Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Season 23 Hall of Fame preview: Part 1

It's been a little while since I've come out with one of these posts dictating who you should vote for, so it seemed about time for another lesson. And frankly, after Derrick Flynn and Tim Durbin get voted in in Season 21, yet 5-time MVP Clint Hutton can't get the votes last year, you guys need my help.

First, let's have a moment of silence for Eric Thomas, whose Hall of Fame eligibility is all used up. Until they code a veterans' committee who can sneak him in the back door, anyway. More on Thomas later...

One more thing--unlike years past, I didn't obsessively scan through every player who rated in the top 20 among retirees in some stat category. Based on the candidates up for consideration, I felt ok if I missed out on some guy who flew under the radar and could make a case that he'd be worth voting for if you had 8 votes instead of 5. Also note that when I look at a player's career ranking in any statistical category, I'm always looking at his ranking among retirees who aren't already in the Hall of Fame. Just makes life so much easier, and it still feels like a reliable measure of how a player's career numbers should be valued.

The Candidates, please:

The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Simmed
Forgive me my bias. Carlos Johnson is the best hitter Morgan World has produced. Yes, he played much of his career in a juiced-up offensive era, and his home games were in Hartford's band box. He was also a complete mess in left field (his 84 errors and 88 bad plays are records for the position).

But he was the most intimidating, the most hyped, and the most decorated offensive player ever. Johnson has the all time records for runs, homers, RBI, and OPS. He's second to Chili Olsen in hits with 3000. Second to Rusty Jones in OBP. He's second in intentional walks. 5 MVPs, a pair of World Series rings, a ROY, a truckload of Silver Sluggers, All Star appearances, All Star MVPs, Home Run Derby wins...

For his first ten seasons in Morgan, he was dominant, but he remained a tough out well into his mid-to-late-30s.
Season 15, when Johnson was 34, seems to be where HBD's steroid era came to an end. Even so, at an age where most hitters are looking for employment, Johnson was still getting on base and piling up records.

The Injustice
People can be forgiven for forgetting how good Clint Hutton was. Unlike Johnson, he never got a crack at a championship, and his career was pretty much done after turning 35. But while his counting numbers don't immediately scream Hall of Fame, this guy was intentionally walked more than any other player in Morgan's history. His 9.77 RC/27 ranks 5th all-time. He won the MVP 5 times. He went to 8 All-Star games and won 8 Silver Sluggers. Unlike Johnson, he was an above-average corner outfielder, and he ranks 20th among retirees with 283 stolen bases (vs. Johnson's 0). He should have been a unanimous first ballot selection. Shame on us.

No comments: