I don’t usually explain my ballot, but I think I will this time.
1. John Beckwith – NeL stats are so hard to decipher, but the more I look at his, the more impressed I get. At his best, he was probably Frank Baker; at his worst, he was Heinie Groh or Pie Traynor. His personality may have been overblown
2. Dick Lundy – His legend is the most convoluted of any of the NeL stars. Some say he was the greatest fielding shortstop; some say he was average. Some say he was a great hitter; some say he was average. Basically he was either Ozzie Smith or Derek Jeter. How confusing is that? And then it dawned on me. If your two comps are Ozzie and Derek, you’re probably a HOFer.
3. Heinie Groh – I put a lot of stock in “at the time” fame. Pie and Judy were a lot more famous (understanding that NeL got less renown that their white contemporaries), but looking at their stats, I have to conclude that Groh was a smidge better.
4. Pie Traynor – I don’t know that Traynor was the “Greatest Third Baseman” prior to 1950, but all the books at the time said he was. One has to give him a little credit for that.
5. Judy Johnson – He’s ranked somewhere between Brooks Robinson and Doug Rader. I have to admit his BBR stats aren’t overly impressive, but then again I’m not convinced that BBR’s stats are accurate enough – there are a lot of gaping holes. I liken NeL stats to the National Association stats: a lot of non-league games, which were just as important as league games, aren’t counted. I don’t know how one would count them, but they probably should be in some way or other. When one plays 30 league games and 100 non-league games, really, which are more important? And Johnson’s rep as the greatest NeL third baseman are on those uncounted games. What sways me to rank him this high is he was the 6th NeL to be elected to the Hall, before Charleston, before either Foster brother, before Lloyd, before Hilton Smith, before Stearnes, Wells, or Smokey Joe, before a bunch of well qualified players.
6. Dave Bancroft – Dave had a higher peak than Rabbit. Dave had a longer peak than Rabbit. His induction speech, like his career, would be shorter,
7. Rabbit Maranville – If only Ray Oyler had gotten to play in the same era.
8. Red Faber – I can definitely see a scenario where he’d’ve been a 300 game winner.
9. Bill Foster – Seems to be, at best, in the Vance/Coveleski group, and at worst in the Adams/Mays group. Since I voted Coveleski 6th in ’34, 6th in ’35, and Vance 6th in ’41, this ranking seems appropriate.
10. Carl Mays – Because Blueron says I have to.