Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Season 27 Hall of Fame Candidates - The Frontrunners

Hersh Taylor, 1B:  4 AS, 1 MVP, 3 SS (1 1B, 1 LF, 1 DH)
              Hersh spent all but his final season in the homer suppressing Kauffman Stadium with the KC Royals.  While better suited for DH, he spent most of his seasons attempting to field at 1B. Hersh earned all of his paychecks at the plate where he was a home run and RBI machine. Despite his home ball park, Hersh finished his career with over 500 homers, almost 1700 RBI, and a 0.900 OPS.  The stars aligned for him perfectly in Season 17 when he set career marks in almost every category (114 runs, 222 hits, 55 homers, .350 BA, 1.080 OPS) on his way to his only MVP award. He had many other fine seasons, but never anything else close to the magic of Season 17.

Hiram Abbott, 1B:  1 AS, 1 MVP, 5 SS (4 1B, 1 LF)
              Like Hersh, Hiram was another player at 1B who was best suited for DH and earned everything he got with his work at the plate. Since Hiram spent the bulk of his career in the NL, he had to play somewhere. He also had the disadvantage of playing in pitcher friendly home parks during his prime years in Shea and Dodger Stadium. He was a bit overshadowed early in his career playing 1B in the NL along with Hall of Fame Legends Dee Dee Hutton and Kevin Marte as well as the great Pedro Garrido and Pascual Martin. Not quite a slugger like the other 1B/DH types on the ballot, Hiram still slugged quite well with 384 homers and a great 0.933 OPS, but his forte was getting on base and had a career .410 OBP (5th all-time). He had a huge season back in 13, bringing in his only MVP award.  His other MVP worthy season in Season 8 was in a league dominated by Hutton and Marte.

James Hunter, DH:  2 AS, 2 SS
              Of anyone on this list, James had the biggest disadvantage from his home ballpark, playing his entire career in Seattle’s pitching paradise, Safeco Field. Unlike the previous folks, he was able to avoid the embarrassment of looking foolish in the field for all but one season playing at his natural DH position. Other than a couple of big seasons where he OPS’d over 1, his annual numbers don’t look that impressive on the surface, but for those of you who have ever fielded a team in a pitching park, they look very impressive.  While his career was probably drug out a bit too long by a sentimental ownership group, averaging over 30 homers a season with an over 0.900 OPS for the first 15 years of his career was a Hall worthy feat.  Throw in the fact that he was #4 all-time in runs created and he feels like a lock.

Bingo Miller, 2B-LF:  8 AS, 2 SS (1 2B, 1 LF), 1 GG (LF), 3 WS Rings
              While he did not have quite the offensive prowess of Earl Jacobsen or Lorenzo Manto, Bingo is arguably the best all-around 2B in history combining offense and defense. While he wasn’t anywhere near GG level either, he covered the position well and gave a great boost at the plate providing offense from a key defensive position. With almost 400 doubles, over 300 homers, and a solid .384 career OBP, Bingo was a brilliant 2-hole hitter on some great Yankee and Marlins squads. He was also a major contributor to 3 championship teams.

Bernard Springer, C:  7 AS, 2 SS
              Bernard Springer is possibly the greatest right-handed hitter in league history, prior to the arrival of Ted Simpson. The only knocks on him are low durability and mediocre defense, which have been his greatest obstacles to easy induction.  Until Mr. Simpson, no right handed batter could touch his production in Season 1-6. Then in Season 7-8, OPSing almost .900 while playing in Petco is just as impressive.  Even with his lackluster defense, Springer is still probably the 2nd best all-around catcher in league history, because his bat was that good.

Brandon Sutton, DH-1B:  4 AS, 4 SS, 1 WS Ring
              Primarily used as a DH in his career, he was actually a better fielder than the two 1B at the top of this list. But mediocre durability pushed him into his role at DH so his big bat could be in the lineup as much as possible. Brandon was the best hitter of a trio of Yankees (HOFers Cunningham and Guillen) that dominated the AL East for over a decade. The primary story of his individual career was of Sutton always being a bridesmaid and never a bride. He was a 7 time MVP candidate, which included 5 second place finishes. He is #5 all-time in runs created with great career averages. (.316 BA, .398 OBP, .930 OPS)

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