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2012, RIP, Obituaries of Players We're No Longer Considering

RIP, Players Falling Off the 2012 Ballot

Right down to the wire for a guy who threw over 3000 innings from 1879-1884.

Right down to the wire for a guy who threw over 3000 innings from 1879-1884.

The 52nd ballot was a special one for Pud Galvin. On Friday, he learned that he would be the next inductee into the HoME. Because of his election, you had to know that there would be some accompanying obituaries, and today we deliver. Or execute. When we decided on Galvin, we just obliterated the backlog. We took Galvin over George Gore, Jim McCormick, Clark Griffith, and Wilbur Cooper. As a result those four all have their HoME chances end here. Those players go back to the very start of our project, and we don’t take writing their obituaries lightly. It’s not like they’re necessarily gone forever. All players still have HoME chances based on the size of the Hall of Fame. But the fates of those four now rest on the electing prowess of theHall voters.

With the four old-time obituaries and the five one-and-done newcomers, we now have 520 obituaries in our 52 elections. And there are now 199 players in the Hall of Miller and Eric. In our remaining three elections, we have 33 more players to review from our original 752. That means we’re going to elect nearly 50% of the remaining population into the HoME. But don’t think we get easy on players. The guys coming up in the next three elections are a pretty elite group.

When I started on this series of posts, I didn’t know where it would go. I decided to keep running the chart below just in case anyone was concerned with our progress. I’m going to keep running it for this election and our final three. So once again, 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
2012       5         5          10          1           9            0
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 2012

Edgardo AlfonzoWhile Edgardo Alfonzo doesn’t belong in any real Hall of Fame conversation, he did have four quite nice seasons, accumulating close to 22 WAR. The rest of his career, however, totaled just about 5 WAR. A sort of sad note for Mets fans is that he’s the all-time franchise leader in post-season hits with 26. Of course, his best post-season series was the 1999 NLDS when he hit .529 in a losing effort for the Giants against Marlins.

Wilbur Cooper, cardWilbur Cooper: Armed with a sneaky fastball, an incredible relief record, a fine bat, and a helpful defense, the lefty who pitched mostly for the Pirates posted four 20-win seasons and 216 victories overall. Cooper may have been the finest hurler in the game aside from Pete Alexander from 1908-1927. His fastball helped him retire second among NL lefties in strikeouts with 1250. His bullpen work resulted in a sparkling 1.52 ERA. And his bat added five wins to his résumé too. Overall, he’s closer to the HoME than many people would think. In the end, he falls just a bit short. Had the Hall elected another player every third year over their existence, we’d have supported Cooper.

George GoreGeorge Gore was such a weak defensive outfielder that he garnered the nickname “Piano Legs.” He also retired with the all-time record for errors by an outfielder, since obliterated by Tom Brown. On a more positive note, he was the first major leaguer to post five extra base hits in one game, still a record. And he and Billy Hamilton are the only players ever to steal seven bases in one game. But there’s more to Gore than that. He had six 6-win seasons, a total matched by only nine others at the position. Gore’s downfall is playing in an overpopulated era as well as tailing off considerably beyond his first nine seasons. If there were only a few more spots…

Clark Griffith, cardPlayer, manager, and owner, baseball’s “Old Fox” Clark Griffith is considered one of the best people ever to play the game. As a player, he won 20+ games for six consecutive seasons for the 1894-1899 Chicago Orphans and Colts. As a manager, he ranked fourth in career wins at the time of his retirement. And as an owner of the Washington Senators from 1920-1955, he won the 1925 World Series but did little else with his very small budget. A reasonable person could see eight 5-win seasons in Griffith, a total that would put him in a group with only 20 others, all HoMErs. Of course, era has something to do with his demise. As does the fact that he had only two decent seasons beyond his eight excellent ones. Really, he needed more career innings.

Javy LopezWe think of Javy Lopez as an Atlanta Brave, and we should. But the three-time All-Star backstop had his second best season in Baltimore. Being a Brave of his age, he had quite an extensive playoff career, winning the 1996 NLCS MVP, helping the Braves to their only World Series title in their great run (1995), and homering ten times in 225 trips to the plate. With catching adjustments, Lopez played like an All-Star a couple of times, and he had two other years of 4+ WAR. Overall he’s about the equal to Hall of Famer Rick Ferrell. Man, Ferrell was a bad selection.

Jim McCormick was a talented and effective northpaw pitcher in the days before the mound moved, and he was the first Scottish-born player in the majors. In 1879, his first full season for the Cleveland Blues, he lost 40 games. In the very next campaign, we won 45 to lead the NL. He led the NL in wins again in 1882 and ERA in 1883. Fickle wins. The coolest thing about McCormick’s career isn’t his 265 wins or the fact that he jumped to the Union Association for $2500 in 1884 (nor the 40 total wins or UA ERA title that year). It’s that to get back to the NL, which he did with the 1885 Providence Grays, he had to pay a $1000 fine. That’ll teach him!

Brad RadkeControl pitcher and 1988 All-Star Brad Radke was a fine hurler with a fairly typical arsenal. He pitched a dozen seasons, all for the Twins, and won 20 games in 1997 and 148 for his career. At his 1996-2001 peak, he was a top-10 pitcher in the game. For a career highlight, perhaps we look to the 2002 ALDS against Oakland. Though he didn’t pitch wonderfully, Radke won two games and helped the Twins get to the ALCS, where they lost to Anaheim.

Tim SalmonA career Angel, Tim Salmon spanned the California, Anaheim, and Los Angeles years. He won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1993 and the Comeback Player prize in 2002. In the second game of that year’s World Series, he homered twice, helping the Angels win the game 11-10 and the series in seven games. Mr. Angel, as he’s sometimes called, is the franchise career leader in homers, runs, and walks. Overall, he’s a decent bit like Hall of Famer Chuck Klein or the clubbing Johnny Callison. With eight seasons at or near the 4 WAR level, we’re talking about a very, very good player.

Bernie WilliamsAt the beginning of this process, I thought we’d elect Bernie Williams. After all, an extra near-season of playoff games is hard to ignore for someone who’s pretty close. On a positive note, Bernie totaled 4.7 WAR or more nine times. Only ten at the position could match him on that level. On the other hand, he never topped 6.4 WAR. In some ways, he mirrors Max Carey if we eliminate Carey’s 11th through 13th best seasons. Even if we give him three wins for his playoff work, he’s still short. Sorry Bernie.

Our 2012 election is now in the books. 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 2013 election for more obituaries.

Miller

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