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Backlog Prospectus: Corner Players

Not BoBo on the Corner. Bando on the corner!

Not BoBo on the Corner. Bando on the corner!

On Friday, we took a glance at our backlog of middlemen. Which makes us sound like a poorly managed business. Today we peek into the corners.

FIRST BASE

Balance: Too many
Recently elected: None
Recent regrets: None

Jake Beckley

Why he might just make it:

  • Career value? Count the ringzzz, as in tree rings
  • A similar but clearly better candidate (Jim O’Rourke) has been elected
  • He’s nicknamed Eagle Eye, which is kinda cool

Why he might not make it:

  • Is there a peak here somewhere?
  • His era is choked with honorees

Harmon Killebrew

Why he might just make it:

  • Tenth most batting runs above average between 1940 and 1990, which is a frickin’ long time
  • There’s a vacancy sign hanging from the 1960s Motel
  • He played third base for a chunk of his career

Why he might not make it:

  • He has the second worst baserunning + GIDP runs of anyone between 1940 and 1990
  • He’s also BBREF’s 21st worst fielder between 1940 and 1990
  • He’ll be competing soon with Will Clark and John Olerud in addition to Beckley, Start, and Stovey

Joe Start

Why he might just make it:

  • We only know the value of the last two-thirds of his career
  • He was considered a top player in the nation before the National Association formed up
  • George Wright creates a precedent

Why he might not make it:

  • He was not the best player before the NA (that was George Wright), which he might need given his low peak performance in the NA and NL
  • The stats of the pre-NA era are murky and skimpy, at best

Harry Stovey

Why he might just make it:

  • He was good before the American Association and after it
  • Power hitter who led his leagues in many offensive categories
  • Stole 663 bases to boot

Why he might not make it:

  • Had two top years in the expansion AA of 1883–1884
  • Competes with a host of others in the 1880s
  • Miller’s guillotine is sharpened and poised to drop

BEHIND THE SCENES: With some slam-dunk first basemen still to come, we project to be pretty well stuffed at first base. Meanwhile, positions such as catcher, third base, second base, and centerfield remain a little or a lot underrepresented. Neither of us is wild about Beckley, one of us likes Killebrew, and neither of us has the foggiest idea what to think about Joe Start. And there’s Stovey. We’d better get on that….

THIRD BASE

Balance: Probably need more
Recently elected: None
Recent regrets: John McGraw

Sal Bando

Why he might just make it:

  • Somebody has the be the last third baseman in the door
  • Do the 1970s have head lice or something?

Why he might not make it:

  • There’s a zillion third basemen already enshrined from his epoch

Heinie Groh

Why he might just make it:

  • Best NL third baseman between Collins and Mathews
  • The 1910s and early 1920s have plaque scarcity

Why why he might not make it:

  • Stan Hack is the second best third baseman between Collins and Mathews
  • Competition in his time from Bancroft, Faber, Rice, Uhle, and Cooper

Ned Williamson

Why he might just make it:

  • Better peak performer than the other third basemen left
  • Best third baseman of his time, albeit a short time

Why he might not make it:

  • His era is full and anyway includes competition from Gore, Galvin, McCormick, and Stovey
  • Lake Front Park, especially in 1884
  • Eric’s already voting him off the island

BEHIND THE SCENES: Ned Williamson looked almost viable, but the crazy conditions at Lake Front Park, especially in 1884, make him look much flukier than we might like. If he’d played even a passable shortstop, however, he might already be in. The battle between Bando and Groh isn’t exactly a headline grabber. Groh may have been an average height person among midgets at third base in the NL of his day, while Bando may have been a six footer among seven footers at the 1960s and 1970s hot corner. They seem to meet in the middle. Miller seems to lean toward Bando, while Eric hasn’t made up his mind. Neither is a certainty to elect any backlog third sacker.

LEFT FIELD

Balance: No issues
Recently elected: Jim O’Rourke
Recent regrets: None

Jose Cruz

Why he might just make it:

  • About as a good a candidate in left as honoree Reggie Smith was in right
  • 1970s warrior needs plaques badly
  • Excellent glove

Why he might not make it:

  • A lot of value from fielding
  • We don’t need any more left fielders, though we aren’t in danger of overdoing it yet

Joe Kelley

Why he might just make it:

  • Solid bat
  • Lots of All-Star and near All-Star years

Why he might not make it:

  • His era is full and burping
  • He is Medwick’s stunt double and there’s not room for both, especially when Cruz and White might be stronger candidates
  • Eric’s already showing him the door

Ralph Kiner

Why he might just make it:

  • Peak! Glorious peak!
  • He’s kinda like Roy Campanella who just got our vote
  • The post-war era is a smoking crater of need

Why he might not make it:

  • Actually, his peak isn’t that great—it’s pretty good but only excels compared to the backlog, who aren’t exactly Babe Ruth clones
  • There’s not much at all after that peak

Joe Medwick

Why he might just make it:

  • He’s very similar to Joe Kelley
  • Best NL left fielder of his day

Why he might not make it:

  • His era is starting to look full
  • He’s very similar to Joe Kelley

Roy White  

Why he might just make it:

  • What do we got to do for the 1970s, hire bounty hunters? (NO DISINTEGRATIONS!)
  • Outstanding fielder
  • Fine all-around player

Why he might not make it:

  • Too reliant on fielding?

BEHIND THE SCENES: White appeared to be gaining steam a few months ago, but a look into the boost that old Yankee Stadium gave fast left fielders knocked him down a peg. Cruz has yo-yoed a bit and seems to be grappling with White near the top of the leftfield heap. Eric’s already trying to dump Kelley, but Miller likes him better. Medwick’s kind of stuck in the middle, though Eric is thinking about nixing him too. And Kiner’s just hanging on. It’s a bit of a mess, actually.

RIGHT FIELD

Balance: A little heavy
Recently elected: Reggie Smith
Recent regrets: None

Sam Rice

Why he might just make it:

  • Long career, racked up value
  • May have some hidden arm value due to lack of PBP data and differences between fielding measures
  • May have some hidden base running value as well
  • The 1910s and early 1920s need bodies

Why he might not make it:

  • He’s O’Rourke/Beckley lite with the same peak but less career
  • There’s no urgency to elect another right fielder
  • He competes with Bancroft, Cooper, Faber, Uhle, and Groh in his own time

Enos Slaughter

Why he might just make it:

  • He played in a time that’s short a few bronzings
  • There may be some hidden arm value for him as well
  • Good postseason record

Why he might not make it:

  • He’s already walking Miller’s plank (as opposed to Eddie Plank walking him?)
  • The hidden arm value could turn out to be negative

BEHIND THE SCENES: Miller’s never cared much for Slaughter, and Eric’s been keeping him around on the off chance that Retrosheet might release more PBP morsels to the starving masses. Rice gets neither love nor a pink slip because he’s kind of a tweener. Neither guy has much traction now, but it’s still too early in the process (he said with a straight face) to jettison them.

* * *

If you thought these four positions were mess then join the club. So do we. We have far less sense of direction with them than we do up the middle. But you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet. Wait until we look at the pitchers on Monday.

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Discussion

One thought on “Backlog Prospectus: Corner Players

  1. Take a flier, put in Start.
    v

    Posted by verdun2 | December 5, 2014, 9:42 am

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