Jaffe: The Cooperstown Casebook: Dick Allen

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at Baseball Prospectus on July 26, 2017:

At first glance, Dick Allen might be viewed as the Gary Sheffield or Albert Belle of his day, a heavy hitter seemingly engaged in a constant battle with the world around him, generating controversy at every stop of his 15-year career. It’s unfair and reductive to lump Allen in with those two players, however, for they all faced different obstacles and bore different scars from the wounds they suffered early in their careers.

In Allen’s case, those wounds predated his 1963 arrival in the majors with a team that was far behind the integration curve, and a city that was in no better shape. In Philadelphia and beyond, he was a polarizing presence, covered by a media contingent so unable or unwilling to relate to him that writers often refused to call him by the name of his choosing: Dick Allen, not Richie.

Even while earning All-Star honors seven times and winning both NL Rookie of the Year and AL Most Valuable Player awards, Allen rebelled against his surroundings and presented himself in a way that often reinforced negative impressions while overshadowing his tremendous talent. Had he not missed so much time due to injuries, absenteeism, and alcohol, he’d almost certainly have the counting stats for Cooperstown. While past generations of voters wrote him off for those shortcomings, more recent research has yielded a better understanding of the context for his behavior—and shown that for all of the negativity that colored the coverage of him, he was respected and even beloved by many a teammate and manager.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=32361

Originally published: July 27, 2017. Last Updated: July 27, 2017.