BASEBALL'S 2016 PRE-INTEGRATION ERA COMMITTEE BALLOT: ARE THERE ANY HALL OF FAMERS LEFT?

BASEBALL'S 2016 PRE-INTEGRATION ERA COMMITTEE BALLOT: ARE THERE ANY HALL OF FAMERS LEFT?
05 Dec
2015
Not in Hall of Fame

Index



Pre-Integration Era Hall of Fame First Baseman: 20th Century Live Ball

The only first baseman on the Pre-Integration Era ballot this year is Frank McCormick, who played primarily for the Cincinnati Reds and spent his entire 13-year career in the National League. McCormick came up for a cup of coffee with the Reds in 1934 before spending the next two seasons in the minor leagues. He saw limited action with the parent club in 1937 before becoming a full-time player for the Reds the following season, and after an auspicious start—he led the National League in hits for three consecutive years between 1938 and 1940—McCormick was a lineup fixture until 1946; he retired two seasons later.

The table below includes the five Hall of Fame first basemen from the live-ball period of the Pre-Integration Era whose career timelines overlap with McCormick's to some degree, ranked by bWAR, with other qualitative statistics, including fWAR, listed alongside it.

To bolster an admittedly small sample, I've included Rudy York, who is not in the Hall of Fame or a candidate on this ballot; however, in a coincidence too timely to pass up, York's career timeline is identical to McCormick's (1934 to 1948) while York is ranked immediately behind McCormick on the JAWS listing for first basemen.

Pre-Integration Era (Live Ball) Hall of Fame First Basemen and 2016 First Basemen Candidate on the 2016 Pre-Integration Era Ballot, Ranked by bWAR

Position Player

Slash Line

wOBA

bWAR

fWAR

OPS+

wRC+

Gehrig, Lou

.340/.447/.632

.477

112.4

116.3

179

173

Foxx, Jimmie

.325/.428/.609

.460

96.4

101.8

163

158

Mize, Johnny

.312/.397/.562

.433

71.0

68.6

158

157

Greenberg, Hank

.313/.412/.605

.453

57.5

61.1

158

154

Bottomley, Jim

.310/.369/.500

.393

35.3

37.7

125

124

McCormick, Frank

.299/.348/.434

.363

34.8

33.3

118

118

* York, Rudy

.275/.362/.483

.390

34.7

39.1

123

122

* Not in the Hall of Fame or on this ballot.

The table below lists these five Hall of Fame first basemen associated with the live-ball period of the Pre-Integration Era along with McCormick and York, ranked by JAWS, along with other JAWS statistics and ratings for the Hall of Fame Monitor and the Hall of Fame Standards. Also included are the JAWS statistics for all first basemen in the Hall of Fame.

2016 Pre-Integration Era (Live Ball) First Baseman Candidate, Qualitative Comparisons to Hall of Fame First Basemen (Ranked by JAWS)

Player

No. of Years

From

To

bWAR

WAR7

JAWS

JAWS Rank

HoF Mon.

(≈100)

HoF Std.

(≈50)

Gehrig, Lou

17

1923

1939

112.4

67.7

90.0

1

352

72

Foxx, Jimmie

20

1925

1945

96.4

59.4

77.9

3

314

72

Mize, Johnny

15

1936

1953

71.0

48.8

59.9

8

175

47

Ave of 19 HoF 1B

NA

NA

NA

65.9

42.4

54.2

NA

NA

NA

Greenberg, Hank

13

1930

1947

57.5

47.7

52.6

16

188

46

Bottomley, Jim

16

1922

1937

35.3

28.8

32.0

55

99

42

McCormick, Frank

13

1934

1948

34.8

28.3

31.6

57

86

18

* York, Rudy

13

1934

1948

34.7

28.4

31.5

58

68

28

* Not in the Hall of Fame or on this ballot.

Admittedly, four of the Hall of Fame first basemen from McCormick's playing period—Gehrig, Foxx, Mize, and Greenberg—are among the best ever to play the game; on the other hand, we are evaluating legacy to determine whether McCormick is among the best-ever, aren't we?

Tellingly, the fifth Hall of Fame first baseman from this period, Jim Bottomley, had been elected to the Hall in 1974 by a veterans committee chaired by Frankie Frisch, who had been accused of fostering cronyism in the committee's selections—and it is no surprise that Bottomley and Frisch had been teammates on the St. Louis Cardinals. But although Bottomley's credentials for the Hall of Fame are marginal at best, they are still better than McCormick's.

Frank McCormick's career got off to an auspicious start, and he had a fine career capped by being named the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1940 and by being named to eight NL All-Star teams, with seven of those appointments consecutive ones from 1938 to 1944. (In 1945, there was no All-Star Game held because of wartime travel restrictions, and no players were officially selected that year; McCormick had been selected to the NL All-Star squad in 1946, his last year as an All-Star.) He led the NL in hits three years in a row, establishing his career-high single-season total of 209 hits in 1938 and matching that in 1939, and he had seasons with 150 or more hits five other times.

During that seven-year period from 1938 to 1944, when he had been named as an All-Star, McCormick posted a .304/.351/.451 slash line, averaging each season 178 hits, 35 doubles, 14 home runs, 80 runs scored, and 101 runs batted in; his OPS+ during this period was 122, and his seasonal bWAR was 4.0—strong for a starting player but below the minimum of 5.0 typically expected of All-Star-caliber players; he did generate seasonal bWARs above 5.0 in 1939, 1940, and 1944, that last year containing his career-high of 6.1. (During McCormick's playing career, the Wins Above Replacement statistic did not exist; it has been applied retrospectively.)

McCormick did have four seasons in which he finished in the top ten for NL Most Valuable Player voting, and he won the award in 1940 when he led the League in hits (191) and doubles (44) while posting a .309/.367/.482 slash line with 19 home runs, 93 runs scored, and 127 RBI, one shy of his career-high from the previous year, when he led the NL in RBI; all told, he had four seasons with 100 or more RBI.

Doubtless McCormick's excellent performance was a crucial factor in leading his Cincinnati Reds to the National League pennant in 1940; the Reds then defeated the Detroit Tigers in seven games to become World Series champions. However, McCormick's MVP award has been criticized over the years, with the critical consensus being that fellow first baseman Johnny Mize of the St. Louis Cardinals deserved the award.

In 1940, Mize led the NL in home runs (43) and RBI (137) as he put up a robust .313/.404/.636 slash line; retrospectively, Mize also led the League in overall bWAR with 7.4 (McCormick was sixth with 5.7), offensive bWAR with 7.7 (McCormick was eighth with 4.4), and OPS+ with 177 (McCormick's 132 did not make the top ten). Alas, the Cardinals placed third in the NL standings, 16 games behind the Reds although St. Louis nevertheless won 84 games. McCormick also played during the war years—the United States was officially at war from 1942 to 1945—when the talent pool was depleted by the absence of many Major League players serving in the military; those included Mize, who spent three years, from 1943 to 1945, in the US Navy during the prime of his career.

A solid first baseman with a fine career, Frank McCormick is not an exceptional candidate, and his has not been overlooked previously. He is not a Hall of Fame player.

Pre-Integration Era Hall of Fame Shortstop: Dead Ball

Although there are two shortstops on the 2016 Pre-Integration Era ballot, Bill Dahlen and Marty Marion, each played in fundamentally different periods—Dahlen straddled the 19th and 20th centuries as he played exclusively with the dead ball, while Marion played exclusively with the live ball. Thus, it would be inaccurate, if not unfair, to compare them directly.

So, let's start with Dahlen first. Here are the five Hall of Fame shortstops associated with the Pre-Integration Era (Dead Ball) whose careers overlapped Dahlen's to some degree, ranked by bWAR, with other qualitative statistics, including fWAR, listed alongside it.

Pre-Integration Era (Dead Ball) Hall of Fame Shortstops and 2016 Shortstop Candidate on the 2016 Pre-Integration Era Ballot, Ranked by bWAR

Position Player

Slash Line

wOBA

bWAR

fWAR

OPS+

wRC+

Wagner, Honus

.328/.391/.467

.408

131.0

138.1

151

147

Davis, George

.295/.362/.405

.366

84.7

84.6

121

118

Dahlen, Bill

.272/.358/.382

.357

75.2

77.5

110

108

Wallace, Bobby

.268/.332/.358

.333

70.2

62.4

105

104

Tinker, Joe

.262/.308/.353

.319

53.2

55.5

96

96

Jennings, Hughie

.312/.391/.406

.385

42.3

44.9

118

119


The table below lists these five Hall of Fame shortstops associated with the Pre-Integration Era (Dead Ball) and Dahlen, ranked by JAWS, along with other JAWS statistics and ratings for the Hall of Fame Monitor and the Hall of Fame Standards. Also included are the JAWS statistics for all shortstops in the Hall of Fame.

Pre-Integration Era (Dead Ball) 2016 Shortstop Candidate, Qualitative Comparisons to Hall of Fame Shortstops (Ranked by JAWS)

Player

No. of Years

From

To

bWAR

WAR7

JAWS

JAWS Rank

HoF Mon.

(≈100)

HoF Std.

(≈50)

Wagner, Honus

21

1897

1917

131.0

65.4

98.2

1

312

75

Davis, George

20

1890

1909

84.7

44.3

64.5

4

81

54

Dahlen, Bill

21

1891

1911

75.2

40.1

57.7

10

94

48

Wallace, Bobby

25

1894

1918

70.2

41.8

56.0

14

30

30

Ave of 21 HoF SS

NA

NA

NA

66.7

42.8

54.7

NA

NA

NA

Tinker, Joe

15

1902

1916

53.2

33.1

43.2

24

24

20

Jennings, Hughie

18

1891

1918

42.3

39.0

40.6

28

88

34


In this sample, Bill Dahlen ranks third, behind Honus Wagner and George Davis. The difference between Wagner and Davis is an interesting gulf. Wagner was one of the first five players ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936, ahead of even Cy Young, who had won an amazing 511 games as a pitcher and whose name would later be used on the award that honors the best pitcher in each league. (Young was inducted the next year.) Wagner tied with Babe Ruth for the second-highest vote total; then, more than sixty years later, Wagner was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999, albeit one of five chosen by a select panel as opposed to having been voted onto the team by fan balloting.

Davis, by contrast, fell into obscurity as soon as he stopped playing baseball. He appears in no official records by either the BBWAA or the veterans committee concerning voting. Davis's statistics had always been part of the baseball record, but no one really paid any mind to them, at least within the last two decades, until Bill James in his book about the Hall of Fame declared Davis to be the best player not inducted into the Hall. Two years later, other baseball researchers including John Thorn and Pete Palmer, co-authors of the official baseball encyclopedia Total Baseball, took up the cry, and by 1998 the veterans committee had elected Davis.

Dahlen may be just behind Davis, but in terms of value he is ahead of Bobby Wallace, Joe Tinker, and Hughie Jennings, shortstops roughly from Dahlen's time period who had all been inducted into the Hall between the 1940s and 1950s.

Defensively, Dahlen remains among distinguished company. The table below lists the Pre-Integration Era Hall of Fame shortstops from the dead-ball period and Dahlen, ranked by dWAR, or Wins Above Replacement based on defensive value only, with other defensive metrics (explained below the table) and their career stolen base totals.

Defensive and Stolen-Base Statistics for Pre-Integration Era (Dead Ball) Hall of Fame Shortstops and 2016 Shortstop Candidate on the 2016 Pre-Integration Era Ballot, Ranked by dWAR

Player

Putouts

Assists

Double Plays Turned

Total Zone

dWAR

Fld. Pct.

RF/9

League RF/9

Stolen Bases

Tinker, Joe

3768

5856

671

180

34.3

.938

5.63

5.40

336

Wallace, Bobby

4142

6303

640

105

28.7

.938

5.89

5.61

201

Dahlen, Bill

4856

7505

881

120

28.4

.927

5.96

5.67

548

Davis, George

3239

4794

590

106

24.0

.940

6.04

5.74

619

Wagner, Honus

4576

6041

766

67

21.3

.940

5.67

5.43

723

Jennings, Hughie

2384

3143

411

56

9.0

.922

6.37

5.77

359

Total Zone Number of Runs Saved: Indexed to a league-average of 0, with a seasonal 15 TZ equivalent to a Gold Glove-caliber defender, as calculated by FanGraphs.

dWAR: Wins Above Replacement for defensive play only, as calculated by Baseball Reference. Note that this value is an aggregate value and includes value generated at positions other than shortstop.

Fld. Pct: Fielding percentage, defined as total putouts plus total assists divided by total chances (total putouts, total assists, total errors).

RF/9: Range factor per nine innings, defined as total putouts plus total assists multiplied by 9, and then divided by the total innings played.

League RF/9: Range factor per nine innings, defined as total putouts plus total assists multiplied by 9, and then divided by the total innings played, computed for the entire league.

In terms of dWAR (again, a statistic that did not exist in Dahlen's day), Dahlen is ahead of Davis and Wagner, while he is second only to Tinker in total runs saved above a league-average shortstop. And if Dahlen is second all-time among shortstops in errors committed, contributing to his relatively low fielding percentage, he is also second in putouts and fourth in assists. Dahlen's range factor is also above the league average.

Offensively, for a 13-year period from 1892 to 1904, Dahlen produced a .287/.371/.410 slash line, averaging each season 139 hits including 24 doubles, 11 triples, and 5 home runs while scoring 95 runs and driving in 72 as he swiped 35 bases. Dahlen's 2461 hits ranks 107th all-time, his 413 doubles 158th, and his 163 triples, coincidentally tied with Davis, ranks 33rd, while his 1590 runs scored is 50th best as his 548 stolen bases are 28th all-time. In addition, Dahlen's 1234 RBI is 140th all-time, which remains impressive for a middle infielder of his era.

At the tail-end of his playing career, Bill Dahlen became manager of the Brooklyn franchise, known as either the Dodgers or the Superbas depending on which year it was, although it should be noted that the team's nickname was not an official designation at least until 1932, when the name "Dodgers" first appeared on the team's uniforms. Dahlen had inherited a weak club, and he was unable to do much except keep the team out of the cellar for the four years that he managed from 1910 to 1913. However, his ferocious temper, vented at various umpires, cemented his own nickname of "Bad Bill," and he is still among the top ten managers all-time with 65 ejections.

Bill Dahlen

"Bad Bill" Dahlen looks ready to tussle with the umpire and possibly receive one of his 65 ejections.

As a shortstop during a time when baseball transitioned from the 19th-century game to the modern game, and during a time when middle infielders were not expected to be offensive threats, Bill Dahlen was an outstanding two-way player, a slugging shortstop who could steal bases and was a reliable glove at a crucial defensive position. And as a 35-year-old shortstop in 1905, Dahlen helped the then-New York Giants to their first World Series championship.

Frankly, there are very few players from the Pre-Integration Era who have been overlooked with respect to inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, Bill Dahlen is legitimately one of them—he is clearly equivalent to his contemporaries already in the Hall, and in terms of bWAR and JAWS he is above the threshold formed by the aggregated records of all shortstops in the Hall. Dahlen just missed election on his last ballot for the 2013 induction—that honor going to Deacon White instead—and this year is the opportunity to correct that oversight. Bill Dahlen is a Hall of Famer.

Last modified on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 21:47

Comments   

0 #1 Committee Chairman 2015-12-07 04:12
Amazing DDT! Just amazing!
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