1. They were good enough that a handful of baseball writers believe they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
2. They did not inspire enough votes to remain on the ballot for a second year.
It's a small group, those between 15 and 20 votes who got one shot on the ballot. Here they are:
Whitaker's No. 1 comp is Hall of Famer
In this case, I HAVE done intensive study comparing Quisenberry and a Hall of Famer,
My original thought was that these voters were just wishful thinkers -- those romantics who voted for Gooden based on his brilliant first two seasons (41-13, 2.00 ERA, 176
I think Carter might be a good example of the so-overrated-he's-underrated theory. True, he did not get on base much, which is the most important offensive skill (.306 lifetime on-base percentage). And this has made him the target of many people trying to make the point that RBIs don't paint a true picture of a player's talents. That's fine. He was probably overrated in many ways. But Carter was remarkably durable -- he played 155 or more games nine times. He did drive in 100-plus runs 10 times. And he hit one of the greatest home runs in World Series history.
This, I think, really WAS a case of romantics who remembered Fernandomania in 1981. He was remarkable that year -- or, anyway, he was in his first 10 starts of that year. He was just OK the rest of the year. And he was just OK for the rest of his career. Here's one for you: After that first year, Valenzuela had a couple more good seasons but overall he was 158-146 with a 101 ERA+.
He had more than 2,700 hits and a 124 career OPS+. Not bad. He was basically
Frank is a friend of mine, so it's hard for me to be neutral about him. Plainly, his career mirrors Hall of Famer
The original Mad Dog -- and the nickname always fit him better than
He hit .303 for his career, cracked more than 2,700 hits, won a batting title and hit between 11 and 20 home runs every year from 1969 through 1980. Oliver hit the ball hard almost every time up, but he didn't walk and he couldn't run and he didn't offer much defensive value and he did not hit for quite enough power to make up the difference. Oliver used to say that he was every bit as good a hitter as
There is an argument to be made -- and there was probably an even better argument to be made in 1988 -- that Belanger was the best fielding shortstop in baseball history. There is also an argument to be made -- one I doubt many people would dispute -- that Belanger was the worst hitter to play 2,000 games in the big leagues. I suppose in many ways, they are the same argument. Only a brilliant fielding shortstop could play 2,000 games with a career 68 OPS+.
Of the 25 retired players since 1959 who played 1,000 games and had a better than .300 career batting average, Mota is one of the more stunning names on the list. He hit .304 for his career. Others you might not expect who hit better than .300 include
A perfectly fine player who made a couple of All-Star teams and he is the only catcher since 1901 to lead a league outright in triples. Still, it seems that 16 votes is an awful lot. Writers in those days, I think, were more likely to vote for a likable player.
And finally: Back to Dennis Martinez. He is an interesting case to me because he is the first big league player from Nicaragua, he spread out his success over a very long career and, yes, when you add it all up he has a very similar case to
Morris: 254-186, 3.90 ERA, 2,478 Ks, 1,390 walks, 1.296 WHIP, 28 shutouts, 105 ERA+
Martinez: 245-193, 3.70 ERA, 2,149 Ks, 1,165 walks, 1.266 WHIP, 30 shutouts, 106 ERA+
Morris pitched one of the great World Series games ever.
Martinez is one of 16 players since 1900 to have thrown a perfect game.
Morris led the league in wins twice, complete games once.
Martinez led the league in wins once, complete games twice, innings pitched once, shutouts once and ERA once.
Morris won 20 games three times and was selected to five All-Star Games.
Martinez never won 20, but he had three good years shortened by strikes and he was selected to four All-Star Games. And from age 32 through 40, he had a 129 ERA+ -- Morris only once in his career managed a single season with an ERA+ of 129 or better.
Morris -- like
Keith -- who is a smart baseball guy -- had some rather odd thoughts in his ballot. For instance, he has decided that Morris should be in the Hall of Fame, which is fine. Morris has a fine case. But Keith's reasoning confused me:
Huh? I really don't understand this. Best I can tell:
1. Glavine's 3.54 ERA on its own is significantly better than Morris' 3.90 ERA. I mean, isn't this like saying: I used to flinch at Joe Carter's .259 batting average, but
2. Glavine pitched in a much higher scoring environment -- which is why his ERA+ is 118 to Morris' 105.
3. Glavine won 50 more games than Morris -- I mean if you're quoting wins, then this isn't a small difference.
But my point is not to rip Keith's ballot -- quite the opposite, in fact. When it comes to Hall of Fame voting, smart people and passionate baseball fans have wildly different views about what defines greatness in baseball. The commenter Pyrite went to
Rank 58: Barry Larkin, 68.8 WAR. Keith's vote: No.
As you can see, Olbermann's ballot is almost in direct opposition to what WAR would tell you makes a great player. That doesn't mean WAR is right and Keith's wrong or vice versa. I obviously have my own opinion, but the point is that Hall of Fame voting sparks remarkably different points of view.
Morris sparks emotions in many different kinds of voters, while Dennis Martinez does not. Over a career, I would say that Martinez was about as good as Jack Morris. But that's not really what the Hall of Fame is about. Or, anyway, it's not what Hall of Fame VOTING is about.