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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The ‘What If?’ Hall of Fame - How a simple twist of fate might have sent these five players to Cooperstown

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3. Would Jimmy Wynn have made it to Cooperstown if the Reds never exposed him to an arcane draft?

Wynn had 55.8 bWAR at the time of his retirement, though neither he nor anyone else was aware of that fact in 1977. That’s below the Hall average, but there are Hall of Fame center fielders with a lower figure, including Max Carey, Earl Averill and Kirby Puckett.

When you look at Wynn’s stadium splits, the Astrodome was neither his best venue, nor his worst. He hit .263/.382/.457 there over 2,843 plate appearances. During his best six-year stretch (by bWAR, from 1965 to 1970), he hit .271/.387/.475 there, while slashing at .263/.367/.488 everywhere else.

So Wynn was a bit better at home, but the cavernous Astrodome depressed his power numbers. Wynn hit 137 career homers in home venues and 154 on the road. During those prime years, only five players hit more road homers than Wynn’s 93: Willie Stargell, Hank Aaron, Frank Howard, Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey. All five are in the Hall of Fame.

Wynn ended up with the Astros because ... well, it’s a long story. He played very well in one professional season in the Reds organization. As a Cincinnati native, who grew up not far from Crosley Field, he seemed a natural fit. At the time, if a player was not placed on a team’s 40-man roster after his first pro season, then he was subject to a “first-year player” draft, and this is how Houston plucked him from the Reds.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 11:14 AM | 72 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dave kingman, don mattingly, dwight evans, jimmy wynn, tommy john

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   1. The Duke Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:03 PM (#6037397)
No subscription - who are the other 4?
   2. RJ in TO Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:08 PM (#6037400)
During those prime years, only five players hit more road homers than Wynn’s 93: Willie Stargell, Hank Aaron, Frank Howard, Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey. All five are in the Hall of Fame.
Frank Howard is in the Hall of Fame?
   3. RJ in TO Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:09 PM (#6037401)
The other four are Kingman, Evans, Tommy John, and Mattingly.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:12 PM (#6037404)
What is the what if case for Kingman? I hope it's not just getting to 500 homers, because that wouldn't have gotten him anywhere near Cooperstown.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:17 PM (#6037406)
1. What if Kingman stays in Boston? Could hit at Fenway, sit at DH and reduce defensive liability
2. What if Dwight Evans plays during an era where analytics appreciates him?
3. What if Jimmy Wynn gets to spend his career hitting in Cincinnati?
4. What if Tommy John never gets hurt? Not sure I really get that one.
5. What if Don Mattingly never gets a back injury?
   6. RJ in TO Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:18 PM (#6037407)
The question, rather than case, is "Would Dave Kingman have made it to Cooperstown if he played his entire career with the Red Sox?", and assumes his performance there over a limited number of games would be more representative than his overall career performance. It's basically a "What if he played in a really good hitters park?" argument.

   7. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:18 PM (#6037408)
What is the what if case for Kingman? I hope it's not just getting to 500 homers, because that wouldn't have gotten him anywhere near Cooperstown.



You can take a picture of yourself beating that horse to get some ivermectin.
   8. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:21 PM (#6037410)
4 - If John doesn't get hurt he probably gets to 300 wins. Without reading the article I'm guessing that's the argument. I'm a bit surprised looking at his career at how much he didn't miss much other than that season. He came back and at age 33 was basically the same pitcher right away.
   9. Tony S Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:25 PM (#6037412)

I think Tommy John has a good Hall of Fame case anyway.
   10. Jobu is silent on the changeup Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:31 PM (#6037415)
Dwight Evans isn't even the best Evans outside the Hall.
   11. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:34 PM (#6037416)
Well, probably every Negro League star has a What-If argument too. Or what if Gavvy Cravath had been born in the East? Or what if Munson hadn’t died in a flying accident? Or if Grich hadn’t hefted that AC unit. Or Ross Barnes hadn’t hurt himself in the early 1880s?

Just saying there’s a lot of what-if to chew on. Kong didn’t stay in Boston or anywhere because he wasn’t the nicest guy. Mattingly got hurt because…Mattingly got hurt. Wynn and Dewey aren’t HOFs because people didn’t see greatness in the kind of game they played (many still don’t). TJ is MORE famous because he got hurt than if he hadn’t.

Strange.

(PS: Didn’t read the article, but why would I let that stop me?)
   12. John Northey Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:37 PM (#6037417)
A good what if is what if Dave Stieb pitched for the Tigers and Jack Morris for the Jays. Safe to say Stieb would've been in the HOF easily and Morris nowhere near it.
   13. Traderdave Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:40 PM (#6037418)
Safe to say Stieb would've been in the HOF easily and Morris nowhere near it.


Bingo
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:48 PM (#6037421)
What if Lou Whitaker doesn't want to take a break during the ASG every year?
   15. Traderdave Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6037424)
1. What if Kingman stays in Boston? Could hit at Fenway, sit at DH and reduce defensive liability


"Stays" in Boston? Was he ever on the Sox??
   16. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 31, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6037425)
This seems like a weird set of "what-ifs". Only Mattingly really falls into what I think of when I think "what-if" - a guy who performed at a level that would have clearly gotten him elected to the Hall of Fame but didn't do so long enough because of illness, injuries, or other circumstances outside the player's control (war, racism). Other players that would work there would include Eric Davis, J.R. Richard, Tony Conigliaro, Pete Reiser, just to fill out a top-5 off the top of my head.
   17. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:00 PM (#6037427)
Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry
   18. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:01 PM (#6037428)
Kiki, that’s funny because I don’t think of Mattingly that way. I just think of him as a guy with back problems. Same way I think of Davis as a guy who got hurt a lot. Herb Score or Tony C or Munson are more like the model to me. Im not really sure about Richard.

   19. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:09 PM (#6037431)
"Stays" in Boston? Was he ever on the Sox??


No. And I think it's hard to imagine Dave Kingman ever playing his entire career in one place. He wore out his welcomes rather quickly.

A good what if is what if Dave Stieb pitched for the Tigers and Jack Morris for the Jays. Safe to say Stieb would've been in the HOF easily and Morris nowhere near it.


I guess the Tigers had a slightly better offense than the Jays in that time frame, but basically the two teams got competitive around the same time, and the Jays stayed that way a little longer.

You can take a picture of yourself beating that horse to get some ivermectin.


That's an odd thing to say.

   20. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:11 PM (#6037432)
Kiki, that’s funny because I don’t think of Mattingly that way.


Honestly, I probably wouldn't put Mattingly in my top 5 either. He just seemed like the closest of the five they listed to this. I know Tommy John had the injury, but he pitched until he was 46 years old so it's kind of hard to see how his statistical case changes all that much if he doesn't sit out the year (maybe he gets to 300 wins, but maybe he retires when he's 40 instead).

And yeah, I'm probably doing a bit of wish-casting with Richard there (and maybe Conigliaro, given how young he was).
   21. RJ in TO Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:15 PM (#6037434)
A good what if is what if Dave Stieb pitched for the Tigers and Jack Morris for the Jays. Safe to say Stieb would've been in the HOF easily and Morris nowhere near it.
The simpler one is "what if Dave Stieb doesn't get run over covering first base, resulting in him needing back surgery and changing his motion, and instead has a normal decline to his career?" That version of Stieb likely ends up his career as a single-team player, with somewhere in excess of 240 wins, and an important role on the Jays world series winning teams.
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:28 PM (#6037439)
what if Munson hadn’t died in a flying accident?

we went over this in another recent thread.

he was utterly cooked as a C - his last 4 games, in fact, were not behind the plate. poor Thurm was rode hard and put away wet.

on Kingman, he played for the Mets, Padres, Angels, and Yankees in 1977 alone, hitting 9, 11, 2 and 4 HR for those clubs. as noted, no Sox.

he played 3 to 4 seasons for the Giants, Mets, Cubs, Mets again, and Athletics.
   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:29 PM (#6037440)
What if Albert Belle isn't a huge jerk?
   24. Darren Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:49 PM (#6037442)
Dwight Evans isn't even the best Evans outside the Hall.


Career WAR, peak WAR, and JAWS disagree.
   25. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:50 PM (#6037444)
Frank Howard is in the Hall of Fame?


Author Bradford Doolittle moonlights as Bradford Knowlittle.
   26. Darren Posted: August 31, 2021 at 02:53 PM (#6037445)
One biggie with Dwight Evans is the 1981 strike season being his best year. He was on pace for 10 WAR, and more importantly at the time, on pace for an additional 11 HR in that season. That would have placed him at 390 after the 1990 season, possibly enticing the Sox to bring him back and play him full-time to get 400. Or, after 91 with the Orioles, he would have been at 396, meaning someone probably brings him back to get 400. 400 HR, 1,400 RBI, 2,500 hits, 8 Gold Gloves and he likely sails into the HOF.
   27. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:05 PM (#6037449)
400 HR, 1,400 RBI, 2,500 hits, 8 Gold Gloves and he likely sails into the HOF.


You just described Andre Dawson. Who is in the Hall of Fame, but didn't exactly "sail into" it. He was elected in his 9th year of eligibility.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:15 PM (#6037453)
You just described Andre Dawson.


That really did.
   29. Darren Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:20 PM (#6037454)


You just described Andre Dawson. Who is in the Hall of Fame, but didn't exactly "sail into" it. He was elected in his 9th year of eligibility.


I didn't say it was windy out.
   30. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:27 PM (#6037457)
The better question about Kingman is What If he stayed with the Cubs. He hit .297/.360/.608 for his career at Wrigley Field, with 50 homers per 600 ABs. Those are clearly Hall of Fame numbers.

This article must be by a member of Red Sox Nation if he thinks Kingman should have somehow ended up on the Sawx.
   31. My name is Votto, and I love to get Moppo Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:30 PM (#6037458)
Belle is a good one. Despite retiring due to injury at 33, he had 380 homers and 1200 RBI, relatively close to what Eddie Murray had at the same age. He wouldn't have gotten to 3,000 hits but could have easily wound up with 500+ HRs and inched into the top-20 (at the time) in RBI, basically resembling something like Gary Sheffield's career totals. Actually, that's not a bad comp: surly reputations, excellent RH hitters, indifferent defense.
   32. Booey Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:31 PM (#6037459)
I know that many here came of baseball following age in the 1980's so it's probably blasphemous to say this, but none of Mattingly, Gooden, or Eric Davis strike me as definite HOFers without the injuries.

Mattingly had a great 4 year peak (1984-1987) and then started to lose production even before he suffered the back injury. Give him another few years like his 1988-1989 seasons instead of what he actually had and his career numbers are still really low for a HOF hopeful at 1B (would a healthy Mattingly be better than Will Clark, for example?).

Gooden's 1985 is SO far above his next best season(s) that it looks more like one of the all time great fluke seasons rather than a true ability level that wasn't duplicated just cuz of injuries (or drug issues). Think Bryce Harper's MVP season if Harper's 2021 was more on par with his 2018 and 2019. Gooden was great as a 19 y.o. rookie (5.5 pitching WAR, 137 ERA+), epic in his 2nd season (12.2 pitching WAR, 229 ERA+), and then immediately dropped down to good but not great territory the following season, and never had another CYA caliber year again. A 2 year peak isn't enough to say that someone had established himself on a HOF pace, no matter how young he was.

Davis was a Larry Walker type who always missed 20-30 games even in his "healthy" seasons. Because of that, he only had a few truly great years (1986-1987), plus a few more pretty good ones. I don't think he'd ever really established a clear HOF pace.

Better examples IMO of players who were on clear HOF trajectories before injuries struck are Nomar, Albert Belle, Johan Santana, and Juan Gonzalez*.


* Yes, overrated or not, Juan Gone finished his age 31 season (2001) with 397 homers and 1282 rbi's, and he was coming off a season where he'd just hit .325 with 35 homers and 140 rbi, so he didn't appear to be slowing down any time soon. 500 homers was a foregone conclusion; he had a legit shot at 600 with close to 2000 rbi's. Throw in a .297 career batting average, .568 slugging percentage, and 2 MVP's, and not even the SABR types who pointed out his poor defense and mediocre OBP would have been enough to keep him out. But then he totalled just 37 homers and 122 rbi's (basically one prime season) the rest of his career, and that was that. His 2005 season sums it up perfectly when he suffered a season (and ultimately career) ending injury in his first at bat.
   33. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:34 PM (#6037461)
This article must be by a member of Red Sox Nation if he thinks Kingman should have somehow ended up on the Sawx.


Dave Kingman's career numbers in Fenway Park are ridiculously good: .276/.345/.816, 93 HR per 600 PA - of course, that's in only 84 career PA (18 games, 13 HR). But you have to admit that a player who hit 93 home runs per season would probably sail into the Hall of Fame fairly easily.
   34. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:34 PM (#6037462)
we went over this in another recent thread. he was utterly cooked as a C - his last 4 games, in fact, were not behind the plate. poor Thurm was rode hard and put away wet.
There is scant evidence for that proposition. Munson had played in 95 of the Yankees 106 games at the time of his death, 88 at catcher, with 3 appearances at 1st base & 5 as the DH, and 1 PH appearance. He put up 2.4 WAR in 1979, a pace that would have given ~ 3.7 WAR over a full season. And as long as we’re discussing other threads, in his final season Munson’s most similar player was none other than supposed 1st ballot Hall of Famer Yadier Molina, and Molina only exceeded Munson’s final season projected WAR in two seasons of his entire career. Now at age 32, Munson figured to decline, but he wasn’t washed up as a catcher, and would likely have ended up with 50-55 WAR had he played even another 2 or 3 years.
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:38 PM (#6037463)
This article must be by a member of Red Sox Nation if he thinks Kingman should have somehow ended up on the Sawx.


The hypothetical What would Kong do at Fenway was always a popular question, because of the short porch and his propensity to hit the ball so damn high the Monster would be cleared regularly.

Also, since he did manage to play three seasons in Chicago and didn't build a Hall of Fame case while he was there, folks had to look elsewhere where this theoretical Kong really thrived.
   36. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:46 PM (#6037465)
Kingman's one fully healthy season with the Cubs - when he led the league in homers, slugging and OPS - was clearly a Hall of Fame type season. Although I suppose the argument is he would have stayed healthier as a DH.
   37. Howie Menckel Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:48 PM (#6037466)
define "scant"

My memory told me that when I was watching 1979 Yankees games that summer, the announcers talked about how Munson might well be cooked as a catcher. I had to look up that his last 4 games were not behind the plate, even though backups Jerry Narron and Brad Gulden had laughable OPS+s that year of 44 and 23, respectively.

Munson was less on a "pace" for 3.7 WAR so much as he was on a "pace" for a protracted DL stint.

and looky here, per Munson's SABR bio:

"In late July of 1979, Thurman, who had been playing in severe pain all year, was sent to the Yankees’ team doctor to have his aching knees checked. Billy Martin, who had been rehired as manager in June, speculated in the press that Munson would not be able to catch for the rest of the season."

Jeff Bagwell was on a tremendous "pace" in 1994, with 39 HR and 116 RBI in 110 games - except he broke his hand the day before the strike and would have missed considerable time and quite possibly the rest of the season.

context helps.
   38. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 31, 2021 at 03:53 PM (#6037467)
Too late to edit, but #34 should read “Munson played in 97 of the Yankees 106 games”.
   39. Hombre Brotani Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:01 PM (#6037470)
A good what if is what if Dave Stieb pitched for the Tigers and Jack Morris for the Jays. Safe to say Stieb would've been in the HOF easily and Morris nowhere near it.
If Stieb hadn't hurt his back, he would have gotten in regardless. His back issues effectively ended his career at 33. If he were with the Tigers, won a ring and a few more games, and THEN got hurt, he'd still end up being short on the career marks Hall voters love.
   40. Booey Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:02 PM (#6037471)
Strike shortened seasons are always another fun "what if?" (as will the COVID shortened 2020 be when all the currently active borderline players start hitting the ballot).

As for the strike, the two players I often hear about being screwed the most are Fred McGriff and Tim Raines. McGriff lost out on 500 homers, plus he would've finally got the big signature season his detractors say he was missing (he was on pace for 48 homers and 133 rbi, whereas his actual career highs were 37 and 107). Raines meanwhile lost significant time to TWO strikes, which would have gotten him closer to 3000 hits, and he almost surely would have surpassed 100 stolen bases in 1981 and possibly broken the single season record. Baines is another, as he also lost time in both 1981 and 1994-1995 and might've reached 3000 hits otherwise. Of course, Raines and Baines both eventually got elected anyway, and McGriff seems like he's got a good shot with the VC.

One player that I don't hear talked about much though is David Cone. He was on pace for 20+ wins in each of the 1994 and 1995 seasons, which would have put him over 200 for his career and give him four 20 win seasons instead of two. Does hitting the 200 win milestone and adding a couple of extra 20 win seasons to the career ledger of a pitcher who already has solid SABR credentials (62.3 WAR, 36.2 WAA), a CYA (plus 4 other top 6 finishes), a perfect game, and 5 World Series rings (1992 Jay's, 1996 Yanks, 1998-2000 Yanks) get more than 3.9% of the writers vote in his one and only ballot appearance? I think it does.
   41. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:16 PM (#6037472)
Re #32, I think Gooden, Strawberry, and Davis were what-ifs because talent just oozed from their pores. But not because outside forces disrupted their careers. Because internal forces did. The inability to say no to drinks and coke for the first two, the inability to stay healthy for the latter. I remember once that E lacerated his kidney by, IIRC, diving for a ball in Riverfront’s CF. I’ve never before or since heard of a lacerated kidney is baseball. Though I don’t read team notes these days and haven’t since the early 2000s. I think he missed.a few weeks or a month with that.

   42. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:19 PM (#6037475)
# 40

Booey, agree with you here too re Cone.
   43. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:19 PM (#6037476)
but none of ...Eric Davis strike me as definite HOFers without the injuries.


Someone posted an estimate of Davis' career without injuries here many years ago. I'll have to look for it but my recollection of it was that it was both impressive and at the same time a bit underwhelming. Given what I remember of him and the narrative around him the numbers just weren't that outrageous. They were good, but it wasn't inner circle type stuff as I recall.
   44. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:25 PM (#6037479)
Found it!

1975 hits
442 homers
460 steals
127 OPS+
8600 plate appearances

I think he gets in, that 400/400 is awfully impressive and if he was a true one team man as the piece posits that is a boost.
   45. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:32 PM (#6037482)
I remember once that E lacerated his kidney by, IIRC, diving for a ball in Riverfront’s CF.


It was actually in Oakland, early in Game 4 of the 1990 World Series, no less... And then Marge wouldn't pay for his flight home (he still needed to be in a bed, so it had to be a specially outfitted plane). So many ifs in his career. If only he hadn't taken on the brick wall in Wrigley in 1987, he would have been the first 40-40 man (Actually, 40-50, and maybe 40-60). of course, if he hadn't of gotten hurt that day, he might have hurt something the next.

   46. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:37 PM (#6037484)
Thanks Don Augustus…!
   47. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:41 PM (#6037486)
Plus Davis came back from colon cancer while with the Orioles. It was pretty amazing that he had one of his best offensive years post-cancer.

With Davis, the numbers really do not do him justice. The blinding speed, casual batting stance, and raw power unfurling from such a thin frame were just totally mesmerizing. And I cannot reconcile TZ's negative numbers for Davis against what I saw.
   48. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 31, 2021 at 04:58 PM (#6037491)
1975 hits
442 homers
460 steals
127 OPS+
8600 plate appearances

I think he gets in, that 400/400 is awfully impressive and if he was a true one team man as the piece posits that is a boost.


That's more homers and more steals than Andre Dawson, in 2000 fewer plate appearances.
   49. sanny manguillen Posted: August 31, 2021 at 05:35 PM (#6037509)
You could do a whole series of speculations based on cocaine use c. 1980.
   50. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 31, 2021 at 05:57 PM (#6037521)
The blinding speed, casual batting stance, and raw power unfurling from such a thin frame were just totally mesmerizing. And I cannot reconcile TZ's negative numbers for Davis against what I saw.


When I was growing up, I always bought posters of my favorite players to put on my wall. Eric Davis was the last player whose poster I bought...
   51. Walt Davis Posted: August 31, 2021 at 06:05 PM (#6037524)
On Kingman and Fenway: Those numbers are more impressive because they came mostly at the end of his career, ages 35-37. I have zero doubt Kingman tops 600 HRs if he plays a healthy career in Fenway.

On Kingman and Wrigley: 278/338/569 with 94 HR in just over 1300 PA ... so 47 HR per full season. Sounds like a guy who mighta hit 600 HR there if he'd been healthy enough.

As it is, he HR'd in 6% of his PAs. Mike Trout is at 5.5%, Manny 5.7, Thome 5.9, Sosa 6.2, Judge 6.3. Through age 37 he had a higher HR rate and only 500 fewer PAs than McCovey. There's no doubt Kingman was one of the best HR hitters of all-time. He wasn't durable, he wasn't liked, he wasn't good at anything but hitting HRs ... but the man pounded out the HRs. He's in the top 8 all-time in HR/PA (min 3000 PA ... b-r doesn't offer a leaderboard but there are only 8 at 5.9% or higher).

On the article, it is an odd set of guys to write about. On Evans ... saber-love couldn't get Lofton over 5%, it's not gonna get Abreu anywhere close, it hasn't gotten Whitaker or Grich much VC love, but it probably is helping Rolen quite a lot. Evans is almost an ideal type of the under-appreciated HoF case. The offensive production didn't really start until age 29 by which point writers and fans have already filed him in the "good player, mostly defense" category. Start his career with ages 29-37 and you've got a guy who topped 100 RBI 4 times and has 238 HR before age 30 and he's at least getting noticed. Instead through age 29, it's 150 HRs and a career-high 71 RBI and 265 BA from a RF.

On Mattingly, I agree that he was not likely going to be HoF-worthy even if healthy. He might have compiled enough if he made it to 10,000 PAs -- I suppose if Tony Perez is in then Mattingly with 10,000+ PAs would have been in. But it takes a lot at 1B/LF/RF. From ages 23-28, Mattingly had a 147 OPS+; from ages 22-34 Jack Clark had a 145 OPS+. Clark got 1.5% of the vote ... Mattingly needed to push 3000 hits to have much chance which I suppose he'd have done if he'd been healthy enough for 10,000 PA.
   52. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 31, 2021 at 06:07 PM (#6037525)
Davis must have had amazingly fast hands. His swing path was lower ribs to upper pecs. He didn’t let gravity help him much. A very strange swing plane to my eyes. Probably made him susceptible to stuff down and in or down and away. But man if it was near his wheelhouse, watch out.
   53. GregD Posted: August 31, 2021 at 06:25 PM (#6037531)
I also loved Eric the Red. Bothered me then that he didn’t do better in mvp voting or even all star games. I looked back and he actually did even worse than I recalled in 87.

To me he looked like an obvious hall of fame talent if he could keep healthy but I don’t know how long it would have taken voters to absorb how great he was especially if his career numbers didn’t pop. On the other hand broadcasters couldn’t stop raving about him.

Narrowly I think 400 HRs has been mentioned in the thread a couple of times as a milestone that would have drawn big attention (and kept Evans in Boston.) I may be misremembering but I don’t remember it being that big of a deal in the press. I have zero recollection of kingmans 400th HR for example
   54. SoSH U at work Posted: August 31, 2021 at 06:34 PM (#6037533)
Narrowly I think 400 HRs has been mentioned in the thread a couple of times as a milestone that would have drawn big attention (and kept Evans in Boston.) I may be misremembering but I don’t remember it being that big of a deal in the press. I have zero recollection of kingmans 400th HR for example


At the time Kingman retired, every player with 400 homers was in the Hall.
   55. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 31, 2021 at 07:20 PM (#6037540)
You could do a whole series of speculations based on cocaine use c. 1980.


Dave Parker without doing all that blow. Not able to measure that by any means, but geez that cat had talent and a few more 5-7 WAR seasons beckoned, surely?
   56. BDC Posted: August 31, 2021 at 07:27 PM (#6037542)
Wynn seems to me the most interesting of the five (probably why AG#1F picked it :) because if I'm interpreting right without reading TFA, it's basically "What if the only thing different were context?" – what if Wynn had the same career path, the same 56 WAR, but had them in Cincinnati. That would likely have gotten him some Runs Scored titles, or even an RBI title; at least two rings (maybe more; put Wynn on one of the Reds teams that just missed and maybe they win another couple WS). Maybe an MVP award in 1974? He probably still ends up with "only" 350 career HR or so, though, right around his "teammates" Lee May and George Foster, so not HOF-milestone territory.

The Evans question is somewhat similar, but Evans may yet be elected by some saber-friendly veteran's committee.

Kingman the Red Sock … I think in practical terms Kingman's career was too erratic in quality for the Red Sox to keep him for 16 years, quite apart from him being a jerk. He'd have had one of his off-years and they'd have had a better option, the Sox always seem to find hitters.
   57. Gary Truth Serum Posted: August 31, 2021 at 07:43 PM (#6037545)
Narrowly I think 400 HRs has been mentioned in the thread a couple of times as a milestone that would have drawn big attention (and kept Evans in Boston.) I may be misremembering but I don’t remember it being that big of a deal in the press. I have zero recollection of kingmans 400th HR for example

I remember a Sporting News article about how Kong was in a relative slump so the attention was more "when will he get #400?" His manager Jackie Moore said something like "he'll probably get it when he's not pressing, like trying for a sacrifice fly". Seemed like an odd way to hit a home run, but Jackie had to say something. So when he finally got it, there was some attention, but mostly because he had to wait so long.
   58. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: August 31, 2021 at 08:01 PM (#6037549)
On Kingman and Wrigley: 278/338/569 with 94 HR in just over 1300 PA ... so 47 HR per full season. Sounds like a guy who mighta hit 600 HR there if he'd been healthy enough.

How many dingers would Kingman need to make the HOF? I don't think 500 would've been enough, really. He was (a) famously awful at every aspect of the game that didn't involve hitting the ball over the fence, (b) pretty much hated by the media, opponents, umpires and often teammates alike; (c) changed teams like other players changed underwear (including four in one year!) and (d) never won (or even came close to) a ring or an MVP (he did manage to be selected to three ASGs). Oh, and he wound up with a whopping 17.3 WAR, worst among players with 400 HR (although Adam Dunn gives him a run for his money with 17.9).

But...what if he played his whole career with the Yankees, a successful team in a town that loves villains? If Kingman had hit 500 homers and picked up (I hesitate to say "led his team to") a ring or five in New York, well, people really wouldn't care if he sent the occasional rat to a sportswriter. He'd be an anti-hero, like Reggie, only more so. He'd be the Donald Trump of baseball. (Hell, Kingman would probably get elected to the Senate or something, warming up the crowd at Trump rallies in some little town in Alabama.)

OK, that's enough.
   59. Walt Davis Posted: August 31, 2021 at 09:07 PM (#6037560)
I agree that 500 HR probably isn't enough for Kingman to make it but 600 would be too much for the voters to ignore. That Wrigly Kingman also has much better looking numbers overall -- a 278 BA is nearly 300 extra hits that might mean an extra 200 RBI just in his 7500ish PA. But sure, you need further tweaking, mainly health. Kingman basically played 15 seasons (plus some rookie time) and had just 7300 PA in those 15 seasons so not even 500 per. He lost time in the 81 strike but otherwise it was injuries and maybe some benching for limitations and attitude. For example from ages 23-37, Reggie had 1200 more PA -- give Kingman that and he likely makes it to 500 HR just on his career rates. (The man hit 100 HR from ages 35-37 after all.) Give him that and move him into Wrigley and give him better raw stats ... then maybe a team's willing to let him play at 38-39 if he needs it to reach 600.

I'm not arguing the actual Kingman is remotely close to HoF-worthy. I am arguing he had awesome power so give him enough PAs (10,000 of them which is quite a few extra) or give him some PAs while moving his career into mainly Wrigley or Fenway and he gets to 600 at which point he may have been udeservedly put into the HoF. But I have to say, 600 is a further stretch than I gave it credit for -- if he gets those 8600 PA through age 37, he still needs to hit them at .07/PA to get to 600. He achieved that in Wrigley but not by much and we can't just assume he'd do that for his whole career. He exceeded it by a lot in Fenway.

I'm also interested in this because I've long speculated what he would have done in Fenway. As I've frequently noted, Kingman did only 5 things when he came to the plate: 1) striekout; 2) hit life-threatening GBs and LDs to the left side; 3) hit mile high pop-ups to short; 4) hit half-mile high FBs to the warning track in LF; and, 5) hit quarter-mile high, 500 ft HRs. (You can look it up) In Fenway all of those FBs go out and, on a good windy day, maybe even a pop-up to SS.

Best contemporary comp might be Gallo. The main difference is Gallo is happy to walk and apparently plays quite good OF defense.

DK 23-27: 2328 PA, 226/294/478, 144 HR, 115 OPS+, 35 Rbat
JG 23-27: 2145 PA, 210/339/499, 143 HR, 118 OPS+, 42 Rbat (this is his age 27, so adding to those totals)

A curiosity from the other end of his career:

DK 35-37: 1883 PA, 239/296/450, 100 HR, 109 OPS+
RJ 35-37: 1461 PA, 239/337/444, 68 HR, 117 OPS+

Reggie got to play bits of 4 more years putting up basically the same number as at 35-37; Kingman did not ... or course Kingman less valuable due to the pathetic OBP. Note both guys were terrible at 37 by WAR. Kingman certainly wouldn't get another shot today, Reggie still might due to rep/fame but he was below-replacement again at 38 so unless he'd signed Pujols' contract, that probably would have been it. He had 503 HR at the end of age 38.
   60. DL from MN Posted: August 31, 2021 at 10:13 PM (#6037573)
what if Dave Stieb pitched for the Tigers and Jack Morris for the Jays. Safe to say Stieb would've been in the HOF easily


Why would Dave Stieb sign a 1 year contract with the 1991 Twins?
   61. baxter Posted: August 31, 2021 at 10:28 PM (#6037575)
On the bad back front, David Wright and Al Rosen. Wright's borderline as it is. A healthy Wright goes in; but one could say that about a number of players.
   62. djordan Posted: August 31, 2021 at 10:31 PM (#6037577)
I've always been a big fan of Wrigley Kingman. Had he just chilled out and dealt with Chicago he could've hit a few more milestones. To Walt's point about Kong getting more at-bats in his early/mid 20's, remember that the Giants didn't play him as much because McCovey was still there, the org thought that they may have had something in Ed Goodson and the outfield was stocked with Gary, Garry & Bonds. Kingman also hit like .203 or .204 one of those years. I get the vibe that Kingman's attitude would decide whether he was a .220 or .275 home-run hitter. By the way, some of you already know but there's an incredible Jane Leavy piece on Kingman from back in the day floating around the internet.

Stieb had 166 wins by his Age 32 season. Blyleven had 176, but also a 2.85 FIP, more than a point lower than Stieb. Without injuries, Stieb's probably in.

I wonder what kind of pitcher Tommy John is without the arm injury.

Darryl would been a Hall of Famer (he knew how to get on base - 97 walks in '87.) As for Doc, I've always believed that one of the things that affected him emotionally (among a confluence of numerous other factors) was that he couldn't pitch in '86 the way that he could the previous two years. Regardless of his drug use, I don't think Gooden would've ever repeated those '84-'85 heights, at the very least, not the dominance.
   63. John Northey Posted: August 31, 2021 at 11:05 PM (#6037582)
A good what if I always had was Bo Jackson - the Jays were going to draft him in the 4th round but the Royals beat them to him. This lead to Gillick drafting Olerud in the 3rd round a couple years later just to be safe. But if Bo had played in Toronto might the NFL stuff have been handled differently? And might that have lead to his baseball career lasting longer? I could see Gillick convincing him to give up on football via more cash (the Jays always had tons of cash available even if they acted otherwise), which would've been harder for KC to do.

Gooden lands under the case of a pitching coach trying too hard (adjusting him after an insane year - I think it was the highest post-WWII WAR season). Leave him be and let him throw hard as he can for as long as he can - it worked for Nolan Ryan. Hmm...reverse what if - if the Mets kept Ryan instead of trading him what would've happened? Would he still have become the great K artist and eventual HOF'er or would've too much tinkering happened ala Gooden years later?
   64. Howie Menckel Posted: September 01, 2021 at 12:23 AM (#6037596)
Kingman once hit a HR at Wrigley to LF off Tom Dettore, iirc, that went so far beyond human possibilities that as I recall it landed on a front porch that had never been so defiled, and the lady of the house opened the door to see who was knocking.

for the locals, apparently the house is/was on Kenmore Street.

one recollection of this HR
   65. toratoratora Posted: September 01, 2021 at 10:18 AM (#6037640)
I remember hearing a story that the season after his great year some idiot Mets coach had Gooden had shagging flies in the OF the day after it rained and Doc hurt his arm/shoulder throwing all these heavy watersogged balls back to him.
   66. Random Transaction Generator Posted: September 01, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6037697)
The blinding speed, casual batting stance, and raw power unfurling from such a thin frame were just totally mesmerizing.


That sounds like Ohtani...
   67. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 01, 2021 at 02:06 PM (#6037702)

A good what if I always had was Bo Jackson - the Jays were going to draft him in the 4th round but the Royals beat them to him. This lead to Gillick drafting Olerud in the 3rd round a couple years later just to be safe. But if Bo had played in Toronto might the NFL stuff have been handled differently? And might that have lead to his baseball career lasting longer? I could see Gillick convincing him to give up on football via more cash (the Jays always had tons of cash available even if they acted otherwise), which would've been harder for KC to do.


The Royals had the highest payroll in baseball in 1990. I think Bo made clear by spurning the Bucs that cash wasn't really a factor in his decisions.
   68. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: September 01, 2021 at 06:17 PM (#6037812)
But if Bo had played in Toronto might the NFL stuff have been handled differently?

The man would've been a legend with the Argonauts...
   69. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: September 02, 2021 at 01:33 AM (#6037924)
Dave Kingman and Tommy John were two fascinations of mine growing up. In Kong's case, maybe it was Tommy Lasorda's rant that did it. I think it more than anything was the idea of folks succeeding in spite of limitations - in Tommy John's case it was the fact that he just couldn't throw hard, in Dave Kingman's case it was the fact that he couldn't seemingly do anything else than hit home runs.

Since Kong played in a time before widespread availability of out-of-market televised baseball, most of what I knew was from what was written about him. By a quirk of fate, there exists quite a bit of Kingman from the 1970's and 1980's on Youtube (as well as Tommy John). When you watch Kingman as a fielder, it appears less that he wasn't trying, more perhaps he tried too hard, diving in the outfield for balls he couldn't reach, for example. I tend to think his large, lanky frame was frustratingly clumsy to him for anything except hitting home runs, and as noted his personality, or at least his personality as it evolved over time, didn't do him or his teams any favors. In any case, things didn't work out quite how they may have.

Here's an interesting article from Fangraphs:

Where did Kong go wrong?

Here's the Jane Leavy article, also very interesting, I'd never read it before:

Jane Leavy article about Dave Kingman from the Washington Post

One of the things one gathers from watching Kingman on Youtube is that, when a pitch he judged to be in his wheelhouse came his way, his eyes would get BIG and it's like some kind of interior urge would take over, compel him to swing for the fences, typically something coming up high. I know some people like that.

One of the best sequences is this game from 1986 where Canseco and Kingman hit back-back home runs off Roger Clemens. What is most interesting about this is Clemens struck out Kingman twice earlier on a steady diet of high inside fastballs (the whole game is also available on Youtube), and Kingman finally connected on his third try.

Canseco and Kingman off Canseco

Here's the big blast over Waveland Avenue in the 23-22 game.

Kingman's Titanic Blast

Indeed the entire 23-22 game is amazing to watch, Schmidt, Rose, Kingman, Sutter, lots more:

Phillies beat Cubs 23-22
   70. Rally Posted: September 02, 2021 at 11:53 AM (#6037981)
Switching Stieb to the Tigers mainly just gives him a few more W from 1980-82.

In 1979 he was a 100 ERA+ pitcher and went 8-8. Team was terrible, but that seems fair.

His records the next 3 years were

12-15
11-10
17-14

At the time W-L was how pitchers were evaluated, but Stieb was actually one of the best in the league. Tigers were good, but not great yet. Jays were awful. My guess is his records turn into:

15-12
14-7
20-11

That would give him 185 wins instead of 176. Still looks a lot more like the contemporaries who fell short than the ones who got in.
   71. Kiko Sakata Posted: September 02, 2021 at 01:39 PM (#6037998)
At the time W-L was how pitchers were evaluated, but Stieb was actually one of the best in the league. Tigers were good, but not great yet. Jays were awful. My guess is his records turn into:

15-12
14-7
20-11

That would give him 185 wins instead of 176. Still looks a lot more like the contemporaries who fell short than the ones who got in.


That would have made Stieb the only 20-game winner in the AL in 1982 (LaMarr Hoyt led the league with 19) which probably would have won him the Cy Young award (Pete Vuckovich was 18-6 with a worse ERA than Stieb - whose ERA would probably have been even better pitching in front of the Tigers' defense).

Although one Cy Young award and fewer than 200 career wins still doesn't get one elected to the Hall of Fame.
   72. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: September 02, 2021 at 06:53 PM (#6038040)
If we are going by injury, I just remembered Jesse Barfield. He hurt his wrist and was never the same much like Nomah. Barfield had legit power and was the best fielding RF of his generation with that fabulous arm.

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