Hall of Fame Musings: Figuring out the Median Positional Players in the Hall of Fame

by Nick Jaroszewicz

Later this month, Barry Larkin and Ron Santo will join 297 other players, executives and managers in the Baseball Hall of Fame. There is always a long discussion on whether a certain player is a Hall of Fame Player or, if it is assumed they are one, a “First Ballot Hall of Famer”.

The Hall of Fame got me thinking: what would your “average” Hall of Famer’s statistics look like? Not the greatest ever, but the solid, sure thing Hall of Famer.

Taking all the batters elected after 1951 (the class that included Jimmy Foxx and Mel Ott, the “modern era” of players who had played their primes with an All Star Game), I looked at each position separately and tried to find the “median” player- taking the outlier statistics out of each category. This would eventually leave one to three imperfect players, and I picked one, and added a stipulation that would make them the median player for their position.

The process will be specified for each position with “->” to show the line of stats that crossed out players. The parenthesis indicates how many players I started with at each position.

Catcher (9): Years->Average->World Series Appearances-> All Star Appearances

Winner: Ernie Lombardi- but with more runs

First Baseman (8): Years->Average->Home Runs-> Hits

Winner: Willie McCovey, with a slightly better average

Second Baseman (11): Years->Hits-> WS Appearances->Home Runs

Winner: Robby Alomar, average in almost every statistic

Third Baseman (6): Years-> Home Runs->Hits

Winner: Mike Schmidt and Eddie Matthews are more or less interchangeable, but with a few more hits

Shortstop (12): Years->Average->Home Runs

Winner: Joe Cronin, possibly with one or two more All Star appearances (which he would have gotten if there had been an All Star game from 1926-1932)

Note: Barry Larkin would be about as average HOF as it gets as well

Left Field (12): Years-> Average-> Home Runs-> Hits

Winner: Billy Williams, possibly with a few more All Star games and a World Series appearance and win

Center Field (10): Years-> Average-> Home Runs

Winner: Duke Snider, but with more hits

Right Field (12): Years-> Average -> Home Runs

Winner: Al Kaline, pretty average Hof numbers (possibly played a year or two more than an average HOF would)

Naturally, this is a very arbitrary way of whittling down players, as I did not always take the only the top and bottom players: sometimes if there were players with less than 150 home runs, I took both of them out, and maybe only one top end guy. I always took out more than 22 years, and less than 16 years, but was not always 100% consistent in order to have data points. Even without reaching 3000, 500 homers, over 10 World Series and any other milestones that we commonly associate with “All Time Greats” of the game, a player can still be great enough for the Hall of Fame. These players are the median of the game, and players around these statistics should almost assuredly be in the Hall.

Below is a table showing the statistics of the ‘average hall-of-famers’. Congrats to Barry Larkin and the late great Ron Santo for joining these ranks.

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