Congratulations to the newest members of the Hall of Miller and Eric. Mel Ott, Luke Appling, Bill Dickey, Arky Vaughan, Hank Greenberg, Wes Ferrell, and Max Carey bring our total to 68 of the greatest players in the game’s history now in the HoME. We’re almost one-third of the way full, and have only four more elections on our five-year cycle before we begin yearly analysis.
Per our rules, players have to be named on both ballots for induction. Here’s how we voted.
Miller Eric 1 Mel Ott Mel Ott 2 Luke Appling Arky Vaughan 3 Bill Dickey Luke Appling 4 Pud Galvin Bill Dickey 5 Arky Vaughan Wes Ferrell 6 Red Ruffing Hank Greenberg 7 Max Carey Joe Gordon 8 Hank Greenberg Elmer Flick 9 Red Faber Bill Terry 10 Wes Ferrell Urban Shocker 11 Mordecai Brown Vic Willis 12 Max Carey
Mel Ott: He’s in the conversation with Frank Robinson as the third best RF the game has ever seen, behind Ruth and Aaron of course. He was also one of the greatest young players ever, becoming the youngest to hit 100 home runs, hit 200 home runs, and drive in 1000 runs. He also holds some pretty impressive oddball records. He has the most homers in one park, having hit 323 at the Polo Grounds. And he hit more homers than any other player in one city with 348 in New York. Plus, he holds a record by leading his team, the New York Giants, in home runs for 18 consecutive seasons. He led the NL in homers and walks four times each, added four OBP titles, and topped the senior circuit in runs twice. He’s a very easy first-ballot HoMEr.
Luke Appling: Known as “Old Aches and Pains” because of his frequent complaints about minor ailments, Appling was able to push aside whatever ailed him to put together a HoME-worthy career for the Chicago White Sox. He was an excellent defender with impressive range at shortstop, and he was disciplined and patient hitter known for his ability to foul away offerings until he found one that he liked. In his twenty seasons he made seven All-Star teams and won two batting titles. Though he homered only 45 times during his career, Appling took Warren Spahn deep in an old-timers’ game in 1982 at the age of 75.
Bill Dickey: In seventeen seasons with the New York Yankees, this lefty swinger established himself as one of the best catchers ever. As a player, manager, and coach, he won fourteen World Series titles. Perhaps the highlight of Dickey’s Octobers came in his final World Series as a player. In the deciding Game Five in 1943, Dickey took Cardinal pitcher Mort Cooper out of the park for the only two runs of the game. The eleven-time All-Star was said to be mild-mannered, but that wasn’t the case one day in 1932. After being bowled over on a play at the plate by Cleveland’s Carl Reynolds, Dickey threw one punch at the outfielder, breaking the jaw of the outfielder in two places. For his handiwork, Dickey was suspended for 30 days.
Arky Vaughan: This good field, great hit shortstop who played most of his career with the Pirates, easily ranks as one of the all-time greats at his position. Only Mel Ott was a better National Leaguer in the 1930s, and from 1933-1941 Vaughan may have been the game’s top player. His triple slash triple crown highlighted an incredible 1935 season for the star whose statistical record is dotted with black ink. He led his league three times each in on base percentage, runs, triples, and walks. His record also suggests that he, like many players of his time, missed seasons because of WWII. But in fact, that’s not the case. He missed seasons because of a dispute with Dodger manager Leo Durocher. Vaughan sat out three years and made a 1947 comeback when Durocher was suspended. Also of note, Vaughan homered twice in the 1941 All-Star Game, which famously ended with a two-out ninth inning homer by Ted Williams to end it.
Hank Greenberg: Short career guys can be difficult, particularly at a position as stacked as first base. In his six healthy, full seasons before leaving for World War II, he never put up fewer than 5.5 WAR, and he won two MVP awards. Even when he came back, he led the AL in HR and RBI in his first full season. “The Hebrew Hammer” was almost always great when he was healthy. He had three seasons when he totaled over 150 RBI, and in 1935 he drove in a record 103 runs prior to the All-Star game – a game he wasn’t selected to be part of. His legacy is that of a player who befriended Jackie Robinson in 1947 and helped him emotionally through his rookie year. It is also that of one of the game’s greatest hitters and an entrant into the HoME.
Wes Ferrell: If we look only at his performance on the mound, he might appear to be near a borderline candidate, but if we include his whole game – with the bat as well – he’s well over the line. With six 20-win seasons, it’s hard to believe he was under-appreciated in his time. He may have been baseball’s second most valuable pitcher behind Lefty Grove from 1929-1939. And if we restrict the measure to the eight seasons from 1929-1936, it’s conceivable that we’re looking at the best pitcher in baseball, all things considered. The critical thing that needs to be considered is his bat. It was truly excellent. Bats that produced more wins in the game’s history number only four, and Ferrell holds the records with 37 total home runs by a pitcher and 9 in one season.
Max Carey: It took Eric and me five elections to come around on Carey, one of the game’s best base runners ever and a very impressive defender in center and in a tough Forbes Field left field as well. Basically, here’s the argument Eric made and I bought:
- Carey rates as about the dozenth best CF in history.
- CF is historically difficult position to excel at over a career.
- The guys below him have question marks attached to them that Carey doesn’t.
- His career is strong enough that he’s not a giant among midgets nor a midget among giants.
- There may even be unknown upside due to a lack of play-by-play base running data before 1945 – but no real downside since all systems see his defense similarly.
Like in the last election, when Eric stopped voting for Jim McCormick, I’ve stopped voting for Bid McPhee. I’ll explain why before we get to our explanations for our solo votes this round.
Bid McPhee: I feel okay calling McPhee one of the 16 best 2B ever. I also believe that we’ll eventually put 16 or more 2B into the HoME. But I worry that the HoME might be over-filling with 19th century players. If we measure HoME representation by games rather than by seasons, we’re just about full. And I think we need to continue thinking a lot about Pud Galvin, Jim McCormick, Harry Stovey, Ned Williamson, Jim O’Rourke, and a few other 19th century players. For now, I’m going to start withholding support for McPhee.
Pud Galvin: A large part of HoME consideration is about greatness, and great is what Pud Galvin was. In the 19th century, only Kid Nichols, Cy Young, Tim Keefe, and John Clarkson (all HoMErs) had more value on the mound than did Galvin.
Red Ruffing: Let’s face it, this is the type of candidate who I like more than Eric does. Ruffing only pitched at an All-Star level for about three seasons, but he just contributed and contributed and contributed. Greatness is absolutely about peak, and it’s also about an ability to keep getting the ball and producing enough to remain in the majors. Ruffing did that.
Red Faber: Faber has the kind of career I like and also has the peak and prime it seems Eric is interested in. Yes, there were only two incredible seasons, but he remained a strong pitcher for about a dozen seasons.
Mordecai Brown: To be fair, he’s near the borderline of electability. He could be ranked as high as number nine among his contemporaries or as low as number fourteen. Jack Powell and Jack Quinn didn’t have Brown’s peak, and Eddie Cicotte is out for other reasons, so it’s somewhere from nine to eleven. I can’t come up with enough theoretical HoMErs that I’d keep Three Finger out.
Joe Gordon: Everyone below Gordon has some doubt attached to them. Everyone above Gordon is a strong candidate. Gordon, himself, has a peak that’s a smidge better than Sisler’s or Sandberg’s and a smidge worse than Grich’s. Every system rates his defense as outstanding, and his career stands on its own merits without any kind of war credit as a strong peak/prime case.
Elmer Flick: Reggie Jackson’s or Al Kaline’s peak and prime. And nothing else. It’s basically the same case as Gordon’s just at a different position. I’ve got him with 9 All-Star type seasons (5+ eqWAR). That’s a tremendously large number. His leagues were a bit “tough,” his fielding rates as very good to outstanding in our two runs-based measurements and as average in WS. WS is hard on corners, so I’m not sure if it’s helpful here or not. Anyway, I see him as a consistent high-level contributor…until he wasn’t.
Bill Terry: I’ve got him in a knot with Hank Greenberg, George Sisler, and Dick Allen among guys who were high-peak, medium career 1Bs. They packed a lot of punch. Greenberg may be the best of this group, but I have Terry a little ahead of Sisler and Allen.
Urban Shocker and Vic Willis: A surprise and a non-surprise. Let me address these guys together. I have now incorporated everything I’d like to into my pitching analysis. Here’s how they line up with similar candidates, ranked by career eqWAR followed by seasonals.
Urban(53.9): 7.3 7.1 6.8 5.9 5.8 4.7 4.5 4.0 2.8 2.2 1.7 0.9 0.1 Stan (53.4): 7.7 7.4 6.9 5.9 5.3 5.1 5.1 4.1 3.5 1.8 1.4 0.2 0.1 -1.0 Vic (50.6): 7.7 7.4 6.7 6.7 4.4 3.5 3.4 3.3 2.7 2.5 2.2 0.4 -0.3 Iron (45.4): 8.7 7.9 6.4 6.0 5.8 4.0 2.4 2.2 1.6 0.5 Rube (44.8): 7.8 7.5 7.3 6.2 4.9 2.8 2.8 2.7 1.7 1.1 0.3 0.0 0.0 -0.3
Waddell is in my analysis the lowest-ranked pitcher we’ve elected. Willis hangs with him in peak and has more afterward. This is true with Iron Joe as well, though it’s not as close of a match. Willis also hangs tough with Coveleski on peak but doesn’t have Stan’s total value. Willis is better on peak than Shocker, but like Coveleski, Shocker reels him in somewhat in the belly of their careers. Willis is in the group, and I see him as superior to Waddell, so he’s continuing to receive my vote. Shocker is clearly in this group too. There’s good arguments to be made in either direction about who the best or worst of the group is, but they are all cast from the same mold (though Ironman looks a bit more like the Radbourn/Keefe type). I’ve got Shocker ahead of Waddell as well but just behind Coveleski who is the best of this group to my eyes. I see no obvious downside to Shocker so he’s getting my vote after a couple elections worth of contemplation.
Please visit our Honorees page to see their plaques and to see more information about the HoME and those who have been elected.