Monday, May 20, 2013

It's time for Dixon and Stieb to get the call

Our Hall of Fame doesn't have a lot of diversity at the moment. It's true that the first thing everybody looks at for a position player is their raw statistical numbers. Batting average, home runs, runs batted in, etc. are the main determining factors for many Hall of Fame voters. However, if we don't start digging deeper into these player's careers, we're going to end up with a Hall full of left fielders and without any shortstops.

Right now, our Hall of Fame consists of three first baseman, three left fielders, two second baseman and one right fielder (we'll leave pitchers out of this for now). Not a lot of variety there, granted the Hall is still in its infancy. And all were certainly deserving of being voted in. But there are several players on the ballot this year who have been ignored for several seasons that deserve some serious Hall of Fame consideration.

James Dixon and Denny Moss were the two best third baseman this world has ever seen. While Moss seems to have considerable backing this season, Dixon is hardly being mentioned at all.

The two players had very similar careers and an argument could be made that Dixon was actually better than Moss because of his elite defense. In 1514 games played at third base, Dixon made 114 + plays and only 5 - plays. Moss, in 944 games at the hot corner, made 41 + plays and 4 - plays. In over 13,000 innings, Dixon made just 117 errors while Moss nearly equaled that with 101 errors in less than 8,000 innings. Dixon's career range factor was also much higher than Moss's (0.29 higher to be exact).

The offensive numbers between the two are similar but only one of these third baseman is a member of the 400/400 club. In fact, not only is Dixon a member of the 400/400 club, he is a five-time member of the 30/30 club. Moss achieved 30/30 membership four times in his career.

Dixon has more career hits, runs scored, doubles, RBI, walks and steals than Moss, and yet almost no one is mentioning his name as a Hall of Famer. Instead, much love is being given to (surprise!) another left fielder, Jacque Puffer, which is fine because Puffer is also a 400/400 guy and deserving in his own right. At some point, though, we need to start taking defense and what position a guy plays into account when considering their Hall candidacy.

Which brings me to Tony Stieb. How he hasn't been voted in yet, I have no idea. If you're waiting to vote for a Hall of Fame catcher who puts up Sean Simpson type numbers, you're going to be waiting for a while. Stieb was hands-down the best catcher of his era. All-Star appearances can be overrated in this game for sure but, when you get elected to nine All-Star games, that's not an accident. One or two could be flukey but not nine.

Go look up Major League Baseball Hall of Fame catchers and read their career offensive numbers. Stieb's compare with any one of them and are, in fact, better than most of them in terms of OPS.

If I remember correctly, when we had a brief debate about Stieb in the world chat last season, one or two people mentioned that he wasn't very good defensively. Really? If that's true, then how is Stieb second all-time in runners caught stealing? If your argument against that number is that Stieb has more stolen base attempts against him than any other catcher in history, you'd be correct. But, then I would point out his insane durability for an elite catcher and the fact that he once caught 161 games in a season. His incredible durability is part of what made him so valuable. Look at the backup catchers on your rosters and tell me you wouldn't love to never have to use them. Of course Stieb will have more runners trying to steal on him when he's catching more games than anyone else. 

Finally, I know some people also pointed out the pitcher's ERA while Stieb was behind the plate as a reason to not vote for him. By HBD standards, Stieb's 59 rated PC (at its peak) was well above average. So let's dig a little deeper here and take a look at his "worst" season in that department, season 8 with Charlotte.

The fact that Charlotte won just 56 games that season should tip you off that something wasn't right. Take a look at that season's team and you'll find that Felix Comer was by far their best starter. Comer won 10 games and had a 3.83 ERA. In fact, while he had a lower ERA in one other season, you could argue that season 8, with Stieb, was the best season of Comer's career. But the Charlotte pitching staff gets pretty ugly from there. Lawrence Carver, Alfredo Veras, Josh Gant, Heath Duffy, Kenneth Stafford and Bret Black all started at least 11 games each for Charlotte that season. Bret fucking Black started 11 games for that team!!! You cannot put that bad ERA on Stieb, sorry. If you dig deeper throughout his career, Stieb played for some truly bad teams and in no way should that be held against him.

If I haven't convinced you that Dixon and Stieb are Hall of Famers, then I don't know what else to tell you. Just keep voting for those first baseman and left fielders with the pretty home run and RBI totals.