Every once and a while, I find a player who had a tremendous career and even appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot. But somewhat inexplicably, that player didn’t reach the 5% necessary to remain on the ballot and was gone from the ballot for good. I refer to these players as “one and done”, and there are some really good ones.
Using Rally’s Wins Above Replacement leaders, I put together an All Star team of the best players who only appeared on the All Star ballot once, then dropped off for good.
- I left 19th century players out because (of course) the Hall of Fame didn’t exist yet.
- This is heavily loaded with modern players. This is due to what is apparently a change in how the voting worked. I saw many players stay on the ballot more than a year despite not getting even 1% of the vote. I’ve left those players off the list. This is only players that were on the ballot once, failed to reach 5%, and weren’t on a BBWAA ballot again.
These hitters are simply ranked by Wins Above Replacement. However, we do have just about every position covered. Noticably, shortstop is not covered, though. We have some excellent second basemen and a ton of third basemen. I’m sure one of them could move over to make this a “real” team.
- 2B Lou Whitaker (69.5)
- 2B Bobby Grich (67.6)
- OF Reggie Smith (63.1)
- 3B Buddy Bell (60.7)
- 3B Sal Bando (60.5)
- CF Jimmy Wynn (59.8)
- 1B Will Clark (57.4)
- CF Willie Davis (57.1)
- 3B Darrell Evans (57.0)
- RF Jack Clark (55.0)
- 1B Norm Cash (52.9)
- LF Jose Cruz (52.3)
- CF Cesar Cedeno (52.1)
- 3B Ron Cey (51.8)
- C Ted Simmons (50.8)
I’m pretty sure Robin Ventura (55.1 WAR) will end up about halfway down this list. I don’t anticipate him getting the 5% necessary to stay on the ballot. He’s this year’s most underrated offensive candidate (though he’s really underrated because of his defensive skills).
Interesting that Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich are on top of this list. In fact, Lou Whitaker was not only one-and-done, he also happens to be the top position player by WAR who is eligible, but not elected. Yup, Sweet Lou. He’s a WAR legened. Or, WARlord, if you will.
Jimmy Wynn happens to be the top player on this list who never received a vote. Willie Davis also didn’t, and that’s not all that surprising. Wynn was great offensively, very underrated. However, all of Davis’ value comes from speed and defense. He wasn’t much of a hitter at all.
If I was forced to construct a lineup from this crew, I think I’d move Bobby Grich to shortstop (hey, he did make an All Star team as a shortstop) and go with:
- C Ted Simmons
- 1B Will Clark
- 2B Lou Whitaker
- 3B Buddy Bell (Going for the glove here, though you can’t go wrong with Bando or Evans.)
- SS Bobby Grich
- OF Reggie Smith
- OF Jimmy Wynn
- OF Jack Clark (Sorry, I’m taking the bat here over Smith. Old habits die hard.)
Really can’t argue with that lineup. How, how about starting pitchers?
- SP Rich Reuschel (66.3)
- SP David Cone (57.5)
- SP Frank Tanana (55.1)
- SP Chuck Finley (55.0)
- SP Bret Saberhagen (54.7)
- SP Dave Stieb (53.0)
Maybe I’m reading the wrong blogs. I hear Dave Stieb talked about as a Hall of Fame snub all the time. Even Bret Saberhagen was inducted into the Hall of Merit. I never hear about Reuschel, Cone, Tanana, or Finley, though. I haven’t figured out why that is. Even the blogs I read that worship WAR haven’t referenced this quartet.
Tanana is the guy on this list that never received a Hall of Fame vote. I’ve felt Tanana was underrated for a long time now. Good to see WAR back up this hunch.
You can’t go wrong building a rotation from that crew. I think I’d take Saberhagen as the ace, however, since he produced that much value in an injury shortened career.
There aren’t any one-and-done relievers that come close to those starters in terms of WAR. Very few relievers can accomplish that. So, for the sake of building a realistic “team”, here are some relievers for this fictional squad:
- RP John Hiller (28.2)
- RP Kent Tekulve (24.8)
- RP Dan Quisenberry (24.3)
- RP Tom Henke (23.1)
Man, having Quiz and Henke as the back of a bullpen could be deadly.
This article isn’t for campaigning any of these players for the Hall of Fame. The player I’ve seen the most support for is Grich, then probably Stieb. With a WAR like his, it’s hard to believe Whitaker doesn’t actually get talked about more. I’ve stated time and again that I’m a Dan Quisenberry guy, but I’ll leave it at that.
Anyone from this list jump out as anyone you think should have gotten more of a look for the Hall?