I have shared the list of several players who I feel belong in the Hall of Fame. For some reason, there is a misunderstanding over the value of many players who match up to others who are already in. Conversely, there are many players whose numbers simply do not match up to the others who have done it at the same position. It is understood that the bar has been raised for players who have played 1B, the OF and 3B while positions like SS, 2B and catcher have seen better offensive players over the past 30-40 years.
There will never be, nor should there be, a vote to remove players who are already in the Hall of Fame. Once a player is selected, either by the BBWAA or Veterans Committee, I agree that the player should be guaranteed a spot for life. This should be no matter how tough the standards are made for the next generation of players. I will go through position players today, and pitchers tomorrow, and mention the bottom part of Baseball's Hall of Fame. I will start out by describing some of the players who are close to the bottom and finish by paragraph by naming the winner at each position.
1B: First base has always been a demanding position on the offensive end. Power numbers and longevity are important, while those players who were part of the dead ball era needed to combine a high batting average and solid offensive production (as home runs should not have been heavily weighed). Tony Perez played 23 seasons in the big leagues and hit .279 with a .804 OPS. While he hit 505 2Bs, 379 HR and finished with 2732 hits, none of those numbers make one think he was one of the best that ever did it. New York Giants 1B George Kelly played 16 seasons in the big leagues. While it is understandable that at the time Hot Pockets played, offense was not at a complete premium (1915-1932), he managed a .297 average and 1778 hits. The OPS may be a little overstated, but it was just .794 and while he hit just 148 HR, he also had just 337 2Bs. But the winner by a landslide is former Cubs 1B Frank Chance. Being part of a poem does not merit Hall of Fame entry on its own. Chance played parts of 17 seasons in the bigs, but managed just 1274 hits, 200 2B and hit .296. A nice player, but one that belongs on the outside looking in. 1B: Frank Chance- Chicago Cubs
2B: Tony Lazzeri was a strong part of Murderers Row during the 1927 season. Perhaps because 2B was not deemed a big power position, his .292 average, 1840 hits and 178 HRs merited entry. Ryne Sandberg was a very good player, but in an age where power was all over the field, he finished with 282 HR and a .795 OPS. In a close race, the Cubs 2B Johnny Evers finished his career with 1659 hits and hit a underwhelming .270 in his 18 seasons. However, I am choosing a player who was obviously well liked, Bill Mazeroski, who of course will ever be known for his walk-off HR to end the 1960 World Series. Mazeroski hit just .260 for his career, which spanned 17 seasons, and finished with just over 2000 career hits. His .667 OPS is not Hall of Fame worthy, but it just below Evers' .690. 2B: Bill Mazeroski- Pittsburgh Pirates
SS: Looking at the SS position, it is more understandable why a guy like Barry Larkin is in. Barry was a .295 hitter with over 2300 career hits and drove in almost 1000 runs. He slugged .815 and had 441 2B to go with his 198 HRs. Lou Boudreau, though not a "no doubt" candidate, did hit .295 and had a .795 OPS. Travis Jackson, another NY Giants player from the early 20th century, had a less than spectacular 1768 hits, but did drive in nearly 1000. His .770 OPS is well above the next three I will mention. Prior to that, I have to acknowledge the fact that Ozzie Smith is in the HOF because of his defense. He played the position like no other and there will never be a dispute over whether he should be in. Joe Tinker made the Hall for the same reason Evers and Chance made it. Tinker managed just 1690 hits, hit only .262 and OPSed just .661. Phil Rizzuto will be forever adored because he was such a likeable guy and was a great broadcaster for the Yankees. But he had just 1588 hits in 13 MLB seasons and his .273 average doesn't make the difference. But the winner at SS is longtime MLB SS Rabbit Maranville, who played 23 seasons and did finish his career with 2605 hits. But he had just a .258 batting average for his career and the amount of hits he finished with was a reflection of the amount of games and seasons he played. SS: Rabbit Maranville-Boston Braves
3B: To me, the two players at this position are as equal in regards to which one can be chosen. Ron Santo played very good defense, but was not one of the best to ever play the position. Freddie Lindstrom was given admission because of his service with the NY Giants, at the same time Kelly and Jackson were playing. Comparing eras, Lindstrom had the higher average (.311-.277), while Santo had more HR (342-103). Santo had over 600 more career hits (2254-1747) than Lindstrom while playing just two more seasons. I want to call it a tie, but saying that suggests that neither really distinguished themselves. Close call, but I'll put Lindstrom on the squad, but just slightly ahead of Santo. 3B: Freddie Lindstrom- New York Giants
OF: The outfield has stood out because some of the greatest players to ever play the game played the OF. In my opinion, guys like Kirby Puckett (.298, 207, 1085, .837 OPS) and Earl Averill (.318, 238, 1164, .928) simply did not play long enough to get such attention (12 yrs and 13 yrs, respectively). However, they were HOF worthy during the time they played. Andre Dawson (.279, 438, 1591, .806) was not dominant, but his 2774 hits make him more worthy, along with his MVP award. Former Cardinals OF Chick Hafey played 13 seasons in the big leagues and put up (.317, 164, 833, .898). For the period he played, I wil give him the honorable mention. Ross Youngs was a NY Giants OF who played just 10 big league seasons. He had less than 600 career RBI, OPSed just .839 and had just 42 HR. He wins one of the spots on my OF. Elmer Flick played 13 seasons, and hit just 48 HR and had an OPS of .842. His 1772 career hits were just 261 more than Youngs hit in three less seasons. The final spot has to go to a contemporary. so I choose Jim Rice over Puckett and Dawson. Rice was a good, maybe great at times, but not a legendary player. Rice played 16 seasons and finished with 382 HR, 1441 RBI and a .854 OPS. Dawson played more seasons, so finished with more hits and HRs, which is what makes this decision so close. But I am going with the fact that many other players finished with similar numbers to Rice. OF: Elmer Flick- Cleveland Naps. Ross Youngs- New York Giants, Jim Rice- Boston Red Sox.
C: The catching position comes down to two players, Wes Ferrell and Ray Schalk. I would leave both of them out if I had a say. Ferrell stuck around for 18 seasons and did hit .281, 28, 734, .741. He had 1692 hits, but in all cases had higher numbers than Schalk, who also played 18 seasons. Schalk got into the HOF because he was known as one of the "honest" Black Sox, who was not in on the fix of the 1919 World Series. Schalk hit just .253, 12, 538 and had just 1345 career hits and a .656 OPS. Catcher: Ray Schalk- Chicago White Sox.
I am sure you can put together a team of the players who did not make the first team. Lets be honest, the team I put together would not be a winning team. So, how can they be in the Hall of Fame. Here is the lineup:
Elmer Flick CF
Bill Mazeroski 2B
Jim Rice LF
Freddie Lindstrom 3B
Frank Chance 1B
Ross Youngs RF
Rabbit Maranville SS
Ray Schalk C
Just to be fair, here is the second team lineup, much better than the first one. There are more borderline HOF candidates on this team, and if you swiped Hafey for Rice, it would not be a fair comparison.
Earl Averill CF
Phil Rizzuto SS
Andre Dawson RF
Tony Perez 1B
Ron Santo 3B
Wes Ferrell C
Chick Hafey RF
Johnny Evers 2B
The Hall of Fame will probably not induct enough players to take the debate of who should be in away. But, there are some already in who may not necessarily hold up to the majority who are in.