When most people think of The Big Red Machine, they think of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and maybe George Foster. One player I feel never gets enough credit for his contributions to the game, and one of the best teams in MLB history, is Dave Concepcion.
The slick-fielding Venezuelan shortstop was critical to the Reds success in the 70s and, in my opinion, should be enshrined in Cooperstown as one of the game's all-time greats. From 1970 to 1988, Concepcion was one of the mos highly regarded shortstops in the game, and for good reason. Just take a look at the career accolades for Concepcion:
- 9x All-Star
- 5x Gold Glove winner
- 2x Silver Slugger
- 2x World Series Champ
- 1982 All-Star Game MVP
Concepcion's highly decorated for a major league shortstop. The big thing to note here is the combination of Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers. Though he won just two Silver Sluggers, it wasn't overly common to have shortstops who could field their position well and hold their own at the plate.
When trying to make a case for a player to be in the Hall of Fame, the most important thing to consider is his career in reference to other Hall of Famer's at that position.
Remember that at the time Concepcion retired, Cal Ripken, Barry Larkin, Robin Yount and Ozzie Smith hadn't finished their careers, let alone been elected to the Hall of Fame. Aside from Honus Wagner, Luke Appling and Ernie Banks, I can't think of a player in the Hall of Fame who I would have rather had at shortstop by the time Concepcion retired in 1988.
Take a look at these four stat lines (taken from Baseball-Reference):
I'm not going to tell you who's who just yet but let's look at all four players. Player D leads the crew in games played, AB, H, runs and stolen bases. Player C leads all four in OBP, SLG, HR, RBI and WAR, Player B leads the group in RBI and player A leads in AVG. Player B ranks ahead of two of the players in; games, at-bats, hits, SLG, HR, and stolen bases.
In fact, Player B ranks ahead of at least one player in every category except OBP and WAR.
Three of those players are in the Hall of Fame and one isn't, that one who isn't, is player B (Dave Concepcion). The other three are Player A: Phil Rizzuto; Player C: Pee Wee Reese; and Player D: Ozzie Smith. I'd make the argument that although his WAR is lower than the other three, his complete stat-line is better than Rizzuto's, at least equal to if not better than Reese's and in certain areas he's better than Ozzie.
There are 22 shortstops in the Hall of Fame as of 2012. When placed in that group of players, Concepcion ranks ninth in HR, 10th in SB, 11th in hits and RBI, 15th in SLG and 19th in AVG and OBP. He won five Gold Gloves (four straight from 1974-77), back-to-back Silver Sluggers (1981-82) and made nine all-star teams (eight straight from 1975-82).
Concepcion was one of the best shortstops of his time and deserves to be recognized for it. When looking at his numbers in comparison to the all-time greats, Concepcion ranks better than a great deal of them in most statistical measurements.
Bottom line, Dave Concepcion should be in the Hall of Fame.