2020 Modern Baseball Era Ballot: Which Former Stars Deserve the Call to the Hall?
Contrary to popular belief, a player’s chance at election to the Hall of Fame doesn’t end after their eligibility on the BBWAA ballot. One of the various Hall of Fame committees, known as the Veterans Committees, meet every year to review the cases of players who fell off the ballot. This year, it will be the Modern Baseball Committee who get to decide which of the nine eligible players should be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Dwight Evans, RF, 1972-1991
Having to share a lineup with Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice and Carl Yazstrzemski, Evans was constantly overshadowed. He never put up the gaudy numbers that those three did, but he was as important to the Red Sox as any of them. His two best tools were his defense that won him eight gold gloves and a power bat that finished with 385 home runs, but he also hit over .290 five times. Evans case is hurt by the fact that he was a late bloomer and that he only made three All-Star teams, but that only speaks to the fact that he wasn’t appreciated in his time. When you look at the full picture, Evans was one of the best right fielders of his era.
Steve Garvey, 1B, 1969-1987
In terms of consistency, there is nobody on the ballot who is better than Garvey. Throughout the ’70s, you could pretty much pencil in Garvey for a .310 average, 200 hits, and 100 RBIs His durability was unmatched: He played every game for eight years and averaged 152 games played from 1974 to 1986. The problem with Garvey is that he was a good player and not a great player. If elected, his home run total would be by far the lowest among expansion-era HOF first baseman, and his .294 average isn’t high enough to make up for that. His 38.1 WAR further speaks to a player who was a star in his heyday, but not an all-time great.
Verdict: Not in
Tommy John, SP, 1963-1989
When evaluating John, the overall numbers are essentially meaningless because John pitched for so long. It’s not hard to win 288 games when you pitch for 26 years, yet in only four of those 26 years was he an all-star. He also pitched in an extremely pitcher-friendly era, which makes his 3.34 ERA seem a lot less impressive. John was the epitome of a stat-compiler, and while his durability and longevity should be recognized, it doesn’t make him a Hall of Famer.
Verdict: Not in
Don Mattingly, 1B, 1982-1995
Like Murphy, Mattingly was dominant in the ’80s before suffering a steep decline. He made the All-Star team each year from 1984 to 1989, hitting .327 while averaging 27 home runs and 114 RBIs a year. He also won five gold gloves, solidifying his place as one of the best players in baseball. While he was still a good hitter after that peak, he lost all semblance of power and ultimately had to retire at age 34. The same rules that apply to Murphy apply to Mattingly: It takes more than six great years to make the Hall of Fame. There’s no doubt Mattingly would be a Hall of Famer if he was the same player in his thirties as he was in his twenties, but his knee problems that eventually ended his career also derails his Hall of Fame case.
Verdict: Not In
Thurman Munson, C, 1969-1979
Munson was the face of the 70’s Yankees, an old-school, hard-nosed catcher who won three gold gloves and was a career .292 hitter. Unfortunately, a plane crash tragically ended his career at age 32 and likely prevented him from having a serious MVP case. Munson’s value always went beyond the numbers, but his career totals (1558 hits, 113 home runs) are well short of Hall of Fame standards.
Verdict: Not in
Dale Murphy, OF, 1976-1993
From 1982 to 1987, Dale Murphy was arguably the best player in baseball, averaging 36 home runs and 105 RBIs a year, winning five gold gloves, and missing just five games over the span. Around that peak, however, was a barely above average player with just one season with an OPS+ above 115. Even though Murphy was an elite power hitter is his prime, his lack of consistency and longevity leaves his home run total at just 398, well below the Hall of Fame standard for someone who hit .262.
Verdict: Not in
Dave Parker, RF, 1973-1991
This was the hardest decision on the list. Parker has all the accolades you could want in a Hall of Famer: Seven all-star appearances, an MVP award, two batting titles and a World Series title in 1979. He has 2,712 hits and 339 home runs to go along with a solid .290 average. He was never considered one of the true superstars in the game and was overshadowed in his prime by teammate Willie Stargell. but he was a star for many years and deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Ted Simmons, C, 1968-1988
Constantly overshadowed throughout his career by Johnny Bench, Simmons is on the cusp of the Hall of Fame after falling one vote shy of election in 2017. And he deserves it. He hit over .300 seven times, 20 home runs six times, and 90 RBIs nine times and while he was never quite as dominant as Bench, he still managed to make eight all-star teams. Being in the same league as Bench also prevented Simmons from winning a gold glove, but Simmons was a very good defensive catcher in his own right. The entire resume paints of picture of one of the best catchers of all time, and one that is more than deserving of election.
Lou Whitaker, 2B, 1977-1995
I’m not a huge proponent of WAR, but it does say something that Whitaker’s total of 75.1 is ahead of Hall of Famers Frankie Frisch, Ryne Sandberg, Robert Alomar, and Craig Biggio. While his .276 career average and 244 home runs seem unimpressive, they are good for a second baseman, especially one that could run and field as well as Whitaker. He also had one of the best eyes in the game, getting on base at a .363 clip, and was a key member of the 1984 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers. He was underappreciated both in his playing days (only three all-star appearances) and in his time on the BBWAA ballot (2.9 percent in his only year), but in an era were WAR and on-base percentage are king, he should get in on the Veterans ballot.
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