Does anyone outside the Royals’ own fandom look at the team’s 2015 roster and see any likely Hall of Famers on it? As I look at it, the closest now are Ben Zobrist and Alex Gordon, and they’ve got quite a bit of work to do. Maybe if Lorenzo Cain is some crazy late bloomer and keeps up the good work until he’s 40? Or if Sal Perez improves without wearing out? Or if Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas have truly arrived and this version of them doesn’t leave for a long time? Maybe Yordano Ventura matures into a stud? It’s a lot of maybes, and it leaves me with a question.
How often do World champs have zero Hall-level regulars on their roster?
Before we dive into this question, I’d better define my terms. When I say Hall-level, let’s say that’s someone who is in one of the Halls (Fame, Merit, Stats, Miller and Eric), is identified by JAWS as deserving one of 217 Hall slots, and if not yet eligible, a strongly likely candidate. I’m sorry, but I can’t allow the High Pockets Kellys of the world in on this, and I’ll err on the conservative side with the Hall of Fame’s lesser lights. Also, we want regulars here, not cups of coffee, mop-up relievers, and pinch-hitting specialists.
So, easy stuff, right? All we have to do is start in 1903 and look at the Hall-level players on each title winner.
1903 to 1909
- Boston Americans (1903): Jimmy Collins, Cy Young
- New York Giants (1905): Bill Dahlen, Christy Mathewson, Joe McGinnity, and, sure, Roger Bresnahan
- Chicago White Sox (1906): George Davis, Ed Walsh
- Chicago Cubs (1907-1908): Jimmy Sheckard, Joe Tinker, Mordecai Brown
- Pittsburgh Pirates (1909): Fred Clarke, Honus Wagner, Tommy Leach, Vic Willis
1910 to 1919
- Philadelphia Athletics (1910, 1911, 1913): Frank Baker, Eddie Plank, Eddie Collins, Wally Schang
- Boston Red Sox (1912, 1915, 1916, 1918): Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper, Babe Ruth, Wally Schang
- Boston Braves (1914): Ah hah! Closest thing to a Hall-level players is Johnny Evers. Who’s not close enough.
- Chicago White Sox (1917): Joe Jackson, Eddie Collins, Red Faber
- Cincinnati Reds (1919): Tough one, but Heinie Groh was so damned close to making the HoME and he’s in the Hall of Merit, while Edd Roush is in the Hall of Merit and the Hall of Fame.
The Braves might be keepers.
1920 to 1929
- Cleveland Indians (1920): Tris Speaker, Stan Coveleski
- New York Giants (1921-1922): Frankie Frisch, Dave Bancroft, Heinie Groh
- New York Yankees (1923, 1927, 1928): Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Wally Schang, Urban Shocker
- Washington Senators (1924): Walter Johnson, Goose Goslin, and Sam Rice is also this close.
- Pittsburgh Pirates (1925): Max Carey
- St. Louis Cardinals (1926): Rogers Hornsby, Pete Alexander
- Philadelphia Athletics (1929, 1930): Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons, Lefty Grove
1930 to 1939
- St. Louis Cardinals (1931, 1934): Frankie Frisch
- New York Yankees (1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939): Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Joe Sewell, Red Ruffing, Joe Gordon
- New York Giants (1933): Bill Terry, Mel Ott, Carl Hubbell
- Detroit Tigers (1935): Hank Greenberg, Mickey Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer, Goose Goslin
Nothing there either.
1940 to 1949
- Cincinnati Reds (1940): Ernie Lombardi and Bucky Walters
- New York Yankees (1941, 1943, 1947): Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Bill Dickey, Red Ruffing, Yogi Berra
- St. Louis Cardinals (1942, 1944, 1946): Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter
- Detroit Tigers (1945): Hank Greenberg, Hal Newhouser
- Cleveland Indians (1948): Lou Boudreau, Larry Doby, Bob Feller, Bob Lemon (who two Halls agree on, but meh)
No takers here either.
1950 to 1959
- New York Yankees (1949 to 1953, 1956, 1958): Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Whitey Ford
- New York Giants (1954): Willie Mays, Monte Irvin
- Brooklyn Dodgers (1955): Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson
- Milwaukee Braves (1957): Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews
- Los Angeles Dodgers (1959): Don Drysdale, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax
1960 to 1969
- Pittsburgh Pirates (1960): Roberto Clemente
- New York Yankees (1961, 1962): Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra
- Los Angeles Dodgers (1963, 1965): Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Willie Davis
- St. Louis Cardinals (1964, 1967): Bob Gibson, Ken Boyer, Steve Carlton
- Baltimore Orioles (1966, 1970): Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer
- Detroit Tigers (1968): Al Kaline, Bill Freean
- New York Mets (1969): Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan
1970 to 1979
- Pittsburgh Pirates (1971): Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell
- Oakland Athletics (1972 to 1974): Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, maybe Gene Tenace
- Cincinnati Reds (1975, 1976): Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan
- New York Yankees (1977, 1978): Reggie Jackson, Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles, Thurman Munson, Roy White, Goose Gossage
- Pittsburgh Pirates (1979): Bert Blyleven, Willie Stargell
1980 to 1989
- Philadelphia Phillies (1980): Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, Steve Carlton
- Los Angeles Dodgers (1981): Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!! Reggie Smith only got 44 PAs, and no one else is a Hall-level player, though many are Hall of the Very Good.
- St. Louis Cardinals (1982): Ozzie Smith, Keith Hernandez
- Baltimore Orioles (1983): Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray
- Detroit Tigers (1984): Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Chet Lemon, Darrell Evans
- Kansas City Royals (1985): George Brett, Bret Saberhagen
- New York Mets (1986): Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter
- Minnesota Twins (1987): Bert Blyleven
- Los Angeles Dodgers (1988): Orel Hershiser…this team was built on the same model as the 1981 team
- Oakland Athletics (1989): Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire, Tony Phillips, Dennis Eckersley
So the 1981 Dodgers are now a contender for our prize!
1990 to 1999
- Cincinnati Reds (1990): Barry Larkin
- Minnesota Twins (1991): Ding! Ding! Ding! Kirby Puckett is the closest they get, and he was a mistake. Chuck Knoblauch’s not that far off either.
- Toronto Blue Jays (1992, 1993): Roberto Alomar, Dave Stieb, Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor, plus lots of cameos by other big names.
- Atlanta Braves (1995): Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones
- New York Yankees (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000): Derek Jeter, David Cone, Wade Boggs, Tim Raines, Mariano Rivera, Roger Clemens, and, yes, I’m going to say it, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte
- Florida Marlins (1997): Gary Sheffield, Kevin Brown
Add the Twinkies to the field!
2000 to 2009
- Arizona Diamondbacks (2001): Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling
- Anaheim Angels (2002): Kevin Appier
- Florida Marlins (2003): Ivan Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera
- Boston Red Sox (2004, 2007, 2013): Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez for sure, and we might consider Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, or even Jon Lester as possible Hall-level players
- Chicago White Sox (2005): Mark Buehrle is over the line, barely.
- St. Louis Cardinals (2006): Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds for sure, and a maybe for Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright.
- Philadelphia Phillies (2008): So this one comes down to Chase Utley and Cole Hamels. I’ve got Utley just over the line, but he’s clearly at the level. Hamels is still making his case.
- New York Yankees (2009): Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera. Robinson Cano is already over my line, and C.C. Sabathia is too.
2010 to 2015
- San Francisco Giants (2010, 2012, 2014): Tim Hudson is a yes for me. Were I a betting man, I’d lay the money on Buster Posey. Madison Bumgarner has a chance but is perhaps a tad overrated.
- St. Louis Cardinals (2011): Albert Pujols and maybe Molina.
So our final contestants are the 1914 Miracle Braves, the 1919 Reds, the 1991 Twins, and the 1981 Dodgers. They join the 2015 Royals as champions with very little Hall-level firepower. Which of these squads have the least? Let’s use my CHEWS system to pick the winner. It’s all adjusted for schedules and stuff. Here’s the top five guys on each roster by CHEWS and where they rank at their respective positions.
- Ron Cey: 45.6 CHEWS, 23rd at third base
- Pedro Guerrero: 36.0 CHEWS, 49th at first base
- Fernando Valenzuela: 35.7 CHEWS, 148th at pitcher
- Davey Lopes: 35.2 CHEWS, 40th at second base
- Bob Welch: 35.2 CHEWs, 153rd at pitcher
In case you wondered, Steve Garvey is 64th at first base.
- Kirby Puckett: 44 CHEWS, 28th at center field
- Chuck Knoblauch: 36.7 CHEWS, 35th at second base
- Jack Morris: 35.9 CHEWS, 144th at pitcher
- Chili Davis: 31.1 CHEWS, 69th at centerfield
- Kent Hrbek: 30.9 CHEWS, 65th at first base
Much like the 1981 Dodgers but not as strong or deep.
- Johnny Evers: 42.3 CHEWS, 26th at second base
- Rabbit Maranville: 39.5 CHEWS, 32nd at shortstop
Actually, I haven’t even computed CHEWS for any of the rest of their regulars because none of them rose to the surface as we chose the initial 700 or so players in history to look at. They are all well below the basic line for consideration.
So that answers that, I guess. The only question now is whether the 2015 Royals as individuals can shirk the idea of making themselves Hall players so that they can join this amazing trio of strangely un-Hallerific teams.