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  • The rest of the center fielders

    My ranking of the top eligible center fielders not enshrined.

    1. Dale Murphy
    2. Vada Pinson
    3. Al Oliver
    4. Dom DiMaggio
    5. Brett Butler
    6. Doc Cramer
    7. Cy Williams
    8.(t) George Van Haltren
    8.(t) Jimmy Ryan
    10. Paul Hines
    11. Wally Berger
    12. Curt Flood
    13. Cesar Cedeno
    14. Jimmy Wynn
    15. Dummy Hoy
    16. Amos Otis
    17. Fred Lynn
    18. Reggie Smith
    19. Willie Wilson
    20. Mike Donlin


    Notes.

    a. I'd endorse, with steadily diminishing enthusiasm, the first dozen for the Hall.

    b. Murphy is head and shoulders the class of this field. He is the only person who will be in the top half of the Hall when he is inducted.

    c. Pinson, Oliver, Cramer -- 2700+ hits, among other achievements.

    d. Dom DiMaggio receives extra credit for the war years costing him much of his prime.

    e. Leadoff-hitting CF seem to be very overlooked. Several examples on this list, the most recent being Butler's quick bounce from the ballot.

    f. Ryan and Van Haltren are so close it's amazing. Both 2500+ hits, .300+ BA.

    g. Cy Williams was a four-time HR champion, two-time OPS champ.

    h. Paul Hines won a Triple Crown and had a ton of Black and Gray Ink.

    g. Berger led league in HR and RBI while playing for a 115-loss team, 61.5 games out of first.

    h. Flood is where he is because of his role as a pioneer/contributor who also happened to be an All-Star caliber player.

    i. Cedeno and Wynn are nearest misses. Astrodome made it hard on them. They both did everything well.

    j. Hoy got 2000 hits and stole nearly 600 bases -- and he was deaf.

    k. Lynn had two extraordinary seasons in 1975 and 1979; the remaining seasons, he was just a good player.

    l. Smith could be listed as easily in RF.

    m. Wilson, over various seasons, led the league in BA, hits, runs, stolen bases, and at-bats. He led the AL five times in triples.

    n. Donlin was perhaps the biggest head case of the turn of the 20th century -- and that's saying something. But he had a career BA of.333

  • #2
    Cougar, I recommend you give Berger a closer look. He is #1 on my list of CF not in. In fact, he is higher on my list of ALL Cf than on your list of CF not in the Hall (#10). I may have him a little overrated, but he was a great player. A couple things against him. He had a short career and that does have to count against him. He also started his career in 1930 and people tend to think of him as one of the inflated hitters of the 20s and 30s. That isn't really true. Hitting declined rapidly in the Nl in the 30s and by mid-decade the AL and NL were playing very different games. The AL remained a hitters paradise pretty much up to WWII. The NL turned into a pitchers league within a couple years of the 1930 explosion. He also played in one of the worst hitters park of all time. Braves field had a runs factor at 89% of league and a HR factor of 67% of league. His already impresive HR figures would have been about one third higher in an average field, about 50% higher at Wrigley Field. If you take a hard look at them both, Berger is clearly a better hitter (and fielder and baserunner) than Hack Wilson. I see him as the best NL centerfielder between Carey and Mays.
    While on the topic of park effects, Wynn and Cedeno had their numbers supressed even more than Berger. The Astrodome had run and HR factors of 89 and 61% of league. Add the effect of the 60s into Wynn's numbers and he has to be one of the most underrated players of all time. I have him #13 amoung CF and probably underrate him myself. Cedeno was the most exciting and talented player in the NL before he hurt his knees. He had one of the greatest starts to his career of anybody ever, but comes up a little short for his career in my book.
    Dale Murphy has his own thread and I've endorsed him there. Reggie Smith is another guy I think was very underrated. He is at least a border line case. Freddy Lynn was a personnal favorite. I have him ahead of Murphy and Wynn, as well as at least 6 HoFers on my list. Him I may be overating. His numbers were never great after he left Fenway, although injuries were a factor as well. His start/peak were great though.
    Pinson's peak was a little short of the guys above and, while I'm willing to give some credit for hanging around and being a solid player after your peak, he hung around along time as a very average player. Oliver was all BA and that kind of one dimensional contribution has to be a little higher than his was to get my vote. He is just under my line. Doc Cramer also had a empty average, but his was lower than Oliver's in a better hitting era. He is way under the line for me. Dom DiMaggio and Brett Butler were very similar players. DiMaggio maybe a little better, but Butler played alot longer. I'd be happy to have either on my team, but I can't see either for the Hall. I'm pretty much out of the game of endorsing pre-1900 players regardless of their numbers so that leaves about a half dozen of your guys off my list.
    To Summarize:
    Yes
    1. Berger
    2. Murphy
    3. Wynn
    Maybe
    4. Lynn
    5. Smith
    6. Cedeno
    Close, but no
    7. Pinson
    8. Oliver
    9 Otis
    10. DiMaggio

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by leecemark
      Cougar, I recommend you give Berger a closer look. He is #1 on my list of CF not in. In fact, he is higher on my list of ALL Cf than on your list of CF not in the Hall (#10). I may have him a little overrated, but he was a great player. A couple things against him. He had a short career and that does have to count against him. He also started his career in 1930 and people tend to think of him as one of the inflated hitters of the 20s and 30s. That isn't really true. Hitting declined rapidly in the Nl in the 30s and by mid-decade the AL and NL were playing very different games. The AL remained a hitters paradise pretty much up to WWII. The NL turned into a pitchers league within a couple years of the 1930 explosion. He also played in one of the worst hitters park of all time. Braves field had a runs factor at 89% of league and a HR factor of 67% of league. His already impresive HR figures would have been about one third higher in an average field, about 50% higher at Wrigley Field. If you take a hard look at them both, Berger is clearly a better hitter (and fielder and baserunner) than Hack Wilson. I see him as the best NL centerfielder between Carey and Mays.
      Full disclosure -- I really had a hard time figuring out what to do with Berger. I had him as high as #2 behind Murphy, but then the short career started working against him.

      Was I supposed to rank him behind Pinson, who had 1200 more hits, playing in the 1960's in an integrated league? Can't do it. Then Oliver is a lot like Pinson, then the leadoff hitters, whom I wanted to rank high because I think they've been slighted, and then the 19th century guys, again with 1000 more hits. So he ended up 11th. For what it's worth, I still endorsed him for the Hall, so we're just quibbling on tiers here.

      He obviously had a very high peak, and his home park was very tough on him, not to mention the lousy team surrounding him. He really didn't have a bad season between 1930-1938, but his AB started declining once he hit 30 years old, I presume from injuries (not really sure); he was really a part-timer, albeit a good one, starting in 1937. Then, suddenly, he was finished.

      You know what the shape of his career reminds me of -- Mattingly. He's a guy who had half a no-questions-asked HOF career, and then lost a good chunk of his effectiveness. Difference was Mattingly was able to hang on with his glove and BA and hit a few milestones; Berger just faded away short of any counting stat milestones to speak of -- although he did maintain a .300 career BA.

      I'd be leery of making too much of the comp with Hack Wilson, though, since a good argument could be made that Wilson himself is a mistake.
      Last edited by Cougar; 05-28-2004, 06:04 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think Mattingly is a reasonable comparison, although I would have picked Dale Murphy as the most similar recent player. Berger suffered a shoulder injury in 1936 that cut deeply into his power and wasn't really an impact player after that. Before that he was probably the most dangerous power hitter in the NL. In spite of his short tenure he holds the career HR record for Braves Field with 105 (in a park that was active for 40 years). During his 7 seasons with the Braves there were only 3 other years in which he had a teammate reach double figures in HRs - with a high of 13. Obviously the short career hurts him, but a career .522 slugging percentage in a park which played like the Astrodome is pretty impressive. At his peak he was better than Murphy and Murphy didn't play that much longer. Its close and I can see the argument for Murphy, but I'll go for the nearly forgotten Berger.

        Comment


        • #5
          it seems to me like brett butler was very underrated while he played too. if memory serves he only made one all star team, but he was a very consistant hitter for several years. plus he came back to play after fighting cancer...that would have to at least give him somewhat of a push, imo.

          i'd support fred lynn too, but his amazing start probably hurt his chances, despite putting up solid numbers throughout his career. i'm not reallt familiar with the other guys, so i'd have to do some more research.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by leecemark
            I think Mattingly is a reasonable comparison, although I would have picked Dale Murphy as the most similar recent player. Berger suffered a shoulder injury in 1936 that cut deeply into his power and wasn't really an impact player after that. Before that he was probably the most dangerous power hitter in the NL. In spite of his short tenure he holds the career HR record for Braves Field with 105 (in a park that was active for 40 years). During his 7 seasons with the Braves there were only 3 other years in which he had a teammate reach double figures in HRs - with a high of 13. Obviously the short career hurts him, but a career .522 slugging percentage in a park which played like the Astrodome is pretty impressive. At his peak he was better than Murphy and Murphy didn't play that much longer. Its close and I can see the argument for Murphy, but I'll go for the nearly forgotten Berger.
            No, Murphy was a better player than Berger.

            At the plate, their peaks are about the same, I'd say. Murphy then had a long decline period that Berger did not, building up his rate stats and dragging down his percentage stats. Whatever; what Murphy did when he was scuffling for the Phillies is not really relevant, I'd say.

            Sure, Murphy had a big park advantage, but the 80's were no richer an offensive environment than the 30's. And while Berger's teams were bad, Murphy's weren't much better. Still, given the park advantage, let's give Berger a small advantage at the plate.

            Murphy was a much better fielder, a gold glover; Berger was average in CF. Murphy was a better baserunner and basestealer. Murphy was more durable. (Modern medicine and training probably helped.)

            And just as another tiebreaker, Murphy played in an integrated league, with blacks and a large Latino presence. In Berger's day, of course, this was not so. This is not Berger's fault, of course, but it is undeniable that Murphy's competition was superior.

            Taking all these other factors into account, one must give the edge to Murphy.

            The others -- a good case for Berger could be made; I won't contest the point. You're more of a peak guy, I'm more of a career guy, so we're basically just looking at the subjective weights we put on different factors. The only players discussed with peaks that compare to Berger's are Murphy, Lynn, and perhaps a couple of the old timers.
            Last edited by Cougar; 05-28-2004, 10:41 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Cougar, I must admit that I also believe the quality of play has improved in each decade and any close call should probably go to the more recent player. Given that, it is inconsistent for me to pick Berger over Murphy. I think we all probably "discover" forgotten stars and maybe build them up a little beyond where they belong on our all time lists. So I officially concede this debate to you and move Murphy up 2 places on my CF list just ahead of Berger. I'll be satisfied if this discussion has put Wally on the radar of some members who had perhaps not thought much of him before.

              P.S. If you want to keep Murphy climbing the next guy I have ahead of him is Larry Doby.

              Comment


              • #8
                Close call on Murphy-Doby, but given Doby's huge dose of extra credit for integrating the AL, I'm disinclined to argue against him.

                Anyway, once a guy's in the Hall, I don't much like to rank them against each other anyway. It seems like bringing up your SAT scores after you've graduated college somehow.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by leecemark
                  While on the topic of park effects, Wynn and Cedeno had their numbers supressed even more than Berger. The Astrodome had run and HR factors of 89 and 61% of league. Add the effect of the 60s into Wynn's numbers and he has to be one of the most underrated players of all time. I have him #13 amoung CF and probably underrate him myself. Cedeno was the most exciting and talented player in the NL before he hurt his knees. He had one of the greatest starts to his career of anybody ever, but comes up a little short for his career in my book.
                  I think we agree on Cedeno. His numbers would be better had he not played in the AstroDome, but assuming his knees would have still given out, it wouldn't have mattered if he were playing in Denver.

                  On Wynn -- it's such a hard case, because putting him in the Hall requires giving him massive credit for the 60's, and also for the Dome and Dodger Stadium -- while at the same time, overlooking his early and abrupt decline. Essentially, you've got to give him every benefit of the doubt possible, while papering over any negative factors (such as the terrible season following the stabbing by his wife). That's asking a lot.

                  I think we can strongly suspect that Wynn was much better than his stats appear, and that he was probably a Hall of Fame-caliber player, but I'm not sure we have enough solid evidence to put him in the Hall. I suppose Wynn may have just been unlucky; someone has to be the best CF not in the Hall, and it may well be him.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by leecemark
                    Reggie Smith is another guy I think was very underrated. He is at least a border line case. Freddy Lynn was a personnal favorite. I have him ahead of Murphy and Wynn, as well as at least 6 HoFers on my list. Him I may be overating. His numbers were never great after he left Fenway, although injuries were a factor as well. His start/peak were great though.
                    Originally posted by tibber
                    i'd support fred lynn too, but his amazing start probably hurt his chances, despite putting up solid numbers throughout his career. i'm not reallt familiar with the other guys, so i'd have to do some more research.
                    Fred Lynn had one of the highest peaks of any player discussed so far. His 1975 and 1979 seasons are among the best ever by a CF (especially ones not in the upper echelon). But the rest of the seasons of his career was good but not great. Didn't excel at any one thing, generally: BA around .285, 20ish HR, nice CF glove. All-Star caliber, but not HOF. And he was incredibly fragile. He played 150 games once. Once. 150 games even.

                    Smith has similar career numbers to Lynn, without the signature seasons, but with more production in the typical season. Fine player, but more an All-Star than a HOF.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by leecemark
                      Pinson's peak was a little short of the guys above and, while I'm willing to give some credit for hanging around and being a solid player after your peak, he hung around along time as a very average player. Oliver was all BA and that kind of one dimensional contribution has to be a little higher than his was to get my vote. He is just under my line. Doc Cramer also had a empty average, but his was lower than Oliver's in a better hitting era. He is way under the line for me. Dom DiMaggio and Brett Butler were very similar players. DiMaggio maybe a little better, but Butler played alot longer. I'd be happy to have either on my team, but I can't see either for the Hall.
                      Pinson was a 5-tool guy who did everything well, except perhaps take a walk. While his HR power was only moderate, he did have great extra-base power, piling up lots of doubles and triples., leading the league in each twice. He also led the league in hits twice and runs once. His peak was early, and he had one of those long decline periods that can be so deleterious to a player's legacy. His decline probably looks worse than it was, though, because the end of his peak corresponds with the beginning of the worst of the neo-dead ball era in the mid-60's. In fact, he was still building up Gray Ink points through 1971.

                      Oliver was a more ordinary fielder and baserunner, but like Pinson, his average was not empty -- he had great extra-base power, despite his HR power being only moderate. No one has it more doubles than Al Oliver and not gotten to the Hall of Fame or been a mortal lock to get there (or been Pete Rose). He was the CF on a WS winner ('71 Pirates), flanked by Stargell and Clemente, and had his best season for Montreal in 1982, leading the NL in BA, hits, extra-base hits, total bases, doubles, and RBI.

                      Now we get to Cramer; he's the closest thing to an empty average in here, but 2705 hits and a .296 average (well over .300 in his prime) is contributing something, I'd say. Furthermore, he didn't just get on base -- he scored: 90 or more runs in nine consecutive seasons. He was also a fantastic defensive CF and a monster in the postseason, hitting .387 in two WS. In the 1945 WS (where he got most of his postseason PT), he probably would have been the MVP if they awarded them at the time -- him or Greenberg. Cramer is one of the leadoff hitters that doesn't get enough credit, in my opinion.

                      DiMaggio and Butler are two of the others. DiMaggio missed three seasons during WWII; if he hadn't he'd certainly have well over 2000 hits and perhaps a .300 average too. Scored a ton of runs on the great Red Sox teams of the '40's. Had decent extra base pop, leading the league in triples once and placing in the top 10 in doubles several times. For the era, he stole a lot of bases. And he was an exceptional defensive outfielder, about as good as his brother(s) from both most contemporary accounts and modern statistical analysis.

                      Butler, as Tibber points out above, gets some inspirational points for beating cancer. When a player has a public triumph like that, it's good for the game. He was similar to Dom, but with less extra-base power -- he did hit a lot of triples, but he got them with his legs. He stole many more bases, 558, 23rd all time, and 11th in the live ball era. A very good defensive outfielder (though not in the class of DiMaggio). Led the league in runs twice, and scored 100 runs six times and 90 eight straight. Led the league in hits one year and walks the next -- an odd combination. Both those years he led in Times on Base. The year after that, he led in sacrifice hits. Led in triples four times, and was in the top ten 11 of 12 consecutive seasons.
                      Last edited by Cougar; 06-07-2004, 03:37 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by leecemark
                        I'm pretty much out of the game of endorsing pre-1900 players regardless of their numbers so that leaves about a half dozen of your guys off my list.
                        Do you mean pre-1920 guys? Cy Williams (1912-1930) and Mike Donlin (1899-1914) should be OK with you.

                        All I can say about Van Haltren, Ryan, Hines, and Hoy is check out their numbers. Van Haltren and Ryan both have 2500+ hits with a .300+ average and boatloads of SB, extra base hits, and runs scored. Hines was the games first superstar, with more Gray Ink than Eddie Murray. Hoy stole 600 bases and drew enough walks and HBP to add 100 points to his OBP vs. his BA -- while deaf.
                        Last edited by Cougar; 05-29-2004, 12:58 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          On Hoy, being deaf makes him a nice story, but doesn't get him extra credit as a player with me. Same with Butler and cancer. Great story, no extra credit. Guess I'm just not very sentimental.
                          Donlin and Williams are below the Hall line on thier merits not when they played. Donlin was a terriffic hitter - when he felt like playing. He felt like playing barely a thousand games and drove in 543 runs. Nowhere near overcoming his many negatives - as you say he was the biggest headcase of his time. Cy Williams has a better case than Donlin was his career was a little short too and the Baker Bowl deserves alot of credit for his HR totals.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Pinson you'll never sell me on. I actually saw him play a fair amount int he late 60s and into the 70s and was definately not impressed. Thats a little unfair as his prime years were well behind him, but it covers alot of years. His case is unusual. I don't know of anybody who was quite the star he was early and was an then an average player for soooo long. He is a little like Lynn, except both his peak and his long lower level career were both worse than Freddy. The ONLY edge I'd give him over Lynn is better health. Thats worth something, but not enough.
                            Pinson's career pct stats of 286/330/442 would be amoung the worst in the Hall. He had a flukish 25 steals in 1971 (first double digits since 68) and I guess that must be his late grey ink appearance. Looks like his first good number since the 67 season. Pinson played through 1975 and got 400+ AB through 1974. Below are his last good numbers in various categories:
                            300 BA - 1965
                            350 OBP - 1965
                            450 SLG - 1967
                            20 HR - 1970 (first since 65)
                            90 run - 1967
                            90 RBI - 1965
                            30 2B - 1966
                            10 3B - 1967
                            190 hits - 1965 (and his hit total is his biggest Hall argument)
                            I'm not even asking for great numbers over the second half of his career, just good ones. They aren't there. He was an average or worse hitter for longer than he was an All Star type guy.
                            Al Oliver was a better hitter than Pinson. If he had been a good CF I'd support his case. He was below average out there though. Not very good range and a weak arm. I always liked him better at firstbase, but his teams thought they got more value by having him in center most of his career. They may be right because I wouldn't like his bat as much at first. I like his case better than Pinson's and I wouldn't surprised if the VC likes it someday too. He is a little below the line for me though.
                            Just a quick note on Lynn. When I moved Murphy up 2 spots to get him over Berger the other guy he passed was Lynn.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Doc Cramer posted a 340 OBP when great hitters were posting 340 BAs. His career slugging was 375 when great players were slugging over 500. He wouldn't have hung around long enough to get 2700 hits or "win" his hypothetical Series MVP if not for the war. I wouldn't want him leading off for my team in any circumstances, much less in an all time context. Dom DiMaggio was a much better player than Cramer. Give him max credit for the war years and he is close to the border of the Hall. Still a pretty short career without any truely great seasons though. Butler drew walks and played a good centerfield. He really didn't have much punch though and his baserunning is way overrated. He stole 500, but was thrown out almost 1/3 of the time. You can make a case his baserunning hurt his team more than it helped. I probably wouldn't go that far, but I won't give him much credit for it either. Again better than Cramer, but short of the Hall

                              Comment

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