Posts Tagged ‘Dale Murphy’

The 2019 Veteran’s Committee Vote

November 13, 2019

Marvin Miller on the phone

The other day I listed the 2019 Veteran’s Committee ballot without commentary. Well, you knew that wouldn’t last, didn’t you? The committee members get up to 5 votes each. I’ll detail my vote (of which the committee should take great heed) later, but I want to first make a few overall comments about the ballot.

After what happened last year (and, yes, I know it’s a different committee) I’m not about to try and predict what will happen this year, other than to say that I doubt more than two will be elected to the Hall of Fame. If you look at each player (ignoring the contributor), they are all much alike. They have good numbers and are reasonably well known. But each has some sort of flaw that has kept them out of Cooperstown for a long time. For some it’s short, but intense careers that don’t have overwhelming numbers. For some it’s ending just short of magical numbers (400 home runs, 300 pitching wins, etc.). For others, it’s lack of a defining postseason or an off field issue.

1. Marvin Miller is the most obvious choice for enshrinement. He is easily the most important non-player of the last 50 years, and for my money one of the four most important non-players in baseball history (William Hulbert, Ban Johnson, and Kennesaw Mountain Landis are the others in order of appearance on baseball’s stage.). Apparently, he wasn’t a particularly likeable man and even a number of players, who benefited most from his work, didn’t really like him. Additionally, he alienated a lot of owners, executives, and newsmen (all of which can be on the committee) during his lifetime and that’s not a recipe for election to Cooperstown.

2. Lou Whitaker’s appearance on the ballot is, to me, an enigma. I can’t understand why he’s not already in the Hall of Fame. An excellent second baseman, a many time all-star, a member of one of the more famous middle infield’s in baseball history, Whitaker also has excellent statistics. They are comparable to his double play mate Alan Trammell, already a member of the Hall. But then, he, unlike Trammell, was never a World Series MVP nor ever came in second in the American League MVP vote (and of course Whitaker forgot his uniform at an all-star game). Perhaps its that pair of shortcomings that makes Trammell appear to be a much superior player. The guys over at the Hall of Miller and Eric (which you should read, people) are afraid Whitaker will get in because the committee wants to complete the 1984 Detroit Tigers championship team’s major Hall of Fame contenders by adding Whitaker to a list of Tigers stalwarts (Trammell, Jack Morris, Sparky Anderson) already in Cooperstown. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind if they did. I don’t much care why the committee supports Whitaker so long as they do.

If my prediction that only two people from the ballot get elected, I think it should be the two above. But, if they get to three, I’d like to see…

3. Ted Simmons as the third choice. He missed election by one vote last time and it will be interesting to see if he picks it up this time. His numbers are fine, especially for someone who spent most of his time as a catcher. But his end of career time as a journeyman who played a lot of first base and designated hitter, may pull him down a bit because his numbers aren’t particularly great at either position. Additionally, he was seen more as a hitter than as a catcher and that could hold him back. He was never considered a great catcher, but like Mike Piazza, wasn’t nearly as bad a catcher as some people liked to say.

As a committee member, I would get five votes. Here would be my next two (in alphabetical order): Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy. They were both players with fine, but short, peaks. Sometimes that can get you in, sometimes it can’t. Murphy has the additional problem of ending up just under 400 home runs without being the player Al Kaline (who also ended up just under 400 homers) was over a longer period of time. For Mattingly, some of his problem lies in being a New York Yankees player who never got his team to a World Series (one playoff appearance, a loss, in Mattingly’s final season). As often as New York made it to the Series, that’s a problem for one of their better players, a problem that is difficult to overcome; especially on a ballot with Thurman Munson, a Yankees player who did see World Series action.

As for the other five; next time, folks (maybe).

Modern Era Ballot Announced

November 6, 2019

Lou Whitaker

The Hall of Fame has announced the nominees for the 2019 Modern Era Veteran’s Committee. The vote will be 8 December. Here’s the list:

Dwight Evans

Steve Garvey

Tommy John

Don Mattingly

Thuman Munson

Dale Murphy

Dave Parker

Ted Simmons

Lou Whitaker

and executive Marvin Miller

More later.

Modern Era Ballot: Everyday Players

November 22, 2017

Trammell

Part two of my look at the latest Veteran’s Committee effort. This time the Everyday Players.

Let me begin by reminding you which everyday players are on the list: Steve Garvey, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons, Alan Trammell.

Garvey is most famous for all his years with the Dodgers as a first baseman. He won an MVP, two All Star game MVP Awards, was twice the NLCS MVP, and led the Dodgers to the World Series three times, winning one, and the Padres to a single Series (losing it). He holds the NL record for consecutive games played, hit .294, and has 2599 hits (What? He couldn’t have hung on for one more hit?).

Mattingly was the Yankees first baseman for much of the 1980s and 1990s. He won a single MVP Award, had his number retired by the Yanks, tied the record for consecutive games with a home run, holds the record for most consecutive games with a hit (not part of the home run record), holds the record for grand slam homers in a season (since tied), and has managed both the Dodgers and the Marlins.

Murphy is a two-time MVP while playing outfield for the Braves. Originally a catcher, he made a successful transition to the outfield. He ended his career with 398 home runs and 1266 RBIs. He was, according to his Wikipedia page, elected to the World Humanitarian Hall of Fame (had never heard of it).

No one ever was going to elect Parker to a Humanitarian Hall of Fame. He also won an MVP Award while with Pittsburgh along with a World Series championship. He later served as the designated hitter for the “Bash Brothers” Oakland A’s team of the late 1980s and early 1990s, winning another championship. He also won two batting titles and an RBI crown. He was also suspended for drug use.

Simmons was one of the first power hitting catchers, following the likes of Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella. He was miscast as a catcher and eventually ended up a designated hitter in the AL after starting his career in St. Louis. At the end of his career he also played first base with Atlanta. He ended up with 248 home runs, 1389 RBIs, and a .285 average.

Trammell was a superior shortstop for the Tigers. He led them to the World Series title in 1984 (against Garvey’s Padres), winning the Series MVP. He was second in the MVP race in 1987. A lot of people thought he should have won. Later he managed the Tigers, producing no winning seasons.

Those are short notes about each player highlighting some of their career, and post playing baseball activities. Not a bad player in the lot. In fact it the committee picked all of them I wouldn’t be sorry. Having said that, each has distinct problems that have kept them out of the Hall.

With four votes left on my mythical ballot I can’t pick ’em all, so I’ll take three: Trammell, Simmons, and Mattingly. To the others: better luck next time, fellas.

Pitchers next.

Modern Era Ballot Released

November 10, 2017

The latest iteration of the Veteran’s Committee for the Hall of Fame just released the ballot for the “Modern Era” Committee (that’s the most recent retirees). Here they are in the order that shows up on the Hall of Fame website (it’s alphabetical):

Steve Garvey

Tommy John

Don Mattingly

Marvin Miller

Jack Morris

Dale Murphy

Dave Parker

Ted Simmons

Luis Tiant

Alan Trammell

Committee members will vote in December and are allowed to vote for up to five people.

Commentary to follow.

 

Power Center

March 21, 2011

I saw that the Hall of Fame is honoring the guy who wrote “Talkin’ Baseball” at this year’s Cooperstown festivities. The line from it that everyone knows is “Willie, Mickey, and the Duke.” All were center fielders and as I’ve been looking through information on the position, I’ve discovered just how extraordinary they were.

What came to my attention is how few major power hitters occupy center field as their primary position. Having three at one time is really very odd. Let me show you a particular stat that points that out. I remembered that Joe DiMaggio had 361 home runs. So I decided to make him the bottom of my list of center fielders with power. When I looked over the list of home run hitters in order, I found DiMaggio was 71st, which worked for a good base after all. It would have been better it he was 75th, but 71 will work. Obviously if I run the list longer, the numbers will change, but a cursory look all the way to 100 didn’t seem to make that much difference (and I should stress “cursory” in that sentence).

What I noticed is that there are less center fielders on the list than either of the other outfield positions. Now the usual caveats. As outfielders can sometimes be interchangeable, especially as stat types tend to lump them together as “outfielders” rather than “left fielders” or either of the others (and I’ve also noticed that the more modern the source, the less common this is, which I think is good), I went to  Baseball Reference.com to determine which outfield position guys like Gary Sheffield actually played most often (right in his case). I also took the Hall of Fame listing to determine a player’s primary position. The Hall lists Willie Stargell as a “left fielder” rather than a “first baseman” so Willie becomes one of the people I looked at. Finally I realize not all the people in the top 71 played all games at one position, so that they hit home runs at other positions rather than their primary position. For instance both Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial spent significant time at first base (as, obviously, did Stargell). So this is not a list to determine who hit the most homers while in center or anything like that.

Here’s what I found. Of the top 71 home runs hitters in Major League history, 17 were primary right fielders (I’m not listing them all, but they run from Hank Aaron to Rocky Colavito), 13 were primary left fielders (from Barry Bonds to Ralph Kiner), and only eight were in center. Here I’ll list them all in order of home runs: Willie Mays, Ken Griffey, Mickey Mantle, Andruw Jones, Duke Snider, Dale Murphy, Jim Edmonds, Joe DiMaggio.

A few observations:

1. It seems big league baseball really does like the old “defense up the middle, power at the corners” idea. I heard that all the way back in Little League. The idea is that if you have solid defense up the middle (shortstop, 2nd base, center field) then you can get your power from the corner players (1st base,  3rd base, left and right field). From the info above 24% of the 71 best power hitters played right field, 18% played left field, and 11% played center field as their primary position. The drop from 24% to 11% is noticeable. I’m not saying that you can’t play center if you hit for power, but that the power hitters tend to cluster towards the edges. If you think about it you probably already knew that intuitively.

2. Those numbers hold even if you move the base to another arbitrary position, like 400 home runs. Then you get 11 right fielders, nine left fielders, and five center fielders (losing Murphy, Edmonds, and DiMaggio).

3. Those numbers and percentage will change as soon as the opening of the 2011 season. Just a few men hitting just a few home runs will drop DiMaggio further down the all-time list and change things. I briefly looked over the top 100 and it appears it won’t add an inordinate number of center fielders, so the general trend will remain the same (more or less).

4. They tend to clump. Mays, Mantle, Snider, and DiMaggio all have careers that overlap. Having said that, both Mays’ and Mantle’s rookie year is DiMaggio’s last, so only Snider overlaps DiMaggio by more than one year. Of course Mays , Mantle, and Snider play a decade together. Griffey, Jones, and Edmonds are also contemporaries.  And Murphy actually overlaps Griffey and Edmonds (although his final season is Edmonds rookie campaign).

5. On a personal note. I hadn’t realized that Andruw Jones was already fourth on the list of home runs among primary center fielders. I’ve never considered him a truly elite player. He was a great center fielder, but I guess I had managed to more or less ignore his hitting contributions. Silly me.

I don’t think the stats above are all that significant in the long list of baseball information. I merely find them interesting and am sure that if I were to change the criteria it would change the info. For instance I left out Earl Averill, who didn’t make the top 71 home runs hitters, but was a significant power hitter in the 1930s.  They do remind me just how lucky we were to have Mays, Mantle, and Snider playing at the same time.

The January Vote

November 30, 2009

In January the Hall of Fame will announce it’s newest members as voted on by the baseball writers. There are 26 names on the ballot. Writers are allowed to vote for up to 10, but may leave the ballot blank.

This is one of the more interesting ballots in a long while. There is no clear-cut sure-fire gotta-go-in player on the ballot, but there are a lot of really nice players that show up on this one. On the theory that I would get 10 votes if I was a baseball writer, here’s the 10 men I’d support, in alphabetical order:

Roberto Alomar-arguably the finest 2nd baseman of his era.

Bert Blyleven-why the heck hasn’t he gotten in already?

Andre Dawson-the revelations of the steroid era make his numbers look even better than they did when he retired.

Barry Larkin-heck of a shortstop, good hitter, pretty fair team leader, and an MVP.

Edgar Martinez-the epitome of a DH. They even named the award after him. Great, great hitter.

Don Mattingly-the personification of grit and determination on the ballfield. Short career, but great numbers in the career.

Fred McGriff-OK, he didn’t make it to 500 homers, but there’s no taint of steroids on him. Led league in home runs twice, key component on the Braves winning teams of the 1990s. He gets dispensation from those horrid baseball drills commercials he made. As a spokesman, Fred made a great 1st baseman.

Dale Murphy-2 time MVP, great hitter, good center fielder, just short of 400 home runs.

Tim Raines-has a batting title and was a great baserunner. His nomad phase will probably hurt his chances.

Alan Trammell-OK, ignore the managing and look at the player. He was  great shortstop and a fine hitter, losing the MVP vote to George Bell once.

There are a couple of others I’d like to see there (Morris, Ventura, Lee Smith), but I only get 10 votes.