The Grand National Championships

May 27, 2008

There is a real problem with the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It has no respect for the turn of the century. Really. It’s not just another attempt to start another Jack Glasscock for the Hall of Fame Petition. And 100% Injury Rate is in no way cool like that for leaving me hanging.

But I dug deeper for an abortive article in reference to how Keith Olbermann’s 100 dudes who should be in the Hall of Fame from his SportsCenter Book. (And by the way, Jack Glasscock is #36.) But on Sabermetrics and raw numbers alone, there is a veritable coterie of dudes from the turn of the century who need entry into the Hall.

And is Jack Glasscock your shortstop? Bet your sweet ass he is.

C: Deacon White Now a man who went into the 20th century believing the Earth was flat may be more of a subject of scorn than praise. However, he spent 17 seasons as a dominant player who went from catcher to third base and did not lose an ounce of offense until he hit the age of 41. He finished with a career OPS+ of 127. Name any Hall of Fame Catcher that brought it offensively. The Deacon is worthy in comparison to any of them.
1B: Joe Start. On the surface, his numbers don’t seem that impressive. But when you add in the fact that he didn’t start organized baseball until he was 28, and the National League until he was 34, the fact that he has a Tony Perez level OPS+ means he should have a home in the hall. Also, he had a .960 fielding percentage despite having to barehand every throw. That’s awesome.
2B: Bud Fowler. You aren’t gonna find him on Baseball Reference, but Bud Fowler was the first African-American to play pro baseball. The problem? He debuted in 1878. He was doomed to a periapetic existence, and yet still managed to hit .308 and scored 455 runs and stole 190 bases. He pitched, caught, played second base, and left field. Oh, and he also tried to get the first organized league for African Americans off the ground.
SS: Jack Glasscock. Click on the Tag to find out why.
3B: Ezra Sutton. Third base is the most underrepresented position in the Hall of Fame. There are four of five candidates that deserve election overall. Each one of them kicks Pie Traynor’s ass. But as for Ezra Sutton? Third Base was as much of a physical challenge at that point. Getting a 121 OPS+ is great. Adding a cannon arm to the equation is better. 
LF: George Van Haltren. This pitcher turned outfielder is the highest batting average not to make it into the Hall of Fame (.316). He had excellent power for the 1890’s. He had excellent speed and he is as masterful in terms of OPS as one of his contemporarys in Hugh Duffy. Duffy is in the Hall of Fame.
CF: George Gore. If your OPS+ is stronger than Roberto Clemente or Tony Gwynn, wouldn’t you need an entry into the Hall of Fame? Ol’ Piano Legs was a dominant lead-off man for the Cubs and Giants. He had a spectacular batting eye. A .386 OBP when it took seven balls for a walk? Simply awesome. 
RF: Pete Browning. The Gladiator was the most electrifying player in the turn of the century entertainment. He destroyed the American Association in the 1880’s. In fact, if you consider his personal life, his alcoholism, his mastodis, the fact he lost his father at a young age, it’s amazing that he managed a career .341/.403/.467. Also, he had a crazy go nuts record that will never be broken. 100/100 in RBI’s and steals. (Also he had a 156 OPS+, not Ruthian or Aaronian, but name another right fielder. He will stand and face them. And let me introduce you to Hack Wilson if you want to talk about demons. 
DH: Cupid Childs. Here’s the thing about OBP in the 19th Century. It took 7 to 8 pitches to draw a walk. Ol’ Clarence’s .415 OBP means a lot more than in this day and age. Put it this way? His OPS+ is higher than Ryne Sandberg. Cupid beats the Ryno! 

P: Bob Caruthers. Short career. But if you want to talk about a Pedro Martinez sized level of dominance while he was there. Take out his final season (2-10; 5.84) and he went 216-89 with a 2.72 ERA. Add in 298 complete games and a career 133 OPS+ with his 123 ERA+ He’s at once Stan Coveleski and Fred Clarke. Trust me, they were awesome.
P: Jim Creighton. He may be a little more of a Pecos Bill styled legend. But his story is amazing. The first fastball. The first unassisted triple play. Went an entire season without hitting into an out. All in all? Jim is the first great superstar. And you want to know the twisted part? He hit a long home run and felt something pop. He died that night. He was 21. 
P: Tony Mullane All you have to do is look at his Baseball Reference top ten list. Five of the first six are Hall of Famers. Tony Mullane’s ERA+ is higher than all of them. And yet? Mr. Mullane is getting no love. Shame, damn shame.
P: Sam Leever You all know about the Apollo of the Box (Tony Mullane) and how he’s above and beyond the Hall of Famers on his similarity score list. Sam Leever’s score is higher than Tony’s. By that logic, he obviously deserves a Hall of Fame induction.
P: Bobby Matthews. Look at the facts. Bobby Matthews was the leader in wins for the 19th century. With 297 wins alone, the Veterans committee has to let him in. 297 wins was a great total in any era. In terms of ERA+ he may not be among the best of the best, but he is Red Ruffing level electable.
P: Ed Reulbach For the first five years, he was freaking spectacular. 97-39, 1.72 ERA. He ended up at 182-106 with a 2.28 ERA, but let’s be honest. Big Ed was a disappointment when the calendar struck 1910. But his ERA+ was as dominant as Juan Marichal in 13 seasons. He’d be better regarded than the Iron Man Joe McGinty and Jack Chesboro, his contemporaries, using this metric.

And I even left out a bench. I’m immature and lazy, any Paul Hines fans, I do sincerely apologize.

But now you know. Old school baseball needs love too. Maybe a special style committee, yeah?

Maybe.

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