We’re hard at work at the Hall of Miller and Eric, narrowing our list of eligible players as we head toward filling our e-walls. The result of this work is a group of obituaries larger than any we’ve seen since the 1985 election. That suggests to me a great deal of progress as we honor some extremely good players who just aren’t great enough to get into the HoME.
We continue to search for the 212 greatest players who are eligible for the Hall of Miller and Eric, and our 1993 election, as you read on Friday, brought in three all-time greats – Phil Niekro, Reggie Jackson, and Bucky Walters. Below are the obituaries for the other seven newcomers as well as two players who have long been part of our backlog.
Our nine kills today take us to 389 in total, and three enshrines bring us to 140 in the HoME. That means there are still 215 of our original 744 to consider for 72 remaining spots. We can now elect about 33.5% of our remaining population.
Take a look at our progress since our first election in 1901.
Year Carried New Considered Elected Obituaries Continuing to Over Nominees this Election Next Election 1993 41 9 50 3 9 38 1992 40 10 50 3 6 41 1991 40 9 49 1 8 40 1990 42 9 51 3 8 40 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 1993
The Penguin, Ron Cey, was a heck of a talent and the best of the three 1970s Dodger infielders we’re putting to rest today. Of note, perhaps, is that he was a tri-MVP of the 1981 World Series with Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager. His six All-Star appearances came over four seasons when he was deserving and three others when he was pretty darned good. And for some perspective on just how good Cey was, let this sink in for a moment. For the 40 years from 1965-2004, it could pretty easily be argued that he was the NL’s best 3B aside from Mike Schmidt. He’s just not quite worthy of a HoME plaque.
Cecil Cooper was a well-respected player, and deservedly so. Of course, he was a bit overrated. He finished fifth in AL MVP voting three times even though he really played as well as an All-Star only twice. Those five All-Star teams were pushing it. And the two Gold Gloves too. Coop drove in more runs than any player in the game from 1979-1983, and in his time, the RBI was king. Overall, the Red Sox and Brewer 1B left the game with over 1000 R and 1000 RBI to go with a .298/.337/.466 line. Not bad.
From the moment he took the everyday job in 1976, Doug DeCinces was destined to disappoint. There was no way he was ever going to be Brooks Robinson, but that’s the guy whose quarter century of work in Baltimore he had to follow. Brooks he wasn’t, but the righty with 237 career homers put up wonderful seasons in 1977 and 1978. Baltimore hadn’t seen consecutive seasons at 3B at that level since about 1968 and 1969. Still, it wasn’t enough. It couldn’t be. DeCinces was traded to California before the 1982 season. On the West Coast, he was a sensation for a season, finishing third in the MVP voting, and deserving it. That was his only season making an All-Star team, but he did round out his career with nine years of 2.7 WAR or more by my numbers.
Let’s get this straight right from the start. Bobby Doerr was a pretty terrific player. He played like an All-Star for six years. And that’s a number that can transfer into HoME status. Doerr’s problem is that although he was very good for six seasons and had three other nice ones, he was never really a superstar. We’ll admit that it’s difficult to let go of Doerr. He was a plus hitter. He was a plus defender. He made nine All-Star teams too. On the other hand, he did some of his damage during the talent-depleted World War II seasons. And frankly, he’s up against a lot of competition at his position. The line has to be drawn somewhere. We’re drawing it just above his head. Sorry Bobby.
I once advocated for Steve Garvey’s election into the Hall. That was before I learned about advanced statistics. Hey, everyone has to start somewhere. The 1974 NL MVP who also won two All-Star MVPs, two NLCS MVPs, and the 1981 World Series MVP wasn’t as good as his accolades made him look. An NL record 1207 consecutive games will help to do that for a guy. In terms of WAR, he played like an All-Star zero times, yet he made 10 All-Star teams. He won four Gold Gloves, though he was a below average defender. Let’s be clear. Garvey was a very good player. He had 10 2-win seasons, and he put up some very nice career numbers, including 2599 hits. His retirement wasn’t quite as positive though. And he’s really, really not a Hall of Famer.
At the center of Davey Lopes’ game was speed. The four-time All-Star 2B led the NL in thefts in 1975 and 1976, and he swiped 40+ seven times. Better than the raw totals were his percentages. Of retired players with at least ten seasons in the bigs, Lopes is ninth all-time in SB rate. And of the guys on that list, only Tim Raines and Willie Wilson, both of whom top Lopes, are even within 180 of his career total of 557 bags. That’s impressive stuff. Though his Dodgers lost the 1978 World Series to the Yankees, Lopes may have been at his best that October. He homered five times and had seven extra base hits in only 44 playoff at-bats that year. Throw in three steals without getting caught.
As a guy who won four batting titles, two with the beloved Cubbies, Bill Madlock should have been more popular. Only nine guys ever had more, and they’re all in Cooperstown. Playing at the same time as Mike Schmidt and George Brett hurt him. So did not being that great a player. On the other hand, he did produce four wins in four seasons.
Experiencing some of the highest highs as the MVP of both the NLCS and World Series and the lowest lows, the career of Darrell Porter was outstanding at times but littered with substance abuse and other demons we can only imagine. He made four All-Star teams, which it seems he deserved; I have him with six seasons of 4+ WAR with adjustments for catching. And in 1979, a season during which he joined Mickey Cochrane as the only catchers ever with 100 R, 100 RBI, and 100 BB in a season, he was a legitimate MVP candidate.
The conversation we’ve had about Hoyt Wilhelm has been a rich one, though it has hardly centered on the knuckleballer. Rather, it’s been about the number of relievers we should have in the HoME. Put simply, relievers in general, and more modern closers in particular, don’t provide tremendous value. Neither Miller nor Eric rates Wilhelm as one of the top-100 pitchers we’re reviewing. So the question isn’t about value. It’s about how many relievers we want in the HoME. Beyond those who aren’t yet eligible (like Mariano) and parts of players we’ve already inducted (like Vance and Grove), we’ve decided that we don’t need an additional arm in our pen. Sorry, Hoyt. Oh, but there’s trivia we need to share too. Wilhelm owns the all-time record with 124 relief wins. Also of interest is that he homered in his very first at-bat but never again homered in the majors.
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 1994 election for more obituaries.