Election number 33 for the Hall of Miller and Eric adds three more of baseball’s best into our establishment – Knucksie, Mr. October, and Bucky. Phil Niekro and Reggie Jackson, as expected, make it on their first ballot. And Bucky Walters enters on his 22nd, making him second to only Harry Hooper (24 ballots) in the number of times we’ve reviewed his case before electing him.
Our three in ‘93 bring us to 140 of the greatest players in the game’s history in the HoME. That means we have 72 more to go, more than three players each election going forward.
Per our rules, if you’re not named on both ballots, you can’t get into the HoME. Let’s look at our 1993 votes.
Miller Eric 1 Phil Niekro Phil Niekro 2 Reggie Jackson Reggie Jackson 3 Red Faber Bucky Walters 4 Bucky Walters 5 Whitey Ford
The Class of 1993
Phil Niekro: It surprises some, perhaps many, that Phil Niekro led both of our ballots this election. It shouldn’t. His career is as impressive as any besides Seaver among the 300-game winners who got started in the 1960s. He’s probably a top-15 pitcher ever, and among those we’ve encountered so far, he might be within the top 10. In his way, Niekro is one of baseball’s most underrated great pitchers. He didn’t really get going until age 28 after three years in relief. He played for a lot of crappy teams and led the league in losses each season from 1977-1980. It should tell you something about W-L records to know that he posted a 10-WAR season in 1978 despite leading the NL in losses. Niekro doesn’t look as impressive as he was since his biggest years were generally around age 40, and throwing the knuckleball looks unimpressive no matter the results. He piled up the quietest 3300 Ks ever. And he wasn’t flamboyant or attention-seeking. One thing he was, he was great. He had more 8-win seasons than Hubbell, more 7-win seasons than Jenkins, more 6-win seasons than Spahn, more 5-win seasons than Carlton, and more 4-win seasons than Pedro. Great.
Reggie Jackson: Mr. October is an obvious HoMEr. Clearly. His string of seasons from 1968-1980 is impressive. He was the AL’s best non-pitcher during that time. And he might have been baseball’s third best behind Morgan and Bench. Overall, we’re looking at nine seasons playing like an All-Star, a couple of which he played like an MVP. He deserved his 1973 trophy and might have been worthy of top honors in 1969 as well. He was popular enough that he made 14 All-Star teams, including a couple at the end when he wasn’t a very good player. But when he was good, he did some spectacular things: 563 homers, four HR titles, two World Series MVPs, 18 total playoff homers. He also has more strikeouts than anyone who ever played. Go big or go home. That was Reggie.
Bucky Walters: For the last 20-30 spots in the HoME, we seek reasons to vote for players. Walters was the best pitcher in the NL over the course of his pitching career. That’s a reason. He won the pitching triple crown and the NL MVP in 1939. He also led the NL in wins two other times and ERA once more. Those looking for reasons not to support Walters might point to his 198 career wins, but wins aren’t especially telling of greatness. They might point out that his run on the top of the NL included the WWII years, but each of his best seasons came in a strong NL from 1939-1941. They might argue that not enough of his value came from his arm; it came from his bat. But really, value is value is value. There are about 80 pitchers in our database who can match his seven 4-win seasons. But of those, there are fewer than 50 who can match his four 6-win seasons. Things will get murky when considering the final spots in the HoME. After much consideration, we believe Bucky Walters is worthy of one of those spots.
It still 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: I’m up to 24 votes for Faber. That means I’ve voted for him more times than we have elections left. Are there reasons to vote for him as we found for Bucky Walters? Maybe. We could say that Faber was the AL’s best pitcher from 1919-1931 if we’re only looking at the value of his arm. If you want a reason, that could be one.
Whitey Ford: I began looking at post-season pitching is because of Ford. It wasn’t because I was trying to get him into the HoME. It was because I looked at his 146 innings and saw another two-thirds of a season of value. And it could be argued more valuable value than his regular season numbers. I don’t think I have playoff value figured out by a long shot, but I’m trusting that when I do, Ford will appear as he should – deserving of a spot in the HoME.
Thanks for checking in for our 1993 election. Please visit our Honorees page to see the plaques of those elected and to see plenty more information about the HoME.