Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Worst Baseball Hall of Famers. Of All-Time

Baseball is stranger than other sports when it comes to its Hall of Fame, and for a few reasons. Simply put, baseball has some pretty bad hall-of-famers. Not Mario Mendoza bad, but bad enough that some can be considered travesties by the hardcore baseball fan. Now I say hardcore because usually these undeserving players are so obscure that only the most fervant fan has even heard of them. The football and basketball Hall-of-Fames are really exclusive clubs. They allow only the best of the best and don't make exceptions. But it for its first thirty years the baseball Hall-of-Fame seemed to induct anyone who batted over .300 or did pretty good in the old Negro Leagues! Some players made it in on pure nostalgia.

Cooperstown houses so many average players that it could create its own Wing of Mediocrity. My choices for enshrinement would include the following.

Honorable mentions:

First Baseman: Harmon Killebrew. This seems like a strange choice. After all, Killebrew hit 573 home runs and was known for absolute tape measure shots. He batted .256, by far the worst batting average of any hall of famer. In my opinion, he was a 1960's version of Adam Dunn. Adam Dunn will likely hit 500+ home runs at the pace he is at now, but is he a hall of famer? Not a chance.

Tony Perez: One of those guys who gets made out to be better than he really is. Lifetime average of .279, with 379 home runs. That may seem like a lot, but remember that it is seven less than the immortal Harold Baines.

Now here we are to the real list.....
Starting Pitcher(s): Phil Niekro, Burleigh Grimes and Chief Bender.

Phil Niekro arguably has the most inflated stats of any pitcher, barring those from the Dead Ball era. He went 318-274 in 24 major league season. Only a five-time all-star, which seems absurdly low for a guy who pitched that long, Niekro spent the majority of his career doctoring baseballs, which has to drop him down in the eyes of baseball aficionados. Burleigh Grimes was the Phil Niekro of the 1920's. He had 270 wins, but that was a large part due to his doctored pitches. After the spitball was banned in 1920, Grimes was "grandfathered" and allowed to throw the pitch even though it was illegal to everyone else. Now to end with Chief Bender. Bender had 212 career wins, which is a very low number for a hall of fame pitcher in the Deadball era. To me, a guy like Jim Kaat, who has over 260 wins, should be in the hall, if Bender was selected solely on wins. Bender seemed like an average pitcher in the easiest pitching era in baseball history.

First Baseman: Orlando Cepeda

Orlando Cepeda is basically a worse version of our honorable mention, Tony Perez. He had exactly the same amount of home runs as Perez, and was a far worse fielder. Cepeda made 21 errors in 1963. Let me remind everyone he is playing first base, a position where players regularly finish with fielding percentages well over .995. He was bad in the postseason, a lifetime .207 hitter. He also grounded into 24 double plays his last full season in the league, to lead baseball. According to, Cepeda's career is similar to that of the legendary Andres Galarraga. Andres Galarraga was the "Big Cat". Baseball fans in 70's missed out on a prime opportunity to name Cepeda the "O.C.". Maybe that would have helped.

Second Baseman: Johnny Evers

One of the few people in the history of the world have been chosen into elite groups solely on their being in a poem. Every single member of the "Tinkers-Evers-Chance" infield of the 1910's Cubs are in the hall, primarily because of the nostalgia that older baseball writers had of this infield. All of them really do not belong in the hall, but Evers selection is particularly appalling. Evers had a .270 lifetime average, 12 career home runs, and 538 RBI's. Now, 12 home runs may seem like a lot at first glance, but it is four less than pitcher Mike Hampton has had during his career. Evers only had 1,659 hits in 18 professional seasons, an average of 92 hits a season. That is horrible. He did the lead the league once in an important category in 1914, being ejected 9 times, a single-season record. While players like Kaat, Gil Hodges and Bert Blyleven are not in the hall, it is even worse that Evers made it.

Third Baseman: Ray Dandridge

Nothing against Dandridge who was one of the most feared hitters and fielders in the Negro Leagues, but third base is a pretty strong position as far as hall of famers are concerned, with George Brett, Brooks Robinson, and Mike Schmidt leading the way. My only problem with Dandridge (along with other Negro Leaguers), is that he never played in the MLB. Obviously, this was beyond his control, but I do have some trouble with players who never participated in the highest level of their sport. Dandridge did nothing wrong, its just he happened to be the most questionable choice in a very strong position.

Shortstop: Pee Wee Reese
Reese was helped a lot by his inflated public perception. He was perceived for years after his retirement as this flawless fielder, which eventually led to his election to the hall in 1999. Too bad this just is not true. Reese had a very poor .962 career fielding percentage, horrible even for a position where the ball is hit the most out of any. A lifetime .269 hitter, he hit 126 home runs and a putrid career slugging percentage of .377, which nowadays is considered a good on-base percentage. Pee Wee may also have had the single worst season in baseball history, when in 1941, he made 47 errors, batted .229 and had an OBP of .311. Not very good.

Left Field: Ralph Kiner

Now Ralph Kiner is probably the most well-known person on this list. My grievance with Kiner is that he only played ten years. Now, you can go on to say Sandy Koufax played ten years and his hall of fame-ishness is not up for debate. And it isn't. Sandy Koufax could have played five years and I would have put him up for election. Ralph Kiner is not the same as Sandy Koufax, one of the five greatest pitchers who've ever lived. Ralph Kiner had 369 career home runs in ten season, and had one of the best at-bats to home run ratio of all time. A .279 career hitter, Kiner is very similar to you guessed it, Adam Dunn. Dunn has put up 338 career home runs in just as many season as Kiner. Odds are, barring an injury, Dunn will be within ten home runs of Kiner by the end of the season. The primary reason for Kiner's induction is his home run ratio. But once again, he is a guy with similar career statistics to Adam Dunn. And is Adam Dunn a hall of famer? No.

Centerfield: Earl Averill

Averill is not as putrid as some of the other inductees on this list. He had a respectable .318 career batting average, hit 238 home runs and drove in 1,164 runs. This may serve well if he was a shortstop, but he was a centerfielder, a mainstay in the major league lineup. This position has had greats like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Duke Snider and Joe DiMaggio. You cannot tell me that Earl Averill compares to those four guys. Averill played in the 1930's, an era in which hitting was inflated a lot. His numbers just do not compare to other centerfielders who played around his time. He also had a .970 career fielding percentage, a percentage that is awful for outfielders. Averill is also that owner of the 130th best on-base plus slugging percentage of all-time. Averill was good, just not as good as everyone else who played centerfield.

Right Field: Sam Crawford

I am going to be honest. I did not even read any of his stats. I just took a look at the picture the Baseball Hall of Fame gives for him, and I decided there could be no one worse who played right field than him. For all I know, he could have hit 500 home runs, hit over .400, and was a United States Senator for a short period of time. I just saw this picture and said this is not a hall of famer.

Anyone who holds a bat the way Darth Maul held his light saber in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace should not be a hall of famer. Well that rounds out the list of the Hall of Not-famers (Yeah, that sounded good!). Comment below on any grievances or omissions with the list.

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