Vote on the Golden Era HOF Ballot
Vote on the Golden Era HOF Ballot
Last week, the Hall of Fame announced the 16-member Golden Era Committee will select from the following candidates: Buzzie Bavasi, Ken Boyer, Charlie Finley, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva,Allie Reynolds, Ron Santo and Luis Tiant,
It’s an interesting collection that has some very intriguing borderline candidates. I have created a poll for the NYBD readers to select their choices and I will announce our selections on December 5th.
When I vote for the Hall of Fame I take a few things into consideration. First, I like to see a period of dominance, preferably for at least a decade. Next, I look at compilation of numbers. Even if they don’t have a long period of dominance, did they have a lengthy period of consistent production that puts them at or in striking range of traditional benchmarks. Finally, did he do something historic that has him stand out above the rest? Throughout all this I also look for precedent. If a similar player has been elected (right or wrong), I believe it opens the door for others. Of course, there is always a fine line between “very good” and “great.” Everyone seems to have their own definition.
I have decided to support Ron Santo, Charlie Finley, and Gil Hodges.
Finley might be the one that raises the most eyebrows. It’s easy to criticize him since he was notorious for his frugality and contentious relationship with his players. Finley threatened to send Reggie Jackson to the minor leagues over a contract dispute when he was coming off a 47 home run season. He took Mike Andrews off the ’73 postseason roster because of critical errors in the World Series against the Mets. His overall record is one of mediocrity as the A’s were largely bad during his 20 years of ownership in Kansas City and Oakland.
He did, however, transcend the game with his antics. You know Charlie Finley because of his passion for baseball, however misguided it was. Many of his players admitted years later they hated him so much they played better because of it. He also tried progressive ideas like orange baseballs, the designated runner, and the 3-ball/2-strike rule.
Gil Hodges has been a hot Hall of Fame debate for years, nearly gaining election in 1993 when he fell short one vote. Hodges has both his record playing first base with the Dodgers and his managerial accomplishments with the Mets. The Hall uses a hard mark for first baseman as only 15 players with 1,000 or more games at first have been selected. Before getting into Hodges record, his career is very similar to that of Tony Perez, Eddie Murray, and Orlando Cepeda- all in the Hall of Fame.
Hodges does fall into the lower tier of first baseman when using advanced stats like OPS+ and WAR. His 119 OPS+ is lower than all first base inductees outside of High Pockets Kelly. From 1950-1957 he hit 263 home runs, drove in 857 runs, and had a .897 OPS. Only Ted Kluszewski had a higher OPS+ than his 132. When you use WAR, Hodges is 10 wins share better than Kluszewski at 37.8.
Most of his production did occur during that 8 year period, since he totaled 44.6 WAR for his career. Higher than the aforementioned Kelly and Jim Bottomley in HOF first baseman.
If you are the on the fence his work with the 1969 Mets should get him over the top. Yes, he had Seaver, Ryan, Koosman, and McGraw on his historic pitching staff, but to keep that Mets team focused on a pennant even when they were 13.5 games out in August is one of the better managerial jobs in history. He was able to maximize his limited offensive talent with platoons that put players in the best position to succeed. Isn’t that what makes a good manager? Even more important is how he immediately changed the culture of “lovable losers” upon his arrival.
The Hall is even harder on third baseman as there are only 8 in inductees that played 1,000 or more games at the position. Quite frankly, is there a better third basemen in the 1960s? I can’t think of one. From 1963-1969 Santo had an OPS+ of 144, 204 home runs, 727 RBI, and OPS of .881. Brooks Robinson, already in the Hall, is a distant second in most offensive categories. Yes, Robinson is probably the best defensive third baseman of all-time, but Santo won 5 Gold Gloves of his own. His election should have been done years ago, and it’s a shame he has passed and won’t be present if he is selected this year.
Here are short blurbs about why I don’t support any of the other candidates.
Buzzie Bavasi - spent 17 seasons as the Dodgers general manager from 1951-67, leading his team to four World Series titles and eight National League pennants. He then served in similar capacities for the Padres (1968-77) and Angels 1978-84). Most of his success was due to the Dodgers winning in Los Angeles, but the foundation of the Dodgers began with the work of Branch Rickey. It could also be the timing of Bavasi isn’t great because of the presence of Santo, Hodges, and Finley on the ballot.
Ken Boyer - Tough call as he very “Santo-like” from 1958 -1964 (179 HR, .872 OPS, 5 Gold Gloves, MVP) playing for the Cardinals. He was a solid OBP-guy, but he fell off after the age of 33. I am going to say he is just short, but a case could be made.
Jim Kaat- He had a few good seasons during his Minnesota tenure in the early 60s. He pitched 25 seasons, but spent the majority of the last decade as a reliever/swing-man. Known for being one of the better fielding pitchers all-time as he won 16 Gold Gloves. Only Greg Maddux has won more. Very good career, but not a Hall of Famer.
Minnie Minoso - This is a tough call. Played 17 seasons with the Indians, White Sox, Cardinals and Senators, earning seven All-Star Game selections and three Gold Glove Awards as an outfielder. A native of Cuba, he blazed a trail for Latin American players in the big leagues starting in the 1950s. He is the only professional player to have appeared in a game in 7 different decades, as he played for the St. Paul Saints in 1993 and 2003. He is another player that is very good, but doesn’t give you the “feel” of a Hall of Famer.
Tony Oliva - Like Minoso, Oliva is a very good All-Star player. If you don’t want Bobby Abreu or Johnny Damon in the Hall, then it’s hard to support Oliva. Played 15 seasons for the Twins, winning three batting titles and leading the American League in hits five times. He was named to eight All-Star Games and won the 1964 AL Rookie of the Year Award; impressive, but not Hall of Fame worthy.
Allie Reynolds - If he didn’t pitch for the Yankees dynasty would we even be having this discussion? 131 of his 182 wins came in the Bronx. He pitched in six World Series, leading the Yankees to six Fall Classic titles in seven years while posting a 7-2 record with four saves and a 2.79 ERA in 15 World Series games. He appears to be a #3 starter-type that stepped up in the postseason.
Luis Tiant - In 1968 he was 21-9 with a 1.60 ERA for Cleveland. Won 20 games three times in Boston. You could make the argument if Catfish Hunter is in the Hall, then Tiant should be as well. My issue is the guy wasn’t all that dominant even in his 20-win seasons. WHIP’s of 1.2 to 1.3 just don’t excite me despite the funky delivery. You do have to respect his 229 wins, but not enough to earn my support.Mike Silva
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