Erik: The Veteran’s Committee has some interesting choices to make this winter with 12 people on their ballot, including former Cardinal great Ted Simmons. The backstop with the caveman hair of amazing-ness never got the credit he deserved, having played his career in the shadow of Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter. Simmons also played for some forgettable Cardinals teams and suffered a bum wrap for his defense, which I don’t think is as horrible as critics make out.
I’ve covered Simba in more depth in an earlier post. Then I thought he wasn’t quite up to snuff, but I’ve softened my stance. Why? Simmons ranks 9th among catchers on Baseball Reference‘s WAR leader board. The 8 players ahead of him: Bench, Pudge Rodriguez, Fisk, Gary Carter, Yogi, Piazza, Bill Dickey and Mickey Cochrane, all Hall of Famers or very likely future Hall of Famers. A total of six 6 Hall of Fame catchers are below Simmons. My objection to Simmons making the Hall might be that out of the 21 seasons he played, only 6 of them were seasons he posted 4 WAR or higher. He also never really had an MVP caliber-season, although he was excellent in ’77-’78. ( around 6 WAR per season)
To close, he’s no slam dunk, but because Simmons was a one of the best offensive catchers ever to play the game, I say “aye” for induction, not that it matters. What say you fellas?
Andy: I won’t pretend to be an expert on Hall of Fame credentials and who is deserving of entry, but type, “catcher hall of fame standards,” into Google and the first result is an article about Ted Simmons’ worthiness. Maybe it’s because I sought out sabermetric analysis, but it seems just as hard to argue against Ted Simmons’ credentials than deny him HOF enshrinement. Some argue that he spent too much time playing DH/1B to be considered a full-time catcher, but his numbers were slipping when he occupied the DH spot in the latter years of his career. It’s not as if he was just padding his statistics during those years. In fact, Simmons actually lost 26.8 batting RAR from 1984-1988. Offensively, Simmons posted a career wOBA (.346) right in line with Fisk (.354) and Carter (.341). Although Carter and Fisk’s defense are universally regarded as better than Simmons, I feel uncomfortable denying him entry into the HOF based on defensive metrics that are even more tenuous for catchers than other defenders. Thinking more like the voters, Simmons’ traditional stats even seem HOF worthy. Judged against his peers (Berra, Fisk, Carter, and Bench), Simmons tied Berra for the highest AVG (.285) and only trailed Berra in RBI’s. I see how voters would be on the fence about his induction, but he certainly deserves more consideration than he’s received to date. If I had to go one way or another, I’d vote yes.
Steve: Like Andy, I’m not a Hall expert, but I do have access to Baseball Reference just like my two colleagues. As Erik mentioned, Simmons sits behind only Hall of Famers on the career totals for catcher rWAR. I think this graphic portrays the situation rather well
The graph shows the WAR totals (ranked best season to worst season) of the players 2 above and 2 below Simmons on the career catcher rWAR list. As mentioned, Dickey and Cochrane are in the HOF, as is Hartnett. It seems to me that Simmons is in a dead heat with those that are in the Hall (I’d say he’s better than Hartnett, with the other two questionable). My personal opinion is that none of these guys probably should be in the hall, but that’s an argument for a different day. Given that 3 of the 5 are though, and have set the standard for inclusion, I have to vote yes on Simmons as well.
- Sneaking a Peek at the 2011 Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee Ballot (dugoutcentral.com)