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Perspectives: More on the Hall of Fame (A Long List of Yankees…)

by Paul Semendinger

December 7, 2021

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Discussing what makes a Hall of Fame player is fun. It’s a great pastime when discussing the national pastime. We ask, argue, and debate, “What is greatness?”

I believe that as the voters elect “very good” players into the Hall of Fame (rather than the true greats) they lower the bar and the standards for inclusion into the Hall. That is not a good thing or a bad thing. It just is what it is. There are good arguments why the Hall of Fame should have even more players enshrined. There are also good arguments why the Hall of Fame should be more exclusive.

When the Hall of Fame’s doors are opened for borderline players, it allows for debate to take place that argues that other, similar, and often better players should also be in. This creates much discussion. It also creates confusion.

The elections of borderline players always welcome the argument, “If X is in, why not Y, especially because Y was better.”

The last few elections by the various “Veteran’s Committees” have blurred the lines and added less clarity to what makes a Hall of Fame player. It is clear that in recent years, the standard for election has been lowered significantly.

WAR is a flawed statistic, as all statistics are, but it does give a good reference point when comparing players. One might argue that one player is better than another, but it is difficult to argue that a player, for example, ranked as the 350th all-time deserves to be in the Hall of Fame more than a player ranked in the top 100. WAR does an excellent job putting similarly skilled players together.

Just for fun, the following are players who were Yankees (for at least a moment) and who are not yet in the Hall of Fame. All of these players rank above Tony Oliva and Gil Hodges, both who were just elected to the Hall of Fame.

(The first number is the player’s all-time rank by WAR, the second number is his lifetime WAR total. On this list I didn’t include players who are not yet eligible (Ichiro Suzuki) or who are in their first year of eligibility (A-Rod).)

463rd All Time – Tony Oliva (WAR total – 43.0)

459 – Mel Stottlemyre (43.1)

442 -Charlie Keller and Gil Hodges (43.9)

439 – Giancarlo Stanton (44.1)

432 – Brett Gardner (44.3)

423 – Troy Tulowitzki & Matt Holliday (44.5)

419 – Chuck Knoblauch (44.6)

414 – Rocky Colavito (44.8)

403 – Roger Peckinpaugh (45.2)

400 – Tony Fernandez (45.3)

390 – Del Pratt (45.7)

387 – Bartolo Colon (45.8)

384 – Andrew McCutchen (46.0)

382 – Thurman Munson (46.1)

366 – Roy White (46.8)

363 – Bob Shawkey (47.0)

356 – Curtis Granderson (47.2)

347 – Ron Guidry (47.8)

343 – Wally Schang (47.9)

340 – Bobby Veach (48.0)

326 – Jimmy Key (48.9)

322 – Bernie Williams (49.6)

300 – Jason Giambi (50.5)

298 – Mark Teixeira (50.6)

290 – Al Orth (51.3)

288 – Toby Harrah and Carl Mays (51.4)

279 – Lance Berkman (52.0)

270 – Dwight Gooden (52.9)

268 – Bert Campaneris & Jack Clark (53.1)

264 – David Wells (53.4)

252 – Jose Cruz (54.4)

244 – Jack Powell (55.3)

239 – George Uhle (55.7)

235 – Jimmy Wynn (55.8)

230 – Robin Ventura (56.1)

228 – Johnny Damon (56.3)

220 – Frank Tanana (57.1)

212 – Bobby Bonds (57.9)

211 – John Olerud (58.2)

206 – Jack Quinn & Urban Shocker (58.6)

190 – Wes Ferrell (60.1)

187 – Bobby Abreu & Andy Pettitte (60.2)

181 – Gary Sheffield (60.5)

171 – Tommy John (61.6)

164 – David Cone (62.3)

161 – Andruw Jones (62.7)

136 – Willie Randolph (65.9)

135 – Luis Tiant (66.1)

125 – Kevin Brown (67.8)

122 – Graig Nettles (67.9)

118 – Kenny Lofton (68.4)

106 – Rick Reuschel (69.5)

101 – Carlos Beltran (70.1)

8 – Roger Clemens (139.2)

That is a very long list of players – all very very good, but most not great. But, the further down the list one goes, the more compelling reasons one can make to make a case for that player. There are MVP’s, batting champions, league leaders, home run leaders, post season heroes, world champions, and more on that list.

If these players were superior, some significantly so, to players just elected to the Hall of Fame, shouldn’t these players, and so many others, also receive their due?

On the list above is Roger Peckinpaugh who was a leader, a star player, an MVP, and one of the youngest players ever to manage a baseball team (it happened to be the Yankees). Peckinpaugh helped lead the Washington Senators to their only World Championship. If a famous author had written a book like The Boys of Summer about those Senators, a team largely forgotten today, would Peckinpaugh be in the Hall today? Should he be?

How about Del Pratt, another largely forgotten player today, but who was considered, in his time, as one of the best second basemen of the day?

With new standards being set for the Hall of Fame, the arguments can begin for all of these players.

Each time we have a Hall of Fame election that brings more marginal players into the Hall of Fame, the case for other players, many who were much better than the newly elected, grows stronger and stronger.

It seems we are in an era of an expanding Hall of Fame. In many ways that’s a good thing. It keeps us talking about baseball. This also allows the stories of these players to be told again and again.

As a Yankees fan, though, I watch, and wait, and wonder when will the doors will open to some of the players above, many of whom, like Thurman Munson, Graig Nettles, and Tommy John, to name just three, are clearly qualified and deserving to be in the Hall.

I hope soon! Very soon.

#BaseballHallofFame

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