Our 1989 voting marked the first time since 1984 that we elected two backloggers. It marked the first time since 1983 that we elected four newcomers. And it marked the first time since 1979 that we elected six players in total. The Hall of Miller and Eric welcomes Johnny Bench, Carl Yastrzemski, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, Bobby Bonds, and Willie Davis into our esteemed (we think) institution.
The first four were in their debut year, while Bonds made it on his third ballot and Davis got in on ballot number eight. We have now 130 of the greatest players in the game’s history in the HoME, and we’re still planning on 212, so there are 82 more to elect going forward.
Per our rules, players have to be named on both ballots for induction. Take a look at how we voted in 1989.
Miller Eric 1 Johnny Bench Johnny Bench 2 Carl Yastrzemski Carl Yastrzemski 3 Gaylord Perry Gaylord Perry 4 Fergie Jenkins Fergie Jenkins 5 Red Faber Bobby Bonds 6 Bobby Bonds Willie Davis 7 Willie Davis
The Class of 1989
Johnny Bench: If we were to say that he’s the best catcher ever, that comment should be enough, right? Well, Bench is the best catcher ever. He was the NL Rookie of the Year for the Reds in 1968. Two years later, he won his first MVP Award. And in 1972 he won his second. He was a spectacular defender, was said to call a great game, and he had one of the best throwing arms ever, as evidenced by a career CS rate of 43%, and perhaps by ten Gold Gloves. Obviously the guy could hit too. Two home run and three ribbie titles say something. But what might say even more is that he was he hit in the middle of the order for the Big Red Machine. Adjusted for the difficulties of the position, we’re looking at as many as a dozen seasons of All-Star ball, and up to five at the MVP level. The HoME is very proud to welcome this 14-time All-Star and 1976 World Series MVP.
Carl Yastrzemski: In much the same way that Joe DiMaggio is the second greatest Yankee center fielder of all time, Captain Carl was the second best Red Sox left fielder in history. In one of the very best campaigns ever, he won the 1967 AL MVP and triple crown while leading the Impossible Dream Red Sox to the World Series. And Yaz’s ’67 super-season wasn’t a tremendous career outlier. He made 18 All-Star teams, won three batting titles, five OBP titles, three SLG titles, and seven Gold Gloves. He topped 400 home runs when that was a meaningful feat and also topped 3000 hits. For historical comparisons in terms of our rankings, think Joe Morgan, Eddie Mathews, and Dan Brouthers. He’s extremely close to the Hall’s inner circle. You know how good he was? Both of us can actually spell his name.
Gaylord Perry: The master of the spitter would have been a joy to watch in his prime. Everything he threw up there worked. He topped 300 wins and won Cy Young Awards in both leagues while playing for eight teams over 22 years. His signature season was 1972 when he put up 11+ WAR, a 1.92 ERA, and won 24 games for a Cleveland Indian team that played .414 ball when he wasn’t on the mound. Taking his career as a whole, we’re looking at ten or eleven seasons at the All-Star level. That’s a height matched by fewer than a dozen and a half pitchers ever.
Fergie Jenkins: One of the more overlooked great pitchers of all time, probably because he never made it to October, Jenkins is likely one of the top two dozen pitchers ever. Yes, he was that great. With eight All-Star type seasons and a spectacular 1971 when he won 24 games, the NL Cy Young, and posted 11+ WAR, Jenkins was in many ways the Mike Mussina of his time in terms of being under-appreciated. Had he pitched for the A’s or maybe the Reds, there’s a good chance he’d have won 300 games and increased his famous factor. Instead, he’ll have to settle for a spot in the HoME.
Bobby Bonds: You can refer to him as Barry’s dad, Mr. 30/30, or a guy who got traded time after time. Each of those monikers contributes to the way we underrate this all-time great whose chief failing is that he wasn’t Willie Mays. But that’s certainly not fair criticism. Even though Bonds wasn’t ever the best player in his league, he was frequently among them. Depending on how you slice it, he put up as few as six or as many as eight All-Star type seasons. For a dozen years, from 1968-1979, Bonds was the seventh best non-pitcher in the game by WAR. For the half-decade from 1969-1973, he’s just over 2 WAR out of the game’s top spot. His uncommon mix of skills wasn’t fully appreciated in his time, but today we can see he was outstanding.
Willie Davis: We know that candidates at the margins will all have warts. Davis certainly does. His four or five All-Star level seasons may not be a lot, but they have to be viewed within the context of both his era and his position. The late 1960s and early-mid 1970s seem like they may be underpopulated in the HoME. And there really aren’t as many great center fielders as one may think. After making appropriate adjustments for defense and schedule, Davis seems like he’s the 11th best CF among eligibles through 2014. And it’s not like his peak is awful. For a dozen seasons, from 1962-1973, only seven NLers had more value – Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Pete Rose, and Willie McCovey. Welcome HoME, 3-Dog.
One of the best things about our process is that it takes both of us to vote for a player before he can gain admission into the HoME. However, we don’t always reach the same conclusions at the same times. When we vote for players and they don’t get in, we continue to review their cases. And there are times, not surprisingly, when we change our minds and have to retract a vote. Those retractions are below.
Dave Bancroft: I think I will ultimately vote for Bancroft again. We have some wiggle room in the 1910s and early 1920s, and Bancroft is almost certainly the last shortstop candidate I would vote for given that Hughie Jennings’ era is overpopulated, and that we are ahead of the game at shortstop.
Billy Herman: I’ve gone back and now forth yet again. The 1930s are beginning to look like they might be a very populous time for hitters, and I don’t know yet whether that means I should not vote for Herman. Therefore, I’ll hit pause again on him until this becomes clearer.
As we’ve said many times, it takes votes from both of us to elect a candidate. When only one of us votes for a player, we explain those votes here.
Red Faber: With another election cycle came another iteration of my pitching numbers. And another pro-Faber result. He’s ranked #48 now, which is a very comfortable place since we intend to elect 60-63 pitchers in this process. Eric and I are both troubled by Faber’s career shape. He’s a spectacular ultra-peak candidate and a very good career candidate. But in terms of traditional peak and prime, he’s not impressive at all. On the positive side, there are only nine pitchers since 1893 who, just on the mound, top Faber in both his best season and his second best season by WAR – Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Roger Clemens, Kid Nichols, Pedro Martinez, Steve Carlton, Ed Walsh, Amos Rusie, and Joe McGinnity. Of those pitchers only the first six also beat Faber in career WAR on the mound. And among all pitchers, Faber is #27 in mound WAR. On the negative, Faber has only three All-Star-level seasons. And he has only seven of 3+ WAR. For me, the positives outweigh the negatives, so I keep voting for Faber.
That’s all for our 1989 election. Please visit our Honorees page to see the plaques of those elected and to see plenty more information about the HoME.