In a few days, we will discover the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, amongst a more than illustrious group.
This is in a year following a year where no one was inducted. And, though I have my thoughts about PEDs, and their influence (I actually think the PEZ company should distribute a special set of big-headed "PEDs Dispensers" featuring Sammy Sosa and of course Barry Bonds) and impact on Hall admittance.
I truly feel Craig Biggio (3000 hits) and Tom Glavine (300 wins) and Frank Thomas (dominant hitter) and Mike Piazza (maybe the best hitting catcher who made his teams winners) all deserve to be inducted.
And, though I have no real issue with most of the abuse of PEDs, I don't see Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa or Rafael Palmeiro making it any more than Jack Morris, Curt Schilling or Mike Mussina (I am not trying to suggest this last troika altered their bodies, but their numbers are pretty similar in the grande relative scheme). But, these guys are all a lot like Al Oliver, and Steve Garvey and even Bill Buckner: they all had more than solid careers, and were even beyond steady, but they never really kicked it the extra level up (although I think there is a case that could be made for Morris, a fabulous money pitcher).
But, there are players--and I am not even thinking Gil Hodges--who I think really deserve more than a passing thought, now by the Veteran's Committee, pretty much.
So, here are those guys, and why.
Darrell Evans: His line does not look that great compared to today's producers, like Palmeiro and even Thomas, but a .248-414-1354 line with 1605 walks (.361 OBP) put Evans around the top 10 in RBI and walks around the time he retired. He did hit 40 homers in each league (Jim Thome, Adam Dunn and Mark McGwire did this as well) and when Evans retired, 400 homers was a barometer for HOF entrance, not the 500 of today. Evans was a leader on the '85 Tigers when he went .248-40-97 at age 38. Underrated, yes, but steady with big pop at the right time.
Dwight Evans: Fred Lynn and Jim Rice got the bulk of Boston outfield ink in the 70's, but Dewey was the most awesome to me. But this Evans produced a .272-384-1384 line, with 1697 walks (370 OBP), which makes most of his numbers better than his Darrell counterpart. Dwight also collected eight gold gloves, and had a serious gun (157 career assists).
Jim Kaat: 283-237, 3.54 career mark over 4503.3 innings, with 16 gold gloves, including 12 in a row. Kaat won 20 games three times, and if Morris and Schilling and Moose get consideration, there is no reason Kaat is simply not in. Period.
Tommy John: 288-231, 3.34 over 4710 career innings, with three 20-game seasons, John was swapped to the Dodgers for another notable name, Dick Allen from the White Sox. He was en route to a 20-win year in 1974 (13-3, 2.59 over 153.3 IP) when he blew out his arm, and had the tendon replacement surgery we now commonly refer to with his name first of all. Thus, John sat out 1975, but came back to twirl for 13 more years after his arm was repaired. Again, a career line not unlike the others on this list.
Curt Flood: As stylish a centerfielder as we had in the 60's, and there were some really good ones, like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Duke Snider, Flood had 1831 hits at age 33, when he left the game. He did completely sit out 1970, as he tried to become a free agent challenging the reserve clause after being traded to the Phils, and then played only 33 more games in 1971 before hanging it up. But, he averaged 171 hits a year, and had he played to age 38 and averaged that same 171 from 1970 through 1979, Flood would have had 3028 hits, and that would have easily been good enough for Hall inclusion. And, well, he was blackballed for challenging the system in a fight where Flood eventually proved to be right, even if his personal battle fell short. All the free agents since who signed all the big contracts have Flood to thank for helping them earn the big payday. If that doesn't make him Hall worthy, no one is.