Article: 25 MLB Legends Who Got Snubbed From the Hall of Fame: HowStuffWorks
25 MLB Legends Who Got Snubbed From the Hall of Fame
Image: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
About This Article
In very basic terms, the Baseball Hall of Fame is a group of the greatest players of all time. But they only allow in so many players every year, and there's a vote to determine who gets to be included. So how does anyone decide on what makes a player great? Is it home runs hit? No-hitters pitched? Catches? RBIs? Stolen bases? One of the most popular stats used to determine who gets in is WAR or Wins Above Replacement. Not a perfect measure by any means, WAR counts runs produced and saved by a player and calls them wins, hence the "W" in the acronym. The "Replacement" refers to a minor-league replacement player. So how many wins can you get as a player versus how many a minor leaguer or end-of-the-bench player who came in to replace you for a full 162 game season would get? The replacement value is about 40.
WAR is an excellent way to compare players. Babe Ruth has one of the highest WARs in the game at 182.4. Most Hall of Famers have a WAR between 50 and 70, though. And yet there are still players in that range, some better than many current Hall of Famers, who have been snubbed. Let's take a look at 25 of the best examples of this!
Mr. Charlie Hustle himself
No one is more controversially absent from the Hall of Fame than Pete Rose who has been famously banned from ever getting into the Hall of Fame thanks to his gambling scandal back in the day. Some say his conduct sullied the game. Others would argue this is the "baseball" Hall of Fame, not the morality Hall of Fame and in terms of talent and skill, Rose was a 17-time All-Star with more than 4,000 hits and a 79.7 WAR. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Seinfeld's buddy Keith Hernandez
An 11 time Golden Glove winner, Hernandez might not have been the best player in the history of the sport but consider that his stats place him above half of the first basemen already in the Hall of Fame and you have to wonder what he did to get left out. He's a five-time All-Star with two World Series wins under his belt, and he's arguably more deserving than current Hall of Famers like Hank Greenberg and Tony Perez.
The controversial Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds gets votes for the Hall of Fame but not enough, and that doesn't seem right. The performance-enhancing drug scandal of the 1990s is the major drawback to what should be a no-brainer to include Bonds, and some would argue it's unfair. With a WAR of 162.8, Bonds is one of the top players of all time. He never failed a drug test but admitted to using a cream given to him by a trainer that likely contained substances that would later be banned. He was convicted of obstruction of justice, but it was overturned on appeal.
Record with an asterisk for Sammy Sosa
There are two ways to look at Sammy Sosa's career. He took performance-enhancing drugs and sullied the game by giving him an unfair advantage and making his incredible home run accomplishments illegitimate. Or he, along with Mark McGwire, revitalized the entire sport of baseball at a time when fans had stopped caring, attendance was plummeting, and America's past time was becoming obsolete. Whatever side you stand on, you can't deny he had an impact on the game.
The Rocket Roger Clemens
With seven Cy Young Awards, two Triple Crowns, two World Series wins and an astronomical 139.2 WAR, you could make a case that Roger Clemens is one of the top five pitchers in the history of baseball, and not many people would argue with you. But is he in the Hall of Fame? No. And the reason seems to lay entirely at the feet of the 2002 Mitchell Report which names him repeatedly for having been injected with Winstrol by his trainer. He was found not guilty of lying to Congress, and his vote counts go up every year, but so far no Hall of Fame.
The Texas king Buddy Bell
Third baseman Buddy Bell is a much-underrated player who was a five-time All-Star and a six-time Gold Glove winner. With a .279 batting average and a WAR of 66.3, Bell is head and shoulders above any number of players currently in the Hall of Fame. So what's the hold up? Maybe Bell spent so many years playing down in Texas everyone just forgot about him.
The unlucky Don Mattingly
If there's one thing you could point to that has kept Don Mattingly out of the Hall of Fame, it's his back. Injuries plagued his career and tanked his stats later in life, but during the 1980s, Mattingly was an absolute machine and the best player on the New York Yankees' roster. He was clocking more than 185 hits per season, leading the American League for two of those seasons. The second half of his career suffered due to injuries which, on paper, put his stats in the toilet. It's an unfair shake for a player who was amazing in his prime.
Did "Shoeless Joe" fix the World Series?
If there's one thing that can keep a player out of the Hall of Fame like nothing else, it's a scandal. And few scandals are as legendary as the 1919 World Series in which, allegedly, "Shoeless Joe" Jackson conspired to fix the series. The thing is, it's hard to tell if he tried to throw the game or not. Scandal aside, with more than 1,700 hits and a batting average of .356, Jackson should have been a shoeless shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. Will he ever get past the scandal that mars his legacy? That'll be up to the voters.
Too much suspicion for Gary Sheffield
There's no doubt Gary Sheffield was a decent player overall with a .292 batting average and nine All-Star appearances. Part of the reason he doesn't seem to rank higher in people's minds or get much of the voting in his favor when it comes time to pick Hall of Famers is that he doesn't seem to stand out as the star of any particular team. He played for eight different teams over his career, never more than six years in one spot, and was also suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Gene Mauch had some underrated skills
For a coach to get into the Hall of Fame, he typically needs a pretty exceptional win-loss ratio. Gene Mauch is sitting at a .483 average. That said, Mauch also has more than 1,900 wins in his career, and his stats are arguably skewed by the conditions in which he found himself. For instance, while the 1964 Phillies put up a lackluster performance in the latter parts of the season, it was Mauch who got them that far in the first place. His career was marked by teams that almost made it but didn't quite do so, and no one remembers you for almosts.
Curt Schilling's sock beat him to the HOF
In 2004, Curt Schilling's busted and bloody ankle stole the show when he continued to pitch on it. His bloody sock is hanging in the Hall of Fame, but Schilling himself has yet to arrive. Schilling believes part of that reason is politics. He's always been outspoken, but he's also conservative, and he thinks voters are taking that into account. On the field though, with a 79.5 WAR, he's one of the top pitchers of all time and deserves his place.
Rocky Mountain Larry Walker
Talk about raw deals. Sure, Walker had some injuries that cut a few of his seasons short and ruining his stats, but even the stats he put up on the board get mocked. Playing in Coors Field means Walker had that altitude advantage, and when you post Rocky Mountain stats, people ignore them. The thinner air makes it a bit easier for a power hitter to add even more power, and so Walker's .313 batting average doesn't get the respect it deserves.
Kenny Lofton is a little angry
With a solid 68.3 WAR, a batting average of .299, and nearly 2,500 career hits, Lofton was an excellent all-around player and ranks higher than some currently in the Hall of Fame. But the year his name first hit the ballot, he was against the likes of Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, and the debate over whether players who used drugs should qualify raged on. Lofton had never been accused of that, but he was overshadowed, and he knew it. He has been quoted as saying guys who cheated the game shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.
Rafael Palmiero: The first to test positive
Back when the performance-enhancing drug scandal was rocking baseball, the news was dominated by the likes of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Jose Canseco. What everyone forgets is that Rafael Palmeiro, with his 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, was the first to test positive and go down in flames. Ironically, had he been more powerful like McGwire, he might have weathered the storm. As it is, he was shunned from the game and the Hall of Fame. That said, as voters reconsider players who used drugs, Palmiero may have a second chance.
The man who made the Big Red Machine
Most people likely don't know the name Bob Howsam, but he was an integral part of what made the Cincinnati Reds a force of nature in 1975. As general manager of the team, Howsam had made some bold changes to the lineup as far back as 1971. This was all strategy to build the team that would go on to take 108 wins in regular season play and then the World Series, all on the back of Howsam's machinations.
The burly Scotsman Jim McCormick
Head way back to the late 1800s, and you'll find Jim McCormick who, by all accounts, was a demon on the pitcher's mound. In 1880 and 1882, if there was a stat you could dominate in pitching, McCormick dominated it well above anyone else in the league. The only reason he didn't take home the Cy Young Award was that Cy Young was only 13 years old in 1880, and the award had yet to be created.
Rollin' in with Scott Rolen
With a 70.2 WAR, 2,077 hits and 316 home runs propping up his stats, Rolen looks like a sure thing for the Hall of Fame. The seven-time All-Star also managed to net eight Golden Glove awards, so you have to wonder what is the hold up voting Rolen into the Hall of Fame? He became eligible in 2018, so maybe it's just a matter of time.
They called him "bad"
Bad Bill Dahlen was pretty good at baseball, all things being equal. When he retired, he was the league leader for games played and was top 10 in numerous other offensive and defensive categories. But it was likely a different kind of offensiveness that set him back overall as they didn't call him "bad" for nothing. Dahlen was known to fly off the handle and had a bad attitude. His anti-social behavior may be what cost him the Hall of Fame, even if his stats support him being there.
They called him "Big Daddy"
Rick Reuschel was a big man, and everyone could tell. At 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing 215 pounds, he was often described in terms of his appearance. Polite people said "portly" while impolite people used other words. That doesn't change the fact that Reuschel is around the top 30 all-time pitchers with an ERA of 3.37 and a pair of Golden Gloves to his name. The man won 135 games at Wrigley Field and boasts 2,015 strikeouts. Surely the Hall of Fame has a spot with his name on it.
How sweet was Sweet Lou?
Sweet Lou Whitaker is a Detroit icon and part of the longest-running double-play combinations in baseball history. Nearly 2,400 hits and a WAR of 75.1 back up his impressive work on offense and defense. Did he rally for the most home runs in a season? No. But he was consistent throughout his career and a heck of a player.
The Kaat's out of the bag
Jim Kaat managed to pitch for an astonishing 25 seasons in the majors, a feat which deserves recognition no matter how good he was. But the fact he was also a consistent producer means the Hall of Fame is dropping the ball by not including him. He won the Gold Glove 16 years in a row, making his absence in the Hall of Fame all the more curious. It could be argued that Kaat was only a good player and not a great player, but how many good players are ever this good?
Give Ted Simmons his due
As catchers go, you could make a case that Ted Simmons was on par with Hall of Famers like Johnny Bench. Then you could make a further case that, at the bat, he was even better than Bench or Carlton Fisk or several other catchers. Nearly 250 home runs, a .285 batting average, and almost 1,400 RBIs meant Simmons was as good at the plate as he was behind it. But he also never pulled in a World Series win, and without the big wins, he never got the votes.
The $100 million man
Kevin Brown's legacy has become his payday. The first player to ever score a whopping $100 million contract, Brown did not live up to the hype in anyone's eyes. The problem was the contract came on during his decline, and so he could never reclaim the glory that helped bring the Marlins their World Series victory in 1997. Nowadays, his failures overshadow his triumphs.
Give Grich a chance
Bobby Grich was voted on once for the Hall of Fame and then seemingly forgotten. Not a world-changing player by any means, Grich was still a solid player who ranks ahead of other second basemen who are in the Hall of Fame. He won four Golden Gloves and made the ALCS five times. But that very well could have been his undoing, since he never made it to the World Series.
Manny being Manny
On paper, you can't deny Manny Ramirez was a force to be reckoned with. All of his offensive stats are Hall of Fame worthy, and he's probably the only player of his caliber never to get an MVP award. He was always fun to watch and was known for being a bit of a character. But it's the other thing for which he's known that kept him out of the running for the Hall of Fame. You guessed it; Ramirez used performance-enhancing drugs. The stain on his record may never go away.
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