Does This Yankee Belong in the Hall-of-Fame? Roger Maris
by Paul Semendinger
November 24, 2021
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 highlighted the former Yankees):
(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 Roger Maris.
In my heart, I want Roger Maris to be a Hall-of-Famer. In my ranking of favorite Yankees of all-time, Maris ranks high. I never saw him play, but I’ve always liked Roger Maris and “rooted” for him.
I’d love for Roger Maris to be a Hall-of-Famer.
Maris’ case rests on the following:
Two MVP Awards (1960 and 1961)
61 Home Runs hit in 1961
7 All-Star Appearances
3 World Championships
A reputation for being a great defender in the outfield with a great arm
And, unfortunately, that’s about it.
Let’s dig down a little deeper…
There are two other players, both outfielders, who won two MVP’s and are not in the Hall of Fame. These are Dale Murphy and Juan Gonzalez. Let’s compare the three:
Games: Murphy (2,180), Gonzalez (1,689), Maris (1,463)
Hits: Murphy (2,111), Gonzalez (1,936), Maris (1,325)
Home Runs: Gonzalez (434), Murphy (393), Maris (275)
RBI: Gonzalez (1,404), Murphy (1,266). Maris (850)
Batting Average: Gonzalez (.295), Murphy (.265), Maris (.260)
On-Base Percentage: Murphy (.356), Maris (.345), Gonzalez (.343)
Slugging Percentage: Gonzalez (.561), Maris (.476), Murphy (.469)
WAR: Murphy (46.5), Gonzalez (38.7), Maris (38.3)
I could go on, but the case for Maris is more a case that if he goes in Dale Murphy and Juan Gonzalez should also be considered Hall-of-Famers because they both have similar records to Maris and are the stronger candidates. These are the three two-time MVP winners on the outside, and of the three, Maris is the weakest candidate.
By WAR, Roger Maris ranks as the 64th best right fielder ever. Juan Gonzalez ranks 60th. (Dale Murphy was a center fielder who ranks 36th all-time there.)
Of the ten most similar players to Roger Maris (according to Baseball-Reference), none are in the Hall of Fame. These ten players are: Bob Allison, Hank Sauer, Jay Buhner, Jesse Barfield, Tony Armas, Dean Palmer, Eric Davis, Danny Tartabull, Matt Stairs, and Sid Gordon.
(Dale Murphy has Duke Snider and Ron Santo on his list. Juan Gonzalez has Duke Snider and Johnny Mize.)
If we take Maris’ seven best seasons, trying to give him credit for a brief prime, he ranks 48th all-time in WAR7. That’s 48th all-time in right field only. Maris is 26th on this list among non-Hall-of-Famers (that includes active players and players not eligible for the Hall). But, 26th? Yikes.
Maris didn’t hit 300 homers. He didn’t reach 900 runs batted in. He didn’t his .300 (or even .270). He didn’t even have 1,500 hits.
22.1% of Maris’ lifetime homers came in that magical 1961 season.
Baseball-Reference has some other Hall of Fame Standards. Maris falls short on all of them:
BLACK INK: Maris = 18 (Average Hall-of-Famer = 27)
GREY INK: Maris = 57 ((Average Hall-of-Famer = 144)
HALL OF FAME MONITOR: Maris = 89 ((Average Hall-of-Famer = 100)
HALL OF FAME STANDARDS: Maris = 22 ((Average Hall-of-Famer = 50)
There just isn’t a compelling case for Maris when one looks closely at the statistics.
Further hurting Maris’ case is the fact that the All-Star selections look greater than the sum of the parts. Yes, he was in seven All-Star Games, but in three seasons (1960, 1961, and 1962), there were tow All-Star Games. Maris was only an All-Star in four different seasons (he was also an All Star in 1959).
Finally, dWAR is not the greatest statistic of all time, but it does try to measure a player’s defensive abilities. For his career, Roger Maris was a negative defender (-1.9). In eight seasons, Maris put up negative dWAR numbers. Again, while the stat might be flawed, that doesn’t scream “great defensive player.”
As I stated at the start, I am a Roger Maris fan. I wish there was a stronger argument for him to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, that case cannot be made.