We keep plugging along at the HoME, reviewing the cases of eight more first-timersers, including two more Hall of Famers, this election. Though he may have been a bit overrated for parts of his career, Dave Winfield was a pretty easy call. An easier call was a non-HoFer, Lou Whitaker, a player simply brushed aside by the BBWAA. As for the other Hall of Famer mentioned above, we’ll either talk about him on Monday with the 2001 obituaries or into the future as we continue to consider our backlog.
On offense, Winfield was a better performer than Whitaker, though the difference isn’t anywhere near as great as the difference in hits and homers. They were similar as runners, and they were similar at avoiding double plays. But the reason Whitaker is an even easier call than Winfield is defense. Whitaker’s was quite good, and Winfield’s was equally poor. That’s simple enough.
But once you’re in the Hall of Miller and Eric, you’re on the same level as everyone else in there. Sweet Lou and Winny take us to 165 of the greatest players in history. We still have 50 more to elect through our 2014 election, which means almost 36% of the players who remain up for discussion will eventually find spots in the HoME.
Let’s look at our 2001 ballots.
Miller Eric 1 Lou Whitaker Lou Whitaker 2 Dave Winfield Dave Winfield 3 Don Sutton Dave Bancroft 4 Whitey Ford 5 Pud Galvin 6 Sal Bando
The Class of 2001
Lou Whitaker: Season after season after season, Sweet Lou kept producing. The 1978 AL Rookie of the Year burst onto the scene with what would become a pretty typical Lou Whitaker season of 4.3 wins. To get to the 4-win level 13 times during his career, the lifelong Tiger used a powerful bat for a middle infielder, a willingness to take ball four, an excellent glove, fine baserunning, and an ability to avoid the double play. Basically, Whitaker did everything well. But he was outstanding at few things. One was teaming with Alan Trammell as the longest running double play combo ever. And another, apparently, was forgetting his uniform, which he did at the 1985 All-Star Game. He never posted a 7-win season and had only four 5-win years. He had no meaningful Black Ink, and was totally glossed over by the BBWAA when they heard his case – receiving just 15 votes in 2001, his only year on the ballot. But Sweet Lou makes it into the HoME with relative ease. He fights with Ryne Sandberg and Roberto Alomar for the 9-11 spots at the position. Wherever you place him, we think it should be above the line. Welcome HoME Sweet Lou.
Dave Winfield: Just about as naturally gifted as an athlete can be, the 6’6” right hander and 12-time All-Star displayed both tremendous power and a rifle arm that helped him to seven Gold Gloves. He, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays are the only three players ever with 400+ HR, 3000+ H and 200+ SB. Winny had his signature season for the 1979 Padres when he led the NL in RBIs and may have deserved the MVP Award. Other than that season, he was just so consistently very good – 14 more seasons between 2.4 and 5.6 WAR. He may have had his dust ups with George Steinbrenner and with a seagull, but even so Winfield is in the Hall of Fame and got there on his first ballot. Now the same can be said of the HoME.
When one of us votes for a player but the other doesn’t, we explain our votes here.
Don Sutton: We want fairly equal representation by era, and Sutton’s era has a lot of space. Plus, Sutton is #24 in WAR among pitchers since 1901. We’re going to put over 60 pitchers in the HoME. I’m fine with #24 since the start of the AL.
Whitey Ford: How uncommon is it to post 200 wins, an ERA+ of 125, and lead your league at least twice in W, ERA, and IP? It’s so uncommon that only eight pitchers have ever done it: Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Roger Clemens, Pete Alexander, Greg Maddux, Tim Keefe, Jim Palmer, and Whitey Ford.
Pud Galvin: In addition to being fifth in wins, he’s second in innings, complete games, and pitcher assists. I’ll take it.
Sal Bando: For a decade of baseball history, 1969-1978, all of the best ten non-pitchers by WAR are in the HoME, except for Sal Bando. He ranks fifth, trailing only Morgan, Bench, Carew, and Reggie. During that decade the rest of the top-10 are Rose, Nettles, Bonds, the other Reggie, and Yaz. Over those ten seasons, by the way, nobody in the game topped Bando in WAR, hits, and homers.
Dave Bancroft: Well-rounded candidate whose fine glove and slightly above average bat led to an MVP-type season and several All-Star campaigns. Very similar to honoree Joe Sewell.
That’s it for our 2001 results. Please visit our Honorees page to see the plaques of those elected and to see plenty more information about the HoME.