Half-Baked Hall: 1988

Mark Buehrle fell just short (38%) of getting a future look, but None of Them! is able to come back again. Torii Hunter pulled down one vote. The guy definitely had his best years after he left the Twins. Cuddyer, Hudson, and LaTroy were shut out.

Next is 1988. Two former Twins with high WAR totals here. Also a relief pitcher who made that other museum.

Who ya got?

  • Steve Carlton (28%, 14 Votes)
  • Graig Nettles (22%, 11 Votes)
  • Ted Simmons (18%, 9 Votes)
  • Don Sutton (14%, 7 Votes)
  • Bruce Sutter (10%, 5 Votes)
  • Ron Guidry (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Dave Concepcion (2%, 1 Votes)
  • None Of Them! (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Jose Cruz (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

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25 thoughts on “Half-Baked Hall: 1988”

  1. Never not an excuse to point out that Steve Carlton in 1972 won 27 games for a 59 win team.

    I'm probably voting for Nettles as I have a soft spot for third basemen. Ted Simmons' career is pretty close to Joe Mauer's, so I can't not vote for him. He had the misfortune of playing with Bench and Fisk and Carter, but he had a great bat and people cared too much that he couldn't throw out 50% of base stealers.

  2. In December 1969, the Twins traded Graig Nettles — along with Dean Chance, Ted Uhlaender, and Bob Miller — to Cleveland for Luis Tiant & Stan Williams. It might be the worst pure baseball trade in post-relocation franchise history — including all the duds of the Bill Smith era.*

    Tiant had been a pretty solid pitcher across six seasons in Cleveland: 120 ERA+, 1.143 WHIP, 21.2 K%. He started the All-Star Game in 1968, but 1969 had not been kind. He led the league in surrendered homers (37) and walks (129) — ouch — and his ERA_ dropped from 186 (led the league) to 101. His K% dropped from 26.8 in ‘68 to 14.3% in ‘69. Given that he was pitching in Cleveland, it’s not surprising that his record was 9-20. He pitched part of one season — all of 92.2 innings — with the Twins, thanks to a bad shoulder (fractured scapula). His K% dropped even more, to 12.8%. Baseball Reference values his pitching with the Twins at 1.2 rWAR. Just thirty, he was released by the Twins during spring training in 1971 and failed to catch on with the Braves. He signed on with AAA Louisville and was promoted to parent-club Boston mid-season, where he remained until 1978 & eventually became the El Tiante remembered today.

    Williams pitched all of 1970 & part of 1971 with the Twins, posting a 129 ERA+ across 191.1 innings, for which Baseball Reference credits him with 2.3 rWAR. He pitched six innings of 0.00 ERA ball (19 BF, 0.500 WHIP, 2 K) in the 1970 ALCS. The Twins traded him to the Cardinals in September ‘71 for Fred Rico & non-disco Dan Ford; neither reached the majors after the trade.

    Dean Chance was playing out the string by the time of the trade. He spent most of ‘70 as a swingman for Cleveland, pitching for (essentially) his hometown team, but finished the season with the Mets. After appearing in 48 games in ‘70, he pitched in another 31 for Detroit in ‘71, and that was it. He turned 30 mid-way through his last season.

    Ted Uhlaender was a slightly below replacement-level full-time player in Cleveland in 1970 & ‘71, playing not very good defense in the outfield to go along with below-average hitting. He did pop a career-high 11 homers in 1970. He played 1972 with the Reds as a reserve outfielder & pinch hitter, finally reaching the World Series, which the Big Red Machine lost to the Athletics in seven games.

    After spending seven seasons with the two contestants of the ‘65 World Series, Bob Miller probably went through a suitcase or two between 1970 & 1973, as he bounced around nine different teams. He finished with AAA Hawaii in 1975, which is probably a pretty nice place to call it a career, provided you can skip the road trips.

    Graig Nettles was “blocked” by Harmon Killebrew at third in 1969, mostly because Rich Reese “blocked” Harmon at first. Nettles’ new manager in Cleveland, Alvin Dark, believed in his potential at the hot corner. Dark's confidence was well-placed: in 1972 Nettles set both the single-season record for double plays by a third baseman (54) for assists by a third-baseman (412), both of which apparently still stand. Meanwhile, Harmon — willing to play wherever he was asked, but never confused with a Gold Glove defender — played one more season as a primary third baseman in 1970, then shifted across the diamond to first for good. Nettles posted 17.5 rWAR over three years in Cleveland, then was traded to the Yankmes, where he posted 44.4 rWAR. After three seasons with San Diego and another each in Atlanta & Montreal, Nettles retired in 1988. Baseball Reference credits him with 68.0 rWAR for a career that included 390 homers and a 110 OPS+, paired with very good defense (21.4 dWAR). His list of comparable batters is pretty revealing: Darrell Evans (1, 58.8 rWAR), Gary Gaetti (2, 42.1 rWAR), Ron Santo (3, 70.5 rWAR), Ron Cey (8, 53.5 rWAR). Santo is one of the HoF's great injustices, while Evans certainly merited closer consideration than he received (1.7% in 1995). For both his career value and the paucity of third basemen in Cooperstown, Nettles seems petty worth of induction to me.

    If there had been a designated hitter in 1970, I wonder how much of the 1970s Nettles would’ve spent in Minnesota.

    * Bill Smith — worst GM in Twins history? Who says no?

      1. I've been going back-and-forth between the two. Bill Smith was bad because he just wasn't qualified for the role, but TR 2.0 was frustratingly bad because of his first, decent run and because it went on longer.

        1. Bill Smith’s tenure also flushed all the competitive bump they were supposed to get from opening Target Field right down the toilet, which earns him extra demerits in my book.

      1. Right. Especially since the mid 70's Twins I believe needed pitching moreso to get over the top (especially after Blyleven left) than they did offense.

      2. True, though Tiant didn’t really become El Tiante until 1972, presumably after his shoulder fully healed. (I wonder if he wasn’t damaged goods in 1969.)

        This is one of those trades where, even only considering the information available at the time, I still find myself surprised it was made. Compared against his ‘68 season, in ‘69 Tiant’s ERA went up two whole points, his home runs surrendered more than doubled, his hits surrendered jumped almost 34%, his walks jumped over 43%, and his strikeouts dropped by over 40%. I know they weren’t using stats extensively in 1969, but you don’t even really need numbers to observe how much worse he was. Did they not have scouts following Cleveland? Harmon was going to be 34 in 1970 — did they really view a 25 year old third baseman as permanently blocked on that roster?

    1. speaking of trades...

      If Kevin Tapani has a crappy 1991 before more or less having the career he has and the Twins missed the playoffs, how is that trade viewed in retrospect?

        1. I concur. I think the answer also depends on the counterfactual’s inverse: would Sweet Music’s presence in the rotation, plus whoever the Twins found to be their closer in lieu of Aguilera, have been better than just Aggie? I don’t remember who else would’ve been available as a free agent closer in ‘91. Would Carl have okayed signing Morris, Chili, and a closer?

    2. I still see that Twins yearbook picture in my head of Tiant in a trainng room whirlpool.

      I find it hard to compare any dealings pre-1984 with post-1984. Calvin, like it or not, was fighting for his budget, not sitting on piles of money like his successor. The more recent trades didn't require increasing the price of hot dogs.

  3. Lefty is a no-brainer. I feel confident in Nettles and Simmons. I grit my teeth voting for Sutton. I voted for Sutter in part because of his pioneering role both in the closer role and with the split finger.

    I feel a little sad for not voting for Concepcion or Cruz. But I just couldn't justify either one. Concepcion probably gets too much credit (sooo many All Star games!) for being a very good, unflashy defender on great teams. But his bat was Not Good, even in an era filled with good glove/no hit SSs.

    1. Don Sutton has the worst peak of any pitcher in the hall outside of Jack Morris. I wish he had better postseason numbers to convince me.

          1. Yes. That is the one area where you can say Sutton was a pioneering player or the "best" in the game at some point in his career.

  4. Come on. One more vote for Ted Simmons.

    (My cousin's name is Tedd Simmons, so I've always had a soft spot in my heart for him.)

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