“Out, Damned Spot”…

Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Macbeth (Act V, Scene 1). (Do you supposed she was trying to get the dog to go out for the night?)

Pie Traynor

Over at The Hall of Miller and Eric they’ve begun running a series rightfully castigating the Hall of Fame for leaving out some of the people who have been shunted aside (guys like Ted Simmons). They have their own Hall and one of the requirements is that the two Hall’s be the same size (excluding umpires and they’re in the midst to trying to figure out how to add Negro Leaguers). So that means for every guy they put in who isn’t truly in the Hall, they have to kick to the curb someone who is enshrined in Cooperstown (which doesn’t mean they put someone in, then toss someone else out). That’s not exactly how it works, but I trust you get the idea. It’s a site worth checking out, team. It’s also a project with some interesting ideas that are worth considering.

All of that got me to wondering about the bottom of the Hall (to use Kevin Graham’s phrase, “the bottom-feeders”). I’ve done a thing or two on the bottom of the Hall, but never actually sat down and went about trying to figure out in something like a systematic way who actually is the bottom of the Hall. These are the guys who, if they ever decided to pare down the Hall of Fame, should be the first shown the door. And before I go further, let me emphasize that I am in no way suggesting that these, or any other players currently enshrined, be ousted from Cooperstown (and neither are the Miller and Eric team). Once you’re in, you’re safely in.

What comes below is a 25 man roster with 2 men at each position, one reliever, and 8 starting pitchers that make up the lowest rung of the Hall of Fame. Although I have reservations about WAR as the be all, end all of stats (any stat existing in multiple versions is automatically suspect), it’s a good quick way to measure the players involved. I simply looked at Baseball Reference’s list of players by position and by WAR for each position and took the two (one, eight) guys with the least WAR for my team. As usual this easy system comes with a load of caveats. First, there are several managers (Stengel, Harris, Southworth, etc.) who show up on a position list and have less WAR than at least one other Hall of Famer on the same list. I excluded them as they are in the Hall as much, if not more, for their managerial acumen as for their playing ability. Second, I dumped guys who played way, way back (George Wright, Jim O’Rourke, Candy Cummings, etc.) because they played much or most of their career with shorter schedules, no mound, and in some cases (Cummings) a very different game. Finally Monte Irvin showed up as the left field Hall of Famer with the least WAR. I excluded him and would have excluded other similar Negro League stalwarts.

Got all that? Then here’s the list of the bottom of the Hall. I draw no conclusions from it (except as mentioned at the end of the article) and merely pass it along for those interested.

Catcher: Ray Schalk, Rick Ferrell

First Base: George Kelly, Jim Bottomley (ain’t it great that someone named Bottomley is in the bottom tier?)

Second Base: Johnny Evers, Bill Mazeroski

Shortstop: Travis Jackson, Rabbit Maranville

Third Base: Pie Traynor, Fred Lindstrom

Left Field: Lou Brock, Heinie Manush

Center Field: Hugh Duffy, Lloyd Waner (I know Duffy spent most of his career in the 19th Century, but he also played most of it after the advent of the pitching mound and longer schedules, so I added him.)

Right Field: Ross Youngs, Tommy McCarthy

Starters: Jesse Haines, Rube Marquard, Lefty Gomez, Jim Hunter, Herb Pennock, Jack Chesbro, Chief Bender, Addie Joss

Reliever: Rollie Fingers

OK, team, that’s the list. A couple of final points. First, these are not players who lost significant time to World War II or other long term military service (I thought there might be one or two of those). Both Joss and Youngs died while still active (at least more or less active) so their WAR is effected by that and it should be remembered. I decided to add them anyway. For what it’s worth, if you toss Joss off because of odd circumstances (like a death) then Waite Hoyt is his replacement. And Sam Thompson replaces Youngs. As a final bit of an aside, I remember when Pie Traynor was (in 1969) picked the greatest of all third basemen. Now he makes this team.

Still a formidable team.

 

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6 Responses to ““Out, Damned Spot”…”

  1. Miller Says:

    Thanks so much for the shout out!

    It makes me smile that you dump Lou Brock, though I always liked him. I can’t quibble with any of your names. None belong in the Hall, I don’t think. But I don’t hate a couple of the guys you have here, especially Johnny Evers. I rank Nellie Fox and Red Schoendient a decent amount lower.

    • verdun2 Says:

      Schoendienst does appear lower in the BBREF list of 2nd basemen by WAR, but I left him out because of all the managerial time impacting his Hall of Fame case.
      About the shout out, where to I pick up my $20?
      v

      • Miller Says:

        Only $20? We’re making zillions from the Hall of Miller and Eric. You’re certainly worth more than $20.

  2. Jackie, The Baseball Bloggess Says:

    I always think that Eppa Rixey gets a raw deal when he ends up on so many “unworthy” HOF lists. (Upon learning of being inducted he said, “You’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel,” so he may have brought some of it on himself.) So, I was pleased — and relieved — to see that he doesn’t make your list.

    Good list … good post!

  3. wkkortas Says:

    I might flip-flop Pie Traynor and George Kell, and I’d certainly dump Chick Hafey before Brock, but this illustrates that the Hall voters, be they writers or members of the Veterans’ Committee, have very often fallen down on the job.

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