I promised I would not talk about Barry Bonds, Pete Rose, Roger Clemens, Joe Jackson, or any of the other players included in my rant from last paragraph. Those wrongs should be corrected before the Baseball Hall of Fame expects to take itself seriously. There are other deserving players who are left out of the Hall of Fame that legitimate cases could be made for. Let me make a couple of those cases today.
1. Fred McGriff
McGriff was not the most flashy player of his time. Nor was he the most dominant. But you put together his finish line totals and it is hard to explain why he is not a Hall of Famer. The 493 home runs he hit in his career is the exact total Lou Gehrig finished with. For the decade of the 1990's, McGriff averaged 30 home runs a season, hit .291 and had slugging percentage of over .500. His 135 OPS+ for that decade was just a point higher than the number for his career. His career had a real parallel to that of Willie Stargell, except Pops did it with a lot more flare and got a lot more attention.
2. Gil Hodges
Hodges was the best all around first baseman in the National League in the decade of the 1950's. Unfortunately, he gets compared to the best first baseman of all time. The likes of Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx are often brought up when any comparison to Hodges comes out. Hodges could never shine either of their shoes, but there was not a better power hitting first baseman during Gil's playing career. For the decade of the 1950's, Hodges was good for 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in during a time when runs batted in mattered. When the National League started giving out Gold Gloves, Hodges won the award the first three years. Stargell would be a decent comp, but I see a combination of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew and the first five seasons of Don Mattingly's career. Hodges' role on the 1950's Dodgers team was very important and without him, the team would likely not won two World Series and a total of five National League Pennants.
3. Dan Quisenberry
Dan Quisenberry is a name that is pretty easy to forget, especially with Lee Smith getting his Hall of Fame due in 2019. Much respect is due to the multiple inning closer. Baseball has done a lot to make sure those elite pitchers of yesteryear are put in. Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, and Bruce Sutter have all gotten the call. From the years of 1980 to 1985, it hard to make a case that even Gossage and Fingers were more dominant (or any six year period for that matter). And Quisenberry was Sutter- prove to me otherwise.
4. Al Oliver
Al Oliver's case revolves around one's opinion on whether 3000 hits is the magic number to get into the Hall of Fame. Because if it is, Oliver got cheated by major league baseball. Collusion was running rampant during the mid to late 1980's and owners had control over what team free agents were playing for. Also, what free agents were able to play baseball at all. Oliver helped the 1985 Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS as a designated hitter, getting 3 hits and driving in three runs. Oliver was planning to play in 1986. The owners colluded him out of a job and his career was over. A fair free agent market would have likely secured Oliver a two year contract as a DH. All he needed was 129 hits each season and he would have his 3000 hits. There is not a restricted player in MLB history who has not been put in the Hall of Fame with 3000 hits.
5. Jim Kaat
Kaat makes a similar case when it comes to 300 wins. This also looks like a free ride into the Hall of Fame; there is not a pitcher with 300 wins that is missing from the Hall of Fame. (Outside of Clemens which we know is not being held out because he did not finish with enough wins.) Kaat was sold to the New York Yankees early in 1979 after the Phillies no longer had a spot in their rotation for him. Kaat was instantly put into the bullpen, something he had not done before. Because he was a true professional, he did it. And he did it well. Well enough that after the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Kaat to use as a starter the following season, it was easy to put him in the bullpen when Whitey Herzog had a chance to. Kaat pitched effectively, predominantly as a reliever from 1979 to 1982, clearly showing he had a lot left. Had he four more seasons as a number five starting pitcher left, he could have clearly averaged 10 wins a season from 1979 to 1982. If he had remained a starter, he would have had over 300 wins.
Ethics is a very big issue when it comes to baseball and its history. And even if it is right to leave out players who used performance enhancing drugs from its Hall of Fame, baseball has excluded a lot of its top talent. As hard as one may want to be on Pete Rose and Joe Jackson, the Hall is still missing legitimate cases. Hopefully over time the Veterans Committee can get some of the deserved players in the Hall of Fame where they belong. Which players from baseball's past do you want to see in Baseball's Hall of Fame?