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Robbing Gil to Elect Ron
2003-02-26 13:01
by Mike Carminati

Robbing Gil to Elect Ron

Rob Neyer has a nice overview of the men eligible for the Vets' Committee voting.

He supports the apotheosis of Ron Santo, Minnie Minoso, Wes Ferrell, and Carl Mays. I agree about the first two (and also with his assessment of who should not get in): Santo's case has been stated clearly by Bill James for years. Basically, given the dearth of hot corner men and our ability now to assess Santo's worth, he should get a nod.

Minoso is a tough nut to crack. His career after the age of 28 would rank with many all-time greats. However, his missed years have cost him a plaque. Some of those years were lost to the color line, and he was a two-time All-Star in the Negro Leagues (as a third sacker). The real crime came when he was kept in the PCL for two years while in the Indians organization. Here are Minoso's home run, runs batted in, and runs scored totals for his career and projected out for the lost years:

Actual	186	1023	1136
W/ 1949-50	215	1180	1311
W/ 5 years 	258	1416	1573

Basically, all post-1900 players with 1550+ runs who are eligible are in the Hall of Fame. The players with at least 1400 runs are pretty consistently in Cooperstown.

Does that mean that all of Minoso's "lost" years should be used to get him in. Well, no, or Lyman Bostock And Mark Fidrych would be a Hall-of-Famers. Those years should be weighed in evaluating him given that a) the performance of Negro League players has been used as the basis of a numebr of Veterans' Committee picks and b) his performance in the nearly major Pacific Coast League indicates that he should have been a major-leaguer. I would count his PCL years as Negro League service given that the Indians' prejudice against him kept him in the PCL.

Now to the pitchers. Neyer's picks just do not overwhelm me. they apparently don't overwhelm him either:

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on Ferrell and Mays, because they have absolutely no chance of getting elected and, to be honest, there are days when I'm not completely convinced myself. Today, though, I'm writing in support of both old-time pitchers.

Ferrell's 4.04 career ERA doesn't look like much, until you notice that he did much of his pitching in hitter's ballparks and that he did all of his pitching in a hitter's era. Oh, and he was maybe the greatest-hitting pitcher ever, which helped him post a .601 career winning percentage (193-128). Give him a small dollop of extra credit for his 31 career pinch-hits, and he looks like a Hall of Famer to me.

Mays never got much support from the writers, and it's hard to say exactly why. It might be because he threw the pitch that killed Ray Chapman. It might be because he was suspected of trying less than his hardest in Game 4 of the 1921 World Series. But it's obviously ridiculous to vilify Mays for head-hunting when Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale are lionized for the same, and Mays was cleared of the World Series accusation by none other than Judge Landis himself. So it seems to me that his 208 wins and .623 career winning percentage should be enough to get him elected.

Wes is probably a better candidate than his Hall-of-Famer brother and batterymate, Rick Ferrell, but two wrongs yudda yudda. Ferrell had had six very good seasons by age 28, but he was basically washed up in a year. It may have something to do with leading the league in complete games and innings for three years straight, but as opposed to rewarding Minoso for time he was prevented from serving due to circumstances beyod his control, I cannot credit Ferrell for the years lost. His body may be to a certain degree beyond his control but as an athelete, it's part of the package.

As for Mays, I would think a number of things barred his entrance to the Hall: the beaning, the Series rumors, the ugly schism caused by his trade demand in 1919, and probably his curmedgeonly demeanor. Mays has a stronger case than Ferrell given that he was productive for a longer span, about 15 years. He, however, had no great years after the age of 29 (even though he won 20 at the age of 32). I cannot get behind his candidacy until Blyleven, Kaat, and John get their due. I see Mays as an early Ron Guidry, great in some years and average in others, not the worst choose for the Hall but just not the best.

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