From SABR member Adam Darowski at the Hall of Stats on December 26, 2017:
Today, I want to tell you the story of four baseball players who retired in 1979 and became eligible for the 1985 BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot.
- Lou Brock collected 3,023 hits and stole 938 bases. But he didn’t hit with much power or get on base much for a relatively weak-fielding corner outfielder. As a result, his WAR total of 45.2 led to a 72 Hall Rating. He was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot.
- Catfish Hunter won 20 games five seasons in a row, winning a Cy Young Award in the process. But his ERA was barely above league average (104 ERA+) and he also benefited from great teams (who played great defense behind him). His WAR total was 41.4 (and 4.8 of that came at the plate) for a Hall Rating of 65. He received 53.7% of the vote in 1985 and would be elected to the Hall on his third ballot.
- Mickey Lolich won seven fewer games than Catfish Hunter while posting the same ERA+. The workhorse never won a Cy Young Award, but finished second once and third once. His WAR total of 49.1 led to an 87 Hall Rating. He received 19.7% of the vote in 1985 and remained on the ballot for 15 years, but was never elected.
- Willie Davis collected more than 2,500 hits and stole 398 bases. He had a similar offensive profile (modest power, very little plate discipline) as Brock, though his batting average and hit totals aren’t as high. But he was hitting in the same low-scoring environment (ballpark, in particular) that allowed Sandy Koufax to become a legend. He was nearly as valuable as Brock on the bases despite fewer steals. The big difference between the two is that Davis earned his value in center field (a high value position compared with Brock’s left field) and the metrics say he did it incredibly well (three Gold Gloves help support the numbers).As a result, his WAR total of 60.5 (by far the best of the four) led to a Hall Rating of 103 (and inclusion in the Hall of Stats). He was completely left off the Hall of Fame ballot.
Since the first modern ballot in 1968, Willie Davis is the best player to be completely left off when he became eligible. I’m not saying that he failed to receive a vote—I’m saying he was not even able to receive a vote because he wasn’t included on the ballot.
Read the full article here: http://www.hallofstats.com/articles/willie-davis-left-off-bbwaa-ballot
Originally published: December 28, 2017. Last Updated: December 28, 2017.