So I’ve decided for now to bump this up so that I’m evaluating eight players at a time instead of the previous seven. I think this will help me get through the more obvious cases I haven’t gotten to a bit quicker while still being able to judge the more borderline cases at a reasonable pace. This isn’t going to affect the amount of research I do for each player, I just like doing these.
Bert Blyleven — In the Hall of Fame: YES (BBWAA in 2011 on 14th ballot)
Blyleven’s path to Hall of Fame election might have become more famous than his playing career itself. A long campaign from blogger Rick Lederer elevated Blyleven from a ballot afterthought to eventual election. Was he deserving of such a passionate endeavor?
Gavvy Cravath — In the Hall of Fame: NO (Received very little support from the BBWAA, peaking at 1.2% of the vote in 1947)
Gavvy ‘Cactus’ Cravath is typical of the players in this edition in that he both had a great nickname and killed a bird during a game. But don’t be mistaken, there is nothing typical about Cravath’s Hall of Fame case.
Here is our next group of seven players. But before we get to them, I guess I’ll clear up how the ‘holding tank’ works. So far, I’ve postponed decisions on four players (Earl Averill, Urban Shocker, Kenny Lofton, and Sherry Magee). I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to make a decision on these players, but what I’m thinking is I’ll check up on them every so often to compare them to other players I have more recently made a decision on. I’ll probably take a look at them again after a couple more entries in this series, but for now they stay in limbo.
Anyway, on to new players:
More players to rate? More players to rate.
Wade Boggs — In the Hall of Fame: YES (Elected in 2005 on the first ballot)
Sometimes in baseball, a player comes along who is literally only good at one thing, but is good enough at it to stick around for a while. Normally, that thing is dingers (Mark Trumbo, Dave Kingman, and the patron saint of these guys, Ralph Kiner), but it can be speed (modern Billy Hamilton). Wade Boggs was really only particularly good at getting on base. Yeah his defense was probably better than it looked, but Boggs was really good at getting on base in as many ways as possible. He was among the greatest contact hitters of the post-war era, but unlike Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn, Boggs was also a most patient hitter, regularly putting up gaudy walk totals. That being said, he was not a power hitter at all, expect for his 1987 season where he hit 24 dingers. Boggs was also not a real threat on the basepaths, finishing his career with all of 24 stolen bases.
Seven more dudes for you entertainment. Two of them have really silly names.
After getting those first twenty out of the way, we can finally move on to more interesting cases. But before we get too bogged down in player evaluations, a few ground rules. Every player in the Hall of Fame will at some point get listed, with the exception of Negro League players. I decided against evaluating them, at least for now, since for many of the lesser well known players, information, particularly good statistical records, is sparse. Biographical information for more famous players like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson is more abundant, but those are slam dunk Hall of Famers. I don’t feel qualified to judge the lesser well known players and I’m certainly not qualified to second guess the various Negro League committees. Maybe at a later date I would feel more comfortable. I also don’t plan to evaluate managers and executives at this point. Some of them, like John McGraw and Joe Torre, have compelling cases as players, and those will be evaluated with everyone else.