Another election and three more first-timers – Mike Schmidt, Buddy Bell, and Darrell Evans – find their way into the HoME. And a fourth player, Reggie Smith, makes it on his eighth ballot. Neither Bell nor Evans is too difficult a call in our opinion. Greatness on the part of those two speaks volumes as to how special a player Michael Jack Schmidt was – the best 3B ever, the best infielder since Lou Gehrig, and perhaps the best infield arm since Eddie Collins. Our three 1995 third sackers and one Reggie bring the Hall of Miller and Eric to 147 of the greatest players in the game’s history. We still have 65 more to go, and that continues to mean more than three players each election going forward.
Our rules continue to demand that players need to be named on both ballots to gain induction into the HoME. Let’s look at how we voted in 1995.
Miller Eric 1 Mike Schmidt Mike Schmidt 2 Buddy Bell Buddy Bell 3 Darrell Evans Darrell Evans 4 Red Faber Reggie Smith 5 Jim O'Rourke 6 Whitey Ford 7 Reggie Smith
The Class of 1995
Mike Schmidt: With confidence, we can say that Mike Schmidt is the best third baseman ever. He won three MVP Awards plus the MVP trophy in the 1980 World Series. And Black Ink litters his BBREF page. He led the league in HR eight times, OPS and SLG five times, RBI and BB four times, and OBP three times. He won ten Gold Gloves and made twelve All-Star teams. For 35 years, from 1961-1995, he accrued more value than any non-pitcher. He’s one of a dozen players ever who can boast 8 MVP-level seasons. Only Ruth, Hornsby, Mays, Speaker, Bonds, and Cobb have more. He’s also one of a dozen who have 12 6-win seasons. And he’s one of only eleven ever with as many as 14 All-Star-level seasons.
Buddy Bell: Third base is such an interesting position in the game’s evolution. It began as a defense-first position with only a few of the best 3B ever – Home Run Baker, Deacon White, and Jimmy Collins – playing over baseball’s first 80 seasons. Then came Eddie Mathews and Ken Boyer. And then the flood gates opened. Buddy Bell was part of the 3B revolution of the 1970s. He could hit, he could field, and he could go unnoticed if it weren’t for projects like this. Really, he’s quite similar to Brooks Robinson, though he got just eight votes for the Hall in 1985, his one year on the ballot. With defensive stats included, he played like an All-Star seven times. Maybe eight. And he had thirteen 3-win seasons. Among players we categorize at 3B, only Schmidt, Mathews, Brooks, and Molitor (who’s really a DH) had more. For a guy with six Gold Gloves and five All-Star teams, he’s surprisingly underrated. That’s what playing for losing teams, never topping 20 homers, and having George Brett in your league forever will do to a guy.
Darrell Evans: Evans is one of the more underrated great players ever. And because of his skill set, that’s no surprise. He hit for a low average, .248 in his career, but he drew enough walks that he posted a .361 OBP. He had good power, but only topped 30 HR three times. And he was an outstanding defender who played around the time of Brooks, Schmidt, and Nettles. Plus, he didn’t get to his first playoff series until he was 37. Given all of that, it’s easy to be overlooked. Evans had an incredible 1973 in which he put up 9+ WAR, but because his skill set wasn’t understood and because his Braves stunk, he finished 18th in the MVP voting that he could have won. He only played like an All-Star one other season. But he’s one of seven guys on our 3B list with 10 4-win seasons, and he’s one of eight with 13 3-win seasons. The HoME opens its doors to the 1985 AL HR champ, Darrell Evans.
Reggie Smith: Like the two players above, Smith also had a skill set that goes unnoticed by Hall voters. A well-rounded player, he drew some walks, hit some homers, stole some bases, and could run the ball down. He made seven All-Star teams and won a Gold Glove in 1968. With ten seasons of 4+ wins, he’s matched by only eleven RF ever. And if we call him a CF, which is what he was for 43% of his career, that’s matched by only eight in our data set. Given that CF is an area with a relative dearth of strong candidates and that players of Smith’s era are underrepresented in the HoME at this time, Smith has many attributes that lend credence to his HoME-worthiness. And now he’s in.
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. And for the last seven elections, it’s only Miller who has solo votes. Here they are.
Red Faber: Okay, 26 votes for Faber. I don’t think I’m wrong, so the 254-game winner keeps getting my vote.
Jim O’Rourke: To be honest, I didn’t give Orator Jim’s case as thorough a review this election as I did in many of his first 35. But I feel okay with this career candidate. There’s nothing very meaningful about a 1.5 win season. But it’s only O’Rourke, Barry Bonds, and Rickey Henderson who have 20 of them among left fielders. And that feels like it means something.
Whitey Ford: It’s close. I voted for Ford for a bit, I stopped, and then I started again. This is the tenth time he’s received my support. I’m buoyed by the fact that he’s in every other Hall we follow. And I feel I’m underrating his post-season exploits.
Thanks for checking out our 1995 election. Please visit our Honorees page to see the plaques of those elected and to see plenty more information about the HoME.