Would he have made the Hall?

charlieoscar

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After I had mentioned, "All statistics, all mathematical models aside, have you watched players you just knew were Hall of Famers?" and the said I was thinking about Garciaparra, in the 2018 hof ballot thread, grimshaw suggested starting a thread to discuss players who's injuries cut short promising careers. He specifically mentioned Eric Davis, who I will leave to others.

While Nomar had fewer than 100 PA in his first call-up, during the next four seasons he won Rookie-of-the-Year while leading the league in hits and triples and later becoming the first right-handed batter to win back-to-back batting titles since Joe DiMaggio. In his first four full seasons he averaged .337/.386/.577/.963/142 OPS+.

Then he hurt his wrist.

---------

Another player who started strong but then was destroyed by injuries. According to his SABR bio:

"There is no official count of [his] baseball injuries, but the best guess reads something like a dozen collisions with unpadded fences, five skull fractures (though he claimed only four), a chronically dislocated shoulder, two broken ankles, damaged knee cartilage, torn muscles in his left leg, and two beanings in the days before batting helmets. As a player, he was carried off the field on a stretcher eleven times—six times conscious, five times not.'

"As a fourteen-year-old at Holy Ghost Parochial School, he impressed a local soccer scout enough to earn $50 a game—more than his dad was making in a week." [And he] "was good at every sport he tried."

He won the NL batting crown in his rookie season, while leading the league in double, triples, runs scored, total bases, and slugging percentage and had an OPS+ of 164.

He began the next season even stronger and on July 18, 1942 he was on an 11-game hittiing streak, batting .356 when his team began a series at St. Louis. In the bottom of the 11th he went after a long drive to center, catching it but immediately colliding with the cement wall and dropping the ball with the batter scoring. He was carried off in astretcher and found to have a fractured skull and brain injury but that did not stop him from coming back about four games later. However, he performance dropped off and then he spent three years in the Army.

"Pistol" Pete Reiser, who although he is listed as batting left and throwing right was sufficiently ambidextrous that he would switch hands if his throwing arm was injured and who did not always bat left-handed.


https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/92638bc5 Article was written by Mark Stewart is an interesting read. I quoted part of it and paraphrased parts of it.
 

grimshaw

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Looking more closely at Eric Davis' career, I guess I was overstating it but he was my favorite NL player growing up.
He did this in back to back seasons winning rotisserie leagues everywhere:
1986 .277/.378/.523 with 80 steals
1987 .293/.399/.593 37 home runs, 120 runs scored and 100 rbi with 50 steals as a centerfielder.

Just a couple of the more recent guys.

Darryl Strawberry's
career came crashing downhill after leaving the Mets. He had already accumlated 36 WAR by his age 28 season with 6 seasons of an OPS+ of at least 140. He was good in his first season as a Dodger and then was washed up by age 30. He and Dwight Gooden got into some bad habits together or they may have both gotten in. The latter had a 12(!) win season as a 20 year old in 1985

Dale Murphy who got a lot of consideration was basically done by age 31

Ryan Braun after his back to back 7+ win seasons in 2011 and 12 seemed like he was on track. Maybe PED's played a big role. Hanley did the same thing but in his age 25 and 26 seasons.

Albert Belle - A force to be reckoned with but he had to retire early because of chronic issues.

Joe Mauer sailed above the bar for catcher offense, but concussions basically killed his chances since he couldn't stick behind the plate.

Fred Lynn just couldn't stay healthy but his '75 and '79 seasons were amazing. If he played another 300 games or so, maybe he sneaks in.

Todd Helton seemed like a lock through his 2005 season, but that 10 year contract was an absolute dud. I know he has had substance abuse issues, but I'm not sure if that's what contributed to his early decline or not.

John Olerud was sneaky great. His 1993 season he slashed .363/.473/.599 and I thought he was on his way. Just not enough power at a power position to wow any voters but he deserved a closer look.
 
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TheYaz67

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Sounds like this thread would also like be a home for Bo Jackson.... both the stats and just watching the guy play suggested he would have had a monster career - put up better numbers year after year, until the fateful hip injury. Damn you football for stealing Bo's HOF baseball career....
 

cheech13

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Andruw Jones seemed like an absolute lock before falling off a cliff at age 30. He won ten consecutive Gold Gloves to start his career, had a very good bat, and played on a perennially successful team. But after that he was an absolute dud and even though he hung around five more years he was never more than a fringe bench player. Totally stunning night and day drop off and I'm not sure anyone ever figured out why.
 
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simplicio

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Felix Hernandez and David Wright are looking like pretty strong contemporary candidates.

How about that Carl Crawford guy?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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How about that Carl Crawford guy?
Crawford never struck me as a future hall of famer. Other than leading the league in steals a few times, he was never really a standout player. OPS+ of 107 in Tampa, 105 for his career. He was the poor man's version of a poor man's Rickey Henderson, only he hit second more than he led off.

As much crap as the Sandoval signing gets, the Crawford deal was far worse. At least there was a need for a 3b when Sandoval signed. Crawford was a square peg for a round hole from the jump.
 

Marciano490

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Did Tony C. not get enough time in to be considered? He certainly started out like a HOF'er.
 

TheYaz67

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Andruw Jones seemed like an absolute lock before falling off a cliff at age 30. He won ten consecutive Gold Gloves to start his career, had a very good bat, and played on a perennially successful team. But after that he was an absolute dud and even though he hung around five more years he was never more than a fringe bench player. Totally stunning night and day drop off and I'm not sure anyone ever figured out why.
I remember watching him in a game in 2007 against the Nats - his last season in Atlanta, and the first year of his career collapse. Was still playing center at that point, but had lost a step or two no doubt. He hit two towering, and I mean towering, infield pop ups in that game - was just swinging from his heels on every pitch, even with 2 strikes. He looked fat, and slow and apathetic - not like the guy who broke in at age 20 with great wheels and lots of hustle.

Some writers have suggested he is still HOF-worthy, so will be very interesting to see how he does this year, his first on the ballot. He finished just a handful of votes behind Pujols in 2005 for the MVP - led the league with 51 HR that year, so the guy could play when he still had his powers, but astonishing drop off after age 30, no doubt....
 

Marciano490

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I remember watching him in a game in 2007 against the Nats - his last season in Atlanta, and the first year of his career collapse. Was still playing center at that point, but had lost a step or two no doubt. He hit two towering, and I mean towering, infield pop ups in that game - was just swinging from his heels on every pitch, even with 2 strikes. He looked fat, and slow and apathetic - not like the guy who broke in at age 20 with great wheels and lots of hustle.

Some writers have suggested he is still HOF-worthy, so will be very interesting to see how he does this year, his first on the ballot. He finished just a handful of votes behind Pujols in 2005 for the MVP - led the league with 51 HR that year, so the guy could play when he still had his powers, but astonishing drop off after age 30, no doubt....
He always had that baby fat look, even as a 20 year old. I remember being shocked at how fast and well he moved because of that. It wasn't surprising to see him eventually gain some weight and lose some speed and agility, but I have no idea why that would've cratered his hitting. He never got that overweight from what I recall, unless it's just an issue of a slight change in mechanics from a little extra weight and slightly different dimensions.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Felix Hernandez and David Wright are looking like pretty strong contemporary candidates.

How about that Carl Crawford guy?
David Wright absolutely. King Felix is still 31 and has plenty of time to lock up an induction. He’s not in the discussion in my opinion. Yet, at least. His HoF monitor stats are all well over half way there, and assuming he is healthy in his comeback, I don’t think it takes much to get him in.
 

grimshaw

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Regarding Andruw Jones -
Go ahead and click around on this http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=cf&stats=fld&lg=all&qual=2000&type=1&season=2017&month=0&season1=1871&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=21,d

Some of the defensive metrics he leads in dwarf all other center fielders.

He is 20th all time in baseball reference dWAR - and is by far the best among center fielders - 6 higher than Willie Mays.

I wouldn't mind him in the Hall. Ozzie Smith and Brooks Robinson are in there as the best defenders at their positions and neither were as good with the bat.
 

simplicio

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Crawford never struck me as a future hall of famer. Other than leading the league in steals a few times, he was never really a standout player. OPS+ of 107 in Tampa, 105 for his career. He was the poor man's version of a poor man's Rickey Henderson, only he hit second more than he led off.

As much crap as the Sandoval signing gets, the Crawford deal was far worse. At least there was a need for a 3b when Sandoval signed. Crawford was a square peg for a round hole from the jump.
I think that's cherry picking numbers honestly; after being a bad hitter his age 21 and 22 seasons (and one injury-shortened campaign in 2008) he showed a steady climb of wRC+ from 101 in 2004 to 134 in 2010, along with the all the steals and the defense. And he looked great doing it, until the moment he set foot in Boston.
 

Danny_Darwin

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Speaking of the current ballot: Johan Santana probably should have won three or maybe four Cy Youngs. Peak was amazing, but probably not long enough to make that kind of a case, unfortunately.

By his 30th birthday, CC Sabathia had more than 150 wins, a Cy and three other top-five finishes, and a World Series ring. To me, he looked like a lock. Then as recently as last year, he looked toast. Now after a nice bounceback, his chances look revitalized. So who knows.
 

charlieoscar

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Sounds like this thread would also like be a home for Bo Jackson
Bo crossed my mind as I was starting the thread but I didn't want to put a lot of people in it.

Who was the pitcher (with Houston?) who had a heart problem on the mound and ended up living on the street for a while? I seem to recall he had a good start to his career.
 

timlinin8th

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Pitchers are probably more likely to be part of these lists and Dwight Gooden stands out as one that we can only imagine how his career could have turned out had he only stayed clean.
 

Marciano490

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Josh Hamilton is another, but I don't even think there's a question he would've made the Hall if clean.
 

Bob Montgomerys Helmet Hat

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Bo crossed my mind as I was starting the thread but I didn't want to put a lot of people in it.

Who was the pitcher (with Houston?) who had a heart problem on the mound and ended up living on the street for a while? I seem to recall he had a good start to his career.
J.R.Richard? He had a stroke on the field in pre-game warmups
 

charlieoscar

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Bob Montgomery's Helmet Hat and StupendousMan nailed it but I must admit that my recollection was J.R. was a bit younger when he had his stroke. Still in all, from 1976 through his half season in 1980 (age 26-40) he managed to average 4.8 WAR and had a couple of 300+ K seasons and was 84-55 for a team that was basically a .500 club. I'd forgotten about his ages 21 to 24 years, which severely downgraded his overall numbers.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I think that's cherry picking numbers honestly; after being a bad hitter his age 21 and 22 seasons (and one injury-shortened campaign in 2008) he showed a steady climb of wRC+ from 101 in 2004 to 134 in 2010, along with the all the steals and the defense. And he looked great doing it, until the moment he set foot in Boston.
Okay, we'll remove his age 21 and 22 seasons and he's still at a 113 OPS+ prior to putting on the Boston uniform. And "all the steals" amounted to an average of 45 a year...plenty in the station-to-station, three true outcome world of the 21st century, but hardly earth-shattering. And I'd respect his defense a lot more if he'd been a center fielder, or willing to be a center fielder.

Crawford was a good player in Tampa, but not great. And definitely not on a Hall of Fame track.
 

The Needler

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Josh Hamilton is another, but I don't even think there's a question he would've made the Hall if clean.
That's crazy. You can't just blame all of his injuries and decline on the fact that he was a drug abuser. And you can't assume he would've had years like 2010 starting at age 18. He returned to baseball as he was entering his athletic prime; he would likely have been in the minors for most of the years he was using, and then building up to the peak MLB season, like the following year's #1 pick Adrian Gonzalez.

It's easy to get wrapped up in the story, but he had poor plate discipline and pitchers let him get himself out more and more often as they got to know him. He wasn't the second coming of Barry Bonds.
 

taxmancometh

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When I was living in Texas, I thought that Juan Gonzalez was going to the HOF. He dropped off a cliff around 33 or 34.
 

8slim

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Dale Murphy who got a lot of consideration was basically done by age 31.
Murphy is a fascinating case. I'm 44 and started following baseball as a kid in the early 1980s. Murphy was well established then as one of the premiere power hitters in the game. Back-to-back MVPs in 1982/83, 2-time HR leader, 2-time RBI leader, 7-time all-star. Oh, and 5 gold gloves. The resume for his first 10 full seasons (1978-87) is nothing short of incredible.

If his next few seasons had paralleled a guy like Jim Rice he'd be a sure-fire HOFer. Instead his 1988-1991 was pretty dreadful aside from adding a bit to his career HR total.

Interesting to compare Murphy and Rice over their first full 10 seasons. Murphy had 310 HR, 927 RBI, .279 BA, .362 OBP and 41.5 WAR. Plus all the aforementioned awards. Rice had 331 HR, 1179 RBI, .302 BA, .352 OBP, 41.7 WAR. Rice was a better hitter, but a clearly inferior fielder.

In terms of getting in the HOF it probably would've been better for Murphy to have had a career-ending injury like Kirby Puckett so people could project what would-have-been.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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Pitchers are probably more likely to be part of these lists and Dwight Gooden stands out as one that we can only imagine how his career could have turned out had he only stayed clean.
How much was not stayed no clear versus throwing a bazillion innings before he was 22? He’s got to be Exhibit 1 when teams think about limiting young studs’ innings these days.
 

charlieoscar

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If his [Murphy's] next few seasons had paralleled a guy like Jim Rice he'd be a sure-fire HOFer.
Speaking of Rice, an interesting parallel with him is Dave Winfield who began his career one year earlier.

Rice 1974-'86 vs. Winfield 1973-'85
2163 hits 1935
331 doubles 322
74 triples 66
351 home runs 281
1289 RBI 1130
.303/.355/.518/.874 vs .288/.355/.481/.835
led league in hits/triples/hr x3/rbislg xs/ops x2/mvp vs rbi

Winfield tacked nine more years onto his career while Rice tailed off rapidly in three years. I never really thought of Winfield as a Hall of Famer but he just kept playing and adding to those numbers that the voters liked.
 

grimshaw

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Speaking of Rice, an interesting parallel with him is Dave Winfield who began his career one year earlier.

Winfield tacked nine more years onto his career while Rice tailed off rapidly in three years. I never really thought of Winfield as a Hall of Famer but he just kept playing and adding to those numbers that the voters liked.
Dewey's full career overlapped with Winfield's as well as both were up in '73

Here is that '73-85 split
Winfield .288/.355/.481 (46 WAR)
Evans - .269/.363/.470. (47 WAR)
A bit behind in the triple slash area but he was an awesome right fielder until the early 80's. Winfield was so so but had a cannon.

But then Dewey overtook him and was better than Winfield in the second halves of their careers (both are the same age).

Evans .287/.385/471 wRC+ 133 over his last 825 games
Winfield .277/.351/.470 wRC+123 over his last 1117 games

You could make the argument that Evans was the best of that trio.
 
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Cesar Crespo

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Felix Hernandez and David Wright are looking like pretty strong contemporary candidates.

How about that Carl Crawford guy?
I've always subconsciously linked Carl Crawford with Rocco Baldelli. Maybe he wasn't headed to the HOF though, that's some serious projection.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
And "all the steals" amounted to an average of 45 a year...plenty in the station-to-station, three true outcome world of the 21st century, but hardly earth-shattering.
He had the 7th most steals through age 28 in the history of the game. I don't know how earth-shattering you're looking for.

Crawford was a good player in Tampa, but not great. And definitely not on a Hall of Fame track.
"Definitely" is way too strong. He was certainly not on a can't-miss, first-ballot sort of HoF track. But he had accumulated 35.5 brWAR through his age-28 season. That's #72 all-time among non-active position players. That may not sound impressive, but there are a bunch of HoFers below him on that list (Bagwell, Boggs, Carew, Heilmann, Paul Waner, Gwynn, Winfield, Sandberg, etc.), and the list of eligible guys above him who've had at least one shot and failed to make the Hall is pretty short, and mostly pretty distinguished: Vada Pinson, Jim Fregosi, Cesar Cedeno, Bobby Bonds, Bobby Grich, Darryl Strawberry, Chuck Knoblauch, Buddy Bell, Joe Torre, Ted Simmons. He was, at worst, on track to be a guy who would get some votes and hang around the ballot for a few years.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
Another guy for this list, similar to Crawford and a contemporary of his: Grady Sizemore. His peak was so short it's hard to remember, but before he got hurt he was an elite defender, a 125-130 wRC+ kind of hitter, and an outstanding baserunner. He was on track to be at least a borderline candidate.
 

charlieoscar

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You could make the argument that Evans was the best of that trio.
I think the thing with Dwight Evans is that during his first nine seasons (1972-'80) he hit .262/.344/.448/.792 with 128 HR and 443 RBI. You double those latter two numbers and you aren't seeing numbers that entice voters. He was noted primarily for his fielding at that time.

I'm not making a judgment on any of the three but saying that when you see what is basically the first half of a player's career that doesn't come anywhere close to players in the Hall, it is hard for some to put that aside.
 

Rough Carrigan

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How much was not stayed no clear versus throwing a bazillion innings before he was 22? He’s got to be Exhibit 1 when teams think about limiting young studs’ innings these days.
There was also a story that the Mets veterans used to mock Gooden for his unimpressive chest, seriously, and that one offseason ('85 or '86?) Gooden lifted weights to look better to his dipshit cokehead Mets teammates.
 

Rough Carrigan

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I think the thing with Dwight Evans is that during his first nine seasons (1972-'80) he hit .262/.344/.448/.792 with 128 HR and 443 RBI. You double those latter two numbers and you aren't seeing numbers that entice voters. He was noted primarily for his fielding at that time.

I'm not making a judgment on any of the three but saying that when you see what is basically the first half of a player's career that doesn't come anywhere close to players in the Hall, it is hard for some to put that aside.
I'm not disagreeing with you. I just want to point out that even in that early part of his career, Evans wasn't just the guy putting up those numbers you cite. He wasn't a guy who hit .262 at any moment. At any moment he was either a guy who hit .362 or a guy who hit .162. He was almost never actually the guy who overall hit .262. He would show flashes of fantastic performance like:
Aug. 1975 - .409/.487/.697
May 1977 -.307/.352/.584 w. 7 HR & 7 2B
May 1978 - .306/.406/.718 w. 11 HR !

He's got months like that scattered across the first half of his career and right after them, months where he hits .200 with no power. At the time he was so far down the list in the guys on whom fans focused that it sort of got overlooked but damn he must have frustrated the coaches.
 

Spacemans Bong

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Mel Stottlemyre was also obsessed with Gooden giving up steals, and tried to shorten his delivery and as well as trying to teach him to throw a sinker. Gooden was so fluid when he was 20, I could certainly buy that 276 innings with that delivery was less stressful than you'd expect.
 

Spacemans Bong

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Looking more closely at Eric Davis' career, I guess I was overstating it but he was my favorite NL player growing up.
Color me decidedly skeptical about WAR's hatred of Eric Davis's defense. You give him an average defensive rating, much less a rating in line with what people at the time thought (which was phenomenal), then he certainly looks like a player with Hall of Fame ability cut short by injuries.
 

Rough Carrigan

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Mel Stottlemyre was also obsessed with Gooden giving up steals, and tried to shorten his delivery and as well as trying to teach him to throw a sinker. Gooden was so fluid when he was 20, I could certainly buy that 276 innings with that delivery was less stressful than you'd expect.
Excellent point. I forgot about that.
Also, there was this idea that he should try to get groundball outs because those groundball pitchers, like Tommy John, lasted longer.
 

Rough Carrigan

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Looking more closely at Eric Davis' career, I guess I was overstating it but he was my favorite NL player growing up.
He did this in back to back seasons winning rotisserie leagues everywhere:
1986 .277/.378/.523 with 80 steals
1987 .293/.399/.593 37 home runs, 120 runs scored and 100 rbi with 50 steals as a centerfielder.

Just a couple of the more recent guys.

Darryl Strawberry's
career came crashing downhill after leaving the Mets. He had already accumlated 36 WAR by his age 28 season with 6 seasons of an OPS+ of at least 140. He was good in his first season as a Dodger and then was washed up by age 30. He and Dwight Gooden got into some bad habits together or they may have both gotten in. The latter had a 12(!) win season as a 20 year old in 1985

Dale Murphy who got a lot of consideration was basically done by age 31

Ryan Braun after his back to back 7+ win seasons in 2011 and 12 seemed like he was on track. Maybe PED's played a big role. Hanley did the same thing but in his age 25 and 26 seasons.

Albert Belle - A force to be reckoned with but he had to retire early because of chronic issues.

Joe Mauer sailed above the bar for catcher offense, but concussions basically killed his chances since he couldn't stick behind the plate.

Fred Lynn just couldn't stay healthy but his '75 and '79 seasons were amazing. If he played another 300 games or so, maybe he sneaks in.

Todd Helton seemed like a lock through his 2005 season, but that 10 year contract was an absolute dud. I know he has had substance abuse issues, but I'm not sure if that's what contributed to his early decline or not.

John Olerud was sneaky great. His 1993 season he slashed .363/.473/.599 and I thought he was on his way. Just not enough power at a power position to wow any voters but he deserved a closer look.
Re Fred Lynn, the story is that Freddy worked out on Nautilus machines to get stronger before the 1979 season and had what was maybe his best year.

Then he didn't bother to do it again before the 1980 season.
 

grimshaw

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Color me decidedly skeptical about WAR's hatred of Eric Davis's defense. You give him an average defensive rating, much less a rating in line with what people at the time thought (which was phenomenal), then he certainly looks like a player with Hall of Fame ability cut short by injuries.
The dude could do everything. Couple plays


And serious opposite field power
 

sean1562

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Man, while I know he got paid a lot, I wonder how much Crawford regrets signing that deal with the Red Sox, which I am sure he blames a little for throwing him off that "potential HoF" path. That is one dramatic and sudden decline, I had no idea he was that valuable in those 7 years. Hanley barely has more career bWAR than he does
 

simplicio

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Yeah, he had a -7.8 fWAR / -6.9 bWAR decline from 2010 to 2011. I wonder if that approaches the record for value drop-off.
 

nvalvo

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While we're talking Eric Davis: I'm a bit young to really have known him at his peak. His best season was 1987, when I was 5.

So clicking through his B-R page, I notice that he posted a .991 OPS as a CF with 37 HR, a 7 bWAR performance. He came 9th in the NL MVP voting.

Andre Dawson won the MVP with 4 WAR and 49 HR in Wrigley. Yuck.

bWAR would have given it to Gwynn and his .447 OBP.
 

Saints Rest

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I'm not disagreeing with you. I just want to point out that even in that early part of his career, Evans wasn't just the guy putting up those numbers you cite. He wasn't a guy who hit .262 at any moment. At any moment he was either a guy who hit .362 or a guy who hit .162. He was almost never actually the guy who overall hit .262. He would show flashes of fantastic performance like:
Aug. 1975 - .409/.487/.697
May 1977 -.307/.352/.584 w. 7 HR & 7 2B
May 1978 - .306/.406/.718 w. 11 HR !

He's got months like that scattered across the first half of his career and right after them, months where he hits .200 with no power. At the time he was so far down the list in the guys on whom fans focused that it sort of got overlooked but damn he must have frustrated the coaches.
Sounds like JBJ
 

charlieoscar

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Mel Stottlemyre was also obsessed with Gooden giving up steals, and tried to shorten his delivery and as well as trying to teach him to throw a sinker. Gooden was so fluid when he was 20, I could certainly buy that 276 innings with that delivery was less stressful than you'd expect.
I remember seeing Gooden pitch as an 18-year-old in the Carolina League (A) in 1983...300 K in 191.0 IP. He was awesome, a little wild, though--112 BB.
 

Oppo

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Albert Belle, one of the most feared RHH ever

162 game average: 40 hr, 130 RBI, .295/.369/.564, 144 OPS+

Hr years of 48, 49, and 50
RBI years of 148 and 152
4 years with OPS over 1
OPS+ years of 172, 177, and 194
Only member of 50/50 club
First to get $10 million/year

Least productive year was his last at age 33 and still went for 23 hr, 103 RBI, .281/.342/.474

Too bad his career ended early due to degenerative hip osteoarthritis, but his peak (and 10 year peak) is HoF worthy.
 

lexrageorge

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Belle certainly didn't help his cause with his poor relationship with both the media and teammates. He didn't even bother to show for his induction into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame. Certainly not a requirement for HoF eligibility, and his injury shortened career doomed his chances anyway. But he did deserve more than the 19 votes he got in his second and final year of eligibility.