MLB were the first guys to set up a Hall of Fame. It was always meant to be for the top guys, the stars, the ones with a huge career of achievements. The Cooperstown museum is a mecca for baseball fans who enjoy looking at the plaques of each player noting their achievements. Some players get in on their first try while others have to wait a bit but it’s always an incredible honor to get in. This leads to debates on some guys who aren’t in the Hall due to various reasons. The Hall has rules on non-baseball related issues and at times, that affects which players get in. There's always the debate of whether on-field production should supersede any potential wrongdoings off the field, or if that's just too much to overlook.
However, there are some guys in the Hall whose numbers don’t merit inclusion. A big part of a lot players getting in is the idea that they know how to work the voters and thus get in via familiarity. The fact that writers are voting these players in can lead to a bit of bias based on how some may personally feel about a player.
There’s also the Veterans Committee which has a tendency to put in guys just because of their age and favoritism. For every guy not in the Hall and should be is someone else who frankly doesn’t deserve a place among the greats of the game. Here are just 10 Hall of Famers who shouldn’t be in and 10 legends who should have their spot in Cooperstown.
20 Undeserving: Bert Blyleven
On paper, he has a good record. He won World Series with the Pirates and the Twins and a 20 win season. However, Blyleven’s overall record just isn’t that impressive compared to so many other pitchers. He never won a Cy Young award or led the league in ERA or strikeouts. Plus, only two All-Star appearances.
He was good in his time but there were scores of other pitchers out there posting much better numbers and winning awards.
You could understand some guys getting in on being likeable and it seems this first for Blyleven as his regular stats just don’t merit inclusion in Cooperstown.
19 Should Be In: Barry Bonds
There's still time for Barry Bonds to get into the Hall of Fame and the voting has started inching closer to the magic number of 75% of votes needed to get in. Bonds's totals have increased each of the past few years, but it's already crazy that he's even had to wait this long. Bonds is the MLB's all-time home run king and while there will always be questions of just how legitimate Bonds's numbers are, we have to remember how complete a player he was even before suspicions started to kick in. There's also the issue of how he treated the media and many wonder if that's the actual reason he's been held back in his first few ballots.
18 Undeserving: Jim Bunning
Time has altered the perception of Jim Bunning’s career to mean he is less Hall-worthy than he was when he got in. His record of 224-184 is respectable but only comes out to an average winning percentage of .549. His 2,855 career strikeouts are impressive, the second highest at the time but now 17th on the list. He had a perfect game and a no-hitter but his bouncing around five different teams meant he never had a long place to ground himself and really show his stuff. He’s probably more famous for how he ran out of gas in the last weeks of the 1964 season that contributed to the Phillies’ infamous collapse. There are guys with longer careers and better numbers who aren’t in the Hall and one wonders if Bunning’s successful career as a senator and congressman played a part in his Hall inclusion.
17 Should Be In: Curt Schilling
His outspoken views may hurt his standing but in terms of play, Curt Schilling deserves Hall inclusion. His work in the ‘90s with the Phillies was sensational, a two-time NL strikeout leader and NLCS MVP.
Of course, Schilling will be forever remembered for that amazing game during the 2004 ALCS that helped the Red Sox with their incredible comeback over the Yankees.
Twice leading the majors in wins and a six-time All-Star, Schilling has three World championships and while his 3.46 ERA may seem high, he has the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio of anyone in the 3,000 strikeout club. There’s also his amazing .846 winning percentage in the post-season with an 11-2 record. Sure, some may grouse about his views but Schilling’s career merits Hall inclusion.
16 Undeserving: Rick Ferrell
Some of his peers hailed Rick Ferrell as a good catcher who helped turn the position into a crucial defensive one. However, his overall work doesn’t look very Hall-worthy. He played for five teams over his career and while an 8-time All-Star, his batting average was .281 with just 28 home runs over an 18-year career. He was more notable as one of the first guys to press for free agency and push owners to sign players to big deals.
Ferrell was passed over numerous times for inclusion before the Veterans Committee got him in the 1984 class. That just shows another vase of sentiment being the primary reason in terms of Hall inclusion.
15 Should Be In: Edgar Martinez
Edgar Martinez spent his entire career with one franchise. While that's usually seen as an honor, this one could be part of why Martinez has been kept out of the hall. Playing for the Mariners for 18 seasons probably didn't get Martinez the type of attention he would've gotten if he was playing for a big market team like the Yankees or Dodgers. There's also the fact that he was mostly a designated hitter, which some believe also hurts his standing among voters. But the numbers don't lie:
Martinez posted a .312 batting average, 309 homers, and 1,261 RBIs. He also was a 7-time All-Star, 5-time Silver Slugger Award Winner, and 2-time AL batting champion. He even won the batting title in 1995, being the first DH to accomplish that feat with a .356 average.
14 Undeserving: Jesse Haines
“Pop” played almost his entire career for the Cardinals yet it took until 2014 for him to be put into the Cardinals Hall of Fame…44 years after Cooperstown did. That shows something was really off about his place there. Yes, he won three World Series but his overall win-loss record was 210-158 over 19 seasons.
True, the Cy Young award wasn’t created until after his retirement but still, he was never considered an MVP candidate and had a career 3.64 ERA.
There’s also how Haines was passed over multiple times by regular Hall voters until his name was off the ballot. It was the Veterans Committee that put him into the Hall as his regular stats just don’t merit inclusion.
13 Should Be In: Fred McGriff
You look at his stats and you wonder why he hasn’t been in the Hall for years. His lifetime batting average is .284 but Fred McGriff put up some terrific numbers. He had just under 2,500 hits and 500 homers as well as 1,550 RBIs. He twice led MLB in home runs and is a five-time All-Star. Perhaps what hinders him is that McGriff bounced around, playing for seven teams over his 18 seasons. The highlight was being part of the Braves team that won the World Series in 1995.
“Crime Dog” was a popular figure wherever he went and is still famous for how the Yankees drafted him only to trade him away to Toronto. Sure, it’d be tricky to work all those teams onto his plaque but McGriff should have one.
12 Undeserving: Ron Santo
Cubs fans may argue this…but not very much. Ron Santo played at a time when the Cubs were pretty bad in the 1970s and did his best to elevate them. Statistically, he was good but not great, a .274 lifetime average with just over 2,200 hits. A nine-time All-Star, Santo won five Golden Glove awards yet the lack of success of the Cubs at the time shows the limits of his output.
What got him into the Hall was how nice a guy he was and how he played his career while fighting diabetes. He was also included because of his popularity as color commentator for Cubs games. Finally, his induction in 2012 came just two years after his death so feelings were high. Cubs fans may love him for his good manners but his playing career just isn’t Hall worthy.
11 Should Be In: Steve Garvey
A sad case where a guy’s personal life has overshadowed his on-field accomplishments. Steve Garvey was the star of the 1970s Dodgers, the NL MVP in 1974 who won four Golden Glove awards.
A 10-time All-Star, Garvey won a World Series with the Dodgers in 1981 and was a two-time NLCS MVP.
He finished his career in San Diego, putting up great numbers and his streak of 1207 consecutive games played is very impressive. Nicknamed “Mr. Clean” for his wholesome image, Garvey famously wrecked that with some rather infamous public dalliances. However, he is working hard to fix that. If voters can ignore the personal stuff, then Garvey is worthy of the Hall.
10 Undeserving: Tom Yawkey
Red Sox fans have a dim view of Tom Yawkey today. The owner of the Red Sox from 1933 to 1976, he guided them through tough times. Under his tenure, the Red Sox did win three AL pennants but never a World Series. That lack of major success hurts his place in the Hall.
He infamously refused to consider signing Jackie Robinson and, in fact, the Red Sox were the last team in the majors to accept integration. Even late into his tenure, Yawkey’s views were giving the team a bad name and fans today prefer to distance themselves from him. That makes his place in Cooperstown rather baffling.
9 Should Be In: Roger Clemens
This is complicated. Roger Clemens is known today for basically destroying his legacy. That appears to have ruined any chance of getting into the Hall. Which is a shame because his early work showed Clemens as one of the best pitchers of his time. He broke out huge in 1986 with the Red Sox where he struck out 20 batters in a single game and was the AL MVP.
An 11-time All-Star with 7 Cy Young Awards, Clemens also led the AL in strikeouts five times, 7 time ERA leader and led all of MLB in wins four years.
He finally got two World championships with the Yankees to solidify his legacy. That legacy has been tarnished by his actions but surely his earlier career alone makes Clemens more than worthy of a plaque.
8 Undeserving: Ted Lyons
This is one of the most baffling entries in the Hall for many fans. A good pitcher for the White Sox in the 1920s, Lyons was a two-time All-Star who threw a no-hitter in 1926 and was in the 1939 All-Star game. But look at his statistics and they’re not that impressive. 260-230 record with a 3.67 ERA and 1,073 strikeouts, the third highest ERA of anyone in the Hall. Not to mention he’s the only pitcher who gave up more walks than strikeouts. His record as a manager was even worse. No one is certain what made the Hall voters decide this guy was worthy when so many more deserving pitchers of his time were ignored for too long.
7 Should Be In: Sammy Sosa
Here’s another case of a guy overshadowed by some forgettable final years in the majors and for thriving in a checkered era. However, that shouldn’t take away from Sammy Sosa’s amazing work on the field. A seven-time All-Star, Sosa was an amazing hitter, leading the NL in home runs and RBIs twice and six Silver Slugger Awards. He became famous when he and Mark McGwire had their home run chase in 1998 and while McGwire got the record, Sosa was named NL MVP. He is the only player to hit more than 60 homers in three seasons, which alone deserves attention. Sosa is deserving of being in the Hall.
6 Undeserving: Bruce Sutter
Here’s a case of a guy who, on paper, looks to be perfect Hall material. Hailed as one of the best relievers around, Bruce Sutter led the NL in saves four seasons in a row, won a Cy Young award in 1979 and part of the Cardinals team that won the 1982 World Series. But look deeper and those good years are bookended by some rather poor ones.
His entire career consisted of 1,042 innings, very low by Hall standards.
Not to mention his 68-71 win-loss record and the lowest WAR rating of any pitcher in the Hall with over 10 years of play. So while he was good, Sutter wasn’t great enough to deserve this place.
5 Should Be In: Gary Sheffield
In his prime, Gary Sheffield was one of the most feared hitters around. A five-time Silver Slugger award, he was the NL batting champion in 1992 and a nine-time All-Star. He nailed over 500 homers and over 22 seasons only topped 80 strikeouts twice. One thing working against his Hall inclusion is that he bounced around, playing for eight teams over his career. The highlight was part of the Marlins team that won the 1997 World Series. Currently working as an agent, Sheffield has been hailed by peers for his great work at the plate so one would think a Hall invitation is coming.
4 Undeserving: Phil Rizzuto
“The Scooter” is one of the best cases of a guy who’s in the Hall simply because he was lucky enough to play for the Yankees dynasty of the 1940s. Yes, he was the AL MVP in 1950 and has a high number of double plays. But he was better known for bunting than his actual hitting, .273 lifetime average with just over 1,500 hits. He was overshadowed by the other figures on the team and while he had seven rings, had he played for anyone but the Yankees, he’d be forgettable.
What really got him into the Hall was his post-playing career as Yankees fans came to know him for his great commentary and calling games. That might merit some attention but his playing career isn’t Hall worthy.
3 Should Be In: Pete Rose
Yes, there is the obvious reason why Rose isn't in. So in a sense, it’s logical. But there’s just something wrong that the man with the record for the most base hits is denied a place in Cooperstown. 17 time All-Star, three time NL batting champion, NL MVP, World Series MVP, three World Championships, that’s an amazing list.
If anyone belongs in the Hall, it’s Charley Hustle.
True, some will claim Rose should always be undeserving because of his actions but you see a few guys in the Hall who were hardly saints themselves (Ty Cobb comes to mind). Thus, the argument can be made that maybe Cooperstown should finally let this go, to get one of the greatest players ever into the Hall.
2 Undeserving: Bill Mazeroski
Let’s be brutally honest: Bill Mazeroski is only in the Hall of Fame because of one home run. To be fair, in his prime, he was a very good second baseman with nice speed and was an 8-time Golden Glove winner. However, his lifetime batting average was very low, .260 with just over 2,000 hits. The reason he’s remembered is because Mazeroski created the greatest moment in Pirates history. In 1960, he belted a bottom-of-the-ninth home run in Game 7 of the World Series to win the championship for Pittsburgh.
That made him a hometown hero (complete with a statue outside PNC Park) and an icon for Game 7 moments. Yet when you see how so many guys with far more deserving credentials aren’t in the Hall, having Maz there just for one great moment doesn’t make as much sense.
1 Should Be In: Roger Maris
There are scores of guys in the Hall who just got lucky enough to be playing for the Yankees in their domination of baseball. Which makes it more baffling Roger Maris isn’t among them. A seven-time All-Star, he was a two-time AL MVP and RBI leader. He became famous for breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961 but that just angered Yankees fans who wanted Mickey Mantle to be the guy to do it. That led to a bad rep for Maris despite his good work in the field.
One thing working against him are injuries which limited his output to just 275 homers in his career. But Maris did do well when traded to St. Louis in 1966, helping the Cardinals to two pennants and a World title. Maybe his overall stats aren’t huge but in his prime, Maris was a star whose golden 1961 year alone deserves induction.