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The 10 candidates for the Modern Baseball Era Hall of Fame ballot have been released. If any are elected by the 16-member committee that receive 75 percent (12 votes) of the votes, they will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame next July along with any BBWAA candidates who make it. The announcement for this vote will be revealed — as is customary — during the Winter Meetings in San Diego on Dec. 8. Last year, Harold Baines and Lee Smith made the Hall via the “Today’s Game” vote.
The Modern Era and Today’s Game Committee are two of the four eras committees that replaced the old Veterans Committee. The four committees meet every few years to vote on players and other baseball personnel from specific eras.
Modern Era (1970-87): Meets in 2019.
Golden Days (1950-69): Meets next in 2020.
Early Baseball (1887-1949): Meets next in 2020.
Today’s Game (1988 to present): Meets next in 2021.
Instead of just listing the 10 Modern Era candidates, let’s have a little fun and rank them.
10. Steve Garvey
Garvey’s best chance should’ve been via the BBWAA back in his day because it’s an old school case. He’s got the .294 batting average and that sterling defensive reputation. He had 2,599 career hits along with 1,308 RBI. A newer-school approach, though, shows just a .329 career on-base percentage and advanced defensive metrics rate him out as a negative at first base due to a lack of range. As such, he sits 51st among first baseman all time via the JAWS system, which is a good system but nothing is the so-called “be-all, end-all.” Garvey shouldn’t get in, but Baines probably shouldn’t have either.
9. Tommy John
Here’s the toughest guy to rank, because it’s hard to know how much weight to put on him being the guinea pig — and now the namesake — of a procedure that saves so many careers these days. He had a very good career on the field that was marked mostly by longevity. In 26 seasons, he was only an All-Star four times and only got Cy Young votes four times. He did rack up 288 wins, but he only averaged a 13-11 record per every 162 team games. His career ERA was 3.34, good for a 111 ERA+. He’s 85th in JAWS among starting pitchers, sitting around guys like Tim Hudson, Orel Hershisher, Frank Tanana and Mark Buehrle.
But there’s a Tommy John surgery now. As noted, this was real tough.
8. Dave Parker
The Cobra certainly had a Hall of Fame nickname. He also racked up 2,712 career hits and nearly got to 1,500 RBI (1,493). The .290 average is good, but the .339 on-base percentage leaves something to be desired and the 121 OPS+ from a corner outfielder isn’t huge. He did win an MVP, two batting titles and two rings, but his top statistical similars are Luis Gonzalez and Torii Hunter. He’s 39th in JAWS, sitting around the likes of J.D. Drew and Darryl Strawberry. Very good, but not Hall-worthy.
7. Don Mattingly
Unfortunately, injuries derailed what was a Hall of Fame career in the making with Donnie Baseball. From 1982-89, Mattingly hit .323/.368/.521 (144 OPS+) while averaging 43 doubles, 27 homers and 115 RBI through his six-year prime. He won an MVP and nine Gold Gloves.
The injuries prevented him from racking up the counting stats later in his career and he only lasted parts of 14 seasons. He only played at least 140 games in eight seasons. He ended with 2,153 hits, 442 doubles, 222 homers, 1,099 RBI and 1,007 runs. That’s light at first and sure enough, using JAWS Mattingly is 39th, well below the established standard of a Hall of Fame first baseman.
6. Dale Murphy
Similar to Mattingly, Murphy was on a Hall of Fame track and then the case couldn’t be completed. Through his age-31 season, Murphy had two MVPs and was hitting .279/.362/.500 (132 OPS+) with 162-game averages of 34 homers, 100 RBI, 100 runs and 16 steals. His stop statistical similar through age 31 was Reggie Jackson. His top two if we look at his whole career? Andruw Jones and Joe Carter. His late-career demise kept Murphy below 400 homers (398), 1,200 runs (1,197) and 1,300 RBI (1,266). His 2,111 hits aren’t overly Hall-like. He’s 25th in JAWS at center field, behind players like Fred Lynn, Johnny Damon and Chet Lemon.
5. Dwight Evans
“Dewey” played an era too early. For as much as he walked, he was running an excellent .388 on-base percentage through his nine-year prime compared to a .281 average. His average season through those years was .281/.388/.498 (139 OPS+) with 30 doubles, four triples, 26 homers, 93 RBI, 98 runs and 4.4 WAR. Between all the walks and his 2,446 hits he ranks 57th in career times on base.
Using the JAWS system, Evans is slightly below the Hall of Fame standard, though he’s in front of Hall of Famers like Dave Winfield and Vladimir Guerrero and he crushes Baines.
4. Thurman Munson
Tragically, Munson’s career ended when he died in a plane crash at age 32. In 11 MLB seasons, Munson hit .292/.346/.410 (116 OPS+) while winning an MVP, collecting two World Series rings (while hitting .357 with 22 RBI in 30 career playoff games) and being an excellent defensive catcher. Should that overwrite that his counting stats? He finished with 1,558 hits, 229 doubles, 113 homers, 701 RBI and 696 runs. He almost got to the Hall standard in JAWS, sitting just behind the average HOF catcher.
3. Ted Simmons
In parts of 21 seasons, Simmons carried a career .285/.348/.437 slash, which is good for a 118 OPS+ and he was a catcher. Through his nine-year prime, he hit .300/.369/.471 (132 OPS+) while walking nearly 200 more times than he struck out and carrying positive defensive value at the most demanding position. Through age-31, Simmons’ most statistical similar player was Ivan Rodriguez. Through his career, the most similar offensive profiles are Miguel Tejada, Alan Trammell, Joe Torre, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, Barry Larkin, Joe Cronin and Yogi Berra. Simmons sits as the 10th-best catcher all time via WAR.
2. Lou Whitaker
Via WAR, the only second basemen ahead of Whitaker are Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, Nap Lajoie, Joe Morgan, Rod Carew and Charlie Gehringer. That’s it. Sweet Lou is ahead of the likes of Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio and several other Hall of Famers. His most statistical similar hitters? Ryno, Alan Trammell and Alomar. He’s got 2,369 career hits while walking more than he struck out and had 420 doubles and 1,386 runs with a career .276/.363/.426 (117 OPS+) slash while playing an up-the-middle defensive position.
1. Marvin Miller
It’s a travesty he isn’t in yet and you can’t help but wonder how much an impact owners have had on Miller still not being in. Miller was the head of the MLBPA from 1966-82, helped get free agency and arbitration put in place and the average player salary was 10 times higher when he retired compared to when he took over. He’s one of the biggest off-field players in baseball history.