When the Hall of Fame ballots come out I love to look at the names that are included for the first time. To simply be named on the Hall of Fame ballot is an honor even if you know that player will not get a single vote.
As I started looking at the first-time names on this year’s ballot there really weren’t any that stuck out to me and made me think they would be missed if they fell off the ballot after one year. Javy Lopez may have been the closest name to do that since he did have a fantastic offensive career as a catcher but after taking a long look at him I don’t think I will ever wonder if it was sad that his name came and went in one year. Bernie Williams was another name but I actually think he will have a small support group that will keep him on the ballot for at least another year.
Last year’s ballot had two names that, like Lou Whitaker, came and went in one year and left me wondering if they maybe should have hung on a little bit longer. One was Kevin Brown and the other was John Olerud.
Olerud always intrigued me. From the helmet he wore both on the field and at the plate to the fact he did not play in his first minor league game until he was 36 years old. Olerud had a sweet swing, smooth glove, and knack for getting on base. In fact, there are only 17 retired players in history that have reached base more than Olerud’s 3602 times and are not in the HOF. Here they are (in order of times on base):
Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Craig Biggio, Rafael Palmeiro, Gary Sheffield, Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr., Rusty Staub, Tim Raines, Harold Baines, Dwight Evans, Darrell Evans, Luis Gonzalez, Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff, Bill Dahlen, and Edgar Martinez.
A case can be made for nearly every player on that list to be in the Hall of Fame and Olerud had a higher on-base percentage than all but only four of them and a higher OPS+ than all but eight of them.
|Stat||Jim Rice||John Olerud|
The plate appearances, OPS+, wRC+, and wOBA are nearly identical.
Rice was a left fielder who played 25% of his games as a designated hitter with zero Gold Gloves, but he did win an MVP award although his team never a World Series, and he hit .225/.313/.366 in 80 postseason plate appearances.
Olerud was a slick fielding first baseman who won 3 Gold Gloves but never won an MVP and hit .278/.366/.435 in 273 postseason plate appearances including playing for two World Series winning teams.
The comparisons are close but there is a better player. While Rice definitely wins in the power department he loses in almost every other category of the game to Olerud.
This post is not to say that John Olerud belongs in the Hall of Fame or to say Jim Rice does not belong but to point out that the career Olerud had, although slightly better than Hall-of-Famer Jim Rice’s, still only kept his name on the Hall of Fame ballot for one year and he is historically underrated for his on-field accomplishments.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis, Hall of Fame Tagged: | Barry Bonds, Bill Dahlen, Boston Red Sox, Craig Biggio, Darrell Evans, Dwight Evans, Edgar Martinez, Frank Thomas, Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield, Gold Glove Award, Hall of Fame, Harold Baines, Javy Lopez, Jeff Bagwell, Jim Rice, John Olerud, Ken Griffey Jr., Kevin Brown, Lou Whitaker, Luis Gonzalez, MVP, Pete Rose, Rafael Palmeiro, Rusty Staub, Tim Raines, Toronto Blue Jays, World Series