Continuing with my series of the ten candidates on the Veterans Committee Hall of Fame ballot, next up is Minnie Minoso.
Minoso is the second candidate in this series, with Ron Santo being the first. I came to the conclusion Santo was clearly deserving of induction into the Hall of Fame. Minoso was an outfielder for the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals, and Washington Senators from 1951 to 1964, in 1949, 1976, and 1980, with the last two being primarily publicity stints. In the main portion of his career- from '51 to '63- Minoso hit .299/.389/.461 over 7642 PA for a 130 OPS+. This portion of his career was worth 52.3 Wins Above Replacement. The bulk of Minoso's career began at age 25 and lasted until age 37, with cups of coffee at ages 23, 38, 50 and 54. He was a fantastic player who had part of his career robbed by the Negro Leagues treatment of players. He might have started a year or two earlier and reached 60 WAR had he played five years later. His stats:
Total Bases: 3023
Minnie Minoso's skills in the field were probably above average. He hit for a high average in an era that wasn't kind to hitters. He hit for power, relative to his league. In the first edition of this series, I explained some sabermetric stats such as WAR, wOBA, OPS+, and wRC+. A general baseline for leftfielders is about a 135-140 OPS+ over 8000-8500 PA. That usually results in around 60 rWAR. The following is a list of the top-30 leftfielders of all-time based on fWAR:
1. Barry Bonds: 168
2. Ted Williams: 140
3. Stan Musial: 139
4. Rickey Henderson: 114
5. Carl Yastrzemski: 109
6. Fred Clarke: 82
7. Al Simmons: 79
8. Sherry Magee: 74
9. Jesse Burkett: 73
10. Goose Goslin: 72
11. Ed Delahanty: 72
12. Willie Stargell: 71
13. Tim Raines: 71
14. Zack Wheat: 70
15. Billy Williams: 70
16. Manny Ramirez: 70
17. Billy Hamilton: 69
18. Joe Jackson: 67
19. Max Carey: 67
20. Bob Johnson: 66
21. Jimmy Sheckard: 65
22. Lance Berkman: 60
23. Luis Gonzalez: 59
24. Brian Giles: 59
25. Rocky Colavito: 59
26. Minnie Minoso: 58
27. Joe Kelley: 57
28. Joe Medwick: 56
29. Jim Rice: 56
30. Jose Cruz Jr.: 55
Minoso ranks 26th all-time of all left-fielders. Giving any credit at all to Minoso for a late start due to being prohibited from playing earlier due to his race puts Minoso at # 22, jumping ahead of two recent players in Giles and Gonzalez, and older player in Colavito, and an active player in Berkman. That puts him in good company. Even as it is right now, he's in good company.
As I did with Santo, here's a Keltner List for Minoso:
1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, suggest that he was the best player in baseball?
- Minoso was never regarded as the best player, as Mantle, Snider, Mays, Aaron, Kaline, Robinson, Berra, and Campanella were superior.
2. Was he the best player on his team?
-He and Nellie Fox were the premier players during Minoso's era.
3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?
- I would say he was the premier leftfielder during his era in the American League. Musial tops the National League list of leftfielders.
4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?
- The ChiSox and Indians never made the World Series during his tenure there.
5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?
- No. Santo, Tiant, Torre, McGwire, Bagwell, Walker, and Raines are all more deserving.
7. Are most people who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?
None of his top ten are in the Hall of Fame, but he's most likely the best of the ten.
8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?
-He reaches a 35 on the Hall of Fame standards test.
9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player is significantly better or worse than his statistics suggest?
- Yes, there is, in that he didn't have significant playing time until age 35 and he never saw significant playing time after age 37. Had he begun earlier he would have been in easy Hall of Fame territory, with 2000+ H, 200+ HR, 60+ WAR, and would probably be in already.
10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame, but not in?
- Sherry Magee holds that distinction.
11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?
- He finished 4th in the AL MVP voting four times, 8th once, 12th once, 18th once, and 27th once. He topped the AL in rWAR once, finished 3rd once, 6th three times, and 7th twice. He was consistently a notch below winning.
12. How many All-Star type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?
- He was an All-Star eight times. Defining an All-Star type season as one of either 4 rWAR or 4fWAR, he had All-Star type seasons in 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1960, or ten consecutive seasons.
13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely his team could win a pennant?
- I would not be surprised if a pennant team had a best player of Minoso's caliber, so yes.
14. What type of impact did this player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment?
- He was the first black player in ChiSox history, I think, and he, along with Robinson, Doby, Newcombe, and Campanella, truly opened the door for racial diversity in MLB.
15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?
- Yes, he did.
This is obviously not as cut and dry as Santo's case was. Minoso is borderline, and if his career began today and he started at 25 and was done as a contributor at 37, he'd have little to no case. But the fact remains that he played during an era where black players got late starts and often times only played for 10-12 seasons. He was a main contributor for 13 and played in parts or all of 17 seasons despite his late start. He crossed 50 rWAR and 50 fWAR. He nearly reached 2000 hits, and he had a top notch peak. He's in, in my opinion, but you can make your own decision if you feel differently. I hope he makes it in in 2012.