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2000, RIP, Obituaries of Players We're No Longer Considering

RIP, Players Falling Off the 2000 Ballot

As with all of his titles, it was a team effort. And Jack Morris wasn't ever the best player.

As with all of his titles, it was a team effort. And Jack Morris wasn’t ever the best player.

We couldn’t fill the Hall of Miller and Eric if we didn’t empty our list of eligible players. Today, we say goodbye to eleven more, including three we’ve been considering for some time, Cesar Cedeno, George Uhle, and Harry Stovey. Stovey sets a record, having been reviewed in 40 elections before getting his obituary.

And we say goodbye to one other, a player just a year ago rejected by the BBWAA for the final time, Jack Morris. We can (and will) debate for hours and years about the success, or lack thereof, of the Hall voters, but they basically got this one right. Sure, it would have been better if Morris didn’t get over 60% of the vote three times and over 50% five times. But the writers got it right by not electing a fine pitcher, who pitched and won some big games, but who was never a superstar and wasn’t good for long enough to merit a plaque. Narrative means too much in the Hall. At the HoME, we care only about record.

Through our eventual 2015 election, we will have reviewed 752 players to determine their HoME-worthiness. In 2000 we inducted just one, Goose Gossage. That means we’ve elected 163 of the game’s greats in our 40 elections. And now we’re up to a robust 438 obituaries. In all, once we add our 2015 eligibles and readjusted our numbers per the 2015 Hall class of 2015, we have only 152 players to review for our 52 remaining HoME spots. Right now we can elect just over 34% of the remaining population.

Below is the tally from each election since our first in 1901.

Year   Carried     New      Considered   Elected   Obituaries  Continuing to
         Over    Nominees  this Election                       Next Election
2000      26         9          35          1          11           23
1999      30         9          39          4           9           26
1998      33         9          42          4           8           30
1997      40         3          43          3           7           33
1996      42         7          49          4           5           40
1995      41        11          52          4           6           42
1994      38       8+1          47          3           3           41
1993      41         9          50          3           9           38
1992      40        10          50          3           6           41
1991      40         9          49          1           8           40
1990      42         9          51          3           8           40
1989      45        10          55          6           7           42
1988      44         7          51          2           4           45   
1987      44         3          47          0           3           44
1986      44         4          48          1           3           44
1985      47        10          57          1          12           44
1984      50         5          55          2           6           47
1983      52         8          60          5           5           50
1982      51         8          59          3           4           52
1981      59         8          67          1          15           51
1980      59         8          67          3           5           59
1979      67         6          73          6           8           59
1978      78         6          84          5          12           67
1977      86         6          92          2          11           79
1976      82        26         108          6          16           86
1971      87        21         108          6          20           82
1966      94        26         120          7          26           87
1961      91        24         115          6          15           94
1956      92        32         124          7          26           91
1951      93        27         120          9          19           92
1946      94        26         120          8          19           93
1941      82        29         111          5          12           94
1936      75        29         104          8          14           82
1931      69        17          86          2           9           75
1926      71        25          96          9          18           69
1921      66        27          93          4          18           71
1916      53        31          84          5          13           66
1911      47        20          67          5           9           53
1906      33        28          61          3          11           47
1901       0        54          54          3          18           33

Dead in 2000

Cesar CedenoCesar Cedeño was one of the great young players in the game’s history. The Dominican native debuted in 1970 at the age of 19, and he was a superstar by the time he was 21. During his 1972-1977 peak, he was one of the best players in the game. What we need to keep in mind about Cedeño is the domestic incident he went through after the 1973 season. A gun went off, his mistress was killed, and eventually he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. It’s not hard to guess that his career and his life might have gone differently were it not for that incident. Five Gold Gloves, four All-Star selections, and 550 steal don’t get him into the HoME. He had seven outstanding seasons, two other decent ones, and just hung around. It’s not enough. See ya Cesar.

Charlie HoughCharlie Hough is best known for his knuckleball and for surrendering one of Reggie Jackson’s home runs on three straight pitches in the sixth game of the 1977 World Series. Overall, the Hawaiian had a fine career, winning 216 games, and from 1982-1986 he had more wins than anyone in baseball except for Jack Morris. And no pitcher, not even Jack, topped the 1986 All-Star in both wins and WAR.

Kent HrbekA lifetime Twin, Kent Hrbek was an All-Star and Rookie of the Year runner-up in 1982. Two years later he was the runner-up in the MVP voting. Overall we’re looking at a player relatively similar to Hall of Famer Jim Bottomley. That says more about Bottomley, of course, than it says about Hrbek. But with 293 homers, the 1B had a nice career. He did win two World Series in Minnesota, but those wins were hardly his fault, posting a .154/.252/.264 line in four playoff series. Then again, he did hit a key grand slam in the sixth inning of Game Six in 1987 that pretty much sealed the deal for the Twins that game.

I’ll admit to getting caught up in the whole Jack Morris debate. As a result, I kind of hate Jack Morris, the player, when really I shouldn’t. He was a good pitcher who made five All-Star teams, led the AL in wins twice and strikeouts once, pitched a no-hitter, and was the World Series MVP with the Twins in 1991. And that start in Game 7 of the 1991 Series is one of the best starts by any pitcher ever. Morris also holds a record with 14 consecutive starts on Opening Day, and pretty interestingly, he’s the only pitcher with 2000+ strikeouts to never face a pitcher in his career. Overall, he was about as valuable as Fernando Valenzuela or Harry Brecheen. I unapologetically write the following: By absolutely no stretch is Jack Morris a Hall of Famer. It’s not close. It’s not debatable.

Lonnie SmithOne of my favorite baseball nicknames ever is that of Skates, Lonnie Smith. He earned that nickname because he played left field and sometimes ran the bases as if he was wearing roller skates. On ice. Overall, Smith is pretty similar to Hall of Famer Heinie Manush, and that says a lot more about Manush than it does about Smith. Seriously though, Smith was an underrated performer. He didn’t do anything gracefully, and he didn’t have any power for a corner outfielder. The drugs almost certainly held him back too. But Smith was a bit of a good luck charm, winning a World Series in 1980 with the Phillies, 1982 with the Cardinals, 1985 with the Royals, and very nearly in 1991 with the Braves.

Harry StoveyThe first ever big leaguer to reach 100 home runs, Harry Stovey played for six teams in the AA, NL, and PL from 1880-1893. Black Ink litters his BBREF page, with his five HR titles the most impressive of the bunch. He’s a member of the Hall of Merit, which shouldn’t be a shock for someone who hung around the HoME ballot this long. Stovey falls off our ballot because he lacks a huge peak at a very competitive position, first base. Then again, he played almost as much LF as 1B. Yet, he fares similarly at that position. The Hall of Very Good? Absolutely. The Hall of Miller and Eric. Sorry, Harry.

Rick SutcliffeThe 1979 NL Rookie of the Year and 1984 NL Cy Young winner, Rick Sutcliffe, had one roller coaster of a career. He led the AL in ERA in 1982 and the NL in wins in 1987. That was the first year he was named the Comeback Player of the Year, an award he also won in 1992. Overall he won 171 games, topping 15 wins for the Dodgers, Indians, Cubs, and Orioles.

George UhleGeorge Uhle was a fine pitcher, no doubt. But the thing that kept him alive (HoME-wise) for so long was his bat. Bill Donovan, Claude Passeau, and Bob Welch all got obituaries right away. Arm only, Uhle would have as well. But his bat had 25% of the value of his arm. The overall package looks a lot like Frank Tanana or Wilbur Cooper. Hell, he’s even a bit like Chuck Finley, or dare I say, Whitey Ford. In the end, we decided that value isn’t quite value and that we’d rather have a great arm in the HoME than a player who needed his bat to reach near-HoME level. Uhle has win titles in 1923 and 1926, but he won’t have a HoME plaque.

Frank ViolaSweet Music Frank Viola won the AL Cy Young Award in 1988, the same year he made the first of his three All-Star squads and led the AL in wins. Viola was an excellent pitcher, posting four 6-win seasons and another three 3-win seasons over the course of his career. The winner of 176 career games took both the opener and the final game of the 1987 World Series on the way to MVP honors. The lefty is actually quite close to HoME level, around as impressive as Ron Guidry or Kenny Rogers. It’s the Hall of Very Good for Frankie V.

Bob Welch, 1981 DonrussAfter striking out Reggie Jackson in a key situation in the 1978 World Series, Bob Welch burst onto the baseball scene. Jackson got to Welch in the Yankee clincher, but the young righty who would go on to win 211 games had become part of the national consciousness. His most noteworthy season was 1990, when he won 27 games and the Cy Young Award. Welch fought alcoholism, and he passed away far too soon after a fall in his bathroom last year.

Willie WilsonWillie Wilson could fly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a faster player. His 13 inside-the-park home runs are more than anyone in more than half a century. His 668 stolen bases are 12th all-time. He led the AL in triples five times and won the 1982 batting title. Wilson’s speed made him an extraordinary defender and brought him very close to the HoME borderline. Like a number of players of his era, he had a cocaine problem that probably held him back some. He went to jail for 81 days, and he missed the first six weeks of the 1984 season because of his wrongdoing. I wonder what Wilson may have been like had he been entirely clean.

Our 2000 election is now over. Please take a look at our Honorees page to see the plaques of our new members and all of the HoMErs. And check back here after the 2001 election for more obituaries.

Miller

 

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