A few more thoughts on baseball's Hall of Fame voting (cont.)
Here, then, are the 15 players in baseball history (9,000 or more PAs) who recorded the HIGHEST percentage of outs:
1. Gary Gaetti, .710
*Hall of Fame.
Only one of the bottom 10 is in the Hall of Fame, and Aparicio has long been acknowledged to be one of the weakest hitters in the Hall of Fame. He's there for defense and base-stealing. Brock is in for his stolen bases and 3,000 hits. Banks is in for his 500 homers and being Mr. Cub. Will Dawson's speed, outfield defense, power and general classiness make up for him making outs 69.4 percent of his plate appearances? That's the question, isn't it?
You know, I can fully understand the puzzlement of Dave Parker. I suppose this is what happens every time a borderline candidate goes into the Hall of Fame. But for a moment, put yourself in Parker's shoes:
Jim Rice won an MVP award. Dave Parker won an MVP award; same year, in fact.
Jim Rice finished top five in MVP voting six times. Dave Parker finished top five in MVP voting five times.
Jim Rice started in four All-Star Games. Dave Parker started in four All-Star Games.
Jim Rice won zero Gold Gloves. Dave Parker won three Gold Gloves.
Jim Rice led the league in slugging twice. Dave Parker led the league in slugging twice.
Jim Rice led the league in hitting zero times. Dave Parker led the league in hitting twice.
Jim Rice led the league in RBIs twice and finished second twice. Dave Parker led the league in RBIs once and finished second twice.
Jim Rice drove in 1,451 runs. Dave Parker drove in 1,493 runs.
Jim Rice hit 382 home runs -- 43 more than Parker. Dave Parker hit 573 doubles -- 153 more than Rice.
If you want to go more advanced, Jim Rice had 282 Win Shares. Dave Parker had 327 Win Shares.
Jim Rice had one season with 30-plus Win Shares. Dave Parker had three seasons with 30-plus Win Shares.
Jim Rice had one of the great seasons in 1978. Dave Parker's 1978 season was even better.
And Jim Rice is going to the Hall of Fame, while Dave Parker can't even sniff 25 percent of the vote. Dave Parker finished his career with more hits, doubles, runs, RBIs and stolen bases than Jim Rice. He was, by pretty much all accounts, the superior defensive outfielder, at least when they both were young. His highs were surely as high as Rice's. He played longer. He did not have Fenway Park to boost his home numbers (and their road numbers are strikingly similar).
Now, there are compelling reasons to say that Rice was a better hitter than Parker over the length of their careers. Rice had a better batting average, got on base more, had a better slugging percentage, and so on. And Dave Parker only hurt himself in the middle of his career. But, I'm not saying that Dave Parker belongs in the Hall of Fame. I'm saying, I fully understand his confusion.
Is the players' strike of 1981 keeping Dwight Evans out of the Hall of Fame? It's not as crazy as you might think. Dewey was having his best season in '81 -- he hit .296/.415/.522, he played every game, he led the league in homers, total bases, walks and OPS. He won a Gold Glove, of course.
If he had a full season, he might have won the MVP award. That would have boosted his case.
If he had hit 15 more home runs in the 54 games he missed -- not an unlikely scenario -- he would have finished his career with 400 homers, which might have caught the voters' eyes.
He definitely would have gotten 16 more RBIs -- which would have pushed him to 1,400 for his career. That's not especially important come Hall of Fame time, but it would have looked just a little better.
If he had maintained his pace -- again, pretty likely since he had a similar season in 1982 -- Dewey would have had his masterpiece season. People will remember Rice in '78, Brett in '80, Rickey in '90, Yaz in '67, Gibby in '68. Dewey had his year shortened by a labor dispute. Dewey in so many people's minds was a good-but-not-great player ... but it isn't true. He was great in '81 and '82, pretty great again in '84. And he was awfully good in several other years.
Evans dropped off the ballot after only three years, which is both odd and sad. He should have received a fairer hearing.
You could go crazy, of course, comparing Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven. For several reasons, Morris was pretty universally viewed as the better pitcher when they both pitched. Those reasons -- Morris won 20 three times, Morris better fit the image many have in their mind about pitching aces, Morris threw the legendary Game 7 of the World Series. It created a powerful mental picture.
The trouble is Morris was not the better pitcher -- was not, in retrospect, anywhere close to Bert Blyleven.
Blyleven gained the image as a guy who gave up a lot of home runs. Morris gave up more homers per inning.
Morris gained the image as the true workhorse and bulldog. But Blyleven had 67 more complete games and threw 250 innings or more nine times in his career. Morris did it seven -- counting the year he threw 249 2/3.
Morris gained the image as the great battler. But Blyleven threw more than twice as many shutouts.
Morris was known as the great postseason pitcher. But Blyleven's postseason numbers are better, including their one postseason matchup in 1987. They both started Game 2, and Blyleven won head-to-head, not even close, 6-3. In Game 5 Blyleven came back on three days' rest, battled and won again while Morris watched from the dugout.