Baseball has three different panels it uses for selecting people to the Hall of Fame — the Baseball Writers of America, the Veterans Committee (which votes in people who played 50+ years ago who were overlooked for the HofF and a new panel I never heard of before called the Expansion Committee, which looks at players overlooked by the writers after 1973.
This year, there are 12 names on the Expansion Committee’s list: Dave Concepcion, Bobby Cox, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Tony La Russa, Billy Martin, Marvin Miller, Dave Parker, Dan Quisenberry, Ted Simmons, George Steinbrenner and Joe Torre.
Which ones do I think deserve to be in the Hall (and am surprised are not in the Hall?). I love these sorts of debates. They’re so fun:
1) Dave Parker. I think he’s a definite Hall of Famer and I’m surprised he didn’t get more attention from the writers. He was a .290 lifetime hitter, hit 339 home runs in a deadball era, drove in 1,493 runs, won two batting titles, won an MVP and came in second in the MVP race another year (and came in third in the MVP race two others times), had 2,712 total hits and had a solid career OPS of .810. He also made 7 All-Star teams. He also won two championships with Pittsburgh and Oakland. He was simply one of the most feared hitters of the 1970s.
2) Joe Torre. No brainer. A lot of people don’t realise that Torre was a borderline Hall of Famer as a player. He hit .297 for his career with 252 home runs, a batting title and an MVP — and 9 All-Star games. He then went on to win 2,326 games as a manager with 4 World Series titles and 6 AL pennants.
3) Tommy John. Tommy John I believe has the most wins as an eligible pitcher without being in the Hall of Fame — 288 (Ok, some guy in the 1800s has 297 and he isn’t in — can you figure out who, Steve Lardy?). He won 20 games three times, and twice finished second in the Cy Young voting and made the All-Star team four times. If you put Burt Blyleven in with 287 wins (and zero Cy Youngs and two measly All Star appearances), then Tommy John deserves to go in too. And he had a breakthrough surgery named for him.
4) Tony La Russa. Unlike Torre, La Russa was not an outstanding player. But, as a manager, he won 6 pennants and 3 World Series (with Oakland and St. Louis) and won 2,728 games, third all time.
I think these four are all no-brainers. The next few are a little tougher.
5) Bobby Cox. Bobby Cox won 2,504 games as a manager, fourth all-time behind La Russa. However, he didn’t have a lot of postseason success. In 30 years as a manager, he won 15 division titles, but only won 5 pennants and only 1 World Series. He made the postseason 16 times total but managed only one World Series title in those 16 opportunities, in other words. I guess he gets in based on the 2,504 wins, but it appears to me he got outmanaged quite a bit in postseason.
6) Steve Garvey. Garvey is very borderline. He hit .294, won an MVP, hit over .300 seven times and made 10 All-Star teams, hit 272 home runs and had just an OK OPS of .775. He basically had eight really good years from age 24-31, but after the age of 31, his numbers declined and he became a pretty mediocre player and he was done at 37. I don’t think 8 good years and 7 or 8 mediocre years quite gets you in the Hall of Fame. I think he comes up a bit short.
7) Dan Quisenberry. I personally have a bias against relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame. The only eligible relief pitchers I think belong in the Hall are Mariano Rivera and maybe Trevor Hoffman. It’s just such a specialised position, and saves are the most overrated statistic in baseball. Quisenberry led the American League in saves five times and four times finished in the top 3 for the Cy Young award. But, his career was short –12 years, and in only 10 of those years did he appear in more than 32 games or 40 innings. Again, not enough for the Hall of Fame, especially for a relief pitcher.
8) Dave Concepcion. I also have a bias against good players who got a lot of attention because they played on great teams. Concepcion’s offensive numbers are simply too mediocre — .267 batting average, 101 home runs, two full seasons hitting over .300, a horrid career OPS of .679. He did win 5 Gold Gloves and made the All-Star team 9 times. But, he didn’t win 13 Gold Gloves like Ozzie Smith. So, I think he is primarily on the list for playing most of his career on powerful Cincinnati Reds teams.
9) Ted Simmons. I have to be honest, I never heard of him before. I looked up his numbers and they were very solid — .285 lifetime hitter, 248 home runs. He did drive in 90 or more runs 8 times. But, the highest he ever finished in the MVP race was sixth and he never hit more than 26 home runs in a season. Not good enough for the Hall of Fame, IMO.
The rest) The rest of the eligible are non-players, Steinbrenner was a longtime owner of the Yankees, Billy Martin was an average player but is on the list for being a longtime manager and Marvin Miller is a longtime union leader. I don’t have any strong opinions about whether they belong in the Hall, other than Marvin Miller was a big architect of free agency and therefore changed the game dramatically. I don’t think owners should go in, personally.
It will be interesting to see how my picks match up against the Expansion panel, which is mostly made up of former players — so I guess their opinion matters more than mine.