On Friday, we told you what we thought of each candidate on the Golden Era ballot. Today we present the ballot we would have handed the sixteen committee members who vote
this next week on whether to award anyone a plaque—the 10 individuals we thought should be in the scrum. Just one ground rule: We each have to agree on who should be on the ballot. We’ll each also share our make-believe selections for the real ballot and predict the outcome with amazing certainty…at least in our voices.
THE GOLDEN ERA BALLOT WE’D CREATE
ERIC: I love to pick on the Hall, but the Golden Era screeners get props this time. They crafted a much better ballot than previous renditions. We noted Friday the wisdom of ditching Allie Reynolds for Billy Pierce, avoiding the manager role (there’s only one good but not necessarily great one left—Danny Murtaugh), and making sure nine players appeared.
MILLER: They did a good job, but they were far from perfect. If we’re going to create the ideal ballot, we’d have to start with Golden Era players already in the HoME.
ERIC: Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, and Luis Tiant are on their ballot, and they’ll be on ours too. Three other HoMErs, Willie Davis, Bill Freehan, and Jim “Toy Cannon” Wynn, make six guys on the ballot we draw up.
MILLER: One more guy to add is a player whose record doesn’t jump off the page but whose name does. Curt Flood. The Expansion Era Committee has whiffed a couple of times on Marvin Miller, a slam-dunk Hall of Famer in my book, and the Golden Era Committee should at least partially rectify that mistake by putting Curt Flood on their ballot.
The Cardinals tried to trade Flood after the 1969 season, and he simply refused. To Commissioner Bowie Kuhn he wrote, “After twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.” That letter and the lawsuit that followed set in motion the actions that ended baseball’s reserve clause and brought about free agency.
Flood was a fine player too, at the level of Hall of Famer Nellie Fox or the beloved Dom DiMaggio. His playing career alone doesn’t merit induction, but the entirety of what he means to the game deserves consideration.
ERIC: Flood was an upstander, and his and Marvin Miller’s plaques are long overdue. I can only assume that management influencers have barred that door. If we had a Hall of Miller and Eric wing for overall contributors, Flood makes it easily. He’s on our ballot.
MILLER: Another guy who should make our ballot is Minnie Miñoso. Your argument on Friday about his time in the minor leagues is compelling. While the hypothetical WAR numbers you offer may be debatable, the couple of years when his race may have kept him out of the bigs still appear on his record. And for the Hall, they should be considered.
ERIC: Two more to go!
MILLER: For our final two ballot slots, I at least want to bring up a few more guys who have value beyond their MLB playing days. NL President Bill White, long time pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, and four guys in the top-100 all-time in games managed—Jim Fregosi (51), Felipe Alou (54), Al Dark (59), and Gil Hodges (92)—all deserve consideration.
ERIC: Dark and Hodges for sure. Dark won the Series, though in the third year of a threepeat. Hodges has the Miracle Mets to his credit. Fregosi and Alou, however, never won a World Series, which seems like a minimum managerial achievement for induction. I suppose Bill White could fit in here. All-Star player, first regular African-American broadcaster for a major sports team, first African-American league President. Firsts are usually important, but these don’t feel quite so crucial to me. And as for Stottlemyre, he gets in line behind Leo Mazzone, Dave Duncan, and a guy from the Golden Era, Johnny Sain.
MILLER: Good point about Sain. But he did too little as a player to make this ballot. And we’re in agreement on dumping Fregosi, Alou, White, and Stottlemyre too.
Before I go into any depth on Dark and Hodges, I want to mention the other players I’m still thinking about:
- Sal Bando
- Bert Campaneris
- Norm Cash
- Larry Jackson
- Jim Kaat
- Mickey Lolich
- Tony Oliva
- Billy Pierce
- Vada Pinson
- Roy White
- Wilbur Wood.
ERIC: Maybe I’m the grim reaper, but among them, I’d scythe all but Sal Bando, Billy Pierce and Roy White.
- Campaneris: A top-30 but not quite a top-25 shortstop. Apologies to Dan Rosenheck…
- Cash: The Orlando Cepeda of his time, which I don’t mean in a positive way
- Jackson: Too much like Tommy Bridges and Waite Hoyt
- Kaat: As we noted already, the Jack Morris of his era
- Lolich: Jerry Koosman with less career value
- Oliva: Too short and not tall enough
- Pinson: Freddie Lynn without the hardware
- Wood: Sweet peak, but that’s it.
MILLER: I think I like Campaneris and Lolich more than you do, though I’d eliminate them too. Just didn’t want to let them go without another word. I’m totally with you on the cuts though.
ERIC: Let’s not forget execs. Boring? Yes. Important? Yes. Eligible? Yes. There’s three guys here who we should be talking about. We also touched on them on Friday. Bob Howsam is already on the ballot. Buzzie Bavasi was on the last Golden go-round. Harry Dalton might take his turn on the next one. Each of their resumes exceeds the typical Hall GM’s.
MILLER: There’s not a shot I’d put any of them on my ballot. The Hall has too many non-MLB players in it already. I don’t want to be responsible for even hypothetically adding more.
I’d like to bring up (and then reject) one more combo candidate—Jim Bouton. The author of Ball Four had an obvious historical impact on the game, and anyone who hasn’t read it should put that book on their 2015 reading list. But he’s not at the level needed to make this ballot.
ERIC: For our final two slots we have a competition between Sal Bando, Billy Pierce, Roy White, and combo candidates Al Dark and Gil Hodges. The key bullet point in favor of each:
- Bando: The Hall needs third basemen.
- Dark: All-Star player who managed two World Series teams
- Hodges: Very good player who won an improbable World Series
- Pierce: Second or third best pitcher in the AL of his time (after Early Wynn and Whitey Ford).
- White: Hidden All-Star with a nifty prime, probably the third best left fielder in MLB during an expanded time (behind Yaz and Billy Williams).
MILLER: I want Bando on the ballot. For me, he’s the best of the players listed above. He’s a guy we’re thinking about for the HoME who’s clearly superior to the enshrined Pie Traynor, George Kell, and Freddie Lindstrom. From 1969–1978 the best four AL non-pitchers were Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, and Graig Nettles. Nobody else is anywhere near them. And with a wonderfully solid record of 51+ wins over his best ten seasons, the Golden Era Committee should consider him.
ERIC: Check! That leaves four men for one spot on the ballot: Alvin Dark, Gil Hodges, Billy Pierce, and Roy White.
MILLER: As far as Roy White, I’m not 100% sure about him. Like Bando, there are lesser Hall of Famers at his position—Heinie Manush and Chick Hafey were clearly lesser players. And I feel quite comfortable saying that White was also better than Lou Brock and Jim Rice. Great defenders at offense-first positions sometimes get lost.
ERIC: Then there’s Pierce. I’m pretty sure I like Roy White better than him, though it’s not a certainty. I certainly would call Pierce a top-100 pitcher in MLB’s history, and quite possibly a top-80 pitcher. But I’d have a hard time pushing him into the electable range. He didn’t add anything much after his career.
MILLER: Gil Hodges was a heck of a player, pretty much on the level of Orlando Cepeda, Tony Perez, or Fred McGriff. Then as a manager he won 660 games and the 1969 World Series with the Miracle Mets.
Alvin Dark was pretty similar to Luis Aparicio, Phil Rizzuto, and Nomar Garciaparra. As a manager, he was more successful than Hodges. He won 994 games and took the 1962 Giants to within a Bobby Richardson defensive gem of winning that World Series. With the 1974 A’s, he got his title. And he was back in the playoffs the next year.
Just as an experiment, I added one season to the playing careers of each of our combo candidates. That season represents their managerial careers. In that season, I awarded them one WAR for each 100 managerial wins and one for the World Series title. Hodges fared well, but in the end he fell a bit short of the Will Clark/John Olerud level. Dark had a much bigger boost, but he had further to go. And even with a season of about 10 WAR, he still didn’t get to the Bert Campaneris level.
ERIC/MILLER: A back-mapping way of looking at the Hodges question: If Gil Hodges is a borderline candidate, how much managerial credit would he need to be one of the ten best contributors of his time who is not elected?
Roy White is his main competition, and in my system Hodges would need about 10–12 more career WAR to catch up. Is this possible for a managerial candidate? He managed 8.75 seasons and would need the equivalent of 1.3 WAR each year to catch up. I have no idea how to equate managers and players, and I suspect that a manager who did everything right could maybe add three to five WAR to his team. More likely fewer. (A bad manager however, could do much, much more damage.) One way to look his actual victories versus the number of victories we’d have expected based on his team’s runs scored and allowed:
1963: + 2
1964: – 2
1965: + 4
1966: + 4
1967: + 6
1968: – 4
1969: + 8
1970: – 5
1971: – 3
All of that credit wouldn’t go to Hodges, of course. But his handling of his roster and in-game decisions contribute to it. In Evaluating Baseball’s Managers, Chris Jaffe suggests that Hodges was a good manager who adapted strategically to poor teams. During his time with the awful expansion Senators, Hodges used his bench and his bullpen more extensively than nearly any manager to get the most out of rotten rosters. With the Mets he continued to platoon heavily, though with Seaver and Koosman, he relied less heavily on his bullpen than in Washington. He was probably the kind of guy you’d want managing a team like this year’s Orioles or Royals. In total, Jaffe reports that Hodges may have contributed +65 runs to his teams, or roughly 6.5 wins. I suspect it is possible that Hodges might have made up the gap, but I don’t have enough certainty that I can advocate for him over White.
As for Dark, he would need 25–30 more career WAR as a manager to get even with White. Despite two World Series appearances, I think Dark is too far away from Hodges, let alone White.
So I think I’m leaning toward Roy White for our last spot.
MILLER: I’m kind of surprised this has gone as smoothly as it has. I really thought I’d want Hodges, but I also prefer White. So here’s our ballot.
- Dick Allen
- Sal Bando
- Ken Boyer
- Willie Davis
- Curt Flood
- Bill Freehan
- Minnie Miñoso
- Luis Tiant
- Roy White
- Jim Wynn
OUR GOLDEN ERA BALLOTS
The electors each get to select as many as five candidates from the official Golden Era ballot. Here’s how we’d vote on their ballot and on the one we’ve constructed.
MILLER: If on the Golden Era Committee, I’d vote for Allen, Boyer, and Tiant. And, um, um, um, that’s it. If I gave Miñoso the WAR you estimate, he’d rank between Zack Wheat and Joe Kelley for me. And I think there’s sufficient reason to believe that it’s possible Miñoso’s race wasn’t the only thing that held him back. I gotta go with only three.
ERIC: As you could probably predict, I’d take those three and Miñoso. What do you think about the Miller and Eric ballot?
MILLER: That one’s actually easier. I’ll go with Allen, Boyer, Flood, Tiant, and Wynn
ERIC: Boring. Me too.
OUR GOLDEN ERA PREDICTIONS
ERIC: This is where things get more exciting. Or perhaps less so. I’d say Kaat wins election. Three former teammates (Rod Carew, Ozzie Smith, and Bob Watson) are on the committee for the first time, and Kaat needs just two votes. Kaat’s former GM Roland Hemond remains on the committee too.
MILLER: Sadly, I think you’ll be correct. If Kaat gets in, Tommy John won’t be far behind. And lightning rod Jack Morris would appear to be a sure thing. Oh well. They’re all better than Jesse Haines, Rube Marquard, and Bruce Sutter.
I’m looking to our BBWAA discussion coming up in a few weeks.