Well, I hope you knew that this is a multi-step process.
So first step — as some of you figured out — was to put together a Hall of Fame strictly using Wins Above Average along with a few exceptions. The point was to go down WAA until there was a reasonable gap … and stop there.
For instance, at catcher, it goes like this:
- Johnny Bench, 46.5 WAA
- Gary Carter, 39.8
- Mike Piazza, 35.7
- Carlton Fisk, 35.1
- Yogi Berra, 34.0
- Ivan Rodriguez, 33.1
- Bill Dickey, 31.6
And then the line — and next is Gabby Hartnett at 29.6, followed by Mickey Cochrane, Gene Tenace, Joe Mauer and Thurman Munson among others.
So I have those seven on the list. And then, my personal exception, Roy Campanella, because he was a star in the Negro Leagues (he played his first Negro Leagues games when he was 15!) and he won three MVP awards and, of course, his career ended young.
I did this throughout — other exceptions included Hank Greenberg and Bob Feller, who lost a lot of time for the war, Sandy Koufax for his spectacular peak, Jackie Robinson for obvious reasons, etc. I wanted to keep the exceptions down but I also didn’t want to leave too many obvious holes in this first version of the Hall of Fame.
Now, step two — here’s the next version of the Willie Mays Hall of Fame. This time, I added and subtracted various players based on an entirely different system (again, I would expect you to figure it out). There are 121 players in this version. Think of this the way you think of an eye doctor putting different lenses over your eyes and saying “Better? Worse? Same?” Again, comment away on the bottom.
What do you think of this version of the Willie Mays Hall of Fame?* Too lenient? Too strict? Who do you want in? Who do you want out?
*Oh, and we will get back to Negro Leaguers and 19th Century Players in a bit so ignore those for now.
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At catcher (9): Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza, Carlton Fisk, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Roy Campanella … adding Gabby Hartnett and Mickey Cochrane.
(This would leave out six Twentieth Century Hall of Famers: Ernie Lombardi, Roger Bresnahan, Rick Ferrell, and Ray Schalk)
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At first base (10): Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Hank Greenberg … adding George Sisler, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Eddie Murray and Tony Perez.
(This would leave out five players: Johnny Mize [in first version], Frank Chance, Orlando Cepeda, Jim Bottomley and George Kelly).
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At second base (11): Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, Joe Morgan, Nap Lajoie, Rod Carew, Jackie Robinson … adding Frankie Frisch, Charlie Gehringer, Ryne Sandberg, Robbie Alomar and Craig Biggio.
(This would leave out eight players: Joe Gordon, Bobby Doerr, Billy Herman, Johnny Evers, Tony Lazzeri, Nellie Fox, Red Schoendienst and Bill Mazeroski).
* * *
At shortstop (11): Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken, Barry Larkin, Lou Boudreau, Ozzie Smith, Luke Appling, Ernie Banks … adding Robin Yount, Joe Cronin, Rabbit Maranville, Luis Aparicio.
(This would leave out seven players: Arky Vaughan [in first version], Joe Tinker, Bobby Wallace, Joe Sewell, Dave Bancroft, George Davis and Phil Rizzuto … Alan Trammell and Alex Rodriguez are also removed).
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At third base (7): Mike Schmidt, Eddie Matthews, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Brooks Robinson, Paul Molitor … adding Pie Traynor
(This would leave out five players: Home Run Baker, Ron Santo, George Kell, Jimmy Collins and Freddy Lindstrom … removing Chipper Jones for now).
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In leftfield (11): Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Rickey Henderson and Carl Yastrzemski … adding Al Simmons, Joe Medwick, Ralph Kiner, Lou Brock, Billy Williams, Willie Stargel and Jim Rice.
(This would leave out five players: Goose Goslin, Zack Wheat, Fred Clarke, Heinie Manush, Chick Hafey … Barry Bonds is also removed).
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In centerfield (9): Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider, Joe DiMaggio, Ken Griffey and Kirby Puckett, Andre Dawson.
(This would leave out eight players: Larry Doby, Richie Ashburn, Earl Averill, Hack Wilson, Max Carey, Edd Roush, Earle Combs and Lloyd Waner).
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In rightfield (12): Babe Ruth, Henry Aaron, Frank Robinson, Mel Ott, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline … adding Wee Willie Keeler, Harry Heilmann, Paul Waner, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn.
(This would leave out seven players: Sam Crawford, Enos Slaughter, Elmer Flick, Chuck Klein, Ross Youngs, Sam Rice and Harry Hooper … Larry Walker is also removed).
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Right-handed starters (27): Walter Johnson, Pete Alexander, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Christy Mathewson, Bob Feller, Bob Gibson, Cy Young, Bert Blyleven and Phil Niekro … adding Nolan Ryan, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, Robin Roberts, John Smoltz, Juan Marichal, Red Ruffing, Jim Palmer, Catfish Hunter, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn, Dizzy Dean, Don Sutton, Don Drysdale.
(This would leave out 14 pitchers: Dazzy Vance, Ed Walsh, Stan Coveleski, Three-Finger Brown, Red Faber, Jim Bunning, Ted Lyons, Vic Willis, Addie Joss, Joe McGinnity, Waite Hoyt, Chief Bender, Burleigh Grimes, Jesse Haines … removing Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling),
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Left-handed starters (10): Lefty Grove, Randy Johnson, Eddie Plank, Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton, Tom Glavine, Carl Hubbell … adding Whitey Ford and Herb Pennock.
(This would leave out four pitchers: Hal Newhouser, Rube Waddell, Eppa Rixey, Lefty Gomez).
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Relief pitchers (4): Hoyt Wilhelm, Goose Gossage … adding Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter and Rollie Fingers.
(This would leave out zero Hall of Fame pitchers but would remove Billy Wagner and Mariano Rivera for now).