With our fifteenth election, we offer congratulations to our 1971 inductees, Stan Musial, Warren Spahn, Yogi Berra, Richie Ashburn, Duke Snider, and Zack Wheat, the newest members of the Hall of Miller and Eric. Together, they bring our HoME total to 87 of the greatest players in the game’s history. Only 122 more to elect, pending what the BBWAA does next week.
Per our rules, players have to be named on both ballots for induction. Here’s how we voted.
Miller Eric 1 Stan Musial Stan Musial 2 Warren Spahn Warren Spahn 3 Yogi Berra Yogi Berra 4 Pud Galvin Richie Ashburn 5 Richie Ashburn Duke Snider 6 Duke Snider Bill Terry 7 Red Faber Pee Wee Reese 8 Zack Wheat Urban Shocker 9 Zack Wheat
Stan Musial: Looking at his Baseball Reference page, Cardinal great “Stan the Man” might as well have been known as “Black Ink”. Musial won a pair of triple slash triple crowns among his seven BA titles, six OBP titles, and six SLG titles. The titles just keep coming: five times in runs, six in hits, eight in doubles, and five in triples. Let’s add three MVP Awards and an incredible 24 All-Star Games. If you call Musial a 1B, he’s one of the best three ever, and if you call him a LF, we could say the same. No matter his position, we’re talking about one of the ten best hitters ever to come to the plate.
Yogi Berra: Famed Yankee catcher and malapropist, Yogi Berra went on an almost unprecedented run where he never finished outside the top-four in MVP voting for seven years from 1950-1956, winning three. An October fixture, Berra holds all-time records for World Series for most games, at-bats, plate appearances, hits, and singles. Perhaps most importantly, he holds the record with ten World Series rings. Nobody has as many. And for baseball’s first century, not a single catcher posted as high a WAR total as Yogi.
Warren Spahn: Aside from Lefty Grove and perhaps Randy Johnson, Warren Spahn is the best left-handed starter in baseball history. He had about three seasons when he was at MVP level and eight others when he was at All-Star level. But it’s his longevity and consistency that make him so great. Thirteen times he won between 20 and 23 games, leading the league on eight of those occasions. He led the league in strikeouts, innings, and shutouts four times each, and in ERA three times. His 363 wins are good for sixth all-time, and they’re more than anyone whose career began in the last 100 years.
Richie Ashburn: He’s one of the ten best center fielders ever. Once again – one of the ten best. Ever. That’s not something people usually think about Richie Ashburn. He has exactly the profile that’s more appreciated today than the 1950s when he played. Willie, Mickey, and “Put Put”? I don’t think so. Ashburn led the NL in hits three times and put up a total of 2574 in his fifteen seasons. But he also drew a ton of walks, four times leading the league in free passes and in OBP when there were plenty of power hitters who pitchers might try to avoid. He was a terrific fielder as well, trailing only Willie Mays in center field putouts. Aside from power, Ashburn was the total package and an easy HoME inductee.
Duke Snider: It’s no shame not being as good as Willie or Mickey. Aside from those two, Cobb, DiMaggio, and Speaker, we’re likely looking at the best hitting center fielder the game has seen. And for eight years during his prime, 1950-1957, Duke was better than anyone in the game other than Stan Musial. From 1953-1956, he may have been the best player in the game, at least with the bat. He had five consecutive years of 40+ homers and finished with 407 in his career. In spite of losing four of the six World Series in which he played, he was able to display his greatness as the only player to homer four times in two different World Series, in 1952 and 1955.
Zack Wheat: The HoME is full of guys like Stan Musial, and it’s also going to be full of the likes of Zack Wheat. As I wrote Wednesday, there was no way not to vote for Wheat. It seems like he’s about the 16th or 17th best ever in left, and he’s among the 120 or so best hitters ever. Though he’s not as exciting as Yogi Berra, he’s deserving. He won the NL batting title in 1918 and the SLG title two years earlier. Perhaps he’d be more appreciated if he didn’t fall just short of 3000 hits, putting up 2884, including a 23rd best 172 triples. Wheat may never have been conventionally great, but good for a long, long time is pretty great in itself.
Each season, some guys are elected, while others receive votes from only one of us. Below we’ll explain our reasons for such votes.
Pud Galvin: This is the tenth time I’ve voted for Pud Galvin. I’ve reconsidered my pitching numbers more than once during this period, but I can’t get Galvin out of the top 30 or so pitchers ever. Aside from a 1884, he’s quite a bit like David Cone or Bret Saberhagen. But 1884 happened, and it was one of the most valuable seasons ever by a pitcher. That year he finished 46-29 for the Buffalo Bisons. All other pitchers on his team combined to go 6-16. Pretty impressive.
Red Faber: To me, he’s the best guy on our ballot named “Urban”. Yes, there are two guys we’re considering by that name. This one was insanely good in 1921 and 1922. Other than that, he was just a good pitcher. Remove those seasons, and we’re looking at someone totally undeserving, like Mark Gubicza or, spoiler alert, this guy. But just like 1884 for Galvin, 1921 and 1922 happened for Faber.
Bill Terry: Same as ever. He’s George Sisler part 2 in my book.
Pee Wee Reese: A really fine player on all sides of the ball. Even hit for some pop. Hitting for average was about the only thing he didn’t do well. Also had some outstanding World Series performances. Basically, I see him as actionable because although he ranks toward the end of the shortstop position compared to the number we’ll eventually elect, there’s no scenario where I don’t have him in that group.
Urban Shocker: He’s basically Stan Coveleski all over again. Shocker is somewhere around the 40th best pitcher in my rankings, just below the midline for pitchers, but nowhere near the borderline. An absolutely solid HoMEr for me.
Please visit our Honorees page to see their plaques and to see more information about the HoME and those who have been elected.