Top 5 with Reds ties who are Hall of Fame worthy
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - With announcement at 6 p.m. on Wednesday of the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018 it seems like a good time to look at five people with ties to the Reds who aren't in the Hall of Fame, but perhaps should be.
One of those in the discussion was up for the vote this year for the first time: Scott Rolen. Here are the five, including Rolen, and five others who were considered, but miss the cut. That includes shortstop Dave Concepcion, who is down the list of viable candidates even at his position:
5. Buddy Bell (MLB career: 1972-89; Reds career: 1985-88).
The Skinny: According to JAWS (a ratings system developed by sabermetrician Jay Jaffe as a means to measure a player's Hall of Fame worthiness), Bell is the 15th-best third baseman in Major League Baseball history.
His overall WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 66.1 ranks him 13th among third basemen in MLB history, only slightly off the average WAR for third basemen in the Hall of Fame (67.5).
The only third basemen ahead of him in JAWS not in the Hall of Fame are: Adrian Beltre (still active); Chipper Jones (who is eligible for the first time this year and is considered a lock to make it); Rolen (who I will touch on below); Edgar Martinez (who spent more time as a designated hitter); Graig Nettles (who is extremely underappreciated and got overlooked mostly due to a .248 career batting average) and Ken Boyer (who was the 1964 National League Most Valuable Player).
Bell finished with 2,514 hits, won six Gold Gloves (none with the Reds, although he was spectacular at times defensively in the 1986 season) and made five All-Star teams (all in the American League).
He was unfortunately never considered a great player in his era, rather a consistently good one and that often gets overlooked by Hall of Fame voters.
4. Vada Pinson (MLB career: 1958-75; Reds career: 1958-68).
The Skinny: Per JAWS he is the 18th-best center fielder in MLB history (47.0) and he ranks as the 20th-best according to WAR (54.1), but both of those are a bit off the Hall of Fame averages at the position (57.8 JAWS and 71.1 WAR).
Still, he ranks ahead in both categories of the following center fielders who are in the Hall of Fame: Kirby Puckett, Larry Doby, Max Carey, Earl Averill, Earle Combs, Edd Roush, Hack Wilson, Lloyd Waner and Hugh Duffy.
His 2,757 career hits rank 55th all-time and there are only nine players ahead of him who aren't in the the Hall of Fame: Pete Rose (ineligible); Derek Jeter (not yet eligible); Ichiro Suzuki (still active); Adrian Beltre (still active); Barry Bonds; Omar Vizquel; Harold Baines (played more games as a designated hitter than a position player) and Albert Pujols (still active).
3. Scott Rolen (MLB career: 1996-2012; Reds career: 2009-12)
The Skinny: Rolen was on the back nine of his career when he played for the Reds, but he was selected to the National League All-Star team in 2010 and 2011, won the last of his eight Gold Gloves in 2010 and finished 14th in the MVP voting in 2010.
Much of his career resume had been accomplished with Philadelphia and St. Louis.
He is ranked as the 10th-best third baseman by JAWS and by WAR. The only ones ahead of him not in the Hall of Fame are Beltre and Jones.
Rolen had a career .855 OPS, which is a very good 153rd all-time, belted 316 homers, which is 120th all-time, and his eight Gold Gloves are more than all but two third basemen in MLB history (Brooks Robinson had 16 and Mike Schmidt had 10).
The problem for Rolen is among those on the ballot this season he is eighth overall in JAWS and WAR exceeded by Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jones, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Jim Thome and Larry Walker. Bonds and Clemens are starting to gain ground despite belief they used PEDs and Jones is a virtual lock, while both Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero came close to getting elected last year and are expected to get the call in 2018.
2. Joe Nuxhall (as a broadcaster)
The Skinny: After not only being the youngest player to ever appear in a Major League Baseball game (age 15 years, 306 days when he pitched 2/3 of an inning for the Reds against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 10, 1944) and then having a solid career, mostly with the Reds (a 135-117 record, career ERA of 3.91 and twice being named to the National League All-Star team) he served as a Reds radio announcer from 1967-2004.
He was one of 10 finalists in 2007 for the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award, which is bestowed annually on broadcasters, but fell short of winning it.
Long-time broadcast partner Marty Brennaman earned the Frick Award in 2000 and he an Nuxhall were such a great team that Nuxhall deserved it, too.
1. Pete Rose (MLB career: 1963-86; Reds career: 1963-78 and 1984-86)
The Skinny: No one can say he doesn't deserve to be enshrined based on his accomplishments on the field and perhaps one day there will be a solution to getting him inducted.
5 more to consider:
- SS Dave Concepcion: A fan favorite from the Big Red Machine days did win five Gold Glove awards, was selected to the NL All-Star team nine times and even finished fourth in the MVP voting in 1981, but he ranks 42nd in his position group in WAR and 44th in JAWS. There are 21 shortstop ranked ahead of him JAWS who aren't in the Hall of Fame, including Tony Fernandez, who played for the Reds in 1994 (mostly at third base) and ranks 33rd in JAWS among shortstops.
- RF Dave Parker: Played for the Reds from 1984-87. He finished second in the NL MVP voting in 1985 and fifth in 1986 after winning an MVP Award with Pittsburgh in 1978. He was selected to seven NL All-Star teams, won three Gold Glove awards and his 2,712 hits rank 65th in MLB history, but he is well below the Hall of Fame average in JAWS and WAR. He passed the eyeball test in my opinion and should have received way more Hall of Fame consideration than he ever did (the highest percentage of votes he ever received was 24.5 percent).
- SP Tony Mullane: Known as "The Apollo of the Box" he pitched for the Reds from 1886-93 and is ranked 33rd among starting pitchers in JAWS and 38th in WAR with only three pitchers above him in JAWS not in the Hall of Fame (Clemens and three 19th Century pitchers).
- RP Lee Smith: Pitched for the Reds for 43 games in 1996 and has the third most saves in MLB history, but is ranked 15th in JAWS and 11th in WAR among relief pitchers and is well off the Hall of Fame average in each category.
- CF Cesar Cedeno: He played for the Reds from 1982-85, but his best years were from 1970-81 with the Houston Astros. He ranks one spot behind Pinson among center fielders in JAWS and WAR, which means he's also ahead of nine center fielders who are in the Hall of Fame.