Nationals Baseball: What's going on? HoFers

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

What's going on? HoFers

 Nothing nothing is going on. 

A few guys got elected to the Hall by the veteran's committe or whatever it is called now.  Two guys, Bud Fowler and Buck O'Neil are special cases. Fowler is often noted as the first Black professional baseball player, Buck a tireless advocate for Negro League recognition and a great ambassador for the game itself.  Neither are good enough players to make it but there are these types in the Hall. 

The rest are the usual veteran's committee guys who were good enough to get writer votes but not good enough to get enough writer votes. Kaat and Minoso are in the gray area of career stats where sometimes other things can get you in. Hodges and Oliva aren't there but have their own circumstances.

Minoso was another compiler to the point of sort of being a joke at the end, a fun one though.  During the normal part of his career the guy could hit and run (95 career triples, leading the league 3 times) but wasn't necessarily an intuitive base stealer (career 216 SB to 130 CS - with things getting really dicey after hitting 30). He was seen as a good fielder, wasn't afraid of taking a walk, and was also healthy for a long while basically not missing more than a week in every season but one from 25-35. A lot of games and a lot of hits and walks and good fielding means racking up a lot of value. Being available may not be a skill (injury luck is what it is) but it's important and can't be dismissed. He'd finish his ML career with a .299 BA and nearly 2000 hits. At this point we have to mention his first few years were in the Negro Leagues and he played a year in the competitive PCL bc loaded Cleveland didn't need him. You can imagine a scenario where if baseball wasn't racist he plays around 4ish more full years. That's another 700 hits for a guy like Minnie and at 2600 hits and more major league time he moves up not quite to automatic HoF level but in with the guys where it's more a coin flip. To the point of my first sentence, he'd go on to make appearances at 50 in 76, and 54 in 80 (thanks Veeck!) which was silly but you know what, that's ok.    

Kaat was a good pitch to contact control starter. Just good. But he was good for a very long time and remember that's a skill in my book. He started at least 24 games from the age of 22 through 39 with the exception of one year and started over 40 twice. He was better than league average 14 of 16 years from 22 through 37. He was a slick fielder (though not 16 gold gloves good - that's just inertia) and add that up and... well it's not quite a Hall of Famer.  The 283 wins sort of is right in that sense. If 300 is automatic then Kaat is missing something. Granted if there was no strike in '81 though maybe he powers through to try for 300 as he probably would be sitting around 290. So kind of like Minnie you can imagine a scenario where Kaat gets in. Instead he stuck around long enough to finally win a series at 42 with the Cardinals but with minimal impact.* He's been an ever present broadcast presence since.

Hodges was a premier power hitter of the early 50s with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He struck out a TON for the time but made up for hit by hitting a lot of homers. Never did lead the league but was Top 5 ish each year before losing a step for the second half of the decade. Still when he retired his 370 homers were third most for a RHB.  Seen as a great first baseman he was a very important part of the 50s Dodgers who won pretty constantly. Then he went on to manage, did ok with a middling Washington team before going over to the Mets and being in the dugout for the Miracle '69 title. At 47 with a decent track record you could see him managing another 10+ seasons in various places and another title would be a pretty sure in to the Hall as a manager, especially given his good enough to be reviewed player case. Hodges though would die of his 2nd heart attack just a couple days short of turning 48. This young death has always been one of the things pushing his case forward, sympathy and what ifs matter to voters. 

For an 8 year span Tony Oliva was nearly as good as anyone. He lacked a truly special season but he put out very good to great ones every year and really the only thing holding him back was his free swinging ways (he'd only walk 448 times in his career). He hit for average, he hit for very good power, and he was a solid fielder and baserunner. At 32 he had the best average of his career... and then seriously hurt his knee trying to catch a fly ball. That knee would cost him the rest of 71 and pretty much all of 72. It would take his power as well, turning a 20-25 HR guy into a 15 homer one. Injury stuff is pretty hard to figure out but a normal career trajectory given his averages he probably ends up over 2500 hits and near 300 homers. Again not quite HoF level even then which is probably why he was out but that had less to do with what he did in the majors then his late start. He didn't get here from Cuba until 22/23 and didn't debut until his 25/26 season. It's just hard to hit some numbers given that and his stats from 25-retire would have ended up similar to many HoFers... but he did get injured. Usually that keeps you out, but Tony did enough that his peers wanted him in.

*Fun fact the Cardinals would use 4 pitchers total in the last three games. The three starters and Bruce Sutter would pitch every inning.


Nattydread said...

Yes, all quiet.

But what about those 5 minor league Rule 5 pick-ups? Inconsequential? There seems to be some logic in Rizzo's approach. Raiding the better-stocked minor league teams in hope of catching lightening in a bottle. Gathering some lower level filler that might, at some point, be useful trade bait.

Will be interesting to see if any of these go any where.

Pro Sports said...

The Baseball Hall of Fame is more than just a list of the best players statistically. It's a way of recognizing the people who have contributed to the sport in meaningful ways and have left a lasting impact on its history and culture.

henriclinton said...

The Nationals Baseball team, officially known as the Washington Nationals, is a professional baseball team based in Washington, D.C. They play in the East Division of the National League (NL) of Major League Baseball (MLB).