Here’s my take on this season’s HOF nominees. Some interesting debates are sure to ensue!
Alex Valdes – A career-long member of the Ice, I readily admit my bias here. But Valdes is perhaps the only sure-fire HOFer on this list. He mashed 645 HR with 1600+ RBI and 1500+ R. He stands out from Kent & Pulido with his other slash numbers, as he put up a career .294/.389/.552 line for a .941 OPS. He failed at LF but ended up playing ¾ of his games as a solid 1B. He went to 6 ASG (and couldn’t make it in his LF years!), and won 7 SS, plus an important MVP. Valdes is an interesting test for the HOF, as his raw numbers don’t really compare to the early season mashers, but he stands out among his contemporaries.
Vasco Almonte – There have been few pitchers better than Almonte in this league, His career 210-109 record is excellent, along with a very good 3.31 ERA in over 2900 IP. He only made 4 ASG but 9 times his era was below 3.50, so it’s hard to understand why. He’s comparable to Livan Lee (Almonte was an NL pitcher), but Almonte pitched more, and won 2 CYA. He stands out here.
Bruce Kent – Kent is one of the top power hitters ever in the league. Top 10 in each category with 670 HR, 1870 RBI, and 1653 R. He played almost exclusively LF, and though he was a poor defender, he more than made up for it with his bat. His hitting is slightly better than Pulido’s, with a .283 AVG and a .348 OBP, producing an .882 OPS, and he stole 258 bases. Very short on awards, probably due to his defense, but he did pick up 3 ASG and 3 SS, plus the all-important MVP.
Cesar Pulido – Almost identical to Kent, Pulido clobbered 664 HR, drove in over 1800 RBI and scored over 1600 R, also in the top 10 in each category. He played mostly RF, with some LF and 1B, playing poorly in the OF but very well at first. Power was the name of his game, as he batted .266 with a .339 OBP, making for an .857 OPS. He did contribute some speed as well, stealing 224 bases. Pulido went to 6 ASG but strangely only won 1 SS. He did win a GG at 1B.
Domingo Padilla – The greastest base stealer in Capra history contributed in more than one way. He smacked over 600 doubles and almost 400 HRs. He played 2B, LF and RF, solidly if unspectacularly. His OPS of .828 is a bit low for the Hall, but by stealing over 950 bases, he managed to score over 1750 runs, putting him at 5th all-time, and in company of 4 other HOFers. He deserves to join their ranks. 6 All-Star games and 5 Silver sluggers.
Rudy Hayes – He has a very high peak, winning back-to-back MVPs as a 2B. He didn’t quite put up the gaudy numbers that some of the other HOFers did, with 429 HRs, slightly under 1500 R and RBI, and an .882 OPS. He did contribute over 200 SBs. He also only went to 5 AS games. Without the great peak, he’d probably be borderline. But those 2 MVPs probably put him over the top.
Mel Barfield – An excellent 2B, went to 7 ASGs and won 4 SS and 1 GG. He batted .313/.371/.514 for an outstanding .885 OPS, and added 512 SB. He scored more than 1500 R and drove in over 1200. He’s certainly a respectable candidate, though I would give Rudy Hayes the edge here.
Melvin Hernandez – Very similar to Kevin Myers, Melvin’s raw numbers are ever so slightly worse. However, using my ERA+ calculator, it turns out that their ERA+ is neck and neck – 180 for MH to 179 for Kevin Myers. But Melvin pitched in a hitter’s park, which I haven’t included, so his pitching was even better. Melvin had slightly fewer innings (1677 IP), but he went to one more ASG than Myers (7), and won a Fireman award. These two players are almost identical, but I have Melvin a step ahead.
Kevin Myers – The sort of pitcher who only exists in HBD, and one of very few who may deserve the HOF. Averaged 140 relief IP per season during his peak, and had a career ERA of 2.62 over 1800 IP. Went to 6 All-Star teams, and would have gone to more had he been a closer, but he would have been less valuable. Way more innings than a closer, and second only to Junior Hernandez in ERA. Pretty good choice.
Livan Lee – An excellent pitcher who pitched at a very high level for a pretty long time. An astounding W/L of 212-109, with a 3.86 ERA and 2679 IP. He twice topped 20 W and was under 3.00 ERA two other seasons. And all this in the AL! A very high level HOF candidate.
Jimmie Franco – An absolute masher, Franco posted a career 1.017 OPS with a .326 AVG! About 2/3rds of his career starts are at C, with the rest at DH. 440 HR, over 1250 RBI and 1100 R. His numbers are certainly HOF worthy, though his low durability cost him many awards, with 3 ASG and 3 SS.
Hayes Corino – Another mashing 1B, and another guy who probably won’t quite get in. Excellent numbers with over 500 HR, 1400 RBI, and a .923 OPS. Might have been a HOFer with a shade more longevity. He did win 2 MVPs, which is huge, but only went to 4 ASGs.
Wesley Smith – A difficult player to position, Smith was the best hitting SS in the league for almost a decade. Normally, that would be enough to get a HOF nod. He had excellent gap power, hitting over 500 2Bs, and adding 320 HRs and 439 SBs. Career OPS of .878, with over 1500 Rs. But he was out of position at SS, and was a terrible defender (in 1650 G at SS he made 389 E, 8 + and 92 – plays). Despite winning 8 Silver Sluggers at SS he only went to 5 All-Star games. He certainly is not a poor choice for the HOF, but I’m not 100% convinced myself yet.
Sammy King – It’s always funny when two players are so similar, and these two catchers are neck-and-neck. They sport nearly identical OPS – King one point higher at .899. King played a significantly longer, with 7100 PAs. 6 ASG, 3 GG and 2 SS for King, who was better at throwing out baserunners, but Alexander was the better pitch caller. Both are solid candidates for the HOF. I would choose King first, but it’s awfully close.
Doug Alexander – Another member of the Fargo Woodchippers dynasty, and another guy who isn’t a bad choice for the HOF. A spectacular slash line of .327/.425/.473 gives him an OPS of .898. He finishes with 5800 PAs, so his career is a hair on the short side. But he’s one of the best catchers we’ve seen in the league.
Taylor Bowie – One of the top closers we have had in the league, but still maybe not quite dominant enough. He has roughly the same amount of saves (500) and innings (900) as Nerio Miller, but his ERA (3.24), is a bit higher than Miller’s (2.93). And remember, Miller played in a higher offensive era. And most importantly, Nerio didn’t make the HOF. In Bowie’s favor, he went to 8 All-Star games and won 5 Fireman awards. He’s not a bad choice.
Ariel Cortez – Very valuable pitcher who pitched over 3600 IP. He also won over 240 games, good for 5th all-time. But with his 4.11 ERA he’s a shade behind HOF quality. 5 All-Star games and 1 CYA.
Lewis Boswell – Another excellent every day reliever who deserves some consideration, but pales beside Kevin Myers. Boswell pitched over 2100 innings, all as a reliever and put up a 1.19 WHIP and a 3.66 ERA, mostly in the AL. He won over 100 games and saved almost 300, and went to 4 ASG (like Myers, it would have been more had he been a closer).
Denny Martin – Another 200-game winner retires, but this one is probably a hair short of HOF. He went 221-124 (.640), and pitched 2925 innings to a 4.09 ERA. Went to 5 All-Star teams and won a CYA.
Desi Martin – The other Martin also has some impressive numbers, retiring at #4 all-time in wins, with 247. But his longevity is his only Hall claim – his career ERA is 4.45. He didn’t even have a high peak; his best season was probably when he went 19-10, 3.72 for Fresno. Only 2 All-Star games underscore this highly-consistent yet average player.
Shep Cashman – A nice C with pretty good longevity and a very good .886 OPS for his career, he hit .311 over 16 seasons. Never particularly stood out, going to 2 ASG and winning 1 SS.
Clayton Rollins - Another good hitting C, who produced .308/.383/.475 for an .858 OPS, he went to 6 ASG and won 3 SS. Lots of good catchers to choose from on this list, but it’s hard for one of them to stand out!
Stan Coleman – Played 1B and LF about equally, and had great power. Hit 545 HR and drove in over 1500 runs. His .888 OPS means he was really excellent, but not quite elite. 6 ASG, 1 GG, 1 SS.
Lou Witt – Played 2B and CF, got just over 2000 H, batted over .300. A very nice player who finished with an .882 OPS and over 270 SB. He was very good, but not unbelievable. He went to 3 All-Star games and won 4 Silver Sluggers.
Al Perez – Played a long and productive career, amassing over 2300 H and almost 1500 R. A career OPS of .830 while playing some CF and more RF. He went to 8 All-Star games, demonstrating that he was well above average consistently, but just didn’t quite put up big enough numbers.
Al Cedeno – Three similar players in a row, Cedeno played SS, 3B and RF, almost 2300 H and 1200 R, .840 OPS. A notch behind the other two, he played in just one AS game, and a GG in RF, and he’s clearly not quite a HOFer.
Chuck Coleman – An above-average SS with big power. He had some major seasons, but not great longevity – he only played 11 full seasons. He was probably HOF level at his peak, but didn’t seal the deal. 5 ASG, 1 SS and a late career GG at RF.
Billy Leary – A corner OF with an .897 OPS is certainly worth consideration, but he played in the early years when you needed a 1.000 OPS or better to stand out. A very good player, but not a HOFer. His 415 SB helped carry him to 5 ASG and he also won 5 SS in RF.
Raul Costilla – A LF with lots of power (526 HR), but just an .853 OPS for his career. Went to 3 ASG and won 1 GG and 1 SS. Not quite enough for this HOF.
Edgar Berroa – A mediocre defensive 2B who had some longevity, but nothing spectacular. An .826 OPS with 250 HR and 450 SB is a solid, valuable player, but hardly a HOF candidate. 3 ASG and 3 SS.
Bobby White – A nice save total, at 419, but that’s all that’s particularly outstanding about White. He did pitch a lot, amassing 1400 IP, but with an ERA of 4.08. He notched 2 Fireman awards, but only 3 All-Star games.
Jorge Lima – Had some huge seasons early, but for his career was much too pedestrian for this HOF. 353 HR and and .886 OPS for an outfielder won’t quite do it.
Alex Lopez – I’m a fan of the everyday reliever in this game, but the overall numbers have to be higher. He pitched over 1300 innings, but 1.37 WHIP and 4.04 ERA aren’t HOF numbers, even in Capra.
Aurelio Astacio - A sub .800 OPS and no really outstanding moments mean Astacio doesn’t even belong on this list despite being a CF.