Does This Yankee Belong in the Hall-of-Fame? Allie Reynolds
by Paul Semendinger
November 24, 2021
NOTE – This article also appeared in Here’s the Pitch, the IBWAA ‘s daily newsletter.
I will be taking a look at the former Yankees being considered for election into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
FROM THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME (I have put the former Yankees’ names in bold):
(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum today announced the 10-person ballots that will be considered by its Early Baseball Era Committee and Golden Days Era Committee for Hall of Fame election for the Class of 2022. These Era Committees will both meet on Dec. 5 at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla. Seven Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues legends and three American League/National League stars comprise the 10-name Early Baseball Era ballot, which features candidates whose primary contribution to the game came prior to 1950. The Golden Days Era Committee considers candidates whose primary contribution to the game came from 1950-69. The Early Baseball Era ballot includes Bill Dahlen, John Donaldson, Bud Fowler, Vic Harris, Grant “Home Run” Johnson, Lefty O’Doul, Buck O’Neil, Dick “Cannonball” Redding, Allie Reynolds and George “Tubby” Scales. All of these candidates are deceased. The Golden Days Era ballot includes Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Roger Maris, Minnie Miñoso, Danny Murtaugh, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce and Maury Wills. Of this group, Kaat, Oliva and Wills are living. The results of the Early Baseball Era Committee vote and the Golden Days Era Committee vote will be announced live on MLB Network’s “MLB Tonight” at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 5.
In this article, I will look at the candidacy of Allie Reynolds.
Reynolds pitched in the Major Leagues for 13 seasons, from 1942 to 1954. He spent his time in the Majors with the Cleveland Indians (1942-1946) and the New York Yankees (1947-1954). In his career, Reynolds went 182-107 and pitched to a 3.30 ERA.
The Yankees acquired Reynolds from the Indians in a one-for-one trade for future Hall of Famer Joe Gordon on Oct. 11, 1946.
As soon as Reynolds arrived in New York, the Yankees started winning World Series titles. To be fair, they had won many before he arrived, but it had been a few years since they had prevailed in the 1943 World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals. In Reynolds’ eight years as a Yankee, New York won six World Series.
Reynolds was one of the “big three” Yankees pitchers of that era — he, Vic Raschi, and Ed Lopat anchored the Yankees’ pitching staff. None are in the Hall of Fame (though they did overlap a bit with Hall of Famer Whitey Ford), but as Yankees, each was something special:
Allie Reynolds (1947-54): 131-60 (.686 winning percentage), 3.30 ERA Vic Raschi (1946-53): 120-50 (.706 winning percentage), 3.47 ERA Ed Lopat (1948-55): 113-59 (.657 winning percentage), 3.19 ERA
Yes, that would qualify as a “big three.” Together as Yankees, Reynolds, Raschi, and Lopat went a combined 364-169 with a combined winning percentage of .684.
During their tenures in the Bronx, the Yankees in those years won the World Series in 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, and 1953. This “big three” were the combined aces that were the backbone of those teams. Together, if they were one player, they are a Hall of Famer.
Of the three, Reynolds was probably the best all-around pitcher (you can watch him talking about his craft in this interview). In addition to making a lot of starts, he also pitched out of the bullpen. As a Yankee, Reynolds made 86 relief appearances. By modern counting methods, he is credited with 40 saves. Reynolds was an essential part of those legendary Yankees teams. He was a workhorse, averaging 241 innings pitched per year between 1947 and 1952.
All of this would tend to argue that Reynolds should be in the Hall of Fame. But outside of those numbers, his case seems to fall short. By counting stats and league-leading accomplishments, Reynolds does not overwhelm:
He won 20 games in a season once
He led the league in ERA once
He led the league in shutouts twice
He led the league in strikeouts twice
Of note, Reynolds did throw two no-hitters in 1951 and was the first AL pitcher to accomplish that feat.
In addition to not having a strong case in comparison to his contemporaries, Reynolds’ 13-year career was just not long enough for him to acquire enough counting statistics.
Reynolds’ 25.4 career WAR, as calculated by Baseball Reference, ranks him 375th all-time among starting pitchers. The closest Hall of Famers to Reynolds are Rube Marquard (260th at 32.5 bWAR) and Jesse Haines (259th at 32.6 bWAR). Both of those pitchers are considered among the worst selections in the Hall of Fame. If one takes Reynolds’ seven best seasons, his candidacy actually looks worse — he ranks 466th all-time.
On the WAR7 list, Reynolds ranks behind (closely behind) such former Yankees as Fritz Peterson (463), Mike Witt (457), Orlando Hernandez (456), A.J. Burnett (449), Joe Niekro (448), and Esteban Loaiza (440). It would be a stretch to make a claim for any of those pitchers, all who rank above Reynolds, to be considered a Hall of Famer.
By awards, counting stats, and the like, Reynolds just doesn’t have a strong enough case.
Reynolds was a great Yankee. Reynolds was the ace on the only baseball team that won five consecutive World Series. But, in the end, Reynolds was not a Hall of Famer.