Monday, January 24, 2011

The 1936 Hall Of Fame Ballot

Some time ago, I mentioned that Fred Dunlap was on the 1936 Hall of Fame ballot. Without going into too much detail, he was on the Veterans Committee ballot that included all of the 19th century guys and he ended up with two votes. Not too bad considering everybody that was on that ballot.

The reason I bring this up is that today I was thinking a little about Charlie Bennett. It's my opinion that Bennett was the MVP of the 1887 world's series. He stopped the Browns' running game and thereby disrupted their entire offense. I'm certainly open to the idea that others could have been the MVP (Deacon White, for example) but, in going through the games, I was most impressed with Bennett, a player I hadn't given much thought to before. Looking at Bennett's stats at B-Ref, I found the link to the 1936 Hall of Fame ballot. If you haven't seen it before, it's worth taking a look at.

Of the sixty players on the ballot, thirty are now in the Hall. Fourteen of the top fifteen are in the Hall as are twenty of the top twenty-five. Among the top twenty-five who are not in the Hall is Charlie Bennett. Twenty-four of the top thirty-four are in the Hall. Among those who finished between twenty-fourth and twenty-ninth (including ties) and are not in the Hall are Ross Barnes, Fred Dunlap, Jack Glasscock and Ned Williamson.

It was a tough ballot. Lip Pike, Deacon White, Tommy Bond, Tommy McCarthy, Tim Keefe and Arlie Latham only got one vote. Candy Cummings, Lee Richmond and Silver Flint didn't receive any votes.

The player who received the most support and is not in the Hall is Herman Long, who finished eighth on the ballot.

I'm not really a big Hall kind of guy but there's at least a dozen guys on that ballot who aren't in the Hall and I'd have no problem putting in. I know my perspective is a bit different than that of the ordinary Hall voter but you could put in Dunlap, Bennett, Long, Harry Stovey, Bill Lange, Barnes, Glasscock, Williamson, Hardy Richardson, George Van Haltren, Pike, White, Bond, Doug Allison, and Latham and I'd be okay with it. And that doesn't include Bob Caruthers or Dave Foutz, who weren't on the ballot. And Von der Ahe.

Maybe I am a big Hall kind of guy. But I think my main point here is that Charlie Bennett was a really good ballplayer and among the 19th century guys not in the Hall, I think he'd be the first guy I'd put in.


Cliff Blau said...

It's possible that Bennett was the most valuable defensive catcher ever. Consider that from 1886 to 1888 the average NL team had 314 passed balls; the Wolverines had 161. They were also 62 wild pitches below average in those years. You can't save 50 passed balls a year now, because teams don't have anywhere near that many.

Sure, he wasn't doing all the catching, but Bennett's teams led the league in fewest passed balls 10 times and fewest wild pitches 4 times (second 5 times).

Jeffrey Kittel said...

I was playing around at Baseball Projection and looking for a catcher who has better catcher ratings than Bennett but haven't found one yet. His defensive numbers are better than Johnny Bench's for pete's sake. Better than Buck Ewing's. He was just a heck of a player. I think there's a fair argument to make that he was the best 19th century catcher.

The thing that I thought was impressive, while looking at the 1887 series, was that in a series filled with stars and great players on both clubs, Bennett was the guy that stood out. He had a good series with the bat and, as I mentioned, he was fantastic behind the plate.

Your point about his value behind the plate (supported by the numbers at Baseball Projection) is a great one. Given the numbers of errors, passed balls and wild pitches during the era, a defensive player who can put an end to that is extraordinarily valuable. All of that stuff was a big part of a club's offense and Bennett took it away. The Browns learned that first hand in the series