Maury Wills was asked when he’ll make the Hall of Fame. His response:
“I don’t know … Maybe they’re waiting to do me like they did Ron Santo. He dies and they put him in the next year. Isn’t that ridiculous? Maybe they’re just waiting to do that. I was thinking about that. I don’t think I’ll get any better. I don’t think I’ll get to be any nicer of a guy. I haven’t done anything to get anybody upset with me that I know of.”
Perhaps it’s simply a matter of people not thinking you were good enough, Maury? Because based on your record, you really weren’t.
Wills gets credit for an MVP season that, in all honesty, was more a function of shocking people — no one in 1962 really figured people would ever be stealing 100 bases — than Hall of Fame-level greatness, as his league-average batting line that year suggests. Which is not to say it was a bogus MVP. League average batting for a Gold Glove shortstop with insane base running numbers is pretty fantastic. There were way worse MVPs than Wills’ 1962 award.
But that was the high water mark for him. He hit better a couple of times, but his vaunted base running was way, way worse. Indeed, for his career, Wills’ success rate on the bases was pretty damn poor. He was a 65% base stealer. That’s a net negative according to most analysts, who have pegged a 75% success rate as the point above which stolen base attempts increase run scoring expectancy and below which run scoring expectancy is decreased.
So, Wills’ signature talent — the stolen base — was actually more show than it was useful. Perhaps he should be given points for being the first to bring the running game back to prominence in the 1960s and beyond. I’d be willing to give him those points. But it’s guys like Lou Brock, Joe Morgan, Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines who made steals valuable weapons for their team, not Maury Wills.
Once you take away the steals, Wills was nothing special. A career line of .281/.330/.381 was below league average even for the offensively-depressed 1960s. He had a couple Gold Gloves, but so do a lot of guys. The line of shortstops with more legit Hall of Fame cases than Wills is long too, and most of these guys probably don’t belong: Trammell. Concepcion. Tony Fernandez. Omar Vizquel. Nomar. Tejada. And when you move beyond shortstop, the list of Hall of Fame snubs is much, much longer.
Maury Wills: nice player for a while. Something of an innovator. In no way whatsoever worthy of a place in the Hall of Fame. They’re not waiting until he dies to induct him. They’re simply passing reasonable judgment.