Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 2: Dom DiMaggio

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

There was a big push in recent years to try to get Dom DiMaggio into the Hall of Fame via the Veterans' Committee. But, is it really warranted?

Dom DiMaggio was a good player. He was an excellent contact hitter with some speed. He was also well-regarded as a fine fielder. He had a career OPS of .802, which is pretty decent considering he was never really a power hitter. His slash line was .298/.383/.419. Certainly good numbers, especially considering he played a prime defensive position, center field. DiMaggio twice lead the league in runs, and lead the league in triples and stolen bases once. He was also a seven-time All Star. He walked significantly more often than he struck out (750 bases on balls, compared to 571 strike outs). Only in his last season, when he played only three games, was he below-average from an OPS+ point of view. So, he was definitely a good player, and he was a part of several very good Red Sox teams.

However, DiMaggio's career was only 11 seasons. He did miss three years during what would have been the prime of his career when he was serving the country in World War II. Who knows what DiMaggio's numbers may have looked like if he had played those other three seasons. He did not have much power, 14 home runs was his career high and he only once hit more than 10 otherwise. Even though he lead the league in stolen bases one year, that number was only 15 as players did not steal nearly as often in his time period. His career high was 16.

When it comes down to it, DiMaggio was a very good player who did not play long enough to put together the kind of stats needed to gain entry into the Hall of Fame. If he had played those additional three seasons that he lost to wartime service, we may be having a different discussion. As much as I would love to see him inducted, it will not happen. His recent death also makes it unlikely that he will get more consideration.

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