Hall of Fame Index: Left Field Tiers

One of the important features of the Hall of Fame index is the notion of treating each position on its own. A win total like 330 might get you into tier one at most spots, but the outfield tends to be more bunched than the other positions. Every position has unique data points that make comparing players across positions next to impossible. Left field definitely has a number of interesting situations to dive into.

With two players, we have to go through the sordid nature of being on baseball’s banned list. That officially makes them ineligible for the Hall of Fame, but in both cases, they have their defenders. In other cases, we have multiple position players that somehow landed in left field. At any rate, let’s dive into the data.

Tier One

 CareerPeakTotal
Barry Bonds468.0256.8724.8
Ted Williams (B)366.9266.2633.1
Stan Musial (B)375.8231.4607.2
Rickey Henderson (B)323.5201.0524.5
Carl Yastezemski (B)288.8187.9476.7
Pete Rose269.2176.7445.9
Ed Delahanty (V)214.4187.8402.2
Al Simmons (B)213.1176.1389.2
Tim Raines (B)212.8162.2375.0
Manny Ramirez217.9154.6372.5
Joe Jackson181.5180.7362.2
Billy Williams (B)198.9160.0358.9
Jesse Burkett (V)204.0152.8356.8
Goose Goslin (V)201.1155.5356.6
Fred Clarke (V)220.7134.8355.5

You don’t get any more controversial than any of the four guys on the outside looking in. Rose and Jackson are on the banned list and cannot be elected under the current rules. Bonds and Ramirez have either tested positive for PEDs or been convicted in a court of law related to the use. So, where do we start with those four?

Generally speaking, I have always been a big believer in separating the game from the Hall of Fame. I don’t know if any of those four really deserve to be in. Personally, I would be inclined to put them all in and report the facts as we understand them. It is a museum and getting the best players in that museum seems like the way to go. That’s one person’s opinion. It is equally defensible to say none should be in. Either way, I would love for all four to get on a ballot and allow the writers to choose for themselves.

What we don’t know is how PEDs impact performance. We know Bonds was on a Hall of Fame track before he started using. His case in terms of pure performance is the easiest to decide. Ramirez is tough because we don’t know how long he used, and we don’t know the impact. The other two are a huge issue that we don’t have time to give justice to.

Tier Two

 CareerPeakTotal
Sherry Magee193.5149.5343.0
Willie Stargell (B)194.4143.4337.8
Zack Wheat (V)199.3130.1329.4
Lance Berkman168.6147.0315.6
Joe Medwick (V)172.6140.6313.2
Minnie Minoso157.8152.9310.6
Joe Kelley (V)166.5140.9307.4
Bob Johnson171.7133.6305.3
Jose Cruz167.8135.0302.8

Tier two is always brutally hard to handicap one way or another. It’s beyond difficult to say that Stargell and Wheat shouldn’t be Hall of Famers. If you take them in isolation they are more than qualified to be in. Medwick and Kelley are a little harder to call, but even then we could really go either way. This doesn’t even bring up the guys that are still on the outside looking in.

Magee is the best guy on the board that hasn’t been implicated in gambling or drugs. He is definitely worthy of being in the Hall of Fame, but is he the most qualified player that isn’t in the Hall of Fame? I could make arguments for the other four players and pretty passionate ones at that, but the same question comes into play. I love Berkman and Cruz as Astros fans and Minoso could make a lot of sense as a pioneer. Bob Johnson is one of the more underrated players in the history of the game. Tier two is always tough and it is no different this time around.

Tier Three

 CareerPeakTotal
Jimmy Sheckard174.0121.2295.2
Luis Gonzalez 170.6121.2291.8
Jim Rice (B)154.9132.4287.3
Harry Stovey153.1133.2286.3
Ralph Kiner (B)141.4141.4282.8
Matt Holliday147.6135.1282.7
Lou Brock (B)158.1119.5277.6
Roy White140.4136.8277.2
Bobby Veach143.5132.8276.3
George Foster145.1127.8272.9
Ryan Braun139.3130.2269.5
Heinie Manush (V)145.9123.1269.0
Charlie Keller132.7129.3262.0
Darryl Strawberry134.1125.5259.6
Jim O’Rourke165.394.2259.5
Frank Howard135.7123.3259.0
Albert Belle129.7128.7258.4
Brian Downing159.597.0257.5

Time heals all wounds. Time also has a way of mellowing us. I used to rail against the selections of Rice and Brock and I still think they were mistakes, but I can see the justification for both of those guys. Kiner certainly threw up enough black ink to overcome a lower score, but Manush’s selection seems somewhat random. It’s not the worst selection out there. Heck, Chick Hafey won’t even make our top 50, but it is still peculiar when you look at the players immediately surrounding him in the rankings.

As for the guys on the outside, I really can’t muster up much of an argument for any of them to get in. Luis Gonzalez certainly had some big moments and Strawberry was arguably the best player on one of the best teams in the 1980s. Belle looked like he was on his way to getting into the Hall of Fame when the injury bug destroyed his career. It’s the classic difference between having Hall of Fame moments and a Hall of Fame career.

Tier Four

 CareerPeakTotal
Ken Williams123.4120.4243.8
Moises Alou143.099.8242.8
George Burns125.2111.9237.1
Pedro Guerrero120.3115.6235.9
Augie Galan137.193.0230.1
Carl Crawford121.5106.3227.8
Sid Gordon114.2110.5224.7
Jeff Heath119.7103.4223.1

It is interesting to note that we have no Hall of Famers in this group and yet there are two Hall of Famers (if you include Monte Irvin) did even qualify for the fourth tier. These players are what you would expect them to be. All had big moments and looked like Hall of Famers for stretches at a time. None of them sustained it long enough to get any serious consideration for the Hall of Fame.

One of the things we can pull from this series is how idiosyncratic the Veterans Committee has been in its selections. Why Chick Hafey? How was he any more qualified than say Ken Williams or even Jeff Heath. Should we start dusting off the mantle for guys like Joe Carter (not in the top 50)? Again, the question is easy to ask. Who is the most fit for the Hall of Fame? 

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for thefantatasyfix.com. You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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