20 MLB Hall of Famers Who Would Not Be Enshrined Playing in Today's Game
One of the hardest parts about comparing MLB players over the years is how much the game has changed.
We have statistics such as ERA+, OPS+ and WAR that help paint a picture of where players stood against their peers, but those numbers can't truly illustrate what it would be like from players of long ago (or not all that long ago) to play in today's game.
So here is a look at 20 MLB Hall of Famers who, for one reason or another, I do not feel would gain enshrinement if they were active players in the league today.
CF Lloyd Waner (22.0 WAR)
The younger brother of fellow Hall of Famer Paul Waner, Lloyd teamed with his brother to make the Pirates offense go in the 1920s and 1930s—while Paul put up Hall-worthy numbers, his brother simply did not.
While he played 18 seasons, and was an above-average player to say the least, he never had the dominant prime that most Hall of Famers did, instead hitting around .300 each season and doing little else to speak of.
He wasn't a base stealer, had little-to-no power, but could rap out singles with the best of them as 2,033 of his 2,459 career hits were one-baggers. Think Juan Pierre without the speed.
1B George 'High Pockets' Kelly (23.4 WAR)
A member of the New York Giants for 11 of his 16 big-league seasons, Kelly enjoyed a very productive seven-year stretch from 1920-1926, when he averaged a line of .306 BA, 17 HR, 106 RBI, 84 R.
However, outside of those seven years, he did little to nothing to warrant Hall of Fame induction, and a seven-year stretch of that caliber is not nearly enough to be considered one of the best to ever play the game.
His career OPS+ of 109 is the same as the likes of Bill Mueller and Sean Casey, among others, and simply put doesn't cut it for a first baseman in general, let alone a Hall of Fame one.
RP Bruce Sutter (23.6 WAR)
Credited with the development of the splitter, Sutter used his signature pitch to save 300 games, leading the league in the category five times.
While his development of the pitch earns him a place of significance in the game's history, it is a pitch that is commonplace in the league today and would not have been enough to set Sutter apart from the pack.
He'd likely still have been one of the league's better closers, but a Hall of Famer? Probably not.
C Ray Schalk (25.0 WAR)
A light-hitting backstop, Schalk never batted over .300 during his 18-year career and finished with a slash line of .253/.340/.316.
He managed just 11 career home runs and only topped the 50 RBI mark five times while playing 17 of his 18 seasons with the Chicago White Sox.
A decent defensive catcher with a career 13.7 dWAR, Schalk would have been the equivalent of Brad Ausmus if he played today. A borderline offensive liability who stuck in the starting lineup for his ability to handle a pitching staff.
C Rick Ferrell (26.3)
One of the most durable catchers in baseball history, Ferrell held the record for most games caught at 1,806 for nearly 40 years and currently sits 12th on the all-time list.
However, that doesn't make him a Hall of Famer, and he did little during that lengthy career to warrant a spot in the Hall. In fact, he was not even the best catcher in his own league during his playing career, as that honor went to either Mickey Cochrane or Bill Dickey.
In 15 seasons, he never posted a single-season WAR over 2.9, he topped the .300 BA mark only four times, had little-to-no power and was average at best defensively.
3B Freddie Lindstrom (26.8)
With the election of Santo, there are now 11 third basemen in the Hall of Fame, making it by far the hardest position to earn election at.
Lindstrom played just 13 seasons in what accounted to about nine seasons worth of games. While he was very good from 1928-1930 with an average line of .353 BA, 17 HR, 101 RBI, three seasons does not a Hall of Fame resume make.
He never received above 4.4 percent of the vote while on the ballot, but was elected by the Veteran's Committee in 1976, and his case remains one of the weakest for any Hall of Fame position player.
LF Chick Hafey (28.4 WAR)
A talented young hitter, Hafey looked on his way to being the next great hitter after three straight .330 BA, 25 HR, 100 RBI seasons leading up to his 26th birthday.
However, a persistent sinus condition greatly affected his vision, and his production fell off dramatically before he retired at the age of 34 after not producing a good season for three years.
While his numbers would have likely been Hall of Fame-worthy if he had stayed healthy and at least played into his late-30s, he should not be rewarded for the numbers he could have put up, but instead judged by the numbers he did produce which are far from HOF-worthy.
RF Ross Youngs (30.9 WAR)
An everyday big leaguer by the age of 21, Youngs hit at least .300 in all but one of his seasons in the majors. The trouble was, he only played 10 seasons.
Of those 10, he appeared in seven games in one year and 95 another, so it was more like nine seasons. While he was among the top contact hitters of the 1920s, his career simply didn't span long enough.
He was inducted by the Veteran's Committee in 1972 after failing to receive higher than 22.4 percent of the vote while he was on the ballot, and his presence in the Hall of Fame is among the top arguments for the enshrinement of guys like Don Mattingly and Smoky Joe Wood.
SP Rube Marquard (31.5 WAR)
Never the ace of any staff he was on, there may be no more puzzling Hall of Fame selection than Marquard.
He won 20 games just three times in his 18-year career, his 103 ERA+ is the lowest of any Hall of Famer, and perhaps most surprising of all, he finished only 197 of his 407 career starts.
To put it bluntly, Marquard was the definition of an average pitcher during the 1910s, and he has absolutely no business even being in the discussion for the Hall of Fame, let alone enshrined.
SP Catfish Hunter (32.1 WAR)
Playing in an era where marquee pitching reigned supreme, Hunter made eight All-Star appearances and won the 1974 AL Cy Young.
From 1971-1975, he won at least 20 games each season, and he helped lead the A's to three straight World Series victories before becoming the first marquee free agent when he signed with the Yankees.
However, he won just 224 games during his career, and his ERA+ of 104 is the second-worst of any Hall of Fame pitcher. His career compares very well with Kevin Brown, who is a great example of a pitcher who was good but not great.
2B Bill Mazeroski (32.3 WAR)
Widely regarded as the best defensive second baseman in baseball history, Mazeroski is best known for hitting one of the biggest home runs in baseball history.
However, in today's game, where second base has become a much more offensive-minded position and premier defense no longer has as much value placed on it (see Daniel Murphy), one has to wonder if Mazeroski would even be an everyday player nowadays.
With a .260 career average and an on-base percentage of just .299, he likely would have been a journeyman utility infielder in today's game.
1B Jim Bottomley (32.8 WAR)
In his prime from 1923-1930, Bottomley posted an average line of .325 BA, 20 HR, 118 RBI and won an MVP award in 1928.
However, his career line of .310/.369/.500, 219 HR, 1422 RBI leaves him well short of being a Hall of Fame worth first baseman.
A solid power hitter, Bottomley likely would have been an All-Star in today's game, but he would have fallen well short of being a premier player. Also, he was a horrendous fielder with a -15.8 dWAR for his career.
SP Jesse Haines (33.7 WAR)
Perhaps, the least-known pitcher in the Hall of Fame, Haines spent 18 seasons with the Cardinals and was in his prime during the 1920s.
He had 11 seasons with double-digit wins, but just three where he won over 20 games, as he was a solid starter but by no means an ace.
His career line of 210-158 and his 109 ERA+ are far from Cooperstown worthy, and he was actually used often as a reliever as just 386 of his 555 career appearances were starts.
3B George Kell (34.5 WAR)
A 10-time All-Star, Kell had a .306 career average and batted over .300 nine different times during his 14-year career.
While his .306/.367/.414 slash line is decent, his 78 career home runs leave a lot to be desired at the hot corner, and that lack of power likely would have meant a change of position or platoon role for Kell.
He likely could have a had a solid big-league career given his ability to make consistent contact at the plate, but chances are, he would not have been a Hall of Famer.
SS Phil Rizzuto (38.1 WAR)
A fan-favorite both as a player and announcer, "Scooter" had the benefit of playing alongside some of the all-time greats during his 13 seasons with the Yankees.
He spent the full 15 years on the ballot following his retirement, but never garnered higher than 38.4 percent of the vote. It was not until 1994 that he was inducted thanks to the Veteran's Committee.
Aside from his MVP season of 1950 when he hit .324, Rizzuto never hit over .300, and while his defense may have been his biggest asset, he was nowhere near the level of Ozzie Smith, Omar Vizquel and others.
SP Herb Pennock (38.8 WAR)
Pennock came to the Yankees from the rival Red Sox in 1923 and had the good fortune of pitching for a team that featured Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and a number of other future Hall of Famers.
He did have eight season with 15-plus wins and was an impressive 5-0 with a 1.95 ERA in 10 postseason appearances, but his career numbers fall short of Hall of Fame worthy.
His career line of 241-162 is good, but with a 3.60 ERA and 106 ERA+, he was little more than a slightly above-average pitcher benefiting from a great team.
SS Rabbit Maranville (39.4 WAR)
Nicknamed "Rabbit" due to his size (5'5", 155 pounds) and terrific speed, Maranville spent 15 of his 23 big-league seasons with the Braves.
He brought a good deal of intangibles to the field, and he was recognized for his abilities with a third-place MVP finish in 1913, a second-place finish in 1914 and six other appearances in the MVP voting.
However, his .258/.318/.340, 28 HR, 884 RBI, 1,255 R stat line is well below-average and likely would not have been enough for him to hold down an everyday job.
Johnny Evers (45.2 WAR)
For the most part, the Hall of Fame has done a good job with second basemen, but Evers is clearly the weak link of the group. He was a decent hitter and a very good fielder, but he compares better to someone like Luis Castillo than anyone of his fellow Hall of Famers at the position.
His involvement in the famous Tinker-Evers-Chance double-play combination is his most notable career achievement, although he did win NL MVP in 1914 while playing for the Braves.
With a line of .279 BA, 1 HR, 40 RBI, 81 R, 5.1 WAR, his season was the definition of an above average Dead Ball Era season, but was far from MVP-worthy, just as he is far from Hall of Fame-worthy.
SP Rube Waddell (57.7 WAR)
A Hall-of-Famer with 193 career wins and a 2.13 ERA, Waddell likely would not be allowed anywhere near an MLB diamond today, as he had serious personality issues.
He would often leave the dugout and chase firetrucks on their way to fires, was easily distracted by fans who would wave shiny objects in the stands and was an alcoholic who often clashed with teammates and coaches.
It is now speculated that Waddell has a developmental disorder of some sort, mental retardation or autism or, at the very least, ADD. In the brighter lights of today's MLB game, Waddell undoubtedly would have been unable to handle himself.
CF Ty Cobb (144.9 WAR)
There is no question that Cobb's tremendous skill at the plate would have transferred to any era, as he hit an MLB-record .366 for his career and won 11 batting titles.
However, his nasty personality would not have been tolerated in today's game, and he would have spent so much time suspended and fined for his actions it no doubt would have cut into his production.
In the end, he very well could have wound up black-balled by the MLB with no team willing to sign him and put up with the headache of his actions on the field.
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