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Bill Bruton

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  • Bill Bruton

    Outfielder Bill Bruton got off to a late start in his big league career, making his debut when he was 27 years old. However, that didn't stop him from playing 1,610 games over 12 years and collecting 1,651 hits, 102 triples and 207 stolen bases. From 1953--his rookie season--to 1955, he led the league each year in stolen bases, and he also led the league in triples twice, at-bats once and runs once in his career.

    Defensively, he paced the loop in outfielder putouts three times, centerfielder putouts twice, games in centerfield once, outfielder assists once and centerfielder fielding percentage once. He was frequently in the top ten in stolen bases, triples and stolen base percentage.

    In the 1958 World Series, which his team the Milwaukee Braves lost to the Yankees, Bruton hit .412 with a home run, two RBI and five walks. That was his only postseason experience.

    Statistically, he is similar to Bill Virdon, Jim Piersall, Dave Martinez, Frank Schulte, Whitey Lockman, George Wood, Enos Cabell, Dode Paskert, Curt Flood and Mickey Rivers.

    He put up some pretty good numbers despite his late start and that leads me to wonder if he had Hall of Fame potential, though I'm not entirely convinced he did. His OPS+ was only 96 and, perhaps most tellingly, he was never an All-Star despite playing nine full* seasons. Then again, had he started at 22 and been able to average what he did during his career in that five year span, then he would be sitting on 2,300+ hits, 140+ triples, 1,300+ runs and almost 300 stolen bases.

    *full in this case means 450+ at-bats.

    What do you think? Did Bill Bruton have Hall of Fame potential? Should he be in the Hall of Fame?
    8
    Yes
    0.00%
    0
    No
    87.50%
    7
    Maybe
    0.00%
    0
    Not a Hall of Famer, but he had Hall of Fame potential
    12.50%
    1
    Last edited by Cowtipper; 01-18-2013, 03:53 AM.

  • #2
    A highly regarded center fielder on a Braves team that neaely won 4 pennants in a row, Bruton was often suggested as the fastest man in baseball.

    Had he started earlier, played in a different era, and perhaps stayed longer, there might be a HOF debate about him, but it would probably not come out in his favor. He led the league in stolen bases His first three years, then his numbers dropped, though his percentage stayed high. In six years he stole 14 or fewer with a 2/3 or better success rate, including his last season, when he was 14-5. He also hit better than his career marks in his last year.

    Had he played in the seventies and eighties, he'd be a Willie Wilson type, except all his intangibles would be positive. As it became more acceptable for players to continue into their forties, he probably would have hung around for a few more years, eventually filling in as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. I can see him logging an impressive number of stolen bases under the right circumstances. His OBA was low, hurting his value as a baserunner. His Hall of Fame argument, I think, would have been, "better than Lloyd Waner."
    Indeed the first step toward finding out is to acknowledge you do not satisfactorily know already; so that no blight can so surely arrest all intellectual growth as the blight of cocksureness.--CS Peirce

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    • #3
      Hey, I love the guy as only a true Milwaukee Braves geek can, but a Hall-Of-Famer? No.
      They call me Mr. Baseball. Not because of my love for the game; because of all the stitches in my head.

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      • #4
        Always liked this guy: fast, started late, good leadoff hitter and of. I think he's another typical Brett Butler astroturfesque type who in the '70's would have been a star.

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        • #5
          A really fine player who doesn't get his due, especially for his defense.
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          • #6
            Does anyone know why his stolen bases declined after 1956?

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            • #7
              He had a fairly serious knee injury in 1957, causing him to miss the second half of the season. I was thinking that might be the main culprit but he kept hitting doubles and triples even after his return.

              I wonder if Fred Haney (who replaced Charlie Grimm during the '56 season) put the brakes on him?
              3 6 10 21 29 31 35 41 42 44 47

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Los Bravos View Post
                He had a fairly serious knee injury in 1957, causing him to miss the second half of the season. I was thinking that might be the main culprit but he kept hitting doubles and triples even after his return.

                I wonder if Fred Haney (who replaced Charlie Grimm during the '56 season) put the brakes on him?
                Could be. How much stealing would he have to do with Schoendeinst, Mathews, Aaron, Adcock, and Covington coming up? In 1957?
                Indeed the first step toward finding out is to acknowledge you do not satisfactorily know already; so that no blight can so surely arrest all intellectual growth as the blight of cocksureness.--CS Peirce

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                • #9
                  Bruton had a career .498 OWP. That's HOF for a SS who was the greatest fielder of all time, maybe. That figure MAY have been higher if Bruton had come to the bigs earlier, but even if you raised it to .525, you don't have a HOFer. Assuming Bruton is all you would say he was on defense, his case is pretty much the same as the case for Jimmy Piersall, is it not? And Piersall is NOT my idea of a HOFer. Bruton did NOT have HOF potential; he did not walk enough to be offensively more effective. There is no way I could imagine a team contending for a pennant if Bill Bruton was its best player, even in his best year.
                  "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

                  NL President Ford Frick, 1947

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