Dale Murphy's Snub from Cooperstown: The Numbers Behind a Historic Injustice

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Dale Murphy's Snub from Cooperstown: The Numbers Behind a Historic Injustice
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Dale Murphy has once again been left out of baseball’s Hall of Fame, and this time for the Atlanta Braves great, it’s for keeps.

Or, well, sort of.

A few days have passed since the BBWAA offered its ruling on this year’s MLB Hall of Fame class (or lack thereof).  And in that time, much has been made of the writers’ silent protest against allowing steroid users, alleged or admitted, into baseball’s holy land.  Yet so little has been made of the snub of Murphy in the national media.

This was the 15th and final try at being elected via the BBWAA ballot for The Murph, who, according to Baseball Reference, hit .265 with 398 home runs over the course of a career that lasted 18 seasons, including 15 in Atlanta.  

And while his career average may not turn many heads, his home run totals are respectable, especially for a former catcher-turned-centerfielder in a time when "offense" and "catcher" were rarely used in the same thread.  Combine that with back-to-back MVP awards in 1982 and 1983, and the Hall of Fame exclusion puts Murphy in rare and historic company.

As it stands now, Murphy is the only player in the history of the game to win multiple National League MVP awards and not earn election into the Hall of Fame.

This, of course, does not include Barry Bonds, who won seven NL MVP awards during his career and still has 14 chances to secure the BBWAA vote.  Bonds earned 36.2 percent of the votes in this, his first year eligible for selection. 

Nor does it include the still-active Albert Pujols, who won three MVP awards while with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Murphy's No. 3 was retired by the Atlanta Braves on June 13, 1994.

But the history stands.  According to Baseball-Reference.com, 29 players have won multiple MVP awards in their careers between both leagues.  Of those, 22 are in Cooperstown.  Of the remaining seven, two are still active (Pujols and Alex Rodriguez), one is still on the ballot (Bonds) and one will be on the ballot for the first time next year (Frank Thomas). 

That leaves Roger Maris, Juan Gonzalez and Murphy as the only three players to win multiple MVP awards in either league and not get voted into the Hall.

For Murphy, though, there is another way to be elected. 

Each year, the Veterans Committee, composed of Hall of Famers, executives and select members of the media, votes on special inductees for the Hall who are no longer eligible for the BBWAA vote. 

According to Baseball-Almanac.com, Hal Newhouser stands as the only current multi-MVP Hall member elected by the Veterans Committee.  Not many have traveled that path, but Murphy seems to be a leading candidate for selection.

Given Murphy’s longtime image as one of baseball’s good guys, it’s astounding that he’s been left out yet again.  In an era which has ceaselessly considered character nearly equal to skills in determining Hall of Famers, one would think for his public persona alone Murphy would be given a significant boost in voting compared to the rest of this year's class.

But in a disappointing bit of irony, with this year’s vote so focused on keeping the cheaters out, Murphy, founder of the iWontCheat Foundation for children making a pledge against cheating in sports, has been left out and lost among these alleged cheaters.

The Veterans Committee has an opportunity next year to right this wrong, but for now, for whatever reason, and for at least another year, Dale Murphy will remain on the outside of baseball's greats looking in.

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