By In Baseball, Hall of Fame

The Finalists: Concepcion and Simmons

Our continuing series on the 12 men on the Baseball Hall of Fame Expansion Era ballot.

Dave Concepcion

Summary: Played 19 years for the Cincinnati Reds. Was the starting shortstop for the Big Red Machine team that dominated the mid-1970s — played in four World Series from 1970 to 1976. Known for being a dazzling defensive shortstop who offered some offensive value — this in a time when the best defenders (like Gold Glove winners Don Kessinger, Dal Maxville, Bud Harrelson, Roger Metzger, Mark Belanger, Ed Brinkman) could not hit at all. Some see Concepcion as a bridge between the era of the no-hit shortstop and the era when shortstops (Alan Trammell, Cal Ripken, Robin Yount, Dickie Thon, etc) became offensive weapons.

The quick case: Concepcion won five Gold Gloves and his advanced defensive numbers suggest he was one of the greatest defensive shortstops in baseball history. His career defensive WAR of 20.9 places him in the Top 40 all-time, any position, right between the great Honus Wagner and the near-great Graig Nettles. His offensive contribution might have been somewhat overstated at the time because shortstops were generally TERRIBLE hitters. Concepcion did offer some offense. He managed more than 2,300 hits in his career. He put up some pretty good batting avenges and he twice hit double-digit home runs — believe it or not his 16 home runs in 1979 is the most for any National League shortstop between 1967 and 1982. He was a good base stealers who was rarely thrown out.

The history: Concepcion was on the BBWAA ballot for the full 15 years but never gained much momentum. After his first two years, he always got double digit support, but he never reached 20% support. His topped out at 16.9%.

Comparable Hall of Famer: Growing up in Venezuela, Concepcion idolized countryman Luis Aparicio. Concepcion was much taller and thinner, but, in the end was a remarkably similar player.

* * *

Ted Simmons

Summary: Played 21 years for three teams. Simmons built a reputation as a good-hit, no-field catcher, a reputation which might have been a bit unfair to his defense. He played in an era with great catchers and, inevitably, found himself compared to Johnny Bench and Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk. In this way, he was a bit like Tim Raines, who had the misfortune of playing at precisely the same time as Rickey Henderson. Simmons really could hit. Not that this statistic means a whole lot but Simmons hit .300 seven times as an everyday catcher — when he retired, the only men who had done that were Hall of Famers Bill Dickey, Ernie Lombardi and Mickey Cochrane.

The quick case: Simmons’ 118 career OPS+ is higher than Hall of Fame contemporaries Carlton Fisk (117) or Gary Carter (115). He played in eight All-Star Games and for 10 years — from 1971 to 1980 — he hit .301/.367/.466, which was about as good a run of offense for any catcher not named Johnny Bench or Yogi Berra. The reason he was never seriously considered for the Hall was his defense. People seemed to think he was a real liability behind the plate. There is a sense that he might have been unfairly judged. Simmons did have an unusual number of passed balls in his younger days, but he threw well and was well-regarded as a handler of pitchers. Later, he and Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog had a very public feud which perhaps fueled a negative impression of Simmons. He went to Milwaukee and was a key player in their only World Series appearance.

The history: Simmons was on the Hall of Fame ballot just one year, and he received only 17 votes — fewer than Pete Rose who was not even on the ballot.

Comparable Hall of Famer: Simmons’ compares very well offensively with contemporaries Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter.

* * *

So, let’s ask a question: What makes a borderline Hall of Fame candidate? It seems to me that it comes down to two things. He must be:

1. An excellent baseball player.


2. A player whose career is hard to separate from other excellent baseball players.

Willie Mays is an obvious Hall of Famer because there was no one quite like Willie Mays. The few players who could hit like Mays couldn’t field like him. The few players who could field like Mays couldn’t hit like him. He is obviously an extreme example because there’s a good argument that Willie Mays was the best all-around player in baseball history. But, really, all the obvious Hall of Fame candidates separated themselves by their singularity. There has never been a player quite like George Brett or Stan Musial or Joe Morgan or Hank Aaron or Roberto Clemente or Tom Seaver or Ted Williams. Their careers close off all discussion of other players because there ARE no other players quite like them. Why is Greg Maddux a slam-dunk, no-doubt Hall of Famer? Because he was great and you can’t think of another pitcher like Greg Maddux.

But the borderline candidates — there are other players like them. The players might not be EXACTLY alike … but they are close enough. The ultimate borderline Hall of Fame candidate these days, everybody knows, is Jack Morris. He’s on the Hall of Fame ballot for the 15th time, and he has gotten very close to election. Nobody knows what will happen this time around because the Hall of Fame ballot is so absurdly overpopulated, but he has a chance. Morris himself seems particularly anxious, and last week had a rather unfortunate discussion with Murray Chass where he seemed to say that the reason he never led the league in ERA is because nobody ever asked him to.

Morris had a superb career. These Baseball Hall of Fame conversations tend to get overheated and, because of that, subtlety expands into gospel, nuance becomes shouting and before long one side is arguing that Jack Morris was the ultimate big-game pitcher who you would want pitching for your soul and the other side argues that Morris was a barely average pitcher who happened to be on the right teams. Whatever truth each side shouts is mitigated by the stuff they don’t want to talk about.

Morris was a remarkably durable consistent pitcher who never missed a start and gave up 100 to 120 or so runs every year. He also pitched one of the most famous games in baseball history, 10 shutout innings in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

And, like most borderline candidates, his career is similar to other superb pitchers. Every Hall of Fame argument for him is also a Hall of Fame argument for someone else. Morris won 254 games in his career, a high number and one that many of his supporters bring up (usually pointing out that he won more games than any pitcher in the 1980s). But Tommy John won 288 games and is not in the Hall of Fame. Jim Kaat won 283 games and is not in the Hall of Fame. Mike Mussina comes on the ballot this year with 270 wins and nobody seems to know what his Hall of Fame chances are. Jamie Moyer won 267 games.

So, then people will say that, OK, but Morris’ case is not just wins. He must get credit for his postseason genius. Morris pitched very well in the 1984 World Series and his Game 7 in 1991 is legend. Some will point out that he also had mediocre and poor postseason outings, but looking beyond that — what about a pitcher who almost singlehandedly led his team to a World Series championship? In 1968, Mickey Lolich started Game 2 of the World Series with his Tigers having lost the first game to St. Louis. Lolich gave up six hits and one run and the Tigers won. The Tigers promptly lost the next two games and were on the brink of elimination when Lolich pitched again. He gave up three runs in the first inning — a home run to Orlando Cepeda was the big blow — but did not allow a Cardinals runner to reach third base the rest of the game and the Tigers won again.

He came back on two days rest to pitch Game 7 and threw his third complete game, a five-hitter. He had a shutout in the ninth inning when he gave up a relatively meaningless solo home run to Mike Shannon — pitching to the score, some might call it. Lolich’s performance in 1968 is one of the greatest in World Series history — you could easily argue that it is greater, in total, than Jack Morris in 1991. As for the rest, Lolich threw almost as many innings in his career as Morris, struck out more batters, walked fewer, threw 13 more shutouts, had an ERA that was a half-run or so lower (in a better pitching era).

Or … what of Luis Tiant? He pitched about 400 fewer innings than Morris but still struck out about as many hitters. He walked fewer per nine, threw 21 more shutouts, had a much better ERA and almost exactly the same winning percentage. He had his own postseason glory in 1975, throwing a complete game and allowing only one unearned run against the three-time defending World Series champion Oakland A’s in the championship series and then in the World Series he was breathtakingly good against the Big Red Machine, one of the greatest offensive teams in baseball history. Tiant shut out the Reds in Game 1 of the series, and then threw a complete game to win Game 4.

Or … what of Orel Hershiser? His career was 800 or so innings shorter than Morris’, but again he matches up in all the same categories — better ERA, fewer walks per nine, same winning percentage, and he had the amazing 1988 where he carried the Dodgers into the playoffs (he probably should have been MVP that season) and then carried them THROUGH the playoffs, throwing two shutouts, coming out of the bullpen to get an extra-inning save, pitching the clincher in both the NLCS (where he shut out the Mets) and World Series.

So now what? Morris won more games than Tiant and Lolich and Hershiser. But he won fewer games than Kaat and John. He had a better winning percentage than Kaat and John. but not as good as Kenny Rogers or Bret Saberhagen or Bob Welch.

There are 50 non-Hall of Famers since Deadball who have thrown between 3000 and 4,500 innings. Morris ranks seventh in innings pitched, 41st in ERA, 26th in shutouts, 10th in strikeouts, 45th in walks, 45th in homers allowed, fifth in wins, 36th in losses, 12th in winning percentage and 27th in WAR.* Remember: These are among NON Hall of Famers. His career was superb, and it’s a lot like a dozen or more other superb careers. That is at the heart of what makes someone a borderline Hall of Famer. The more players who come into the conversation, the more borderline the candidate becomes.

*I have had a couple people write in to complain that when talking about Morris’ career, I always use his Baseball Reference WAR (43.8) rather than his higher Fangraphs WAR (52.5). It is a fair point; I tend to use Baseball Reference because it is easier to filter searches. It is true that while Morris ranks 111th among pitchers in Baseball Rerference WAR, he’s 74th in Fangraphs — ahead of Hall of Famers Jim Palmer, Three-Finger Brown and contemporary Dave Stieb. But Fangraphs is not overly kind either. It puts him behind 31 non-Hall of Famers including Paul Derringer, Curt Simmons and Javier Vazquez (Morris is ahead of these three in Baseball Reference WAR).

And so, on to our Expansion Era candidates. I am partial to Dave Concepcion’s Hall of Fame case because I have an obvious affinity for the Big Red Machine and believe Concepcion was a fantastic player. But I’m not really sure I see how Concepcion’s career was any better than, say, Bert Campaneris, a similarly brilliant defender who offered some offensive value (he led the league in stolen bases six times) and was the starting shortstop for a 1970s dynasty. I’m not especially a Maury Wills for the Hall of Fame guy, but Wills actually got on base more than Concepcion, was a revolutionary base stealer and was the starting shortstop for a 1960s dynasty. Jim Fregosi was a better hitter than Concepcion and probably has a more compelling case as the bridge guy between the era of no-hit shortstops and the time of good-hitting shortstop. Mark Belanger couldn’t hit like Concepcion but was the best defensive shortstop of his time and perhaps any time. And Alan Trammell gains little-to-no Hall of Fame traction but he was a better player than any of these guys.

There are simply too many players who compare well with Concepcion for him to be a Hall of Famer the way I look at things.

Simmons is a bit different. When you look at the eligible catchers not in the Hall of Fame (not counting Mike Piazza, who just made it to the ballot last year), Simmons is pretty clearly the best. You could argue for Thurman Munson or Gene Tenace, I suppose, but that’s stretching things a bit — Simmons had 4,000 more plate appearances than Tenace and everyone knows the tragic ending to Munson’s short career. Among retired shortstops, only Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Piazza — two players who are almost certain Hall of Famers — have a higher WAR than Simmons.

So Ted Simmons is in a weird spot. He certainly could be in the Hall of Fame — he would not be one of the better catchers in the Hall of Fame, but he would not be the worst either. Or he could be the best catcher not in the Hall of Fame. Nobody wants that second job. But somebody has to do it.

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35 Responses to The Finalists: Concepcion and Simmons

  1. tombando says:

    *Wouldn’t hurt my feelings to see Concepcion go in. But I doubt he makes it.

    *Simba was a personal fave. Of course I wanna see him in there.

    *Ahhh that there sticky ‘Narrative’ wicket. Black Jack is rated c.75th all time using Fangraph’s WAR total. That puts him closer to ‘In’ than ‘out. Big hall guy here. Of course he belongs.

    • Robert says:

      I read Chass and I want to rip my eyes out. Quote:

      “Morris makes a valid point. The stats geeks judge him on statistics that didn’t exist when he pitched.”

      It’s called evolution, asshole. It’s called learning, or knowledge, or advancing society.

      What, if you get an infection, it shouldn’t be treated, right? Cuz they never had antibiotics “back in the day”.

      I swear if Murray Chass was president he’d make everyone ride horses and beat their wives. Or vice versa.

  2. chris says:

    If Jack Morris is a HOF, then so is Andy Pettitte. Same wins & K, same post-season argument with better peripherals for Pettitte (BB/9, KK/9, ERA+) given the era. Pettitte is Morris’ 2nd most similar pitcher on BR.

  3. Blake says:

    Read the Murray Chass column. Ecch. What’s wrong with the Hall of Fame is that people like him are the voters.

  4. 18thstreet says:

    I think — and Bill James might have said this — that among the best questions to ask is, “Is he the best eligible player at his position not in the Hall of Fame? I think it easily rules out Jack Morris, because Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens were much better pitchers. It’s not even close.

    And if you want to rule out Clemens because of his (equally) obvious steroid use, Curt Schilling was a much better pitcher than Morris, and even has post-season heroics (bloody sock games, the 2001 World Series) to overwhelm Morris’s post-season heroics. Mike Mussina was better in the regular season than Morris, but doesn’t have a post-season resume in his favor.

    And these comparisons matter because you (you, BBWAA member for 10 years) only get 10 votes. And with a ballot as impressive as this one is, a vote for Morris is inherently a vote against a different candidate. I don’t think that’s always been the case, historically. Looking at this list of players, I think one HAS to vote for ten of them.

    Bonds and Clemens, I understand, are controversial. I’d vote for both of them, though. But after that, you’re left with eight or ten votes. Here’s eight players who, I think, are no-brainers.

    Frank Thomas

    Plus a few arguables:
    – Edgar Martinez
    – Larry Walker
    – Raphael Palmeiro
    – etc.

    If you vote for Jack Morris, you HAVE to be saying: Jack Morris is better than one of the players above.

    • buddaley says:

      I agree with you but will nitpick your last sentence. A voter might think that as this is Jack’s last time on the ballot, while Edgar, for example, has some time left, he will save his Edgar vote for another time and be sure to cast one for Morris.

    • wordyduke says:

      If you vote for Morris because it’s his 15th year, are you then saying that he’s the 10th best player on the ballot but you think he belongs in the Hall? If Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Luis Tiant, and Mickey Lolich were on a ballot with Morris, would you put all five of them in the Hall together?

  5. Mike says:

    “For 10 years . . . he hit 301/367/466, which was about as good a run of offense for any catcher not named Johnny Bench or Yogi Berra.”

    Sir, Mr. Piazza is on line one. Shall I take a message or do you want him to hold?

    • I was going to write something like this:

      Ted Simmons: 1971-1980, 169 HR, 834 OPS, 131 OPS+
      Mike Piazza: 1993-2002, 346 HR, .969 OPS, 155 OPS+

      Piazza also was an underrated defender, who was lousy at throwing out base stealers but almost always had a better catcher’s ERA than his staff’s average.

      Piazza deserves to be in the HOF as a DH. Compare it to Ortiz’s best 10 year run: 342 HR, 148 OPS+, Edgar Martinez, 231 HR, 159 OPS+. But Piazza, of course, wasn’t a DH; he played the hardest defensive position on the field, the one most likely to screw up his offense, and he hit better than any catcher in history. Johnny Bench’s best 10 year run had an OPS+ of 132. Yogi Berra’s was 130. Pudge Rodriguez only had two seasons in his career better than 130.

  6. Dan W. says:

    “Somebody has to be the best player not in the HoF.”

    Perhaps the BBWAA should have a yearly vote on who THAT person is!

  7. el Aguila says:

    Ah, Javier Vazquez. If he hadn’t just up and retired, he could have reached 3000 SO, would probably have around 2750 by now. It’s weird how a lot of players with no real HOF buzz who you suddenly realize are on pace towards a HOF milestone suddenly… Fizzle out, even retire while still useful.

    I never understood how Ted Simmons only lasted one ballot. At the time, he had the most hits ever at his position.
    “Most hits ever at his position.” And it wasn’t even DH or anything; yet, just 17 votes.

  8. Mike: he covered Piazza: “Simmons is a bit different. When you look at the eligible catchers not in the Hall of Fame (not counting Mike Piazza, who just made it to the ballot last year), Simmons is pretty clearly the best.”

  9. So… it’s November…. I guess that means every article ultimately veers into discussing why Jack Morris is not a HOFer. Another blog on NBC started out talking about not wanting to get into the negativity of the Morris HOF case…. and then proceeded to do just that. I guess you can’t talk about borderline HOF cases without “going there”.

    OK, we get it. Morris’ case is not all that great… and if he gets in, about 20 other pitchers should be considered too.

    There are much more interesting things going on with the ballot this year. Let’s talk about those things.

  10. I’m good with the Simmons case. He deserves to be in and he never got a proper hearing (for whatever reason)… but the rest of the slate to me is full of suits (whom I don’t care about at all), managers (not that interesting even if they are deserving) and guys who’ve already had their case fully heard…. and quite frankly, they’re cases weren’t that compelling… and had significant holes in them.

    I can’t for the life of me figure out how Dick Allen didn’t make the list (he played in the 60s and 70s, so maybe he was outside the time frame? I forget where the line was drawn)… and as Joe mentioned, Dwight Evans also has a more compelling case. Maybe throw in a Dave Stieb, or someone like that. Those would have been far more interesting discussions than a Dave Concepcion or a Steve Garvey. Though I love both players, their cases just aren’t that great.

  11. Wilbur says:

    Not that this is a reason for induction, but Ted Simmons was the best-balanced hitter I ever saw, as solid as a granite boulder in the batter’s box. Unfortunately, he ran about as well as that.

    I believe his omission from the HOF is glaring. I say that as a Cub fan.

  12. visigoths says:

    I think Concepcion (and Trammell) are both HOF shortstops. Concepcion was superior in his era, and a terrific player on a truly great team. I can still see him with the one-hop throws off the turn to first base in Riverfront Stadium.

    • Donald A. Coffin says:

      I’m more-or-less a “big Hall” guy, and it wouldn’t be absurd for Dave Concepcion to get into the HoF. But…I have some difficulty with is career 88 OPS+, with no–zero–league-leads in anything–and good, but not, so far as I can see, great defensive stats. By way of comparison, Luis Aparicio (whom I regard as a marginal HoF member, partly because of his 82 OPS+), at least had those 9 years of leading the AL in SB. And, according to BBRef, bests Concepcion on defense, with 32 dWAR to Concepcion’s 21. Rabbit Maranville likewise has a sub-standard OPS+ (and no league-leading totals), but (again) more dWAR that Concepcion. Now compare that with Alan Trammell…OPS+ of 110 (and, again, no league-leading totals), and (again) more dWAR than Concepcion–and overall 70 WAR (BBRef) (Concepcion has 40). Bert Campaneris has more BBRef WAR as Concepcion–53 overall to Concepcion’s 40, and 21 on defense–the same as Concepcion. Camp also has an OPS+ of 101, and 8 league leading totals (6 SB, 1 hits and 1 3B). Furthermore, Campy got MVP votes in 8 seasons, compared with Concepcion’s 3 such seasons (Trammell, incidentally, had 7 seasons with MVP votes).

      So I’d take Trammell well before Concepcion, and while I think Campaneris is a marginal HoF member, I’d also take him before Concepcion.

      • KHAZAD says:

        When I first read the list of nominees my very first thought was “Concepcion?”

        Don’t get me wrong, I think there is room for a few guys that are in because they are great defensive players, but most of those guys were clearly considered head and shoulders the best at their position when they played. You could make an argument for Concepcion being top three in his time, but I think the argument would stop there. He certainly wasn’t widely considered THE defensive shortstop like HOF members Aparicio and Ozzie Smith.

        I put it down to being the shortstop of a team considered one of the all time greats. There is something about the myth of The Big Red Machine. They were a great team, and they were certainly the media’s favorite, in a time when there were only a couple of games on TV nationally ever week, the Reds were always in one of those. They won the world series that was most remembered in it’s era in 1975 and won a second one in 1976. Perhaps it was the fame of his team rubbing off.

        Of course, bringing up Campaneris reminds me that his Oakland team won 3 straight from 1972-74. They are similar players, and I, for one, considered Campy the better player at the time, and still do. I don’t think either are hall of famers, but I think it says something about the mystique of The Big Red Machine that Concepcion is on this list. I don’t think Campy will ever be in serious discussion for being a finalist, no matter how many years they do this.

  13. Good analysis Donald. I bounce Trammell around in my mind a lot… and it’s a crime that he’s only getting 32% of the vote. Still, there have been guys that pick up support after a few years…. though he only has three years left (I think) with a big log jam forming. So, I’m not optimistic. The HOF voters seem very constipated lately.

  14. wordyduke says:

    Yes to Simmons and to Trammell.

  15. invitro says:

    “last week had a rather unfortunate discussion with Murray Chass where he seemed to say that the reason he never led the league in ERA is because nobody ever asked him to.”

    A reliably hilarious discussion. I’m hoping against hope that Morris won’t make it, so it’ll be at least another seven years before the nonsense pops up again. I think it’s 50/50 whether he gains enough ballot-number-15 support to pass on this most crowded ballot since the 1930’s.

    I am feeling lazy now… is there any player who had as high a vote percentage as Morris got on their 14th ballot? If not, who’s closest?

  16. Steve Price says:

    I think the purpose of these kinds of votes are to balance the scale of judgement. I agree with the purpose of the five-year wait for newly-retired players. It takes the emotional element out of the vote.

    However, 15 years down the road, or now 40 years down the road, the game has changed. Baseball in the 1970’s was quite different than baseball in the 1990’s. In the 1970’s, it was extremely common to see several weak-hitting shortstops selected as all-stars (yes, those guys with what we now-call sub-100 OPS’s) while many big time hitting/slugging outfielders would be left off the teams. Defense mattered more during the early expansion era than in the 19900’s. (I also think we’re going back to that style, but that’s another story.)

    So, Concepcion was perceived to be a much better player while “living in the moment” than today. There’s something to be said for what was viewed and valid at those moments.

    In my mind, Steve Garvey is a no-doubt Hall of Famer. He was one of the “biggest names” in baseball in the 1970’s. To say the “rules changed” for him is an understatement, but I don’t know that it even matters. Most kids today don’t realize that Pete Rose wasn’t only famous in baseball in the 1970’s–he was one of the most famous athletes in the world. That’s famous, no matter what people think of him “hanging on” to get the hit record (I really don’t think that the Reds or Major League Baseball had a problem with it…)

    While, the waiting period is good in possibly recognizing some players who were underrated (Dwight Evans), I think it’s wrong to take the fame “away” from players who were truly famous in their time. To only judge a player by the numbers sounds rather elitist to me. I love sabermetrics (I have a whole library), but there are times we literally miss the forest for the trees–and analyzing baseball heroes solely by the numbers is a great example of just that.

    • invitro says:

      “I think it’s wrong to take the fame “away” from players who were truly famous in their time.”

      Why not, if the fame was much more than what was deserved? I am sympathetic to respecting opinions of the past, but if we can make better judgements now, and remove some of Garvey’s fame, and give it to, say, Keith Hernandez, why not do that? My memory isn’t crystal-clear on it, but I remember Garvey as being a significantly bigger star than Hernandez during their careers. It seems certain that Hernandez actually did more to help his teams win. So which do we honor… the perception or the reality?

  17. invitro says:

    Yes to Simmons. #9 JAWS, a poor postseason record, but +7 Clutch wins. Good enough. As long as Piazza goes in first.

    Concepcion, on the other hand, is #43 JAWS. Yipes. He does have a good postseason record, and +6 Clutch wins, but that’s not enough. It looks like there are about ten SS’s with better credentials, including Campaneris. A solid “no”. (I do have fond memories of him from listening to dozens of Reds games in the early 1980s.)

  18. Rick R says:

    Steve Garvey and Ted Simmons were comparable hitters. Their careers essentially overlapped, both enjoying their heydays in the National League during the 1970’s. Garvey had a 117 OPS+, Simmons had a 118 OPS+. They were both guys who made solid contact, and although they had some pop, they didn’t have tremendous power, which is what separated them from the big boys in the Hall of Fame. They weren’t free swingers, but because they put the ball in play so often, they didn’t walk as much as they should have, and this too lowered their statistical value.

    Because stats so value homers and walks, they do a disservice to players who hit line drives, like Garvey and Simmons. In the 1970’s, if you needed a hit, Garvey and Simmons were players you wanted at the plate. They were in many ways much more entertaining than 3 True Outcome guys, because they succeeded in hitting safely far more often. Ted Simmons had as many as 193 hits in a season, Garvey as many as 210. All those hits made for fun at bats. Because they made contact, they didn’t walk as much, but they also didn’t strike out as much. Even their outs gave the defense something to do—sometimes spectacular things to do. Today, everybody whiffs like it was nothing—if you can homer 30 times, you can strike out 200 times and it’s all good, or so the theory goes. Only it makes for boring baseball. Give me guys like Garvey and Simmons every time.

    Being a first baseman, Garvey doesn’t have the monster numbers you need for inclusion to the Hall of Fame, but as a catcher, Ted Simmons deserves a plaque.

  19. wordyduke says:

    “They didn’t walk as much as they should have…” Simmons walked enough (more than he struck out, .348 ob%). Garvey struck out twice as often as he walked (.329). And could you imagine Steve Garvey starting 1687 games as a major-league catcher (and being selected as an All-Star for eight of those primarily-catching years)?

  20. Good point Rick. I think you captured why baseball is becoming increasingly tough to watch. A lot of walks, a lot of strikeouts, a lot of fooling around between pitches, and a lot of waiting around for a three run HR in the 7th inning. Hits, baserunning (and yes, stolen bases), great defensive plays make the game interesting. It does seem like a lot of that doesn’t create “statistical value”, but is nonetheless what you go to the game to watch. Back in the 70s I had tickets to a lot of Angels games. They were terrible, but their games were entertaining because they had a lot of speedsters like Mickey Rivers, Dave Collins and Jerry Remy. So there was a lot of bunting for hits (the ground crew actually created a slope at the baselines to keep the bunts fair… to the consternation of many catchers and managers… which created entertaining “scenes” during the game) a lot of stolen bases & a lot of taking the extra base (safe or out, it was exciting). So, even though they were terrible, the games were pretty fun. Yeah, it was too much since they were compensating for a lack of power & other needed qualities, but it makes for compelling exciting baseball.

    • Rick R says:

      To underscore the point about hitters making less contact since the days of Garvey and Simmons, there were no Perfect Games thrown in the entire decade of the 1970’s. There were 3 thrown in 2012 alone (and there would have been 3 thrown in 2010 had Jim Joyce not had a brain fart in the 9th inning). This is not a cause for celebration.

  21. Carl says:

    To me, Steve Garvey (who I saw play and was shocked that his career stats did not even come close to HoF caliber) and Michael Young are remarkably similar players. Both got “empty” 200 hit seasons, both hit homers but were not sluggers, neither drew walks, and both players had trouble defensively.

    • Rick R says:

      That’s a very good comparison. Their numbers are pretty similar, but Michael Young played in hitters parks and Garvey played in pitchers parks, so Garvey has the edge in adjusted OPS. I don’t know about empty 200 hit seasons though. One of the things about watching guys like Garvey and Young hit is that you always feel a sense of expectation, because good things happen when you put the ball in play. Whereas with a guy like Adam Dunn—who the stats say is the superior offensive player to both of them, because he homered and walked along with his whiffs—it’s more like praying for a miracle that this time he’s going to make contact. Watching Adam Dunn hit is excruciating, whereas watching Garvey and Young hit is entertaining, and the whole point of baseball is to entertain. It’s cases like that where the stat-heads are missing the forest for the trees.

  22. The typos: “batting avenges” s/b batting averages. I guess you saw Thor 2 recently.

    ” Among retired shortstops, only Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Piazza” should be catchers, not shortstops.

    I don’t mind either Simmons or Concepcion going into the HOF. I think both lower the standard at their position, but not much. However, I think Simmons is far behind Piazza and Pudge, and Concepcion behind Trammell.

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