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Why Isn't Tony Oliva in the HOF?

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#1 YourHouseIsMyHouse

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 01:57 PM

Maybe he is a little borderline, but I think he's more qualified than many others currently inducted.

#2 70charger

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:06 PM

In a word, injuries.

If he were able to do what he did early in his career consistently for another, say, 5 years, he's a shoo-in. As is, his effective career was just too short. Of course, he's a hall of famer in my mind!

#3 70charger

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:09 PM

Also, I think you're right that he's more qualified than others inducted. Including, dare I say it?, Bert Blyleven, who is example number 1 of the hall voters' bias toward longevity.

Look at Oliva's stats from 1964 to 1971: http://www.baseball-...olivato01.shtml

Dude was a baseball machine. After his legs gave out, though, he had a lost season in 1972 and never found a way to be as effective.

One final thought: this is what worries me about Joe Mauer's HOF candidacy. He was lights out for roughly as many seasons as Oliva. Can his legs last?

#4 nicksaviking

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:13 PM

You could also argue his career lasted too long. He played 15 season, which in most voters mind is a full career. Had his blown out knee ended his career after his specatacular first ten seasons, he probably would have been considered with other players who's career was cut short by injuries like Sandy Koufax and Kirby Puckett. He likely would have been a shoe in had he never stepped back on the field after the 1971 season.

Edited by nicksaviking, 06 September 2012 - 02:36 PM.


#5 Twins Twerp

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:22 PM

Beause after living in the US for 40 years he still can't speak English.

#6 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 02:57 PM

Injuries and a lack of respect for the DH in the early days of the position. If he could have eeked out even two more above average seasons, I think he'd be in the HoF right now.

#7 Cody Christie

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 06:31 AM

He is a great man for the game of baseball but unfortunately that doesn't push him over the edge for the HOF.

#8 Wolfy

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 07:53 AM

Tony O is my favorite ball player of all-time. There is no way to be impartial here.

He is HOF. The guy was so great. As 70charger said, "a baseball machine".

I saw him play. I talked to him. I love him.

#9 gunnarthor

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 08:21 AM

It is interesting. His 8 year peak is about as good as Tim Raines 8 yr peak (although their value was amassed in different ways) but Oliva started old - his first real season was age 25 and after his injury, he was basically over. Raines was able to play 12 years after his 8 year peak and compile some better career numbers.

#10 Twins Twerp

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 08:22 AM

Did you see him announce the twins pick (Buxton) at the MLB draft last year, I thought he said "Baseball Baseball." Seriously, I know more of what Sano is talking about when he speaks Spanish than when Tony speaks English...and I don't speak Spanish.

#11 gunnarthor

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 08:25 AM

Who cares about his English? It certainly has no impact on his HOF voting or how good of a baseball player he was.

#12 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 08:55 AM

Who cares about his English? It certainly has no impact on his HOF voting or how good of a baseball player he was.


Because it's, uh, un-American or something.

#13 wavedog

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 10:09 AM

I have to weigh in since he is my all-time favorite baseball player from my childhood. He had some great years - I would love for him to make the HOF but I don't see it happening. Undoubtedly the injuries cost him.

#14 Rick Niedermann

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 10:30 AM

How can Tony Oliva not be in the Hall of Fame? Only player to lead lg in hitting 1st 2 yrs in lg, 3 time Bat Champ, ROY64, 8 time AS,hits leader 5 times, dbls 4 times, 5 times hit 22+ HRs, and once each led league for runs scored, total bases, & SFs. Runnerup MVP twice and Lifetime .304 BA. I also saw him play. This guy was great. Made himself a great fielder with a cannon arm. He did enough. He should be in.

#15 ashburyjohn

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 12:37 PM

HOF voters tend to discount players who start out with a bang and keep it up for 6-8 years, then fizzle out (even if due to injury). Fred Lynn's another one, who was neck and neck with Jim Rice when he came up and was considered the more electric of the two, yet Rice is the one who made it in.

The pitching-heavy era Oliva played in works against him now, if there were some kind of new movement to put him in. Voters don't look at OPS+, they just look at BA and HR totals and compare to guys in other eras without compensating for it.

I didn't live in MN during Oliva's heyday so I don't have the personal connection to his candidacy that some do, but I see him as a clear choice for induction. He's not an inner circle guy, but seems on a par with Jim Rice, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor.

#16 markominne

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 01:27 PM

Good question, and one that hasn't really received as much discussion as it should. Tony had a great bat, good speed, power, excellent throwing arm. 3 batting titles (of all eligible players, only Bill Madlock (4) has as many titles and is not in HOF), 2 second place finishes in MVP voting (and 5 top-10 finishes), made the all-star team in each of his first 8 full seasons, during which he never finished lower than 8th in batting average. While looking at this, I found one item very telling: He spent his entire career playing for the Twins, and usually batting 3rd ahead of Harmon Killebrew. In his first 12 years (8 before destroying his knees), 9 times he placed in the top 10 in the league in intentional base on balls. (Interestingly, 3 of those occurred after his career-diminishing 1972 knee injury.) If we judge a player by the standards of the era in which he played, this is a strong indication that, clearly, American League pitchers feared and respected him for a very long time.

Is Tony-O a hall of famer? In my mind he always has been, but I can see differences of opinion on the matter. Just don't let anyone try to convince you that he wasn't close.

#17 Thrylos

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 05:08 PM

If Oliva were a middle infielder, a C or a CF he might have had a case to be a borderline candidate. Got to compare with other corner OFs turned DH. And he is just not there. Remember, it is a cumulative acknowledgement. He had less that 2000 career hits, less than 1000 career RBIs, less than 300 career HRs. These numbers are not even close.

Here is a test:

These are the numbers of his teammate Bob Alison. These and these are the numbers of 2 borderline hall of famer OFs of pretty much the same era who just barely made it. These are the numbers of another borderline OF who did not make it.

Whose numbers are Tony's closest to?

Edited by Thrylos, 07 September 2012 - 05:16 PM.

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#18 greengoblinrulz

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 07:29 PM

In Tony's prime yrs (64-71), his average yr was 147gms .313/.360/.507 89runs 35doubles 6triples 22HR 90RBI 63k 41bb
Pretty solid all star yrs, but just dont think those numbers scream HOF, but I hope he gets it. Defintatly robbed by the injury

#19 gunnarthor

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 07:55 PM

If Oliva were a middle infielder, a C or a CF he might have had a case to be a borderline candidate. Got to compare with other corner OFs turned DH. And he is just not there. Remember, it is a cumulative acknowledgement. He had less that 2000 career hits, less than 1000 career RBIs, less than 300 career HRs. These numbers are not even close.

Here is a test:

These are the numbers of his teammate Bob Alison. These and these are the numbers of 2 borderline hall of famer OFs of pretty much the same era who just barely made it. These are the numbers of another borderline OF who did not make it.

Whose numbers are Tony's closest to?


I'm not going to say you're wrong but I really dislike the cumulative argument for HOFers. I'd prefer it if people looked at a player's seasons instead of trying to compile a specific number in whatever stat you like. Oliva played in parts of 15 seasons but in 3 of those, he played less than 10 game. His 8 year peak was better than any 8 year run that Rice or Evans managed. He finished in the top 10 in RC 6x, WPA 5x, WAR 4x, OPS+ 6x. Rice (ignoring his first and last year) in 14 seasons Rice finished in the top 10 in RC 6x, WPA 3x, WAR 2x, OPS+ 5x. In 19 seasons, Evans (really underrated player) finished top 10 in RC 7x, WPA 6x, WAR 2x, OPS+ 5x.

It's also a bit of a stretch to say those three played in the same era. Oliva's last great year was 71. Evans and Rice didn't really start having their peaks until the late 70s to mid 80s. The lg OPS for both of them for their career was about .740 to Oliva's .715.

I think Oliva had a HOF type peak and, if he was put into the HOF, it wouldn't be an embarrassment. That said, if guys like Oliva and Evans are outside looking in, it gives a pretty good dividing line for the HOF.

#20 70charger

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 11:37 PM

In Tony's prime yrs (64-71), his average yr was 147gms .313/.360/.507 89runs 35doubles 6triples 22HR 90RBI 63k 41bb
Pretty solid all star yrs, but just dont think those numbers scream HOF, but I hope he gets it. Defintatly robbed by the injury


Really? I think that's pretty elite.

#21 ashburyjohn

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 12:33 AM

In Tony's prime yrs (64-71), his average yr was 147gms .313/.360/.507 89runs 35doubles 6triples 22HR 90RBI 63k 41bb
Pretty solid all star yrs, but just dont think those numbers scream HOF, but I hope he gets it. Defintatly robbed by the injury


Really? I think that's pretty elite.


Particularly in a pitcher's era.

#22 Curt

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 08:42 AM

In Tony's prime yrs (64-71), his average yr was 147gms .313/.360/.507 89runs 35doubles 6triples 22HR 90RBI 63k 41bb
Pretty solid all star yrs, but just dont think those numbers scream HOF, but I hope he gets it. Defintatly robbed by the injury


If we adjust simply for league averages, here is Tony's batting average if he played 2004-2011:

[TABLE]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]Year[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]Rank[/TD]
[TD="width: 49, align: right"]BA[/TD]
[TD="width: 49, align: right"]Pts[/TD]
[TD="width: 27, align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="width: 50, align: right"]Year[/TD]
[TD="width: 50, align: right"]Rank[/TD]
[TD="width: 50, align: right"]Adj BA[/TD]
[TD="width: 50, align: right"]Pts[/TD]
[TD="width: 35, align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="width: 86, align: right"]
[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1964[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].323[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]6[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2004[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].353[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-19[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].247/.270[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1965[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].321[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]9[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2005[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].355[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]24[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].242/.268[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1966[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].307[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-9[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2006[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].351[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]4[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].240/.275[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1967[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]8[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].289[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-37[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2007[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]5[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].332[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-31[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].236/.271[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1968[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]3[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].289[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-12[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2008[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].336[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]8[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].230/.268[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1969[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].309[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-23[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2009[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]3[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].335[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-30[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].246/.267[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1970[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]3[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].325[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-4[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2010[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].338[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-21[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].250/.260[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1971[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].337[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]6[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2011[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].352[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]8[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].247/.258[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]Total[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].313[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].344[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]
Note that he would have won 4 batting titles instead of 3, taking 2 away from Mauer. What do these numbers scream?

#23 notoriousgod71

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 09:17 AM

In Tony's prime yrs (64-71), his average yr was 147gms .313/.360/.507 89runs 35doubles 6triples 22HR 90RBI 63k 41bb
Pretty solid all star yrs, but just dont think those numbers scream HOF, but I hope he gets it. Defintatly robbed by the injury


If we adjust simply for league averages, here is Tony's batting average if he played 2004-2011:

[TABLE]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]Year[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]Rank[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]BA[/TD]
[TD="width: 49, align: right"]Pts[/TD]
[TD="width: 27, align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="width: 50, align: right"]Year[/TD]
[TD="width: 50, align: right"]Rank[/TD]
[TD="width: 50, align: right"]Adj BA[/TD]
[TD="width: 50, align: right"]Pts[/TD]
[TD="width: 35, align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="width: 86, align: right"]
[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1964[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].323[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]6[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2004[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].353[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-19[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].247/.270[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1965[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].321[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]9[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2005[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].355[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]24[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].242/.268[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1966[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].307[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-9[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2006[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].351[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]4[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].240/.275[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1967[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]8[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].289[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-37[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2007[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]5[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].332[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-31[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].236/.271[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1968[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]3[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].289[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-12[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2008[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].336[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]8[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].230/.268[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1969[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].309[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-23[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2009[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]3[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].335[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-30[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].246/.267[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1970[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]3[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].325[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-4[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2010[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].338[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]-21[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].250/.260[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]1971[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].337[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]6[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2011[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].352[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]8[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].247/.258[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD="align: right"]Total[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].313[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"].344[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]
[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]
Note that he would have won 4 batting titles instead of 3, taking 2 away from Mauer. What do these numbers scream?



I'm not arguing one way or the other for Oliva's HOF candidacy, but I absolutely hate league adjusted numbers. You can do that for any player of that era and they suddenly look amazing offensively. The numbers are what they are and shouldn't need adjusting.

#24 greengoblinrulz

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 10:00 AM

In Tony's prime yrs (64-71), his average yr was 147gms .313/.360/.507 89runs 35doubles 6triples 22HR 90RBI 63k 41bb
Pretty solid all star yrs, but just dont think those numbers scream HOF, but I hope he gets it. Defintatly robbed by the injury


Really? I think that's pretty elite.

Dont get me wrong, I would love Tony to make it as those 8 years are very good. However they just arent HOF as you need more than 8yrs of very good/great play. Look at other OFs during his era that dwarfed those numbers (esp during their peak 8 yrs) that did make it. To me, Tony is more in the Roger Maris/Vada Pinson/Dick Allen type of player .....great player during his era who didnt have the extended success to be a HOF. Nothing wrong with that. He is one of the very greatest players NOT to make the HOF tho.
What I dont get is how voters have him at his peak of 47% but only 30% the next year. How did he get worse. IMO, if a player makes a voters card he should HAVE to be on their card untill his eligibility is over.
Dont get me started tho as there are several players (older generation) who I dont believe deserve it when looking back.

#25 Curt

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 10:31 AM

I'm not arguing one way or the other for Oliva's HOF candidacy, but I absolutely hate league adjusted numbers. You can do that for any player of that era and they suddenly look amazing offensively. The numbers are what they are and shouldn't need adjusting.


You absolutely hate league adjusted numbers? They are not meant to harm your children or take money out of your pocket. They are meant to provide perspective.

A little perspective, for instance... in 1930, 44 players qualified for the batting championship in the National League. 33 of those hit .303 or higher. The average BA among those 44 was .325. In 1968, the AL league batting average was .230. Only one player hit over .300... Carl Yastrzemski hit .301 to win the title. Surely, you are not arguing that the 33 guys who hit over .303 in the National League in 1930 were better than Yaz, Oliva, and every other player in the 1968 American League?

Tony Oliva and Carl Yastrzemski were every bit as good as the best players from both 1930 and 2012. You would never know it from their stat lines though. Unless you look a little deeper than the surface.

As for your statement that any player of that era suddenly looks amazing, well, those that were amazing in their day look amazing. Those that were mediocre still look mediocre... only by today's standards rather than 1968's.

Making these adjustments didn't suddenly make Oliva look like he won the batting title every year. His rank for each year is, imo, remarkably stable with the differences being accounted for by individual performances such as Ichiro hitting .372 in 2004, eclipsing Tony's batting title season of 1964.

There is no perfect way to compare eras but ignoring the differences is not an option.

#26 snepp

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 10:34 AM

The numbers are what they are and shouldn't need adjusting.


Is a .900 OPS the same in Colorado as it is in San Diego?
"Maybe you could go grab a bat and ball… and learn something. Maybe you will get it."
- Strib commenter educating the elitists on the value of RBI's

#27 Curt

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 10:44 AM

To me, Tony is more in the Roger Maris/Vada Pinson/Dick Allen type of player .....great player during his era who didnt have the extended success to be a HOF. Nothing wrong with that. He is one of the very greatest players NOT to make the HOF tho.
What I dont get is how voters have him at his peak of 47% but only 30% the next year. How did he get worse. IMO, if a player makes a voters card he should HAVE to be on their card untill his eligibility is over.
Dont get me started tho as there are several players (older generation) who I dont believe deserve it when looking back.


Tony is not a slam dunk and the reason is longevity. But, as you imply, there are a lot of players in the HOF who are not slam dunks. Most of them, in fact. If I were to go through them, I would expect maybe 50 or 60 out of about 300 that are slam dunks. Even among those there will be dissenters. Six guys didn't vote for Ty Cobb and I think fifteen or so did not vote for Babe Ruth. Joe DiMaggio didn't make it until his third try. But that leaves about 75% of them that are marginal.

You mention Dick Allen. Ignoring Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, I think that Dick Allen is the single most deserving player not in the HOF. I think Tony Oliva is right behind him. I think they are both discounted due to their eras. That is unfortunate.

#28 snepp

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 10:51 AM

Dick Allen also got the anti-Puckett media treatment.
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#29 Curt

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 11:57 AM

Dick Allen also got the anti-Puckett media treatment.

Right. I can't help giving him extra credit for that. I'd bet he doesn't give a rat's rear that he isn't in the HOF either. I would give him extra credit for that too.

#30 stringer bell

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 02:38 PM

Too short of a career, numbers depressed in a pitching-rich era, and playing in Flyoverville, Tony woulda/shoulda/coulda been in the Hall, but all of those factors work against him. He was a great all-around player--surprising speed, rocket arm--who always could hit, even on one leg.