Baseball Hall of Fame: Which Golden Era Players Should Be Inducted?
Earlier today, 10 baseball figures were selected to be on the Golden Era ballot for possible induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. These players were selected by 11 veteran baseball writers and historians, and in terms of picking those that are the best not in the Hall, they did a solid job.
The 10 (eight players and two executives) are: Buzzie Bavasi, Ken Boyer, Charlie Finley, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Allie Reynolds, Ron Santo and Luis Tiant.
All of them can at least point to something that shows they should be in the Hall, and likewise, things can be pointed out that have kept them out. Here's a look at all 10 and which ones I think should get through.
You can't discuss the history of the San Diego Padres or the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers without bringing up Bavasi. He was the Padres' first GM and president, and was GM during the Dodgers' rise to prominence.
In 18 seasons with the Dodgers, they won four World Series titles with some very exciting teams. His tenures with the Padres and California Angels were not as great, but he still got the Angels to the playoffs.
Factor in his role in helping to integrate the minor leagues (he ran the Nashua team when Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe were sent there in 1946), and he seems worthy of induction. His previous vote totals have varied widely though, so he'll likely again miss out.
The longtime St. Louis Cardinals third baseman seems to have gotten stronger in Hall voting these days, after being unable to pass 26 percent when eligible.
Boyer was MVP in 1964, and put up some very consistent numbers. The fact that third base is underrepresented helps his case as well. However, there are stronger third basemen that should be in the Hall first, and he was in the shadow of Stan Musial for a good chunk of his career.
Gil Hodges and Ron Santo have both gotten far more votes in Veterans' ballots than Boyer, so I don't see him making it in this year, though I would be okay with him being inducted.
Charlie O. was quite the character during his tenure as Kansas City/Oakland Athletics owner from 1960 to 1980. There was always animosity between him and his players, as well as Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, but he did win three World Series titles.
Between the two executives, I would select Bavasi before Finley. The Athletics were still entirely successful after Finley left, so it's tough to say how much of the '70s success was due to him. He also has not fared all that well on recent Veterans Committee votes.
If you ask any Dodgers fan about Gil Hodges, then they will absolutely say he should have been in the Hall long ago. He consistently got over 50 percent of the votes during his original run, so he's always had the voter's backing, just not quite enough of it.
Sabermetricians may find him overrated, as a 44.6 WAR is not all that great. He was as good as teammates Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider, and perhaps better with his home runs. Still, a .273 batting average is just that—average.
As a manager, he brought the New York Mets to an improbable World Series in 1969, and his early death in 1972 added to the sentimentality of his career. He's the primary borderline case to me, but he may have the best chance of anyone not named Ron Santo to make it in this year.
Jim Kaat was a pitcher who had amazing longevity to go with many Gold Gloves. A lot of Bert Blyleven supporters and detractors threw in Kaat's rather low ballot numbers (20-25 percent) to showcase their arguments.
The difference between them is pretty clear though. Kaat's prime years were in a big pitching era, the late 1960s, yet he had few All-Star appearances, and aside from a couple great seasons, he was merely a solid pitcher for the Twins.
Still, three 20-win seasons is a great thing to have, as is 283 career wins. I don't see him as a Hall of Fame pitcher, but he has done well on Veteran's ballots recently, and he will likely do so again if Blyleven comparisons continue to pop up.
Minnie Minoso was both a great hitter and very good fielder for the Chicago White Sox for many seasons, and while he never won an MVP award, he was consistently in the running, finishing fourth four times.
He did not do well in Hall balloting the first time through, and while he had a nice career, his numbers don't quite seem to add up to a Hall of Fame career. He'll get some votes, and being one of the first big Cuban stars will help him greatly, but I don't see him getting in this year.
Tony Oliva was one of the great Minnesota Twins alongside Harmon Killebrew, but while Killebrew was great for many years, Oliva's dominance was relatively short-lived. He played 15 seasons, but his great years were compressed into eight.
He was clearly a great hitter, finishing with a .304 average, and he performed decently in the first round of balloting. He did well in the 2009 Veterans ballot as well. In a sense, he's another borderline case.
His demeanor has always been considered great, which has helped many other borderline cases. Bill James had considered him a worthy Hall of Famer alongside Orlando Cepeda, who was inducted in 2001. After all, his prime was in a pitching era. I'd be fine with him making it in, and he should do well in voting.
Allie Reynolds was a solid pitcher for 12 seasons for the Indians and Yankees. He had consistently good seasons, and was always able to avoid losses, with only 107 in his career compared to 182 wins.
The last time he made it on a Veterans ballot was 2003, where he did not do too well. To me, it's actually a surprise he got in, as he only had one great season. I don't see him as a Hall of Famer, and I don't see him doing that well in voting.
This is a bittersweet one. Santo had been consider a snub year after year, and after his passing, he could finally get in this year. He was one of the best offensive third baseman in his era, and was a very good defensive one as well.
I've noted third base being underrepresented already, and I don't see any reason not to put Santo in. He's usually first or second in Veterans ballots now, so hopefully they will realize that it's finally time to put him in and do so.
While others on this list were a model of consistency, Luis Tiant was a pitcher who has a couple fantastic seasons, a couple great ones, a few decent ones, and a bad one or two all scattered throughout his career.
Tiant won 20 games four times, made an All-Star team three times, has a WAR well over 60, and did have a fairly long career. As such, there seem to be as many reasons to put him in as there are reasons not to.
He has not done well in any form of voting, so I don't see him getting many votes. If he didn't have that bad streak from '69 to '71, maybe he would be a Hall of Famer.