Bob’s Keltner List – Johnny Mize

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player?

Well, no, not with Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Stan Musual and Bob Feller around.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

While with the Cardinals, in the late ’30s Dizzy Dean was the face of the Cards and Medwick was the star. After Dean got hurt and Medwick was traded, sure, Mize was the best player. Traded to the Giants in 1942, Mel Ott was the name (and manager), and then Mize went off to the war for three years. When he came back in ’46, he was the best player on the team, but it wasn’t really much of a team, generally right around .500. And of course with the Yankees in the early ’50s he was a bit part. Ultimately I have to vote “no” on this question, but it’s a “no plus”.

3. Was he the best baseball player at his position? Was he the best player in his league at his position?

He was a 9-time NL All-Star first baseman in his first 11 seasons. I’d say he or Greenberg was the best. The war years do impact numbers significantly. Plus the ’40s, like the 1890s, seem to be short of really good first basemen. But I think it can be argued reasonably that yes he was the best first basemen of his era (tho I think he’s #2 behind Greenberg)

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

This is kind of a weird one for Mize. He never played on a World Series team while in the National League, only three times being within 5 games of first. And then he goes and plays on five consecutive (in a row) with the Yankees, but never as a regular. I’m not sure how to answer this to my satisfaction, so I’ll punt and go with another “no plus”

5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

He was 33 when he came back from the war and played regularly for 3 1/2 years, and then pinch hit until he was forty, so I’d say “yes”

6. Is he the very best player in history not in the Hall?

Question 6 doesn’t apply to Mize, as he is already in the Hall.

7. Are most of the players who have comparable career stats in the HOF?

For some unknown reason, I can’t access baseball-reference to see their comps, not that I have a lot of faith in their comp methodology. I’m guessing that it’ll be hit-or-miss type guys, guys who are barely in or barely out, like Frank Howard, Gil Hodges, Rocky Colavito, Ralph Kiner, those sort of guys. But if you pencil in three years that he lost from the war, I’d guess with the extra 100 homers and 300 RBIs, most of his comps would be HOFers.

8. Do his numbers meet HOF standards?

Again, I’m not able to access Baseball-ref’s Gray/Black Ink numbers, or the HOF Monitor or Standards count, so I don’t know, but he sure has a lot of league-leading figures in my encyclopedia, so my guess is that he does pretty well.

9. Is there evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggest by his stats?

Again, he’s missing 3 prime years because of those pesky Nazis.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible but not in?

And again, this doesn’t apply to Mize.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he win one?

Altho he never won one, he came in second two consecutive years, plus a third and a fifth. He had 6 seasons of 30+ Win Shares, three times leading the NL, but never had that monster 35+ WS season. He also had 4 Top Three rankings in Linear Weights, tho never led. And again, without access to baseball-ref, I don’t know how he did in WAR.

12. How many All-Star seasons did he have?

He played in 10, but likely would have played in two or three more absent the war. Playing in 10 to 12 All-Star games is right at the edge of being an “automatic” HOFer.

13. If this player were the best on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

Looking at Bill’s answer to this question in “Politics Of Glory” (he gives a yes to Oliva and Cepeda on this question), I’d have to say yes, but since he never was on a pennant winner while THE star, I’m reluctant to give him a yes. Is it alright if I punt again and vote “no plus”?

14. and 15. I’m going to pass on, since they’re pretty lame questions for the most part, asking about “character” and “impact”.

Actually, before I started Mize’s Keltner List, I sort of assumed he was a no-brainer HOFer. He didn’t do as well on the Keltner List as I had originally thought he would. He’s a fully qualified candidate that I would vote for, even as a semi-exclusivist. But after doing this List, I can see why MarisFan wouldn’t put him in the “obvious” category.

 

I thought I’d do for Mize, what I did for a f—ew others, looking at players who were from his generation, by year of birth. Since Mize was born in 1913, I looked at guys born between 1907 and 1919:

1907: Luke Appling, Dolf Camilli, Bill Dickey, Jimmie Foxx, Larry French, Bobo Newsom
1908: Wes Ferrell, Lefty Gomez, Ernie Lombardi, Red Rolfe
1909: Stan Hack, Mel Harder, Dutch Leonard, Mel Ott, Bucky Walkters Lon Warneke
1910 Dizzy Dean, Wally Moses, Joe Vosmik
1911: Hank Greenberg, Joe Medwick
1912: Harlond Clift, Hal Trosky, Arky Vaughn
1913: Johnny Mize, Cecil Travis, Rudy York
1914: Harry Breechen, Joe DiMaggio, Bill Nicholson
1915: Walker Cooper, Joe Gordon, Allie Reynolds
1916: Phil Cavaretta, Bob Elliott, Ken Keltner, Buddy Lewis, Enos Slaughter
1917: Lou Boudreau, Dom DiMaggioMarty Marion, Phil Rizzuto, Virgil Trucks
1918: Bobby Doerr, Bob Feller, Eddie Lopat, PeeWee Reese, Mickey Vernon, Ted Williams
1919: Johnny Pesky, Vic Raschi, Jackie Robinson

Let’s see, absolute no-brainers: Jimmie Foxx, Bill Dickey, Mel Ott, Joe DiMaggio, Reese, Williams, Feller and Robinson, for a total of 8.

Guys who are just a notch below no-brainers: Appling, Dean, Greenberg, Medwick, Vaughn, Mize, Gordon, Slaughter, Boudreau, Rizzuto and Doerr, for another 11.

I’ve mentioned before that in a 13-year period that there are about 25-30 HOFers (in my opinion), so who else would I endorse? Lombardi, Gomez,and Hack, I guess, and that’s about it. So I’m at 22.

I wonder how many players lost a HOF career from military service (Travis? Vernon?) or most tragically, from loss of life? My best guess: 3 to 8 unknowables.

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