9 Old-Time Baseball Hall of Famers Who Don't Deserve to Be in Cooperstown
Spots in Cooperstown are reserved for players that have left an impressive mark on the game of baseball. The players who have been enshrined were either one of the best players of their era or made a major impact on the game in another way.
There are a number of old-time players that currently have a spot in Cooperstown that may not be deserving of it. With new statistics, these players do not look like Hall of Famers.
These players will not be removed from the Hall of Fame, but they are certainly nowhere near the talent level of the modern-day players that are being selected.
Candy Cummings is in the Hall of Fame on the basis that he threw the first curveball in baseball history. However, there is evidence that suggests that may not be true.
The Society for American Baseball Research has also mentioned that Fred Goldsmith has a claim to being the first player to throw a curveball. Without the evidence that Cummings was the first to throw a curve, it is hard to justify his spot in the Hall of Fame.
While Cummings did win 145 games in six seasons, he did so with an ERA+ of 113, which is good, but not Hall of Fame-worthy. Compare Cummings' ERA+ to Don Mossi's 115 ERA+ during his career.
Stealing 109 bases in one season is no easy feat, but it was much simpler in the 1800s than it is during the modern day. Tommy McCarthy stole 468 bases in his career, but they were much different than what we call a stolen base today.
McCarthy played during an era when a stolen base was counted when a player advanced more than one base on a basehit (h/t Joshua Hoffman of Yahoo). On top of this, McCarthy had only a slightly above-average 102 OPS+ during his 13-year career. To put that in perspective, Carl Everett had a 107 OPS+ for his career.
There is a case that can be made for why Lloyd Waner belongs in the Hall of Fame, but it is not as strong as the case for why he should not be in it.
Waner did set a major league record with 198 singles during his rookie year and was a .316 hitter, but he was not an elite player for his era.
Waner had an OPS+ of 99 during his career, which is below average. This fact makes it hard to see Waner as a Hall of Famer. Even with his ability to get on base at a high rate, Waner did not reach 3,000 hits, and he had a below-average OPS compared to his contemporaries.
There is certainly something to be said about a great defensive player, and that is exactly what Ray Schalk was. He was a phenomenal defensive catcher.
The problem is that his offensive abilities should have prevented him from being a member of the Hall of Fame.
"High Pockets" Kelly
There was a seven-year stretch between 1920 and 1926 when George "High Pockets" Kelly was one of the best first basemen in the major leagues. He was solid defensively and he was a feared power hitter.
The problem is that the rest of Kelly's career was not so great. Kelly was a good player, but he is not a Hall of Fame-caliber player. He ended his career with a 109 OPS+ and a total of fWAR of 31.9. John Olerud's fWAR of 61.3 is nearly double Kelly's total.
At first glance, a 3.08 ERA seems close to being Hall of Fame-worthy. While Rube Marquard posted this number, he actually had an 103 ERA+ during his career, which should not have put him in the Hall.
Marquard won 201 games during his career and had a 1.24 WHIP. He was a very good player, but when you consider that A.J. Burnett has an ERA+ of 104, it should become more apparent that Marquard does not belong in Cooperstown.
Jesse Haines spent all but one game during his 19-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals. He put together some good seasons for them and ended his career with 210 wins and a 3.64 ERA, the third-highest of any pitcher in the Hall of Fame.
Haines did have three 20-win seasons and threw a no-hitter during his career, but he also ended his career with a 109 ERA+. While that is certainly not a bad number, it is below Brad Radke's 113 ERA+.
Herb Pennock was outstanding in the World Series during his career. He went 5-0 in these big games and it certainly helped him reach the Hall of Fame. There were few left-handed pitchers better than Pennock for a long stretch of time.
Pennock did have an impressive 241 wins over 22 years, but he also had a 3.60 ERA, which is one of the highest out of all players in the Hall of Fame. He also had a 106 ERA+. Kelvim Escobar posted a 112 ERA+, which is better than Pennock's career mark.
There is no denying that Joe Tinker was a great defensive shortstop. It was those abilities that helped him get a plaque in Cooperstown because he did not show the same prowess when the was at the plate.
Tinker had a .262 batting average during his career and an OPS+ of 96. To put that in perspective, the not-so-elite Randy Velarde had a batting average of .276 and an OPS+ of 101.
Defense certainly carried Tinker, but he may not have been deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame because of his inability to produce at the plate.
Even though he was considered to be a phenomenal defender, Tinker had a .938 fielding percentage. To be fair, this was above the league average of .926 percent for shortstops during his career.