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 are 13 catchers currently in the Hall of Fame that played in the Major Leagues. However, the Hall is missing one of the better Dead Ball Era catchers. Wally Schang, whose stats are better than some of the catchers already in the Hall of Fame, is still outside the Hall.
As a Dead Ball Era player, Schang's stats obviously do not compare to Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, or other more offensive-minded catchers. However, they do compare favorably to such Hall of Famers as Ray Schalk, Roger Bresnahan, and Rick Ferrell.
Let's look at some numbers:
.279/.386/.377/.764, 26 home runs, 530 RBIs
.281/.378/.363/.741, 28 home runs, 734 RBIs
.253/.340/.316/.656, 11 home runs, 594 RBIs
.284/.393/.401/.794, 59 home runs, 710 RBIs
Players A-C are all Hall of Famers. Player A is Roger Bresnahan, Player B is Rick Ferrell, and Player C is Ray Schalk. Player D is, of course, Wally Schang. As you can see, Schang was a better hitter than all three of the other players, yet he is not a Hall of Famer. Why not?
Well my theory is that Schang was not as good defensively as the other three. A theory which is at least partly supported by defensive WAR values. Schang was worth -2.4 dWAR for his career. Schalk was 3.2, Ferrell was 0.1, and Bresnahan was -1.8. So, that does not totally explain it.
I guess we may never know why Schang did not get in the Hall of Fame.
Better than three catchers already in the Hall, but is that really a good reason for putting him in? However you answer that is the answer. I personally think he should be in.