By In Stuff

BR Hall of Fame Update

OK, so I’m hoping you noticed at the top of this page there’s a BR Hall of Fame link where I will include all the players who make it into the Brilliant Readers Hall of Fame, and I’ll try to put a few words of praise next to each player.

So far, all 30 players nominated made it into the Hall of Fame. Eddie Collins just barely made it — well, he dominated the game a long, long time ago (mostly during Deadball) and I suspect that the only thing many people know about him was in Bill Irwin’s short but memorable portrayal in “Eight Men Out.”*

*As an aside, Bill Irwin is awesome. He is Mr. Noodle in Elmo’s World. he had a small but fabulous role in the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” video. And he has popped up in a million other places. I often say that I don’t like clowns, and I don’t, but I guess technically Bill Irwin made much of his career as a circus clown. All I know is that whenever he pops into my viewing life, I am just a little bit happier.

The other player who struggled to make it was Pete Alexander, but that was my fault. I probably should have listed him as Grover Cleveland Alexander, even though he went by Pete and most people these days call him Pete. The Great Alexander, as he was sometimes called, won 373 games with a 2.56 career ERA. He led the league in wins six times, in ERA five out of six years, in strikeouts six times, and probably would have won six or seven Cy Youngs, if the award had existed then. He is one of five or six pitchers who I think has a legitimate argument as the best ever. Anyway, as Grover Cleveland Alexander he probably would have gotten a higher percentage, but it doesn’t matter: Old Pete is in.

The polls for the next 15 are up and it will be interesting to see how many of them get in. It is possible that all 15 will get in. As I look at the list right now, three are on the outside looking in. They are:

— Barry Bonds. There’s nothing that needs to be said here — we will see how the voting shakes out.

— Pete Rose. There’s not much that needs to be said here either except for this: A couple of people have written in to say that they do not think Rose was a Hall of Fame player even if you ignore the gambling part. They say he was more of a compiler and not a legendary player at his peak.

I don’t see this. Rose was a truly great player from 1968 to 1976 or so, with some very good play in the years around that. In those nine years, he hit .319/.395/.444, averaged more than 100 runs a year, led the league in doubles three times, in times on base six times, and he played three different positions with a sort of blunt effectiveness. Bill James estimated that 30 win shares is about an MVP caliber season — Rose had five of those seasons. He was a great player.

AND he was also a compiler the likes the game has never known. I mean he got hit 3,000th hit when he was 38 years old and he played SEVEN more seasons. It’s strange: Rose was probably wildly overrated when he was playing. That’s because he was everywhere — on commercials, on talk shows, on the cover of magazines, in every other story. Now, after all these years, my guess is that he has become underrated as a player.

— Carl Hubbell. They called him King Carl and he was by far the best pitcher in the National League in the 1930s. He did not get to the big leagues until he was 25, and that screwball wrenched his arm enough that he wasn’t a great pitcher after he was 35. But in between he was remarkable. He led the league in wins three times, in ERA three times, in strikeouts once. Bill James in the New Historical Abstract ranked him the 13th best pitcher all time. If he’s not good enough to get into the BR Hall of Fame, hey, that’s your call, but let’s just say we are talking about a very, very high standard.

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26 Responses to BR Hall of Fame Update

  1. Rob Smith says:

    I’m a little surprised that Rose even has 70%… but I guess the “everyone makes mistakes” crowd is the majority these days. Yeah, everyone makes mistakes. I lie to my wife when she asks if a dress makes her look fat. I get in bad moods where I’m a jerk to people. I tend to drive 10 mph over the speed limit. Occasionally I get pissed off and swear at somebody or give them the finger (or both). I sometimes forget to tip the hotel maid. I don’t always think the best about people. But…. should I ever break a significant rule at my business & get thrown out on my butt, I wouldn’t argue that they should throw me a retirement party & let me give a speech…. especially if I lied about actually breaking the rule for 20 years before finally admitting that, yeah, I did it. Yeah, we all make mistakes. But there are some mistakes that cost you big time. Rose’s mistake is one of those. Keep in mind that he never was under threat of going to jail. Nobody asked for all the money he made to be returned. They just banned him from baseball & kept him off the HOF ballot. That’s pretty mild punishment in the scheme of things.

    • Ed says:

      None of that stuff is relevant to me. This is a hall of fame for people who were good at baseball. Pete Rose was good at baseball; good enough to make the hall in my opinion. Shoeless Joe Jackson should be in as well.

      I’d say someone like Ty Cobb, who possibly murdered a man and definitely viciously assaulted people, would be a bigger stain on the Hall than Pete Rose, but I have no issues with voting in Ty Cobb either. It’s not a hall of fame for good people; it exists solely to memorialize the best baseball players.

      I also don’t care about the steroids stuff. Anyone who puts up hall of fame numbers on steroids was almost certainly a hall of famer without them. They don’t magically make you an elite player. However, that argument is at least understandable to me… they can’t help you hit the ball, but they can increase power and keep you healthier longer.

    • JRoth says:

      I don’t think I buy your argument/claim that PEDs almost certainly can’t turn a non-HoFer into one, and the main reason is Sammy Sosa. If nobody at BBWA cared about PEDs, he’d be a no-doubt HoFer (over 600 HRs, 3 seasons above 60, best non-Bonds player in the world in 2001). But does anyone think that pre-PED Sammy was anything resembling a HoFer? We don’t know for certain when he started, of course, but presumably it was in or around his disastrous 1997 season (when he hit below league average for the first time in 6 years and his defense started to decline). Before that year, he was a typical good corner OF, with 4 seasons between 3.8 and 5.5 fWAR, nice pop, maybe not quite enough walks. But he was approaching 30, and unlikely to have more than a few more above average years (as much as half his value in those years came from his defense, which of course doesn’t age well).

      And then he became a guy who was a perennial All Star, despite his defense disappearing completely. Over half his career production came in those 5 years. I don’t see any argument that he would even get a second time on the ballot if you extrapolate from his pre-’98 career, nor do I see any argument that a PED-agnostic BBWA keeps his actual career out.

      McGwire probably has a similar argument, but I don’t feel as comfortable projecting his non-PED career, nor am I as certain that he would have made the HoF if nobody cared about PEDs (because he didn’t reach 600, because he was a pretty 1-dimensional player). He probably does, but I think there’d be more pushback than with Sammy.

    • Grant says:

      Well said, Ed.

    • Ed says:

      Sosa may be an exception, but I’m not sure steroids/PED had as much an effect on his career as some people think. It’s not as though Sosa went from a player hitting .220 with 10 homers to a monster — he hit .260 with 33 homers in 1993 at age 24; .300 with 25 homers in 1994 (the strike shortened season) at age 25; .268 with 36 homers in 1995 at age 26 (and finished 8th in MVP voting); .273 with 40 homers in 1996 at age 27; and .251 with 36 homers in 1997 at age 28. I’d say PEDs definitely gave him an additional 20+ homers a season for several years (his OBP also increased significantly, and the power surge was likely a significant factor as pitchers became more wary of throwing him a good pitch to hit), but his power burst also coincided with what we generally assume to be a baseball player’s peak years.

      If you assume he would have continued hitting around .270 with 35 homers a season as opposed to the 60+ he was bombing while on PEDs, you’re right, he probably doesn’t get much of a look as a potential hall of famer — but he would have had a good chance of clearing 400 career homers and possibly made a run at 500. He was a very good power hitter (who also stole 20+ bases a season) before turning into the freak people remember now.

    • John Gale says:

      If nobody cared about PEDs, McGwire is a Hall of Famer, and he probably makes it relatively easily. He didn’t get to 600 homers, but he does have 583, and every guy with 500 up to this point (pre-PEDs) has been put in the Hall of Fame. He had seasons with 70 and 65 homers. He has the best homers-to-at-bats ratio (10.61, which is more than a full at bat better than second-place Babe Ruth) in the history of baseball. He has a career OPS+ of 163 (13th highest in the history of baseball). He has the eighth highest slugging percentage and 10th-highest OPS in the history of baseball. One-dimensional or not, he was one of the great sluggers in the history of the game. Granted, people *do* care about PEDs, so it’s a moot point. But if they didn’t, I think he sails in, probably on the first ballot.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Ed, since you stated that Joe Jackson should be in the HOF along with Rose, can I presume that you are OK with players gambling on baseball? That its fine…. And fine, when caught, to lie about a it for 20 years? People these days seem to confuse all kinds of behavior, like Cobbs off the field behavior, with Rose threatening the integrity of the game. Can I presume that you’d be OK with Rose betting against his own team? It’s not a foregone conclusion that he didn’t. Rose isn’t exactly known for his honesty.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Ed, since you stated that Joe Jackson should be in the HOF along with Rose, can I presume that you are OK with players gambling on baseball? That its fine…. And fine, when caught, to lie about a it for 20 years? People these days seem to confuse all kinds of behavior, like Cobbs off the field behavior, with Rose threatening the integrity of the game. Can I presume that you’d be OK with Rose betting against his own team? It’s not a foregone conclusion that he didn’t. Rose isn’t exactly known for his honesty.

    • Ed says:

      No, it’s not fine — but I still think you’re confusing the baseball hall of fame with some sort of moral hall of fame. If they were hall of fame caliber baseball players, they should be in. As I already said, it exists to memorialize the best baseball players in a museum for future generations to visit. Put it on the plaque that he gambled on baseball, make it part of the exhibit, but he should still be there.

      If you want to wait until he is dead so as to punish him for the gambling and not give him a chance to celebrate it, then fine — but I view it as a museum and nothing more. I don’t view it as some sort of award for the players.

  2. Rob Smith says:

    I’m a little less surprised about Bonds, since you could make a case that he was a HOFer before the steroids. So, even if you are anti steroids, you could still conjure up a scenario where you could vote for him. To me, though, when someone of his talent doesn’t think it’s enough that he’s a great player. That he has to cheat even more than everyone else to be the best player…. in some ways, that’s even worse than McGwire and his foolishness about steroids not really helping him. Both are bad btw, and I’m not voting for either of them.

  3. ARon23 says:

    It would have been a fun experiment to list Pete Alexander as Grover Cleveland in a subsequent poll to see how the voting % would change.

  4. ggnore says:

    If Barry Bonds doesn’t make the “Brilliant Reader Hall of Fame”, it should just be renamed the “Reader Hall of Fame”.

  5. ggnore says:

    If Barry Bonds doesn’t make the “Brilliant Reader Hall of Fame”, it should just be renamed the “Reader Hall of Fame”.

  6. Mr. Spears says:

    Saw Bill Irwin a few months ago on Broadway in the (relatively) new show he co-wrote and stars in — Old Hats. GREAT Stuff (and I’m not a big clown guy either). Go see it if you can — worth every penny!

  7. Mr. Spears says:

    Saw Bill Irwin a few months ago on Broadway in the (relatively) new show he co-wrote and stars in — Old Hats. GREAT Stuff (and I’m not a big clown guy either). Go see it if you can — worth every penny!

  8. Saverno says:

    It frustrates me that Pete Rose and Barry Bonds are having a rough time staying above the 75% threshold for induction to the BR HOF. In the same situation, Ty Cobb, a noted ‘bad’ man who cheated, fought, stole, and may or may not have thrown games, gets more than 90%, while a hits leader and a PED user who was a HOFamer before beginning the cream and the clear, is “LABELED.” Wounds heal with time and mythologies are born the longer line you can reel out. If Cobb (or Speaker for that matter) did similar things in this day and age, they wouldn’t sniff the HOF. Please sit back and think about your votes. I see a vote that helps the modern-day player unless off the field stuff is incuded, in which case, the olden day guys get the free pass. Please be consistent in what you are voting for. A vote against Rose/Bonds et al, is also a vote against Cobb/Speaker/Perry, Sutton and Ford (doctoring the ball)/Aaron, Mays, Mantle, Williams, etc (greenies)/Raines, Parker, and Hernandez (drug use)/Frisch (racism)/Radbourne (Elixirs)/and many, many more. Let on the field speak more than the morality of the off the field issues. No one is perfect, and competition begets greatness. Don’t water down immortality by choosing moral ambiguities rather than actual performance.

  9. steve says:

    I don’t want Pete Rose in Cooperstown, but I’m voting for him for the BR HOF. I’m ignoring PEDs, gambling, and everything else for this vote. On the field stuff only.

  10. dbutler16 says:

    I voted for all three players Joe mentions, though I dislike all three of them. I wouldn’t be shocked to see any of them miss out, though.

  11. mgarbowski says:

    “[M]ost people these days call him Pete.” ??? What world are you living in? If that were true, you wouldn’t have to explain why calling him Pete was a mistake. Also, right now, a google search for “grover cleveland alexander” yields about 81k results, while “pete alexander” generates only 46k, and I expect 100% of the GCA results refer to the baseball player while “pete alexander” is common enough that a substantial percentage of the 46k have nothing to do with him. In fact the 3rd highest result is for a DJ.
    Look, I’m not going to argue as to which is proper. If he preferred Pete I’m willing to go along, but to pretend that more folks today know him as Pete Alexander than as Grover Cleveland Alexander is contrary to reality. It might be true among highly knowledgeable baseball insiders and such, to to people with a passing fair knowledge of baseball history, he’s mostly known as GCA.

  12. mgarbowski says:

    OTOH, you’re completely correct about Bill Irwin.

  13. Jamie says:

    Couldn’t vote for Rose. Everyone else got my vote, but getting on baseball is the unforgivable sin. Especially for his years as manager, his defense that he only bet his team would win holds no water. Great, so he was deliberately blowing out his pitchers arms so he could get a little more money. Or pushing his players to come back too quickly from injury for just for personal gain. This behavior harms the game in a way that Cobb, Bonds and others never reached. Rose clearly belongs in the Hall based solely on the numbers but he broke THE rule, and that looses him my vote.

  14. nscadu 9 says:

    The PED stuff is too ambiguous. We all know that Bonds juiced, he even admits it. MLB did not have testing or a PED ban, so it is not absolute that Bonds sullied the game. Also, like a few have said, Bonds was a hall of famer before PEDs. Pete Rose sullied the game and its rules. Ever since the Black Sox scandal, everyone knows that you don’t bet on baseball. Apparently, it is written in every clubhouse as a reminders. Sure, Cobb may have been a worse human being, but within the confines of the game, Rose broke clear cut rules.

  15. Wilbur says:

    When did Ty Cobb steal anything? Other than bases.

    I’m no apologist or supporter of Cobb, but I tend to think the way he was portrayed in the movie “Cobb” was close to preposterous. And he was less of a racist than many people think.

  16. Wilbur says:

    When did Ty Cobb steal anything? Other than bases.

    I’m no apologist or supporter of Cobb, but I tend to think the way he was portrayed in the movie “Cobb” was close to preposterous. And he was less of a racist than many people think.

    • Saverno says:

      check out his baseball-reference bullpen page (includes sources). Under the heading ‘One More Scandal.’ It is strongly implied that he, Tris Speaker, and Joe Wood conspired to throw a game in 1919. . . and he was also suspended for beating a disabled heckler during a game. He got my vote for what he did on the field . . . but so did Rose, Bonds, and Clemens.

  17. Jamie says:

    Voting seems to have gone crazy at this point. Boggs and Ozzie clearly belong, and only have 80%. While not inner circle guys, they both seem to make it in to the HoF with ease, whether looking at voting of the BBWAA or at their numbers (saber metric or traditional). Lajoie should have more votes as well, and who exactly are the 8% of people who don’t think Joe Morgan belongs?
    And none of that, mentions how absurd any HoF would be without Bonds.

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