Does Roger Maris deserve a plaque in Cooperstown?

Bud Selig believes that Roger Maris should gain induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The BBWAA were asked to consider Maris’ candidacy 15 times.  His peak vote total of 43% was well short of the 75% required for election.

Q: Why is this even a discussion?

A: 

There are two items worth noting on the BBWAA election rules http://baseballhall.org/hall-famers/rules-election/bbwaa

  • “5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”
  • “6. Automatic Elections: No automatic elections based on performances such as a batting average of .400 or more for one (1) year, pitching a perfect game or similar outstanding achievement shall be permitted.”
When the veterans committee debate Maris they need to determine that the writers overlooked a perfectly qualified candidate.  It’s abundantly clear that outstanding single season performances are not alone basis for election.
That leaves rule #5.  Let’s assume the writers of the ’70s and ’80s knew much more than we do about Roger’s integrity, sportsmanship and character. All we can review is the players record, ability and contributions to the team.  “Ability” fulfilled should equal performance (“players record”).  I don’t know what in addition to record we can consider as a “contribution to the team”.  Baseball teams win games if they score more runs than their opponents.  Contributions to runs scored and prevented are all included in Maris’ record.  If you can think of any other contributions worth considering please share (don’t say “chemistry”).
Distilling a players record down to a single number doesn’t provide a narrative but it does give us a very good idea of overall ability.  Leave it to the sportswriter to romance over double-play turning combinations or sweet swinging “Yankee Clippers”.  WAR, WARP and Win Shares level the playing field and are more inclusive than pinpointing batting average, stolen bases or home runs. 61 is an awesome number but it only tells us about one aspect of a players game (ability to drive the ball over the fence).  It doesn’t tell us about their ability to make contact, get on base, drive the ball to the gaps, run, field or throw.  The comprehensive numbers we will look at include all aspects of a players contribution.  Even if you disagree with the formula’s output it must provide a more complete view of player performance than any single number in the formula.
Comparing Maris to his right field contemporaries:
                         WAR*     Win Shares Above Bench**
Rocky Colavito      52              129
Vada Pinson          52              114
Tony Oliva            46              124
Frank Howard        45              160
Roger Maris           41              112
Felipe Alou            41                95
Bob Allison            41                89
*average WAR(P) from FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference and Baseball Prospectus
**from The Baseball Gauge
Rocky Colavito clearly had a better career than Roger Maris yet he finished dead last, 37th out of 37, the last time he appeared on a HOF ballot.  “The Capital Punisher” fell off the ballot after just one year. Pinson peaked at 16% in 1988. Only Tony Oliva received support (47%) on the Maris level.
I don’t mind if Roger Maris is given credit for holding the single season HR record but for Bud Selig to tout him as Hall of Fame worthy is flat out irresponsible.
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Posted on December 21, 2011, in 1960's stars, Hall of Fame and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Totally, Dude!
    It’s like saying Mazeroski DESERVES to be in The HOF.
    The ONLY People Who Say He Does LIVE IN PITTSBURGH.
    His Defense Was GREAT, Yes, BUT His ONLY Offensive-Accolade was The Game 7 Homer in 1960. Without THAT ONE Homer, He Wouldn’t Have Made It Into The HOF with 100-Turns On The Ballot! 😉
    Tinker, Evers, and Chance wouldn’t have had a prayer of entering The HOF had anyone bothered to check their stats, hehehe. Lucky for them, there wasn’t access to the stats like we have these days.

    Keep Up The Fine Work, Sir.
    I Enjoyed It!

    -BRAD

  2. Completely on board with you here, Pete.

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