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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

The Tuesday Discussion: 25 WAR and the Hall of Fame

November 28, 2023

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We saw this debate going on in some baseball circles and figured we would ask our writers:


What player in baseball history with a career WAR under 25 most belongs in the Hall of Fame?


Here are their replies:

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Mike Whiteman - This 25 WAR limit makes it challenging to find a worthy position player, but I do think the great reliever of the 1980s Dan Quisenberry would be a good addition to the Hall.

The case for Quiz centers on his 1980-1985 seasons. During this time, he averaged 35 saves and 121 innings per season along with a 2.45 ERA. His 20.7 WAR over that time lines up well with that of Mariano Rivera's prime and exceeds the peak of Trevor Hoffman. Keep in mind that Quisenberry lost a third of the 1981 season due to the strike, when would likely have padded those stats. Five times he finished in the top five of Cy Young voting, and IMO was the best pitcher in the American League in 1983, when he finished second in the voting behind LaMarr Hoyt. Four times he finished in the top ten MVP voting. During those years the Royals made the postseason four times and he had a respectable 3.21 postseason ERA. Quiz won the old "Rolaids Relief" award five times, tied with Rivera for the most of all-time, and at one point held the season record for saves when he tallied 45 in 1983. His 146 ERA+ ranks thirteenth among all pitchers with over a thousand innings pitched. Quis didn't have the longevity that others did, but crammed a lot of career into those six seasons. He also had a flair to his pitching, with a unique submarine delivery. He was known as a Hall-of Fame teammate and person. I'd be happy to see Dan Quisenberry's plaque in the gallery when I visit Cooperstown.

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Lincoln Mitchell - Tim Lincecum has only 19.5 WAR, but he was a two-time Cy Young Award winner who was a key player in two World Series winning teams. Moreover, he was beloved by the fans in San Francisco and the kind of character that makes baseball interesting and fun. I don’t think he should be in the Hall of Fame, but if I had to pick somebody with fewer than 25 WAR, it would be Timmy.

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Cary Greene - I'd have to go with Sparky Lyle., He had an amazing 1977 season in which he averaged 5.6outs per appearance while going 13 and 5 out of the bullpen with 25 saves enroute to winning the Cy Young award as he helped the Yankees break a 15 year run without a championship.

Lyle finished his career with a 99-76.record and a career ERA of 2.88 and that's pretty stellar. By any measure. He posted a 23.2 bWAR over his career as well so he fits our 25 WAR criteria very nicely.

Sparky was a fan favorite in the Bronx during his playing career. If the Hall of Fame ever decided to expand the number of relievers they choose to enshrine, who knows, maybe Lyle has a case.

I was actually going to go with Denny McClain who finished his career with 19.3 bWAR and obviously he had a career marred by off field problems but when he was in his prime they were very few pitchers ever who were better. In 1968, McLain went 31-6 with the Tigers, pitching a whopping 325 innings.

Of course the Hall of Fame has a bias towards players that sustain their performance to reach certain milestones, but in many ways that's the wrong way to look at certain players who posted a few completely dominant seasons but didn't sustain it. Why not put a few of those types of players in? I think it would be cool.

*** Paul Semendinger - I liked this topic so much, I wrote an article on this for the IBWAA. That article will appear here soon... When researching for that article I came across two names, Pepper Martin and Deacon McGuire who are Hall of Fame worthy (among others). I always thought Martin (a member of the Gas House Gang) was in the Hall of Fame. Deacon McGuire was one of baseball first great catchers. He should have been put in the Hall of Fame a long time ago.

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Derek McAdam - he doesn't belong in the Hall, but in looking through the list of players with a career WAR of less than 25.0 one player that caught my eye was Prince Fielder. Unfortunately, his career was cut short due to neck injuries, but by his age-32 season, he had a .283 average with 319 home runs and more than 1,000 RBIs. I have no doubt that he would have at least 400 home runs and 2,000 hits if his career wasn’t cut short. And I definitely think that he would be a Hall of Fame candidate if he was able to continue his career for a few more years.

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Patrick Gunn - Kenley Jansen deserves to be in the Hall because of his consistency and longevity. He seems to get undervalued by other players and relievers from this era, but he's never posted an ERA over 3.71 in his career and his FIP (2.51) nearly matches his career ERA (2.52). He's also racked up strikeouts in his career (35.9% of batters faced) with solid control (9.7 BB% and all but three seasons below 10%). Not to mention he has over 400 saves and has consistently contributed to winning teams with the Dodgers, Atlanta, and Red Sox.

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James Vlietstra - Frankie Crosetti had a WAR of 24.4 but was a key contributor to 7 Yankees World Series. Add in his time as a coach and that’s an additional 10 World Series. Maybe he would get more Hall Of Fame consideration if the Yankees had included him in Monument Park.


3 comments

3 Comments


Alan B.
Alan B.
Nov 28, 2023

I'm not one for WAR, OPS (the worst new-age stat ever & forever), etc. To me, too many of these stats do not tell the real picture. But when you bring up certain players, I'm all in on that discussion. Since I remember clearly from 1976-, I'm with Paul (and presumably, David Cone) on this one - Dan Quisenberry. Quiz was dominant in a time before Tony LaRussa, changed that the Fireman was out but the Closer was in. 45 saves today, is a lot, but really, is it anything big when the guys who get the S besides their name in the box score today generally only pitch in a save situation? Remember back then, unlike today, thos…

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autmorsautlibertas
Nov 28, 2023

Crosetti was not a very good hitter, but I do like the idea of him being a candidate for Monument Park. I too would pick Pepper Martin. Hal Chase had over 2100 hits and a career .291 batting average, but until Shoeless Joe gets in, Chase should not be eligible. George Selkirk had a short Yankees career, but was pretty darn good with a career OPS+ of 127.

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fuster
Nov 28, 2023

Prince Fielder is an interesting candidate.


cut slightly short by injury, the Prince's brilliant career as a hitter lasted a decade and for the bulk of his career, he played nearly every game

had he been a decent defender his lifetime WAR certainly would have exceeded 25 WAR

but he wasn't adept in the field. he started out as an atrocious 1B but applied himself and learned to be merely bad.


sometimes I think about Adam Dunn, an immense man quite adept with the lumber but prone to lumbering around left field

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