Since the exposure of the inflated statistics of the steroid era, it is high time to re-examine the case of Dave Kingman for the Hall of Fame. The first 400-home run hitter to be denied entry into Cooperstown, Kingman shared his talents on the baseball diamond with fans in seven cities. Instead of writing several lengthy chapters to convince you of Kingman’s obvious worthiness, I’m going to go with simple bullet points. All of these could easily be expounded upon. Feel free to disagree. It’s your choice if you want to be wrong.
- 442 home runs, 40th on the all-time list. But if you remove all the ‘roiders, he moves up to 31st, and if you remove all the guys that passed him after he retired, that puts him around 22nd at the time of his retirement. The 22nd-best clean home run hitter of all-time at the time of his retirement definitely deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
- He made the All-Star team in three different seasons. That’s more than Babe Ruth, and Babe Ruth is in the Hall of Fame. If you’ve done something more than Babe Ruth, you’ve really done something there.
- He received MVP votes in five seasons, four times in the NL and once in the AL. If you will recall, Frank Robinson was the first player to ever win the MVP in both leagues. Frank Robinson is in the Hall of Fame. Do I need to go on? OK, I will.
- Hit thirty or more home runs seven times in a sixteen-year career; five other times he topped twenty. In the pre-steroid era, that’s spectacular.
- Some try to put a negative spin on Kingman’s status as a legend by pointing to his strikeouts. You know who had more strikeouts than Kingman? Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.
- He had a 1.167 OPS for the Yankees. 1.167!
- He was a Diamond King in 1982. So were nine Hall of Famers, including Gary Carter, Rod Carew, Phil Niekro, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, and Ivan De Jesus. Wait, forget that last one.
- He was a Super Veteran in 1983. Not just a Regular Veteran, a Super Veteran.
Some solid bullet points, right? I thought so too. Let’s get Kingman in the Hall! Download the badge, resize it to your heart’s content, and display it proudly on your blog!
Why do the Oakland A’s have an elephant as a part of their logo? I never understood that, and I’m too lazy to look it up right now. But if you know, by all means enlighten me.
The A’s were the latest team considered in the “All-Time NON-HOF by position team” project on Baseball Fever. This was the most difficult team for me so far, because for the first time there were admitted steroid abusers among the statistically elite. I’m taking the same position here that I take with all other Hall of Fame projects: in my opinion, if they used performance enhancing drugs, they should not be included. I know many disagree with me, but I feel it harms the integrity of the records and taints the relationship between the fan and the game. Will there be players that slip through the cracks, against who there is no evidence of foul play? Probably. But we have to use the information we have and make judgments using that information, trying to avoid unnecessary speculation.
With that said…
C: Wally Schang
1B: Stuffy McInnis
2B: Danny Murphy
SS: Bert Campaneris
3B: Sal Bando
LF: Bob Johnson
CF: Sam Chapman
RF: Ruben Sierra
sub1: Dave Kingman
sub2: Bing Miller
LHP: Vida Blue
SP: Bobby Shantz
SP: Bob Welch
#4 SP: Eddie Rommel
#5 SP: Dave Stewart
The top picks of the BBF think tank:
C: Wally Schang
1B: Mark McGwire
2B: Max Bishop
SS: Bert Campaneris
3B: Sal Bando
LF: Bob Johnson
CF: Dwayne Murphy
RF: Jose Canseco
P: Vida Blue (L)
P: Eddie Rommel
P: Jack Quinn
P: Bobby Shantz (L)/Dave Stewart
sub1: Danny Murphy
sub 2: Lave Cross/Gene Tenace/Tony Phillips
I believe I was the only voter to leave McGwire off my ballot, for the reason stated in paragraph 2. For the same reason, Canseco was also passed over. I realize there is some suspicion regarding Sierra, but I am unable to find anything concrete, so for the time being he gets the benefit of doubt.
Only five players who are eligible for the Hall of Fame have hit 400 or more career home runs without being elected. Only two of those are still on the ballot. Of course, this number will go up in years to come, if others accused of using PEDs become eligible (Palmeiro, Sosa, Bonds, etc.) fail to garner enough support for election. Here’s a run-down of the current five:
1. Mark McGwire – With 583 home runs, good for eighth on the all-time list, the steroid allegations have hit McGwire the hardest so far. The only one on this list who was considered a shoo-in prior to the scandal, he is struggling to receive even a quarter of the votes needed. Only time will tell if the voters’ stance will soften and let McGwire in. If he makes it, expect Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens to follow him in. Should he fall off the ballot, then he will be counting on the Veterans Committee, most of whom are against the idea of the enshrinement of supposed cheaters (at least to this degree).
2. Jose Canseco – The other “bash brother” from Oakland played longer than he should have, trying to reach the formerly magical number of 500. He ended up with 462. He is also known as the first 40 homer/40 stolen base man, and was a major part of Oakland’s 1988-1990 successes. Jose is still trying to get to 500, apparently playing in independent leagues and trying to catch the eyes of major league teams to give him another look. Hey, I hear Tampa Bay is looking at Barry Bonds…how about giving Jose a shot? (No, not that kind of shot.) Canseco was on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2007, but only received 6 votes.
3. Dave Kingman – “King Kong” was a monster at the plate…when he made contact. He led the league in homers twice, finishing second 4 other times. He was voted in to start the All-Star game twice, and was selected a third time by the All-Star manager. Despite his power, Kingman struck out a lot and finished with a .236 career batting average. In his sole appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot (1992), Kingman received only 3 votes (0.7%).
4. Andre Dawson – “The Hawk” toiled for eleven years in Montreal before hitting the national spotlight in 1987 with the Chicago Cubs, when he hit 49 round-trippers. That was good for a National League MVP award, despite the Cubs’ last place finish and a very solid season by Cardinals’ slugger Jack Clark. Dawson’s 438 career dingers have garnered him serious consideration on the Hall of Fame ballot, receiving at least 50% each year except his first. In 2008, he was third on the list with 65.8%, behind Goose Gossage and Jim Rice.
5. Darrell Evans – The last man on the list was the most surprising to me. I never thought of Evans as a power hitter, though he lead the American League in 1985 with 40 homers. Evans was only twice selected for the All-Star game (1973 and 1983), and never finished in the top 10 for MVP voting. He finished his career in 1989 with 414 longballs, but his .248 career batting average undoubtedly ruined his call to Cooperstown. Like Kingman and Canseco, Evans was only on the ballot once, pulling in eight votes in 1995.
Perhaps in a few years we will need a post dedicated to players with 500 career home runs who are not in the Hall. However, they will be locked out for a much different reason than some of these guys.