We knew 1999 was going to be a crowded election, and it certainly was. There were no surprises like exhuming Roy Campanella or finally voting in Red Faber. There was no retribution by putting in Bert Blyleven and Willie Randolph as soon as they became eligible. Rather, 1999 was a pretty straight-forward ballot, albeit with not so clear results. Not that it matters. Once mentioned on both ballots, a player is inducted. And this election George Brett, Carlton Fisk, Nolan Ryan, and Robin Yount got their tickets punched.
Our four first-ballot honorees bring us to 162 of the greatest players in the game’s history now lining the corridors of the Hall of Miller and Eric. We still have 50 more to elect through our 2014 election, which means barely over 32% of the remaining players still up for discussion will eventually find spots in the HoME.
Let’s look at how we voted in 1999
Miller Eric 1 George Brett George Brett 2 Nolan Ryan Carlton Fisk 3 Carlton Fisk Robin Yount 4 Robin Yount Nolan Ryan 5 Whitey Ford Dave Bancroft 6 Don Sutton
The Class of 1999
George Brett: Mr. Royal. That’s how Brett should be known. A Royal from 1973-1993 and an All-Star from 1976-1988, Brett was the 1980 AL MVP and triple slash triple crown winner. He won three batting titles, three SLG titles, three hits titles, three triples titles, a pair of doubles titles, and has the most hits ever by a 3B. His three batting titles came in different decades, making him the only player ever to accomplish that feat. Known for both the pine tar incident and for hitting three home runs in an ALCS loss, Brett is also correctly known as one of the best 3B ever to play. He played like an MVP four times. And he was a four-win player on a dozen occasions. From 1960-1995, only Rickey and Yaz produced more value in the AL among hitters. And in the history of the American League, it’s George Brett and Wade Boggs at the top of the 3B heap. Nobody else is really close.
Carlton Fisk: Pudge’s close association with the ethos of both the Red Sox and the White Sox speaks volumes about his staying power, and maybe his drawing power too. He’ll always be remembered for his 1975 Game 6 walk-off. But he was so much more than that. He was the 1972 Rookie of the Year and an eleven-time All-Star. At the time of his retirement, he was the all-time leader in both games caught (Pudge Rodriguez) and home runs by a catcher (Mike Piazza). And to this day, has produced more value than any other catcher in American League history – clearly one of the game’s best 10 catchers ever. With Miller’s adjusted numbers, Fisk is tied with Johnny Bench for the most 4-win seasons ever by a catcher (13) and with Pudge Rodriguez for the most 2-win seasons ever (17). He alone leads the pack with 16 3-win seasons.
Nolan Ryan: There’s not a lot that can be said about Nolan Ryan that hasn’t been covered before, so we’ll just repeat a lot of the same stuff here. He owns the all-time strikeout mark, the single season strikeout mark, and led the league in whiffs a mind-boggling eleven times. He pitched a record seven no-hitters and is tied with Bob Feller with a dozen one-hitters. He twice won 20 games, twice won ERA titles, and was an All-Star eight times. With Ryan’s stuff, it might seem like he should be the best pitcher ever. But Nolan didn’t always know where that stuff was going, which is one of the things that makes him one of the game’s most overrated. He’s the all-time leader in walks and led his league in that category eight times. Then again, he pitched like an All-Star seven times, but what was really so impressive about him was his durability. He’s one of only 18 pitchers with 16+ 2-WAR seasons and is probably one of the 30 best hurlers ever.
Robin Yount: Yount reached the majors at age-18 with the 1974 Brewers when he began an outstanding 20-year career in Milwaukee during which he won two MVP Awards and totaled over 3000 hits. He was the best shortstop in baseball for a decade or so until he transitioned to the outfield and Cal Ripken took his place. Then he was highly productive in the pastures too. Yount made only three All-Star teams during his career, but he played at that level six years. His 1982 season was one for the ages. He totaled over 10 WAR and led the AL in hits, doubles, and slugging. He was then very productive in the World Series, putting up a line of .414/.452/.621 despite his team losing in seven games. Yount made it to the Hall on his first ballot, and he makes it to the HoME on his first ballot as well.
When a player gets a vote from one of us but not the other, we discuss here.
Whitey Ford: Even though Ford is considerably less great than is reputation, he’s above the pitching line for me. With more than half of his post-season Game Scores at 60+, he was very good when it mattered most.
Don Sutton: Among pitching arms, he’s #30 in all-time value. That’s enough for me.
Dave Bancroft: A fine defender with enough of a bat to have several outstanding seasons. A good comp for near-contemporary HoMEr Joe Sewell in terms of his value and its distribution with a slightly more peak-oriented feel.
Thanks for checking out our 1999 election. Please visit our Honorees page to see the plaques of those elected and to see plenty more information about the HoME.