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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

A Quick Look At Some Yankees Who Should Be Hall of Famers

A Quick Look At Some Yankees Who Should Be Hall of Famers

By Paul Semendinger

September 26, 2023

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NOTE - This article first appeared on August 26, 2023 in Here's The Pitch, the daily newsletter for the IBWAA.

***

There are a host of great players who are not yet in the Hall of Fame. While some fans believe that there are already too many Yankees already in the Hall, there is a good list of former Yankees who deserve consideration, if not induction.


What follows is a quick position-by-position primer of Yankees who should be considered for the Hall of Fame though the various committees and such. I do not think there is any debate that Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens have Hall of Fame numbers. They are not in for other reasons, so I did not include them on my lists.


Hopefully this is a conversation starter for each of these players. Debating on a player's Hall of Fame worthiness is always a fun topic.


CATCHER - Thurman Munson: If one looks at WAR, Munson ranks as the 15th greatest catcher of all-time. He was the 1976 MVP. He won three Gold Gloves and was a seven-time All-Star. Munson was also the heart and soul of the great Yankees teams from the late 1970s. (Interestingly, Wally Schang, a great Yankees catcher from the early 1920s, ranks 13th all-time in WAR among catchers. He, too, deserves consideration. He has the highest WAR of any eligible non-Hall of Fame catcher.)


FIRST BASE - Don Mattingly: WAR doesn't treat Don Mattingly as kindly. He ranks only 45th all-time in WAR at first base, but Donnie Baseball was the best player in baseball during his peak. He was a gifted defensive first baseman and a fantastic hitter. Even with the decline in the second half of his career, Donnie Baseball sported a .307 lifetime batting average.


SECOND BASE - Willie Randolph: It would be difficult to argue that the 13th greatest second baseman of all time (by WAR) isn't a Hall of Famer but that's what Willie Randolph is. During Randolph's career, there were a host of very good second basemen; Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich, and Frank White immediately come to mind. None of them have received their due. Randolph was a steady player, a World Champion, and a true leader.



SHORTSTOP - Frank Crosetti: Today we expect great shortstops to have great offensive numbers, but it wasn't always that way. A great shortstop when Crosetti played needed to be a top fielder and a team leader. In his 17 years in the Major Leagues as a player, Crosetti anchored the Yankees infield. His teams went to nine World Series (with the Yankees winning eight of those contests). Crosetti then went on to coach the Yankees, seemingly forever. No Yankee was part of more World Championships as a player and coach than Frank Crosetti.



THIRD BASE - Graig Nettles: Now that Scott Rolen is in the Hall of Fame, the greatest third baseman by WAR who is not enshrined is Nettles. Like Randolph, Nettles' greatness wasn't recognized for what it was at the time. Nettles led the entire American League in WAR among position players in two different seasons. He won two Gold Gloves, but he should have won more. It's difficult to argue that the 12th greatest third baseman of all-time isn't a Hall of Famer.



OUTFIELD - I could make a long list of worthy players who were long-timers here including Bernie Williams, Bob Meusel, Charlie Keller, and a few others, but I'll go with Roy White. White was an excellent player for 15 seasons. His lifetime WAR ranks ahead of Lou Brock. White's skills — getting on base, drawing walks, fielding flawlessly, and playing every day — were overlooked in his day. Roy White was a complete player in every way.



STARTING PITCHER - Tommy John: 288 wins. Enough said. But, there is more to the Tommy John story, of course. You cannot discuss baseball today, especially regarding pitchers, and not discuss the surgery named for Tommy John. He had the surgery, and came back from it to win 164 games, proving its effectiveness. Before Tommy John, his injury was a career-ender.



RELIEF PITCHER - Sparky Lyle: Like Frank Crosetti, the game has changed since Lyle's day. Closers now rack up saves by the hundreds. Lyle was a true "fireman." He would come into a game when he was most needed and often finish it out. Lyle was the 1977 Cy Young Award winner for helping propel the Yankees to the pennant.



I am sure that many will not agree with the players I listed above, but, again, it's a great debate to have. Whether or not all of these players will reach the Hall of Fame, there are good arguments for each.


Let the debates begin!

***

Dr. Paul Semendinger has written numerous books on the Yankees and other topics. If you haven't read his novel Scattering the Ashes, you should. You can find Paul on Twitter @DrPaulRSem. You can also find him on the Yankees site Start Spreading the News.

5 Comments


mikemarinelli54
Sep 27, 2023

Agree with others that WAR is an incomplete measure. I’ve seen all of them since 1960. Never thought I was watching a potential HOF’er except Nettles, Mattingly< Guidry and Munson. The latter 3 suffer from an early fall off in production (Mattingly and Guidry) and Munson having his career tragically cut short. Can make a case for John depending on how ne regards “compilers”. Pettitte deserves consideration. Yeah, I know.

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fuster
Sep 27, 2023

Yankee Cy Young Award Winners -- and Those Who Should Have Been


Would Have Been, Had There Been One at the Time 1904 Jack Chesbro 1921 Carl Mays 1922 Joe Bush 1923 Sam Jones 1927 Waite Hoyt 1928 Waite Hoyt 1932 Lefty Gomez 1934 Lefty Gomez 1937 Lefty Gomez 1938 Red Ruffing 1939 Red Ruffing 1942 Tiny Bonham 1943 Spud Chandler 1949 Vic Raschi 1950 Vic Raschi 1951 Eddie Lopat 1953 Allie Reynolds 1958 Bob Turley 1961 Whitey Ford 1962 Ralph Terry 1963 Whitey Ford Did Win 1977 Sparky Lyle (1st AL relief pitcher to win it) 1978 Ron Guidry 2001 Roger Clemens Should Have Won 1996 Andy Pettitte (Pat Hentgen won it) 1998 David Wells (Roger Clemens with Toronto) 1999 Mariano Rivera (Pedro Martinez) 2003 Mariano Rivera (Roy Halladay) 2006 Chien-Ming Wang (Johan Santana) 2009 CC Sabathia (Zack Greinke) Will Win 2023 Gerrit Cole


----from UNCLE MIKE

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fuster
Sep 26, 2023

do you wonder about the FAME part of Hall of Fame?


which of the guys that are mentioned above are actually, you know, famous.


a couple of them are.

Munson possibly for reasons other than his prowess, which was considerable.


Mattingly is a borderline candidate, and borderline because of injury.


Roy White????


not a snowball's chance


White was the best player on pretty lousy (by Yankee standards) teams

and certainly not even a top-15 Yankee player


but as far as FAME goes, White labored in relative obscurity

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autmorsautlibertas
Sep 26, 2023

Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart described his test for obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) with "I know it when I see it." While the HOF cannot be in any way compared with pornography, the phrase itself is apt, and I think that it applies to the HOF as well. Advanced statistics, while useful tools, should not be determinative for HOF inclusion. There are things like leadership and guts that cannot be measured by stats. Munson, Nettles, Randolph, and Mattingly, at least, all pass the "I know it when I see it" test.

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yankeesblog
Sep 26, 2023

As much as I love all those guys I can only see Munson, Nettles and John as HOF. I don't use WAR as my yardstick because I don't think one can just reduce HOF consideration to a complex calculated statistic that has its limitations. I'm not a WAR fan because I think people use it as an argument ender and ignore any nuance or assumptions built into what is, to most of us, a black box. Just to use one example, Roy White is one of my favorite Yankees of all time but I don't think he's HOF worthy even if he has more WAR than Lou Brock. Brock set base stealing records and had prodigious World Series numbers. I can…

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