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1989, RIP, Obituaries of Players We're No Longer Considering

RIP, Players Falling Off the 1989 Ballot

Without a doubt, it was a story that ended too soon. RIP, Pops!

Without a doubt, it was a story that ended too soon. RIP, Pops!

As our long and, we believe, thoughtful process moves on, we continue to narrow our search for the 212 greatest players who are eligible for the Hall of Miller and Eric. As we do so, we elect some, 130 to date, and we write obituaries for others (check out our RIP category to read all of them) to remove them from intellectual consideration and make our work easier as we move forward with this process.

Our 1989 election was our 29th, and with the players listed below, we have now killed off 358 non-HoMErs. That means there are still 256 players of our original 744 to consider for 82 remaining spots. That’s just over 32% of our remaining population who can be elected.

As you can see on the right, this year marks our most controversial obit, or so it would seem. Below we’ll offer a few of Willie Stargell’s career highlights and a brief explanation of why he’s not HoME- worthy, but Pops’ case it a meaningful one. It deserves more than just a paragraph. Check out our post this Friday when we will explain in more depth why we don’t believe Stargell reaches the necessary level for enshrinement.

The chart below has become pretty long, but we continue to want to let you know how we got here, how we’ve progressed since our first election in 1901.

Year   Carried     New      Considered   Elected   Obituaries  Continuing to
         Over    Nominees  this Election                       Next Election
1989      45        10          55          6           7           42
1988      44         7          51          2           4           45   
1987      44         3          47          0           3           44
1986      44         4          48          1           3           44
1985      47        10          57          1          12           44
1984      50         5          55          2           6           47
1983      52         8          60          5           5           50
1982      51         8          59          3           4           52
1981      59         8          67          1          15           51
1980      59         8          67          3           5           59
1979      67         6          73          6           8           59
1978      78         6          84          5          12           67
1977      86         6          92          2          11           79
1976      82        26         108          6          16           86
1971      87        21         108          6          20           82
1966      94        26         120          7          26           87
1961      91        24         115          6          15           94
1956      92        32         124          7          26           91
1951      93        27         120          9          19           92
1946      94        26         120          8          19           93
1941      82        29         111          5          12           94
1936      75        29         104          8          14           82
1931      69        17          86          2           9           75
1926      71        25          96          9          18           69
1921      66        27          93          4          18           71
1916      53        31          84          5          13           66
1911      47        20          67          5           9           53
1906      33        28          61          3          11           47
1901       0        54          54          3          18           33

Dead in 1989

Bert CampanerisRather famously, Bert Campaneris was the first player ever to play all nine positions on one game. But he was far more than a one-hit wonder. Dagoberto had four or five All-Star-level seasons and eleven total of 3 WAR or more. He won six stolen base titles and posted 50+ in a season seven times. An incident in the second game of the 1972 ALCS calls into question the way penalties were levied in MLB. In short, Lerrin LaGrow hit Campy in the ankle with a pitch. Campaneris responded by throwing his bat at the pitcher. The benches cleared, and Campaneris was suspended for the rest of the ALCS and the first seven games of the 1973 season, but he was allowed to play in the World Series. He had a fine Series, and the A’s beat the Mets in seven games. Why was he suspended before and after the Series but not for the Series?

Jim Kaat was extraordinary in that he pitched in parts of 25 seasons, but he was fairly ordinary in the way he compiled his 283 victories, posting a career ERA+ of only 108, just 8% above the league average. He won 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards, taking home honors every year from 1962-1977. The reason Kaat isn’t a HoMEr is fairly simple. He was very good, and he pitched for very long, but he wasn’t very good for very long. He has a couple of 7-win seasons and two more each at 5, 4, and 3. But after that he averaged well below a win per year for his other 17 seasons. This is one of those situations where the Hall of Fame is getting it right.

Mickey LolichLeft hander Mickey Lolich won 217 games in the majors, mostly for the Tigers. He was a power pitcher who struck out 200+ on seven occasions, including an AL-leading 308 in his terrific 1971 season during which he also led the league in wins and innings. He made three All-Star teams and was at his absolute best during the 1968 World Series when he became the only lefty to pitch three complete games, all victories, as he led the Tigers to wins Games 2 and 5 before out-dueling Cardinal great Bob Gibson in the seventh game. Trivially, his 2679 strikeouts are the most ever by an AL lefty.

Jon Matlack was a star from the Mets almost from day one. He won 15 games and the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1972. In the next four years, he won 60 more games and made a trio of All-Star teams. He also might have deserved the 1974 Cy Young Award, though he wasn’t one of the eleven NLers to receive votes. Perhaps his career highlight was his victory in the fourth game of the 1973 World Series to draw the Mets even with the A’s. They’d go on to lose in seven games with Matlack taking the loss in the finale, but he’ll always have that World Series win on his resume.

Rudy MayIt’s hard to make it to the majors. Although Rudy May recorded only one season of three WAR or more during his career, he made it onto our list. He won the 1980 AL ERA title with the Yankees, took home 152 wins in the majors, and sometimes had cool hair.

Traded by Philadelphia to Milwaukee to make way for a guy named Mike Schmidt, Don Money was a fine third baseman who received a check in the majors for parts of 16 seasons. He hit the first home run ever in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, and he made four All-Star teams. However, he got into only two of the games and didn’t scratch out a hit. Still, there’s nothing wrong with 1623 hits in the bigs.

Willie Stargell was outstanding at hitting a baseball a long, long way. But to be fair, he wasn’t that great at anything else. He wasn’t very healthy, he certainly wasn’t very speedy, and he was an awful defender. Yes, Stargell was a great guy, the 1979 NL co-MVP, a seven-time All-Star, and a two-time HR champ, but he’s not a HoMEr. Because of his defensive shortcomings, we’re talking about a player roughly equivalent to George Foster or Albert Belle, though trading away some peak value for career value. By my reckoning, Pops played at an All-Star level four or five times, but he had only six total seasons of 3.5+ WAR and only six more where he managed even 2 WAR. That’s just not HoME-worthy.

That’s it for this election. Please visit our Honorees page to see the plaques of those who have made it into the HoME, and check back here after the 1990 election for more obituaries.




2 thoughts on “RIP, Players Falling Off the 1989 Ballot

  1. Will be looking forward to the Friday commentary on Stargell.

    Posted by verdun2 | August 4, 2014, 7:43 am

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