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2011, RIP, Obituaries of Players We're No Longer Considering

RIP, Players Falling Off the 2011 Ballot

RIP, Heinie. You were this close to the HoME.

RIP, Heinie. You were this close to the HoME.

On Friday, we elected four more. All were ballot newcomers, meaning we didn’t eat into our backlog at all. But today we do. As far as we’ve revealed, there are 198 players in the HoME, but there are plenty over the last four elections on whom it’s easy to agree. You can be confident in the elections of Barry Bonds, Greg Maddux, and Pedro Martinez, for example. In all, there are just two spots we still haven’t agreed upon.

Today we keep narrowing and end the chances of Heinie Groh. Groh was an excellent player, quite easily on the borderline. But we decided two things. First, we don’t want two hitters for those last two spots. And second, we prefer Jeff Kent to Groh. Really, we prefer adding at Kent’s position given that we’re unlikely to see another second sacker inducted until about 2021 or so, five years after Chase Utley hangs ‘em up. Then there’s Robinson Cano, maybe Dustin Pedroia, possibly Ian Kinsler, and absolutely nothing, unless you’re extraordinarily optimistic about Ben Zobrist.

On the other hand, there are a number of third basemen coming. Chipper Jones is eligible in 2016. Same with Scott Rolen. Adrian Beltre will get in. You never know about David Wright, Evan Longoria, and even Ryan Zimmerman. Basically, since third is stronger than second going forward, we prefer to take the 2B over the 3B. Of course, that opinion says nothing about Jeff Kent’s chances. He may or may not get in. It’s just that we prefer him to Groh. We’ll review his case for the first time in 2014.

At this point, there are only five players remaining from past elections. George Gore, Pud Galvin, and Jim McCormick have been around since our first election. Clark Griffith has been with us since our fourth, and Wilbur Cooper have been around since election number eight.

Today we didn’t just end Heinie Groh. We also ended the hopes of five others, including a huge favorite of ours, John Olerud. With our six obituaries today to close our 51st election, we’ve now ended the hopes of 511 players. And we’ve elected 198 others into the Hall of Miller and Eric. There are 17 players to go to fill our HoME, and in our remaining four elections, we have 43 more players to review from our original 752. That means we’re going to elect nearly 40% of the remaining population into the HoME.

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
2011       6         9          15          4           6            5
2010       8         9          17          3           8            6
2009      10         8          18          4           6            8
2008      11         7          18          2           6           10 
2007      12        15          27          5          11           11
2006      13         5          18          1           5           12
2005      12         8          20          2           5           13
2004      13         8          21          4           5           12
2003      14         7          21          2           6           13
2002      18         7          25          6           5           14
2001      23         8          31          2          11           18
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 2011

Bret BooneI don’t care who used steroids, yet I still want to know about Bret Boone. Jose Canseco thinks he knows, and I want to know too. Boone never had a 2-WAR campaign. Then he got to Seattle, turned 32, and put up 17 WAR over the next three years. It hardly matters. It’s not like Boone is anywhere near the HoME. But I still want to know.

John FrancoThough John Franco may have the feel of a lefty specialist because he didn’t reach 65 innings in any of the last fourteen seasons of his career, he was a pretty awesome pitcher at his peak. In fact, he was pretty good for a long, long time. We may forget that as recently as 2004 the guy was second on the all-time saves list. And even at this point the only closers to pass him are Mo and Hoffman – and he’s still the top lefty.

Heinie Groh, he of the bottle bat, is more than just something women in the last five(ish) years want to happen to their bodies. He’s one of the greatest 230 or so players ever. My system ranks him #174 among hitters. Eric’s places him #166. Among Hall-eligible 3B, you could put him as high as 16th, I think. Five times he played like an All-Star. Three more times he was worth four WAR. He twice led the league in OBP and 2B, and scored single titles in R, H, BB, and OPS. In a sign of the times, Commissioner Landis banned him from the game for holding out in 1921. Groh relented. He had to. He rejoined the Reds for his ninth year there, at the end of the most productive time of his career. The next season he rejoined the Giants, the team for whom he began his career in 1912. Three full years and two partial ones later, Groh was on the move again, finishing his playing days with the Pirates and losing the World Series to the Yankees in 1927. He’s incredibly close to HoME level, just a shade below. Sorry Heinie.

Al LeiterI don’t know who the slowest-working pitcher in baseball history was. But I’d like to nominate Al Leiter – the version who pitched for the Yankees in 2005. At least that’s what I thought when I began writing this obit. Games between the Red Sox and Yankees are frequently quite long, but games started by Leiter seemed excruciating. However, as many baseball memories, my memory of the 162-game winning lefty is off. Way off. Leiter started against the Red Sox twice in 2005. Game times were 2:42 and 3:01. Don’t trust your memory, folks. If there’s data available, verify.

John OlerudThere haven’t been many guys I’ve liked writing obituaries for as little as the one I write for John Olerud. There’s Brian Downing, of course. And I really like Dom DiMaggio, John McGraw, and Billy Pierce too. Olerud was pretty great at times. He had two seasons with over 7.5 WAR, which is something only 15 others at the position could say. And he had five total seasons playing like an All-Star. He won a few Gold Gloves, made a pair of All-Star teams, and won the 1993 AL batting crown. He recovered from a brain aneurysm, wore a batting helmet in the field, and didn’t play in the minors until his final season as a pro. He was an excellent defender at first, but it was his doubles power and excellent batting eye that make him so hard for me to kill. At somewhere around the 24th or 26th best 1B ever, he’s not a HoMEr, but he’s really close. It’s fair to say that through this point in our study, John Olerud is one of the 250 best players ever.

B.J. SurhoffWith 19 seasons in the majors, B.J. Surhoff certainly had a full big league career. The lefty swinging LF, 3B, C, 1B, DH played just about everywhere, and he produced. He scored over 1000 runs and drove in over 1000 as well. Surhoff made his only All-Star team in 1999, a year that he hit 28 homers and participated in the Home Run Derby. For someone who only hit 188 in his career and reached double digits only seven times, that had to be a bit of a surprise.

The 2011 election is now complete. 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 2012 election for more obituaries.

Miller

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