Baseball Library Vault of Lists: August 28, 2008
Hall of Fame Announces List of Veterans Committee Nominees for 2009 Induction
Baseball Library Vault of Lists
On August 25, 2008 the National Baseball Hall of Fame released a list of 10 former major league players who will be considered for induction into the Hall in 2009 by the Veterans Committee. Results of a December 7 vote will be announced on December 8 at baseball\'s winter meetings.
Here is the roll of the designated ten players careers began in 1942 and our thumbnail assessments of their Hall of Fame bona fides:
A shortstop who played with Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox from 1891-1911. Dahlen\'s .739 OPS is 64 points higher than the average shortstop of his day, so he was a better than average hitter, but he didn\'t produce enough runs to earn a spot in the Hall with his bat. However, his glove work may be enough to carry the day. Among shortstops with at least 1,200 games played in the field, Dahlen ranks fourth in range factor (5.76) and third in assists (just behind Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio and Ozzie Smith). He was at least Aparicio\'s equal on defense and a vastly superior hitter. We\'d vote for him.
Ferrell posted 193-128 record over a 15-year career (1927 to 1941) with the Indians, Red Sox, Senators, Yankees, Dodgers and Braves. He led the American League in wins in 1935 with 25 while finishing second in the Most Valuable Player voting. Ferrell hit 38 career homers, a record for pitchers. But he was a dominant pitcher in only six of his 15 seasons, and there are many other pitchers with better records who aren\'t in the Hall. He wouldn\'t make out ballot.
A study in what might have been. Gordon played 11 seasons as a second baseman with the Yankees and Indians from 1938-43 and 1946-50, He won the American League MVP award in 1942 and finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting four other times. Gordon also earned spots on nine All-Star teams. His career OPS is 107 points above the average second baseman of his time and he was a superb fielder, the best at his position in several seasons. However, he didn\'t maintain his excellence long enough to merit a place on our imaginary ballot.
During his 16-season career, Magee played the outfield for the Phillies, Braves and Reds. He posted, perhaps, six Hall of Fame caliber seasons. Magee\'s career OPS is 95 points higher than the average leftfielder of his day, an impressive figure, but not nearly as impressive as Bernie Williams\'s mark and Williams was a more valuable fielder. We don\'t think we\'d vote Bernie in the Hall, so we can\'t hold a spot open for Sherry.
Mays was 207-126 from 1915-29 for the Red Sox, Yankees, Reds and Giants. He won 20-plus games five times and his .622 career winning percentage ranks 62nd on the all-time list. It\'s an impressive record and Mays undoubtedly would have received more support in the regular BBWAA elections if his errant pitch hadn\'t killed Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman. But Mays only enjoyed five genuinely dominant seasons, and his body of work isn\'t large enough to rate a spot in the Hall.
He went 182-107 over 13 seasons (1942-54) with the Indians and Yankees and made the All-Star team six times. In World Series competition, Reynolds went 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA. His regular-season winning percentage (.630) ranks 52nd all-time among pitchers with at least 250 seasons. But like Mays, his body of work is too small, and he was a dominant pitcher for only two or three seasons.
He played 15 seasons (1941-55) with the Browns, Red Sox, White Sox and Orioles. "Junior" made the American League All Star team eight times and finished in the top five in the AL MVP voting six times. He was underrated defensive shortstop because he often looked awkward at the position, but his range factor and other defensive metrics place him slightly ahead of Phil Rizzuto and on a par with Pee Wee Reese and Marty Marion and Stephens was a more productive hitter than any of those three. This is probably our most controversial call, but, considering how well he played a vital position and the lack of power at shortstop during his time, we\'d cast a ballot for him.
Vernon played first base for the Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians, Boston Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Braves. Anecdotes suggest he was a top-flight fielder and a competent hitter, but his career OPS is only 26 points above the average first baseman of his day, and he only had two seasons that were Hall of Fame worthy. We can\'t see his candidacy.
Walters went 198-160 while pitching 16 seasons for the Phillies, Reds and Braves. He won the 1939 NL MVP award while leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts and he led the NL in wins in 1940 and 1944.But Walters had only one other dominant season, and we would vote for David Cone (when he\'s eligible) long before casting a ballot for Walters, Mays or Ferrell and David Cone isn\'t quite a Hall of Famer.
Deacon Whiteplayed catcher, first base, third base and the outfield for the Cubs, Braves, Red Stockings, Wolverines, Pirates and Bisons during his 15-year major league career (1876 to 1890). White won two batting titles, but he was the one of the most productive players in his league in only three seasons, and while he was an excellent player for most of his career, he didn\'t post enough elite seasons to qualify for the Hall of Fame.