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Hall-of-Fame Surprise (Perspectives)

Well, that was a let down. It was anti-climatic.

And the choice the Hall-of-Fame voting Committee made was confusing, at best.

I understand the Marvin Miller induction, but, I wish there was another way for him to have been elected. How anti-climatic to be sitting by the television excited to hear that two people are going into the Hall-of-Fame… only to find out that one of those people wasn’t a player.

Miller deserves the honor, based upon his impact on the game, but I wish there was a way to have special election for executives, owners, managers, people that impacted the game, and the like. As a fan of the game, I want to hear about players. That’s where my interest lies. In the future let’s separate the players from the other people who are part of the baseball landscape. The votes for Miller, presumably, could have gone to another player who also deserves this honor.

After Marvin Miller, the announcement moved on to the players… um, player (singular) elected. Out of that class of stars, the committee was only able to elect one player? That seemed strange. It seems strange, to me at least, that of all the players, they picked Ted Simmons as the lone player elected.

But, let me take a step back, first, to be clear. Ted Simmons was a very very good player. Many people have argued, persuasively, that he deserves to be in the Hall-of-Fame. He earned that honor. He’s in. I don’t disagree.

Ted Simmons is a Hall-of-Famer. I am happy for Simmons. I am very happy for him.

But, while he is in, and while he deserves to be in, I am surprised that he was elected over the rest of the candidates he was up against.

These various veterans committees keep electing players who don’t seem to be the strongest – even in their class. Simmons was a very good hitter, but when he played, he wasn’t considered a good defender. Just like the election of Harold Baines last year, Simmons was not a well-rounded player. He could hit, yes, and hit well (very well) for a catcher, but he was one-dimensional in that regard. (It is interesting that as we study the game and value defense more and more that players with less than stellar defensive reputations keep getting voted into the Hall-of-Fame.)

Does Simmons belong in the Hall-of-Fame? Sure. Does he belong over the field of candidates he was up against? No, I don’t think so.

There actually wasn’t a time, in Simmons’ entire career, ever, when he was a top five vote getter for the MVP – in any season. I understand (and love and appreciate) how we look at players again with a modern eye and re-evaluate. I think that’s good. And looking back at Simmons, one can see a lot of good. Was he better than the field, though? I don’t think so. And it seems that when he played the consensus across baseball was the same.

I looked at all the candidates in depth in two articles here at SSTN:

It would be hard to argue that out of those players, on this specific ballot, that if only one player was to get in, that it should be Ted Simmons.

Of the players on the ballot in WAR, he was fourth.

I did a comparison of the major awards won by the candidates, on that list, Simmons was last among these contemporaries. He never won a Major Award other than one Silver Slugger.

He was tied for fifth among the players players on the ballot in post season appearances. Among these players, his .186 lifetime post season batting average ranked dead last.

Ted Simmons had a lot of hits (2,472), but Steve Garvey had more (2.599).

Simmons played in a bunch of All-Star Games (8), but Steve Garvey (10) played in more.

Simmons’ career Defensive WAR was just 5.2. Comparing him to Munson (11.9), the other catcher, defensively, is a no contest.

Simmons hit 307 homeruns. Dwight Evans hit 414.

In his career, Ted Simmons led the league in only three categories. He twice led the league in intentional walks, and he once led the league in hitting into the most double plays.

I just don’t see an area where Ted Simmons rises above this class.

I am amazed that, of all of the players, all excellent candidates, that if the committee picked only one player, that that player was Ted Simmons. He was very good. I just don’t think he’s a Hall-of-Famer over (or before) some of the other players listed.

When I looked at the ballot, while my heart was with the Yankees, especially Munson, I felt that the player who would absolutely be elected this year was Lou Whitaker. By WAR, Whitaker ranks as the 49th best position player of all-time. 49th!

While I hoped for Thurman, I truly felt that Whitaker would go in. I am very surprised that he did not. I’d love to know why the voters felt that Ted Simmons was a more worthy candidate than Lou Whitaker.

After much anticipation, my feeling after last night is that I am underwhelmed. A good guy made it in. I’m just surprised that it was him instead of some of the other candidates.

But, in all of this, in all of this, there is good news. Great news in fact…because one day there will be another election…

Ted Simmons outranks Thurman Munson in lifetime JAWS for catchers (it’s pretty close). Simmons is #10 All-Time. By that criteria, he belongs in the Hall-of-Fame. Absolutely. The 10th best player at his position is, by definitions, a Hall-of-Famer. Good for Ted Simmons!

The next highest player on the list of catchers who isn’t in the Hall-of-Fame (except for Joe Mauer) is the guy ranked #12. That’s Thurman Munson.

His time will come… one day.

Thanks to Simmons, the path for Munson’s election, one day, will come!


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