Friday, September 5, 2008

More HOF evaluations

Continuing the discussion of Hall of Fame candidates currently being considered by the Veterans Committee... I've talked at length about Joe Gordon and Vern Stephens. Those are two borderline candidates: I support Gordon's inclusion and reject Stephens. Today I'll quickly cover some of the other guys:

Wes Ferrell: A six-time 20-game winner with the Indians and Red Sox. If selected, Wes would join his brother Rick in the Hall, the only brother combination that I can think of. However, there's no way that Wes belongs (it's questionable that Rick belongs, but that's another matter). Wes was a great pitcher in his 20s, winning 190 games from age 21 to 30 with a .600 winning percentage. In 1938, however, according to Wikipedia, he suffered an arm injury that required surgery, and he never pitched effectively again. Like a lot of players from the era before modern medicine, a Wes Ferrell of today would probably have taken a year off to rehab his arm and pitched another 8 years, ensuring his selection to the Hall. But unfortunately for him, he didn't. Based on his actual career (not his hypothetical career), he does not belong in the Hall of Fame.

Sherry Magee: A very good dead-ball era hitter, Magee posted big numbers from 1905 through 1918. He didn't hit a lot of homers because no one did in that era, but he had excellent power for his time. His OPS+ is 136, meaning he was 36% better than the league average even after adjusting for park effects (which, in Magee's case, is important since he played in the Baker Bowl). The only problem with Magee is longevity. He finished his career with 2,169 hits, which would be on the very low end of the HOF spectrum. Three or four more good years -- especially with the lively ball era just around the corner -- would have given him a key to the Hall, but the reality is that he just doesn't belong.

Mickey Vernon: A good hitter for a long time with the lowly Washington Senators. He never posted huge numbers, partly because of his home ballpark, which was terrible for hitters. His career stats are good, but not great: 2495 hits, 116 OPS+. The problem with letting in Mickey Vernon is that it sets the bar for Hall of Fame entry so low that you'll have to let in a bunch of other good but not great first basemen: Steve Garvey, Norm Cash, Mark Grace, Al Oliver, Bill Buckner... The line has to be drawn somewhere, and I draw it at Mickey Vernon. No to him.

Bucky Walters: A pretty good pitcher in the 1930s and 1940s. Much less qualified than Wes Ferrell, in my opinion. If you think Dave Stieb belongs in the Hall of Fame, then you might think Walters does, too. I don't think either belong, unfortunately.

In a future post (probably next week), I'll take on the case of Carl Mays, which is fascinating in its own right, and Deacon White.

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