If you’re anything like me you think the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony should be a national holiday. Heck, at the least they could televise it on ESPN or one of the major networks. Suspend all games that day or at least relegate them to night.
Here is my All-Time Non-HoF Team. To be considered you must be eligible for enshrinement. So please don't send me hate mail if you're—for example—a Mike Piazza fan. Also, I’m not saying these guys should be in the HoF, but at least in the discussion.
C: Ted Simmons—The all-time hits leader among catchers before this season. Hit .285 with just shy of 2,500 hits in 17 full seasons. He played in eight All-Star games, when playing in an ASG meant something, and finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting three times. He gets knocked for being poor defensively, but so does Mike Piazza.
Honorable Mention: Bill Freehan—11 time All-Star and five time Gold Glover. He finished third and second (to battery mate Denny McClain) respectively in MVP voting in 1967-68.
*Joe Torre is not considered because he actually played less than half of his games behind the plate.
1B: Gil Hodges—(We all know why Mark McGwire hasn't been voted in so lets not beat a dead horse). To this point, he has received more votes than anyone without being elected. His offensive stats are superior to Tony Perez and he was the premiere defensive first baseman of his era. Not to mention he managed the 1969 Miracle Mets.
Honorable Mention: Dick Allen—From 1964-74 he hit .299/.386/.559 in a pitcher dominated era.
2B: Lou Whitaker—Had you told me in 1984 that not one member of that awesome Tigers World Championship team would make it to the Hall (not counting Sparky of course) I’d have said you were crazy. In the last quarter of the 20th century Sweet Lou led all second basemen in RBI, R, and doubles and was second only to Ryne Sandberg in HR and base hits. His three Gold Gloves should not be overlooked either.
3B: Ron Santo—Cal Ripken’s consecutive games played streak was impressive. But what about playing 149 games or more in 12 seasons with Type-1 diabetes. Okay, so that alone is not a reason for enshrinement, however, he has a pretty impressive body of work otherwise. How about slugging 342 HRs in a pitching era, while also leading the league in OBP twice (finishing in the top 10 five other times) and a very underrated stat—bases on balls—four times (finishing in the top five three other times). To boot, he won five Gold Gloves at a pivotal defensive position.
Honorable Mention: Stan Hack—This Cubbie was a consummate pre-1960 third bagger. Career .300 BA, .390 OBP, 2,000 H, 1,000 BB, and 1,000 R.
SS: Maury Wills—He was the Babe Ruth of base stealing. What Babe did for the HR, Maury did for the SB. The steal was pretty much a lost art from 1924 until 1960 when Wills swiped 50. In his MVP year of 1962, he stole 104—more than the total of every other MLB team. He went on to finish third in MVP voting in 1965 and was a five-time All-Star. It’s hard to find anyone better at his position during the 60s and 70s.
Honorable Mention: This position has deepest bench.
Alan Trammell—There are two kinds of Shortstops in the HoF: 1.) bat guys and 2.) glove guys. Unfortunately, Trammell seems to be penalized for being very good at both. He hit better than Ozzie Smith and Luis Aparicio and limited Cal Ripken to two Gold Gloves by winning four of his own during the 80s. Maybe he should have decided to specialize. His candidacy may be revisited if Barry Larkin sneaks in.
LF: (tie) Albert Belle—How do you average 37 HR, 120 RBI and a roughly .360 OBP and only get 3.5% of the vote your first year of eligibility? I guess by having an abrasive attitude like Belle. Sure his career only spanned 12 seasons, but then why do Kirby Puckett and Ralph Kiner get a pass?
Minnie Minoso—A seven time MLB All-Star and two time Negro League All-Star. He was perennially among the top 10 in RBI, BA, OBP, R, SB, and MVP voting in 50s. His three Gold Gloves aren’t too shabby either, considering the award wasn’t given out until 1957. I’m not impressed by the fact he took gimmick at bats in the 70s and 80s, but I am impressed that he accomplished so much after not playing a full MLB season until age 28.
CF: Dale Murphy—In contrast to Belle, Murph was a true gentleman. He had a 6-year stretch where he averaged 36 HR, 105 RBI, 110 R, 18 SB, won two MVPs, and five Gold Gloves. I’m sure Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium—a.k.a. the Launching Pad—doesn’t help his case, but Jim Rice was eventually forgiven for playing in a hitter friendly park.
RF: Andre Dawson- Hawk was pure and simple a five-tool player. Even if you take away his somewhat controversial MVP in 1987 playing for a last place team, he still has an impressive resume. He’s in the 400 HR/300 SB club with a couple of guys named Mays and Bonds and, in case you couldn’t guess, he got his nickname Hawk for his superior defensive prowess—eight Gold Gloves. His absence in Cooperstown baffles me almost as much as Santo’s.
Honorable Mention: Dwight Evans—I honestly never thought of Dewey as a HoFer, but I was surprised to find out he led the entire MLB in extra-base-hits during the 80s. He also played marvelous defense—winning eight Gold Gloves—in a rather difficult RF park. Now that Rice is in, Bosox fans will have someone to champion when the Veterans Committee takes up his case in 2012.
P: Bert Blyleven—Failing to reach the magical 300 wins plateau is the only thing keeping the Dutchman from sweating through his suit on an 80-degree July day in Cooperstown. Notwithstanding the fact he pitched for mostly poor teams during his career, he has impressive totals in W, K, CG, and SHO. Does anyone really want to argue that he wouldn’t have won more games had he had the luxury of pitching for the Dodgers like Don Sutton?
Honorable Mention: Allie Reynolds—He was the ace on a Yankees staff that won six rings. The Big Chief finished in the top three of MVP voting twice during the pre-Cy Young era. His regular season stats aren’t stellar, but he was 7-2, with a 2.79 ERA and 2 SHO in WS play.
Jack Morris—I can hear you all now screaming about his ERA. Let me tell you folks, you don’t win 254 games by being lucky. He never won a Cy Young, but won a World Series game with three different teams (sounds eerily similar to Curt Schilling who will definitely get plenty of HoF support in 2013). His 10-inning SHO in Game Seven of the 1991 WS was epic and earned him MVP honors. I’m almost convinced that BBWAA votes were hibernating during the 80s.
RP: Dan Quisenberry—I mention him only because he was the AL counterpart to Bruce Sutter from 1980 to 1985. Quiz’s submarine ball was almost as unhittable at Sutter’s split-finger fastball, and although he never won a Cy Young he did have five top five finishes. Was his career HoF worthy? I don’t think so, but the Kansas City Royals wouldn’t have won a World Series, two AL pennants, and four division titles without him either. Can the same be said for Lee Smith?
There you have it folks! I finished writing this while watching an epic 15 inning match-up between the Dodgers and Cardinals.