The previous post gave a list of the persons appearing on the next Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee Ballot. I intend to do multiple posts on the election. This is the one on the everyday players.
First, a couple of observations. Two of the nominees played so long ago there is no “eye” test (“Saw this guy. He was good.”) or “I” test (“I remember him.”) for them. No one alive today saw Deacon White play. We have a man in my town who is 100. Bill Dahlen last played the year before this guy was born. So for the two of them their stats will be paramount along with old newspaper articles. Marty Marion has the advantage of actually having played recently enough that some people still living actually saw him play. Heck, I was alive his last few years as a player (although I have no memory of ever seeing him play or hearing a radio broadcast of a game in which he played). I’m not sure how much, if any, that will affect the voting, but I think this factor should be noted.
Now a quick look at each player chronologically:
James L. “Deacon” White played from 1871 through 1890, although apparently only his 1876-1890 numbers are to be considered. The category specifies the player represents the period 1876 (founding of the National League) through 1946 (the year before Jackie Robinson arrived in Brooklyn). I have no idea how much the loss of 1871-75 will hurt White’s chances. Whether they do or not, the Deacon was a heck of a player during his NL days. He hit .307, had an OBP of .341, a slugging percentage of .388, for an OPS of .729 (OPS+ of 126) over 4896 at bats. He 787 runs with 709 RBIs and 1901 total bases. He had 204 doubles, 18 home runs, and 69 triples to go with 225 walks and 185 strike outs. He began his NL career at age 28. He played for three pennant winners (1876, 1877, and 1887) holding down third base and catching while putting in just over 100 games at both first and in the outfield. He was a decent fielder for his era but nothing special. Both his black and gray ink numbers exceed Hall of Fame Standards. All numbers quoted above are for White’s National League years only. His National Association numbers (1871-5) are not included. If I were on the Veteran’s Committee, I’d cast a ballot for White. I believe he is the finest 19th Century player not yet enshrined at Cooperstown.
Bill Dahlen was a shortstop who made it to the big leagues in 1891 and stayed around through 1911. He hit .272, had an OBP of .358, slugged .382, for an OPS of .740 (OPS+ of 110). He scored 1590 runs, had 1234 RBIs (leading the NL in 1904), and 3452 total bases in 9036 at bats. He had 2461 hits, 413 doubles, 84 homers, and 163 triples while walking 1064 times and striking out only 759 times. He also had 548 stolen bases, but many of those came before the advent of the modern definition of the stolen base. He won pennants with the Giants in 1904 and 1905, participating in the ’05 World Series where he had no hits, three walks, scored a run, and had an RBI in a winning cause. In 1911 and 1912 he managed Brooklyn (not very successfully). He was a better than average shortstop for the era, leading the league in assists and range factor multiple times. Neither his black nor gray ink numbers exceed Hall of Fame standards, although his gray ink in fairly close. But Dahlen would not appear on my ballot if I were on the Vet’s Committee.
Marty Marion played from 1940 through 1953 (he was injured all of 1951) in St. Louis. From 1940 through 1950 he was with the Cardinals and with the Browns (now the Orioles) the last two seasons. He was known as a slick fielding shortstop who was one of the best of his era. He led the NL in assists, range factor, putouts, and fielding at various times during the 1940s. In 1944 he was league MVP. As a hitter he averaged .263, had an OBP of .323, and slugged .345 for an OPS of .668 (OPS+ of 81). He scored 602 runs, had 624 RBIs, and 1902 total bases in 5506 at bats. He managed 1448 hits, 272 doubles (leading the league in 1942), 36 home runs, and 37 triples while compiling 470 walks and 537 strike outs. Neither his black nor gray ink numbers are very high. He appeared in four World Series (1942-44, 46) playing on the winning side three times (1942, 44, and 46). His best Series was the one they lost in 1943. He also managed the Browns (but not very sucessfully). He also died only last year. Marion creates a particular problem for me. The argument for him is essentially the Mazeroski argument. He’s easily the best defensive player at a primarily defensive position in his era and one of the best defensive shortstops ever. That’s not a bad argument for a player. Additionally, he was a favorite of my grandfather so there is a certain bias when contemplating him. To err on the safe side, I think I’ll set him aside for this time.