- The new guys up for enshrinement for the Hall of Fame and try to determine who's the least worthy and,
- I look at the players eligible for the ballot (10 years service) who couldn't pass the screening committee and determine who most "deserved" to be on the ballot. (I write "deserved" because let's face it - these guys aren't good enough to really be on the ballot.
Today I'll be looking at the second situation. Now, normally I'd take a look a brief look at these guys' win shares to help find the handful that are worthy of the title "Best of the Rest", then take a closer look at their careers to make a decision. Thing is, this year looking at the win shares really cuts down the possible title holders. The top number was almost double the #4 guy and was about 20% better than the #2 guy. So really it's a one man competition, but we'll get to that in a minute. Let's first sepearte out that pesky chaff.
Middling Starters: Paul Abbott (34 win shares), Jimmy Haynes (37), Sterling Hitchcock (50)
Middling/Decent Relievers: Brian Boehringer (33), Mike Fetters (64), Josias Manzanillo (23), Scott Service (27), Scott Sullivan (54), Todd Van Poppel (31), Turk Wendell (57)
Middling Bench Players: Danny Bautista (48), Darren Bragg (52), Karim Garcia (26). Chris Stynes (55)
Veteran Catchers: Brook Fordyce (35)
Ok now the decent players but not good enough
Andy Ashby (85) : from 94-99 he was actually a very good pitcher (on mostly bad teams), but he was a relatively late bloomer and soon got injured and could only put together one more decent season after age 31.
Dave Burba (94) : Consistent rotation filler who happened to catch the end of the Indians dominant stretch.
Greg Colbrunn (70) : A really good contact hitter (.289 career average) but had a lack of pop and patience that when combined with his position (1B) left him a platooner.
Tom Goodwin (74) : Speedy OF, you know the type. Stole a lot of bases.
Ricky Gutierrez (79) : Should have been up in the less explained group because I don't know why this guy lasted as long as he did. I'll say defense.
Curtis Leskanic (71) : Kind of like Ashby - late bloomer who was really good (though in relief not as a starter) but age and injuries caught up with him.
Brett Mayne (87) : Ugh. Somehow turned a couple of .300 seasons at the right time into a 15 year career.
John Vander Wal (76) : Had one great season, then right when he should have collapsed developed some nice patience and kept his career going until he was 38
Now the contenders...
Mark McLemore (161) : Played forever (rookie season was on the 86 Angels that lost to the Red Sox in the playoffs). Once established as a starter in his late 20s played some very good D while not embarrassing himself at the plate. Late in his career gained a reputation as being able to play anywhere. Really though he only had one stellar season in 2001 with the Mariners.
Fernando Vina (128) : Played only 12 years but had the best single season of any player on this list. A 159 game .311 / .386 / .427 line. Another very good defender who would have likely surpassed McLemore in total stats if not for what amounted to basically a career ending injury. Named in the Mitchell Report for what it's worth.
Who is "Best of the Worst"? Well I believe that while Vina (and Ashby) were better players the longevity of McLemore puts him over the top. He should have been out of baseball (64 OPS+ up through age 27) but turned himself into a useful player for the next decade.
Congrats to you, Mark McLemore. Best of the Rest.