Continuing along with my look at the people appearing on this year’s Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee ballot, here’s the four everyday players.
Bill Dahlen played shortstop for the Cubs, Giants, Dodgers, and Braves between 1891 and 1911 inclusive. He was one of the better fielding shortstops of his era, an era noted for lousy fields, gloves that were a joke, and lots of errors. He hit .272 for his career with a .358 slugging percentage, .382 OBP, a .740 OPS, and an OPS+ of 110. He had 1234 RBIs, including a National League leading 80 in 1904. He managed 2461 hits, 413 of them for doubles, 163 for triples, and 84 home runs for 3452 total bases. He walked 1064 times, while striking out 759. All of which got him 75.2 WAR (BBREF version). He appeared in the 1905 World Series without getting a hit and his team won the 1904 NL pennant.
Marty Marion was a key component of the 1940s Cardinals pennant runs. As the shortstop he held down a key defensive position well and in 1944 pickup an MVP Award, mostly for his fielding and leadership. For his career, his triple slash line is .264/.323/.345/.668 with an OPS+ of 81. He had 1448 hits, 272 doubles, 37 triples, 36 home runs, for 1902 total bases and 31.6 WAR. Playing with the Cards from 1940 through 1950 inclusive he helped lead them to four pennants and three World Series championships. In Series play he hit .231 with two doubles, a triple, five runs scored, and 11 RBIs. In 1951 and 1952 he played a little bit with the Browns and finished his career there.
Frank McCormick was a stalwart of the late 1930s-early 1940s Cincinnati Reds, and as such was a teammate of fellow nominee Bucky Walters. While Walters won the 1939 NL MVP Award, McCormick won the 1940 Award. He was considered a good first baseman who played from 1937 through 1948 with a 12 game cup of coffee in 1934. Most of his career was with Cincinnati. His triple slash line reads .299/.348/.434./.781 (OPS+ 118). He had 1711 hits with 334 doubles, 26 triples, and 128 home runs for 2481 total bases and a 34.8 WAR. In 1939 he led the NL in RBIs (and had 954 total), and three times led the NL in hits (1938-1940), and picked up a doubles title in 1940. In postseason play (1939 and 1940) he hit .271 with an RBI and a pair of doubles. He scored three runs.
Harry Stovey played baseball in the 19th Century mostly in a league that no longer exists. His career began in 1880 with the Worcester Ruby Legs and ended in 1893 in Brooklyn. In between he played for Boston in the National League, the Boston Player’s League franchise, and most of his best years with the Philadelphia American Association team. He led the Player’s League in stolen bases in 1890 (the only year for the PL) and led the AA in stolen bases in 1886, the first year stolen bases totals are available for the league. It is important to note that stolen bases were figured differently in the era, but Stovey still led the league. He also won four triples titles, five home run titles, four runs scored titles, and an RBI title at various times in his career. His triple slash line reads .289/,361/.461/.822 (OPS+ 144). He managed 1771 hits (in much shorter seasons than the modern game), 347 doubles, 177 triples, and 122 home runs for 2832 total bases and 45.1 WAR. He scored 1492 runs, had 908 RBIs, and at least 509 stolen bases (the stolen base total is both incomplete and, as mentioned earlier, figured differently). He never played a postseason game.
So where do I stand on each for the Hall of Fame? If I had a vote I’d easily give one to both Dahlen and Stovey. McCormick I’d easily leave out. And Marion is a problem for me. On the one hand, he was one of my grandfather’s favorites (although I never saw or heard him play) so I have a tug toward him that I don’t have toward the other three. He’s also one of those guys who derives much value from his glove, and those guys never get much support for the Hall of Fame (although there are exceptions). He’s a major part of four pennant winners and three champions. But there just seems to be something missing here. So I guess I’m ambivalent towards Marion and in that case will err on the side of caution and not vote for him. I suppose it’s also fair to say that if you’re ambivalent about the Hall of Fame qualifications of a player, he probably isn’t a Hall of Famer.