As we continue our trek, the Hall of Miller and Eric celebrates three more careers this year. On their first ballot, the notoriously tight-lipped Steve Carlton, the defensive star of the 1978 playoffs Graig Nettles, and the hard-hitting backstop Ted Simmons have all been elected to the HoME. Our 1994 trio brings us to 143 of the greatest players in the game’s history in the HoME. That means we have 69 more to go, still 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 1994 ballots.
Miller Eric 1 Steve Carlton Steve Carlton 2 Graig Nettles Graig Nettles 3 Ted Simmons Ted Simmons 4 Red Faber 5 Jim O'Rourke 6 Whitey Ford
The Class of 1994
Steve Carlton: Lefty was a 329-game winner, a 4-time Cy Young, and one of the 20 best pitchers ever. In an era with many star pitchers, particularly in the NL, he made 10 All-Star teams, and he led the NL in strikeouts five times, wins four times, and ERA once. He was incredibly durable too, leading the NL in batters faced seven times and innings five times. He’s 11th all-time in wins, 9th in innings, and 4th in strikeouts. His 27-win 1972 when he scored the pitching triple crown was one of the best seasons ever. And his 1980, with Miller’s bonuses for playoff work, gives him a second 11-win season. That’s something that can be said of only nine pitchers ever. And there are only eleven pitchers ever who can top his seven seasons at All-Star level.
Graig Nettles: Nettles was a spectacular defender and a powerful bat who was overlooked by Hall voters for a number of silly reasons. First, he played during the golden age of third basemen, at a time when Mike Schmidt and George Brett were among baseball’s best. Second, he was a Yankee at a time when stars like Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson occupied the spotlight. Third, his batting line didn’t scream “superstar.” He hit just .248 in his career. He never scored 100 runs and drove in 100 only once. His main offensive skill was his power, but he reached 30 homers just twice. And he almost never led the league in anything, only HR in 1976. But make no mistake, Graig Nettles was a star of just about the highest order. He made six All-Star teams, but he played like an All-Star nine times. At 3B we can say the same about only Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews – George Brett and Wade Boggs too if we’re stretching a little. That’s some elite company. Taking everything – his bat, his glove, his position – into account, the MVP of the 1981 ALCS is a pretty easy call for us.
Ted Simmons: When your career overlaps so nicely with that of Bench, Carter, Fisk, and Munson it’s possible to get lost in the shuffle. That’s what happened to Ted Simmons. Among catchers, he may fall behind that quartet, but he was outstanding nonetheless. Along with Piazza, Bench, Fisk, Berra, Carter, and Rodriguez, he’s on the short list of catchers with 200 HR, 2000 H, and 1000 R and 1000 RBI. He retired with the career records for hits and doubles by a catcher, both since broken by Pudge Rodriguez. After Miller’s adjustments for the position, Simmons is one of eight players ever to put up six 6-win seasons. And only Bench, Rodriguez, Ewing, Fisk, Berra, and Simmons sport 11 seasons of 4+ adjusted wins among catchers.
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 25 votes for Faber now. It’s no shocker, specifically, that Eric isn’t voting for him, but I’m a bit surprised that neither one of us is changing our minds yet. That’s okay. We’ll agree either that he’s in or out before we finish.
Jim O’Rourke: Do not let it be said that I’m voting for Orator Jim impulsively. Before getting my approval, I reviewed his case 34 times. That’s well over a year of looking, comparing, contrasting, and measuring. Today, I feel good about my call. O’Rourke is the ultimate career candidate, long and low as my partner would say. I have him at only three seasons at an All-Star level. Among left fielders, Del Ennis, for example, has more. However, only a dozen other left fielders can match his nine years at 4+ wins. He’s one of only eight at the position with a baker’s dozen 3-win seasons. And when we get to 2-win seasons, it’s just O’Rourke, Yaz, Rickey, Williams, Bonds, and Fred Clarke. That’s some pretty elite company. O’Rourke doesn’t have the profile of an inner circle guy, but he does profile as a qualified HoMEr, at least to me.
Whitey Ford: I feel comfortable saying he’s among the last ten pitchers who belongs in the HoME. That means Eric and I agree that he’s not one of the top-50 pitchers ever. I put him in the top-60 though. Eric isn’t so sure.
That’s it for our 1994 election. Thanks for checking in. Please visit our Honorees page to see the plaques of those elected and to see plenty more information about the HoME.