Four Veterans Committee Players for the Hall of Fame

KenBoyer Ken Boyer

On November 5, the Hall of Fame (HOF) announced the 20 finalists (10 from the "Early Years" and 10 from the "Golden Years") who will be considered by the Veterans Committee for its class of 2022. In addition to longtime Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh and seven Negro Leaguers (John Donaldson, Bud Fowler, Vic Harris, Grant Johnson, Buck O'Neill, Dick Redding, and George Scales), the 20 finalists include 12 players for whom Career Value Index (CVI) can be calculated. Their career WAR and CVI totals are shown below, and their careers are discussed in Baseball Generations.

CVI is based on WAR but gives extra credit for seasons in which a player was among the best in MLB at his position. Thus, stars with short bursts of brilliance fare better in CVI than WAR, while steady compilers who never attained elite performance levels fare better in WAR than CVI. Players with CVI or WAR > 60, are generally in the HOF conversation. Thus, Boyer, Dahlen, Allen, and Minoso would all be worthy HOF selections.

Boyer was an 11-time All-Star and 1964 NL MVP, who was considered the best 3B in the NL in 1958-64. As the Cardinals clean-up hitter, he hit .303/.372/.500 (128 OPS+) with 45.0 WAR during this period, while consistently providing 20-30 HR and 90+ RBI plus outstanding defense at 3B. He led the NL with 119 RBI for the 1964 World Series winners. He was also a role model off the field. It is a mystery why he is not already in the Hall of Fame.

Dahlen, though something of a compiler, was an outstanding defensive SS, whose career batting stats were suppressed by playing the last half of his 21-year career in the deadball era. During his peak years (1892-98), he hit .306/.390/.459 with a 125 OPS+. Of the eight SS who exceeded Dahlen's 28.5 career defensive WAR – Ozzie Smith, Belanger, Ripken, Tinker, Aparicio, Maranville, Vizquel, and Bobby Wallace -- only Ripken (112) and Wallace (105) had OPS+ >100. In 2012, SABR designated Dahlen as its "overlooked legend of the 19th century."

Dick Allen was an exceptional talent, whose brilliant 51.5 WAR in 1964-72 is surpassed only by Clemente, Aaron, Santo, Yastrzemski, and Mays. His superstar-level production during that stretch pushes his CVI well above his WAR. But Allen's talent was often overshadowed by his flair for controversy. The combination of his resistance to the racial attitudes of his era and his occasional defiance of team and MLB policies, led to a negative reputation around the game and in the media—and certainly among Hall of Fame voters. Modern analytics and attitudes, as well as Allen's reconciliation with the Phillies before his death in 2020, make his election this time appear likely.

Minoso was a rising star in the Negro Leagues in 1946-48 (ages 20-22) but did not receive a full major league opportunity until he was 25. However, in his prime (1951-60), Minoso was an exciting combination of 20-HR power and 30-SB speed, who played in 9 All-Star Games, hit .307/.397/.476 (136 OPS+), and accrued 50.2 WAR. His greatest season may have been 1954, when to go along with 116 RBI and 119 RS, he led the AL in total bases (304), triples (18), and WAR (8.2). The HOF cannot retroactively restore the opportunity he did not receive in his early 20's, but it can honor him for what he did with the opportunity he belatedly got.

The remaining eight players do not measure up to these four. Kaat and Pierce had long, distinguished careers but not quite of HOF caliber. Oliva began brilliantly but was sidetracked by bad knees. Hodges was not quite good enough for the HOF as a player, although his case is strengthened by his great but tragically abbreviated success as a manager. Maris, Wills, O'Doul, and Reynolds all had their moments to shine, but none were good enough for long enough to qualify as Hall of Famers.

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Sunday, 21 July 2024