Last year, two former players with Oriole ties were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Today’s Game committee. This year, another man who played for the Orioles could join Harold Baines and Lee Smith.
Dwight Evans, who played 19 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, and one with the Orioles, is one of 10 nominees by the Modern Era committee.
The Hall of Fame has four committees to vote on players from the past who might have been overlooked in voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The committees also vote on managers and executives who aren’t included in the BBWAA election.
Evans is joined on the ballot by Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Thurman Munson, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and Lou Whitaker. Longtime Players Association Director Marvin Miller is also up for consideration again.
Members of the BBWAA who have been active for at least 10 years are eligible to vote in the balloting for recently retired players, but the veterans’ committees are much smaller. They’re comprised of 16 former players, executives and a few media members.
Results of the 10-man balloting will be announced at the Winter Meetings in San Diego on December 8.
Miller, who revolutionized the game, should have long been immortalized, but some of the baseball executives have been opposed to him.
It’s not yet known who’s on the committee but former commissioner Bud Selig, a Hall member and a longtime adversary of Miller, came out for his enshrinement in his recent book, “For the Good of the Game.”
In the both the BBWAA and veterans’ committees, 75 percent is needed for election.
This is the first time that Evans and Whitaker have been considered by a veterans committee.
Most of the attention in Hall voting is paid to the BBWAA vote, which will be announced January 21. The eligible candidates will be announced on November 18.
But the BBWAA voting is much more transparent, and because of the indispensable work of Ryan Thibodaux, @AskMrTibbs, outcomes are easier to predict.
Thibodaux compiles the votes of members who choose to make their selections public ahead of the announcement. The BBWAA has long been in favor of public votes, but the Hall has declined to press the issue.
The veterans’ committees work is impossible to predict. Baines’ election was a stunner. He played seven years in three iterations for the Orioles and had a lifetime WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 38.7, one of the lowest in the Hall.
Smith, who played just the strike-shortened 1994 season with the Orioles in a career that lasted 18 years, was also picked but his inclusion wasn’t a surprise.
Evans was with the Orioles for the 1991 season and, like Baines, was shunned in the BBWAA vote. Baines topped out at 6.1 percent in 2010. Evans never received more than 10.4 percent of the vote, back in 1998.
His last game was the final one played at Memorial Stadium on October 6, 1991.
Evans was part of an outstanding Red Sox outfield that included Hall of Famer Jim Rice and Fred Lynn, another former Oriole.
Underappreciated when he played, Evans compiled some impressive stats. Though he had only a .270 average, Evans had a .370 on-base percentage and a healthy .840 OPS. Evans also had 385 home runs and played nearly 2,100 games in right field. His WAR was 67.1.
Whitaker’s election should be a no-brainer. Though his stats are comparable to first-ballot Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, Whitaker was on the BBWAA ballot just once, when he got only 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001.
Two years ago, two teammates on the World Series winning Detroit Tigers of 1984, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, were picked by a veterans committee, and it’s only suitable that this excellent second baseman join them.
Whitaker’s WAR of 75.1 is the 49th highest in baseball history, ahead of even Derek Jeter, who is expected to be easily voted in this year.
Simmons, who played concurrently with the great Johnny Bench, fell one vote shy of joining Morris and Trammell in 2017. Though Simmons is second among catchers in hits and RBIs, he received just 3.7 percent of the BBWAA vote in 1994.
One candidate who received substantially more support among the BBWAA was Garvey, who reached 42.6 percent in 1995. Unlike Evans and Whitaker, whose cases are helped by advanced metrics, Garvey suffers because he has just a 38.1 WAR.
Garvey looks better in the counting stats. He had 200 or more hits six times in seven seasons from 1974-1980. Garvey was a 10-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glover at first base.
His relatively low .775 OPS is hurt by a .329 OBP. Garvey did have a .294 lifetime batting average.
Garvey was on five playoff teams, all of which made it to the World Series, though only the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers won the Series.
Another excellent candidate is John, and not only because of the surgery that bears his name. He had a 288-231 record and pitched until he was 46. His ERA of 3.34 was sensational, and his stats are comparable to several Hall of Famers, including Bert Blyleven, Tom Glavine, Robin Roberts and Don Sutton.
Next month’s election should result in a worthy selection or two.