MLB Hall of Fame 2011: Kirby Puckett and the 10 Worst Selections Ever
The Hall of Fame selection process has, and likely always will be, the center of much controversy. The debate rages on year after year about who should and who should not be a Hall of Famer and why.
Take Kirby Puckett as an example. Puckett was a very productive player whose career was cut short after he lost vision in one eye due to glaucoma. While his career batting average is an impressive .318, Puckett did not play long enough to accumulate what one might consider Hall of Fame numbers.
Beyond the numbers, Puckett's personal issues were also a point of contention when his Hall of Fame selection was made. In the early 2000s, tales of infidelity, domestic violence and a sexual assault charge tainted Puckett's reputation. His selection was then called into question not only due to his short 12 years in the majors, but for apparent character flaws, as well.
Similar questions have been raised about a multitude of other players over years. What follows is by no means a complete list of every player who probably should not be in the Hall of Fame. However, these 10 are some of the worst selections ever made.
Roger Bresnahan, Catcher and Centerfielder, 1897-1915
Bresnahan was basically a journeyman catcher who played for six different teams over 17 seasons. He is best known for introducing shin guards to the catcher uniform. He also experimented with thigh pads and a batting helmet, despite ridicule from other players.
This eventually led to the widespread implementation of such safety gear in the early 20th century. However, the last time I checked, having a sense of style and fondness for protective gear are not criteria for a Hall of Fame selection.
Bresnahan collected only 530 RBI while batting .279. He later managed for five years and wound up with a losing record of 328-432.
Red Faber, RHP, 1914-1933
After developing a sore arm in his 20s, Faber began using the spitball in 1911 to advance his baseball career. Faber is considered the best spitballer of all time, which was legal to throw at the time.
But is tossing the best spitball a reason for induction? If so, perhaps the Hall can add "Best Steroid Taker" or "Best Injured Player" to their criteria.
Faber's career 3.15 ERA and 1.302 WHIP are average. He did play on several winning teams, but was sometimes so bad that he was demoted to the bullpen a number of times throughout his career.
Bill Mazeroski, Second Base, 1956-1972
How does a player with a .260 average and only 853 RBI in a 17-year career qualify for the Hall of Fame? Because he hit what was considered at the time to be the greatest home run in World Series history. The Game 7 walk-off shot gave the Pirates their first World Championship in 35 years.
While Mazeroski did collect eight Gold Gloves and was respected for his great defense, he was not great offensively. If a .260 average and one big World Series homer can carry a player into the Hall, I suppose Joe Carter and his .259 average must be next.
Jesse Haines, RHP, 1918-1937
Haines was a totally mediocre pitcher for his time, with a 210-158 record and a 3.64 ERA. In 19 seasons, Haines collected only 981 strikeouts, with a 1.350 WHIP.
If you enjoy sabermetrics, Haines recorded an average WAR (number of wins contributed in a season) of only 1.78 in those 19 seasons. That statistic does not even place him as being worthy of a starting position.
George Kelly, First Base, 1915-1932
George Kelly batted over .300 in six consecutive years while with the Giants in the 1920s. During this time, the Giants made it to the World Series four times, winning twice.
Prior to that, Kelly barely even made the roster, and he did very little after that, as well. He was not considered for the Hall until the Veteran's Committee elected him in 1973. But because many felt Kelly was undeserving, the committee went through a number of rule changes after this selection.
Lloyd Waner, Centerfielder, 1927-1945
Along with his brother Paul, Lloyd Waner helped secure a solid Pirates team in the '20s and '30s. But as the weaker of the two brothers, many feel Lloyd was only elected because his brother was already in the Hall.
Lloyd played only played five full seasons without significant injury or benching and had a career OPS+ of 99, marking him as an average player in his time. Known as a slap hitter, Lloyd only collected 598 RBI in an 18-year career.
Tony Perez, First and Third Base, 1964-1986
Tony Perez was a solid ballplayer who endured through a 23-year career. But had he not been part of the Big Red Machine in the 1970s, Perez would have been overlooked for the Hall.
While Perez accumulated 1,652 RBI over his career, that was due in large part to the efforts of Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Dave Concepcion and Cesar Geronimo constantly getting on base in front of him. Perez was able to make contact with the ball and take advantage of baserunners.
With a career .279 average, Perez did little after his run with the Reds. In fact, Perez averaged 102 RBI per year while with the Big Red Machine in their peak years from 1970-1976. The rest of his career, though, he averaged only 63 RBI a year. In addition, if you take his RBI average after he left the Reds for Montreal in 1977, the average drops to 54 RBI a year.
Without the Big Red Machine, Perez would not have even been considered for the Hall.
Ted Lyons, RHP, 1923-1946
Lyons pitched for 21 seasons as a White Sox and still managed a record of only 260-230. His 3.67 ERA is a head-scratcher as well. While collecting 20 wins in a season only three times, it is hard to find a reason why Lyons is in the Hall.
He was mediocre as a manager, as well. In less than three years as a manager, Lyons compiled a record of 185-245. Ouch.
Waite Hoyt, RHP, 1918-1938
Hoyt posted a career 3.59 ERA with a 237-182 record. He won 20 games in a season only two times. Hoyt is the very definition on an average pitcher.
When not playing baseball, Hoyt worked as a funeral director and spent nights appearing on vaudeville. While I find that very entertaining, the only explanation I can come up with for Hoyt's induction is that the Hall felt they needed more New York Yankees.
Morgan Bulkeley, Executive, 1937
Bulkeley served as the first president of the National League for one year in 1937. There is little else to say about his baseball "career."
If the Hall wishes to establish criteria that includes big "firsts" in baseball, then perhaps they should induct Eddie Gaedel for being the first midget to play in a major league game. Gaedel only had one at-bat, which was a walk, but who's counting?