.
   23. The Yankee Clapper Posted: December 04, 2019 at 04:42 PM (#5905696)
Evans only had 4 seasons of 5+ WAR (6.7, 6.4, 5.4, & 5.1). Just not much of a peak, which is why he trails the average HoF Right Fielder in 7-Year Peak War & JAWS, as well as Career War. A valued member of the Hall of Very Good, but seems a bit short for Cooperstown.
   24. SoSH U at work Posted: December 04, 2019 at 05:12 PM (#5905700)
That 6.7 led all of the AL, coming in a strike-shortened season.

And if he didn't trail the average HoF rightfielder in those things, he'd be an outrageous omission, rather than a borderliner.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Andere Richtingen
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogCardinals' speed-based style thrilled baseball fans in the 1980s, but would it work today?
(5 - 9:35am, Jan 26)
Last: bbmck

NewsblogFormer Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel apologizes for 2017 cheating scandal
(9 - 9:21am, Jan 26)
Last: The Duke

NewsblogLarry Walker’s Hall plaque to feature Rockies cap, not Expos
(40 - 9:15am, Jan 26)
Last: SoSH U at work

NewsblogJustin Turner on Astros' 2017 World Series Title: 'It's Hard to Feel They Earned It'
(2 - 8:56am, Jan 26)
Last: flournoy

NewsblogFelipe Alou: Mets manager Luis Rojas won't cheat baseball
(7 - 8:41am, Jan 26)
Last: Howie Menckel

NewsblogCraig Calcaterra’s Imaginary Hall of Fame Ballot
(76 - 8:20am, Jan 26)
Last: bachslunch

NewsblogOT - Soccer Thread - January, 2020
(268 - 7:42am, Jan 26)
Last: AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther

Newsblog'There are better things to come:' Canada's Taillon upbeat during Tommy John rehab
(1 - 7:23am, Jan 26)
Last: Rennie's Tenet

NewsblogMLB rumors: Former Giants GM Bobby Evans interviewed for Astros job
(1 - 3:10am, Jan 26)
Last: Bhaakon

NewsblogRyan Thibs’ Hall of Fame Tracker
(1455 - 2:29am, Jan 26)
Last: Barnaby Jones

NewsblogHe’s ‘Nat’ done yet: Virginia Beach’s Ryan Zimmerman reportedly signs one-year deal with Washington
(18 - 12:53am, Jan 26)
Last: Howie Menckel

NewsblogReport: Umpires agree to MLB's test plans for automated strike zone
(118 - 12:43am, Jan 26)
Last: Barnaby Jones

NewsblogRed Sox, Padres have reportedly discussed Mookie Betts trade that includes a surprising name
(48 - 11:17pm, Jan 25)
Last: Jose Is Absurdly Chatty

NewsblogRockies’ Trevor Story agrees to two-year, $27.5 million contract
(4 - 11:03pm, Jan 25)
Last: flournoy

NewsblogOT - NBA Thread 2020
(665 - 10:18pm, Jan 25)
Last: calming him down with his 57i66135

Page rendered in 0.3574 seconds
46 querie(s) executed