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  • Tony Oliva

    It's time that someone makes a case for putting TONY OLIVA in the Hall of Fame.

    Until his crippling injury in 1972, Tony was a major star. Over his first 8 MLB seasons (1964 ROY thru 1971) he won three batting titles and finished in the top 5 BA leaders in 7 of those eight seasons. He led in total hits 5 times (and was among the top 10 in hits 7 of 8 seasons). He led the AL in doubles 4 times (and finished in the top five 7 times). He also finished among the top 10 in TB seven times (but led in TB only once).

    For the years 1964-1971 (Tony's first eight seasons) he was the top AL producer in four of these five offensive categories:

    Total Hits: 1. Oliva 1455 - 2. Brooks Robinson 1313 - 3. Yastrzemski 1303
    Doubles: 1. Oliva 278 - 2. Yastrzemski 278 - 3. Brooks Robinson 229
    Runs scored: 1. Yaz 734 - 2. Oliva 711 - 3. Killebrew 676
    Total Bases: 1. Oliva 2356 - 2. Yaz 2244 - 3. Brooks Robinson 2101
    Batting Ave: 1. Oliva .313 - 2. Frank Robinson .300 - 3. Yastrzemski .293
    (for players with more than 3000 plate appearances over these 8 seasons)

    His leg injury in 1972 changed Tony from a fine outfielder to a full-time DH.
    His hitting also suffered. Over his last three full seasons (1973-1975) Tony had only 420 hits (20th in the AL over that span) and 596 Total Bases (#26 in the AL). His batting average over those seasons was just .283 (19th in the AL) and his Runs scored were not even in the top 50.

    In his 15 year career (only 12 seasons with more than 10 games played) he has a black ink score of 41. (This is 52% better than the batting black ink total for the typical HOF position player.) He never won an MVP award, but he was runner-up in 1965 and 1970.
    Despite the painful finish, Oliva's overall career BA is .304.

    While he still had his wheels, Tony Oliva was clearly one of the games brightest stars!
    Last edited by Appling; 01-29-2005, 02:27 PM.
    Luke

  • #2
    ...add to that the fact that he was an excellent fielder, could hit for power (220 career HR's), and was named to the All-Star team for his first eight seasons in the league. He certainly would get my vote!!!

    Comment


    • #3
      Oliva's very worthy as a short career / high peak guy.

      Comment


      • #4
        There is certainly room at Cooperstown for Oliva's plaque.
        "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
        "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
        "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
        "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

        Comment


        • #5
          Actually his stats are better than Puckett's.
          Oliva's Black Ink = 41 Puckett Black Ink = 22
          Oliva Grey Ink = 146 Puckett Grey Ink = 122
          Kirby had some great World Series highlights but he never had a full season equal to the average of Tony's first 8 years.

          Yes, if not for the DH position (new in 1973) Tony would probably have been out of baseball. He could still hit but could no longer run.

          What did Tony the most harm in my opinion was his problem with English. A native of Cuba, he never felt comfortable speaking English and was a tough interview. Kirby was more fun to interview -- that's why he's in.
          Luke

          Comment


          • #6
            Kirby earned some extra credit for playing CF.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Appling
              Actually his stats are better than Puckett's.
              Oliva's Black Ink = 41 Puckett Black Ink = 22
              Oliva Grey Ink = 146 Puckett Grey Ink = 122
              Kirby had some great World Series highlights but he never had a full season equal to the average of Tony's first 8 years.

              Yes, if not for the DH position (new in 1973) Tony would probably have been out of baseball. He could still hit but could no longer run.

              What did Tony the most harm in my opinion was his problem with English. A native of Cuba, he never felt comfortable speaking English and was a tough interview. Kirby was more fun to interview -- that's why he's in.
              It may be partly these reasons, but I'll tell you the biggest reason- offensive era/context.

              What do people generally look at (esp the writers who vote people into the HOF?) BA, SLG, OBP, HR, R, RBI. Oliva played in one of the worst offensive contexts in baseball history, so his production numbers are very deflated. The league adjusted BA for Tony's career was .257- that's the lowest I've ever seen, possibly.

              A more fair stat is relative BA- Tony's is 120.5 (25th best in baseball history)- ahead of guys like Ruth, Heilmann, Edgar Martinez, Sisler, Crawford, and WAY ahead of Gehrig, Terry, Dimaggio, et al.

              His statistics, adjusted to a 1996-2000 (offensive, instead of defensive) context are as follows. (Actual career figure in parentheses)

              BA- .328 (.304) SLG- .551 (.476) HR- 297 (220) R- 1,061 (870) RBI- 1,156 (947)

              I aslo believe the DH hurts him; with a very short career, the fact that he only played half the game for over 400 games depreciates his overall value - but by how much?

              It was mentioned that Tony was a great fielder. (With fielding especially, but stats in general, multiple measures is the best method; concurrence or dissent amongst them gives you a far more reliable picture than simply looking at one source/stat). Here is what I have.
              --Baseball reference states that Oliva had good range, but a poor fielding percentage; not sure how much we can glean from this.
              --Total Baseball (2004) gives him 34 Fielding Runs, a good figure (although the reliability and validity of this metric has been brought seriously into question by Bill James and others, after TB incredulously rated Nap Lajoie as the third greatest player in baseball history in 2001, based largely on the questionable overvaluing of his fielding).
              --The Baseball Encyclopedia (2004) gives Oliva a career fielding range of 110, which is very good, and an throwing/arm rating of 94, which is pretty mediocre.
              --Anyone who is in possession of Bill James Fielding Win Shares might be able to add another piece of info to the puzzle.

              Finally- (and perhaps most importantly)-it could be said that Tony Oliva played through the strongest era in baseball history (one might argue this- Leecemark- (Mark)?). Perhaps, had he played in the same timeframe as Lou Gehrig or Earl Averill, his rate stats might be truly phenomenal, for so many reasons- including (strength of league/competition) and (offensive context).

              All that said- I think he has a very good case for the HOF.
              Last edited by csh19792001; 01-30-2005, 12:14 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                a few of the other top candidates

                I believe George Van Haltren has a strong case for the HOF, but he's an oldtimer who nobody knows much about. (He won 40 games as a pitcher, has the highest BA of anyone not in the HOF, and he scored over 1600 runs, stealing 583 bases).
                http://www.sabr.org/cmsFiles/Files/B...L_Apr_1999.pdf
                http://www.baseball-reference.com/v/vanhage01.shtml

                Bert Blyleven (who has been vouched for both ad nauseum and ad hoc for years now)

                Where's the love for Stan Hack? Twice as many walks as K's, very good fielding 3rd baseman, .394 OBP, .301 BA....fabulous WS performer...surprisingly, grounded into VERY few double plays, too. A real team player.

                Bill Dahlen- recently finished his brand new biopic, Bad Bill Dahlen . Just giving the naked stats here would be a total injustice to the man- I encourage anyone interested to give it a read. Suffice it to say that Dahlen was considered by most experts who saw him to be one of the greatest fielders ever- and even after 100 years of players to come and go- the newest fielding stats have confirmed this,- The latest Baseball Encyclopedia lists him as the third greatest fielder ever, Total Baseball lists him 12th. Dahlen held many alltime records when he retired- (many of them offensive, ironically). The reason was that teams realized that he was a wizard with the glove and a genuine, cerebral team player who knew how to win games.

                Jimmy Ryan?

                Bobby Veach?
                Last edited by csh19792001; 01-30-2005, 12:11 PM. Reason: Throwing Jimmy Ryan out there

                Comment


                • #9
                  --Oliva is a tweener for me. He was a great player before his injuries. He was also a great player at a time when the level of competition was arguably at its highest. Unfortunately, he also had a very short career and wasn't exactly the type of dominanting player. who forces people to select him.
                  --For a player with such a lack of longevity I'd like to be able to say he was the best or at least amoung the very best in the game in their prime. Oliva was amoung the best in the AL, but was never even THE best on his own team.
                  --More damaging to Oliva, although probably unfairly so, is that he wasn't ever even arguably the best in the game at his own position. That say more about the depth of talent in RF in the 60s than it does about Oliva, but its still something that hides his greatness from casual observation.
                  --Oliva's came up midway through the careers of Aaron, Robinson, Clemente and Kaline and, except for Clemente, they all last as long or longer than Oliva - making them his direct competition for Cooperstown when he came up for the vote. Roger Maris had just completed his 3 year HoF campaign the year before Oliva came up. Rocky Colavito was winding down a great run of power hitting at that time. Oliva is clearly a bettter candidate than Maris or Colavito, but just as clearly way behind the other four. And while I like him better than Maris or Colavito, they do have their own supporters to muddy the waters.
                  --Oliva also suffers in my evaluation because while I'm old enough to rememeber him as an active player, I'm young enough thatits easier to bring up a mental picture of Oliva the crippled up DH than Oliva the 5 tool outfielder. That is as unfair as holding the wealth of talent at his psoition against him, but the pciture is still their in my head. I suspect it is there for many potential voters as well.
                  --Anyway, I think Oliva would be a solid VC choice. If he had played in the 20s or 30s he would have a .340 career BA and we wouldn't be having this discussion. However, I think there are a number of better candidates. Someday his time will come.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Appling
                    Actually his stats are BETTER than Puckett's.
                    Oliva's Black Ink = 41 Puckett Black Ink = 22
                    Oliva Grey Ink = 146 Puckett Grey Ink = 122
                    Kirby had some great World Series highlights but he never had a full season equal to the average of Tony's first 8 years.
                    If :

                    Oliva
                    162 Game Avg Runs = 84
                    162 Game Avg Hits = 185
                    162 Game Avg Doubles = 32
                    Total Runs Created = 1058/15 seasons = 70.5

                    Puckett
                    162 Game Avg Runs = 97
                    162 Game Avg Hits = 209
                    162 Game Avg Doubles = 38
                    Total Runs Created = 1242/12 seasons = 103.5

                    : then Puckett's stats can also be selectively better

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Appling
                      It's time that someone makes a case for putting TONY OLIVA in the Hall of Fame.

                      Until his crippling injury in 1972, Tony was a major star. Over his first 8 MLB seasons (1964 ROY thru 1971) he won three batting titles and finished in the top 5 BA leaders in 7 of those eight seasons. He led in total hits 5 times (and was among the top 10 in hits 7 of 8 seasons). He led the AL in doubles 4 times (and finished in the top five 7 times). He also finished among the top 10 in TB seven times (but led in TB only once).

                      For the years 1964-1971 (Tony's first eight seasons) he was the top AL producer in four of these five offensive categories:

                      Total Hits: 1. Oliva 1455 - 2. Brooks Robinson 1313 - 3. Yastrzemski 1303
                      Doubles: 1. Oliva 278 - 2. Yastrzemski 278 - 3. Brooks Robinson 229
                      Runs scored: 1. Yaz 734 - 2. Oliva 711 - 3. Killebrew 676
                      Total Bases: 1. Oliva 2356 - 2. Yaz 2244 - 3. Brooks Robinson 2101
                      Batting Ave: 1. Oliva .313 - 2. Frank Robinson .300 - 3. Yastrzemski .293
                      (for players with more than 3000 plate appearances over these 8 seasons)

                      His leg injury in 1972 changed Tony from a fine outfielder to a full-time DH.
                      His hitting also suffered. Over his last three full seasons (1973-1975) Tony had only 420 hits (20th in the AL over that span) and 596 Total Bases (#26 in the AL). His batting average over those seasons was just .283 (19th in the AL) and his Runs scored were not even in the top 50.

                      In his 15 year career (only 12 seasons with more than 10 games played) he has a black ink score of 41. (This is 52% better than the batting black ink total for the typical HOF position player.) He never won an MVP award, but he was runner-up in 1965 and 1970.
                      Despite the painful finish, Oliva's overall career BA is .304.

                      While he still had his wheels, Tony Oliva was clearly one of the games brightest stars!

                      Tony Oliva,probably needed to get 2,000 hits,1,000 runs and over 1,000 RBI'S to have a chance in the VC HOF voting.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Oliva first came to my attention as a HoF candidate when Bill James wrote an excellent essay about him in Politics of Glory.
                        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I tend to agree with leecemark, but I'm a little more down on Tony because I value career accomplishments more highly than most--and that is his achilles' heel. There are darned few HOF outfielders with less than 2000 hits--and that's what Oliva would be if he got in. It wouldn't offend me if he got in, but given the brevity of his career, he'd have to be even more brilliant than he was in order for me to be very enthusiastic about his case.

                          Jim Albright
                          Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
                          Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
                          A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I usually oppose Oliva's admission to the HoF. He is a career RF (includes his time at other positions) and that is a position that requires very high standards. He had a rather short career in terms of actual playing time. he doesn't even rank in the Top 50 in games played as a career RF. This causes his counting numbers to be woefully short.

                            It comes down to that he had better seasons than other career RF candidates, but didn't have as good a career. Reggie Smith, Jack Clark, Dwight Evans, Ken Singleton, etc., all had better careers.

                            Comparing him to Puckett is a non sequitur. Puckett was a six-time GG CF as compared to a guy who won one GG in RF. Puckett also played 500 mor games in the field than Oliva. His defensive value simply dwarfs Oliva's.

                            And while it isn't necessarily fair, Puckett, like Koufax, Joss, and one or two others, were elected because the voters felt these guys careers ended abruptly due to non-baseball related maladies. I didn't say it was fair. Oliva, like so many others, gets caught up in the group who are considered to have broken time over time due to the playing of the game itself.

                            Having said all that, I will say this: The guy could rake. A reluctant thumbs down.
                            Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I generally don't support Oliva for the HOF. He was a great player for about 7 years and certainly had a HOF level peak, but he just didn't last very long, and his career was lengthened by the DH. What it basically comes down to is that while his peak is HOF quality, it's not slam dunk HOF quality (OPS+ was generally around 140, which while extremely good isn't unbelievable), and it's not good enough IMO to lift a short career player to the HOF.

                              He is very similar to Wally Berger in many ways, and Berger too falls short of the HOF. He's quite clearly not better than other top non HOF RFers like Dave Parker, Reggie Smith, Ken Singleton, and Dwight Evans. I would probably rate him ahead of Jim Rice though.

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