Quick! Think of five guys who have been rejected from the Hall of Fame time and time again, although they’re more than deserving of induction. Who’d you think of? I bet your list included at least one of the following: Bert Blyleven, Ron Santo, Tommy John, Jack Morris or Jim Rice (oh, that’s right, they finally elected him, didn’t they?). Well, did I get at least one right? While I don’t believe each of those guys are worthy, each of them have gotten quite a few arguments for the Hall of Fame.
Well, let’s mix it up a bit. I am going to take a stroll down the road less traveled, and I’m going to pose arguments for some former players that have long been forgotten by many – but nevertheless, they have solid Hall of Fame arguments themselves. This is going to be a five-part “series,” with one player being discussed each time. First, let’s start with:
Okay, of all the guys I’m going to cover, he is perhaps the most remembered – in part, because he played as recently as 1977 and also because of he is one of the most noteworthy players of the second deadball era. Compared to today’s super sluggers, his .292 batting average, 351 home runs and 1,119 RBI are tiny. Think about it: guys like Greg Vaughn, Ellis Burks and Gary Gaetti all have more than 351 home runs – they were all notable sluggers of the nineties but could never really garner much Hall of Fame support.
Remember, however, that Dick Allen is different than each of those players. Dick Allen played in what is known as the second deadball era – a time when power totals dipped a bit – which lasted from about 1963 to about 1976. Coincidentally, Allen’s career spanned from 1963 to 1977. Despite hitting over 40 home runs in his career only once, Allen led the league in homers twice, finished in the top five four times and in the top ten eight times.
Allen wasn’t just a power hitter in a non-power hitter’s era, however. He finished in the top five in batting average three times and in the top ten six times. He led the league in on-base percentage twice, finished in the top five three times and in the top ten seven times. Of course, his power is what really set him apart in his era. He led the league in slugging percentage three times. Seven times did he finish in the top five and eight times did he finish in the top ten. His .543 slugging percentage is 43rd best all-time, ahead of Hall of Fame sluggers like Mel Ott, Willie Stargell and Mike Schmidt. Allen led the league in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) four times, finished in the top five seven times and finished in the top ten 10 times. He is 56th all-time in OPS.
The following are all categories that Allen led at least once: on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, runs, total bases, triples, home runs, RBI, OPS+ (a “neutralized” version of OPS), extra-base hits, times on base, offensive winning percentage, power/speed number and at-bats/home runs. He was a multitalented player who led the league in whole slew of categories, not just power categories. In fact, although his power is most notable, he also stole over 15 bases three times in his career, finishing with 133 career swipes.
I can go on and on about Allen, but I’m not the only one who thinks he’s pretty great. The All-Star voters thought he was pretty good, too – good enough to be an All-Star seven times. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1964 and the American League MVP in 1972.
In my opinion, Allen is a clear-cut Hall of Famer. So, why isn’t he in, then? I can think of a couple reasons. For one, people don’t adjust for eras. They don’t realize that home runs nowadays are easier to get than they were in the 1960s and 1970s – they meant more back then. 351 home runs today – though not easy to accomplish – is not as notable as 351 home runs back then. Second point – a lot of people believe that Allen was a clubhouse cancer. He made the teammates around him worse – or, so they say.
Yeah, maybe. But when a guy leads the league in categories exactly as much as an average Hall of Famer does (check out his black ink on Baseball-Reference.com), and when a guy is on the leader board more than an average Hall of Famer (check out the grey ink on Baseball-Reference.com) he, in my opinion, almost always should be a Hall of Famer. And Dick Allen should be a Hall of Famer.
Tags: Baseball, Hall of Fame