Wednesday, April 20, 2011

S20 Hall of Fame Preview: The Position Players

Voters, campaign season is just about upon us. Last year Carl Cochrane and Rafael Cedeno had their simulated dreams become reality when they were welcomed into the Hall of Fame. Who's going to have the votes this year? Let's start with a look at the position players:

The Lock
Vladimir Goya isn't just the greatest defensive centerfielder of all time. He's the greatest to play the position, period. 10 All-Star appearances, 8 Gold Gloves, 6 Silver Sluggers. Vlady ranks 3rd among HOF eligibles in runs scored, 4th in hits, and 2nd in stolen bases. Add in all those highlight reel plays he made in center, and Goya would probably be the most exciting player in the game. MVP voters slept on Goya during his career. HOF voters shouldn't repeat that mistake. (5383 points)

The Contenders
Yes, Eric Thomas was a career DH, and that's the kiss of death to some voters. But the guy could rake. 6 All-Star games, 3 World Series rings, 8 Silver Sluggers. Only Hugh Moore has a higher career OPS among the eligibles. In that group he's also 4th in runs, 4th in homers, 5th in RBI, 4th in OBP, and 3rd in slugging. He is the best pure hitter who isn't either still playing or already enshrined. (4927 points)

I'll admit it--I was surprised when I worked out the numbers and found out just how good Alan O'Malley was. In fact, he was the best second baseman to play the game. A 7-time All Star and Silver Slugger, O'Malley was the S9 AL MVP. His .320 lifetime average places him 12th among eligibles, and he leads the group in runs scored. If his home run totals weren't eye-popping, his 2654 hits, 1376 RBI and 432 SB give him a strong case. Note that among eligibles, only Goya, O'Malley and Izzy Devereaux finished their careers with at least 300 HRs and 300 SB. (4515 points)

Get Back To Me Next Year
686 home runs is a lot. So it may be controversial when I list Tim Durbin as the 4th most qualified position player among potential nominees. I'll admit, it's a little crazy. I'm probably only bumping him this far down the list because he had only 5 All-Star appearances and only 6 Silver Sluggers (at CF and 2b, no less). Still, I'm not going to monkey with the formula, especially because I can't quite get past the fact that while Goya, Thomas and O'Malley posted career OBPs of .395, .428, and .394 respectively, Durbin finished with a very ordinary .353. I'll probably still vote for him, if not this year than certainly a year or two down the road, but I'm not sure I'm ready quite yet. (3868 points)

Might Need To Talk To The Veterans' Committee
Derrick Flynn had the kind of longevity that allows you to put up 2775 hits, 541 homers, 1692 runs, and 1911 RBI. But beyond those counting stats, he looks like a great player, rather than a Hall of Famer. His .301 average is pretty good, but neither it nor his .366 OBP, .559 SLG, or .925 OPS are in the top 20 among eligibles. 5 All-Star appearances and 2 Silver Sluggers also aren't enough to compete with some of the other illustrious careers being scrutinized here. (2885 points)

Meanwhile, Tim Smith is one of only 5 eligibles with an OPS of 1.000 or better. He's made All-Star teams and won Silver Sluggers, a Gold Glove and a 2 championship rings. Smith's problem is that his career got a late start, and he just didn't have a chance to reach the milestones needed to put forth a serious case for induction. (2732 points)

Honorable Mention: Ben Musial, Al Pena, Benj Clark, and Hugh Moore

Points are awarded based on ranking among eligible players in statistical categories (top 20 in each category get points = (21-ranking)^2), and for awards, All Star appearances, and other notable accomplishments.

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