Maury Wills thinks he should be a Hall of Famer for some reason

33 Comments

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.

Report: Mike Trout as recognizable to Americans as NBA’s Kenneth Faried

Rob Carr/Getty Images
2 Comments

On Monday, the Washington Post cited Q Scores, a firm that measures consumer appeal of personalities, with regard to Angels outfielder Mike Trout. According to Q Scores, Trout is as recognized to Americans as NBA forward Kenneth Faried, who has spent seven seasons with the Denver Nuggets and is now a reserve with the Brooklyn Nets. Trout’s score was 22, which means just over one in five Americans know who he is.

We have talked here at various times about Trout’s lack of marketability. He has expressed zero interest in being marketed as the face of baseball. Additionally, based on the nature of the sport, it’s harder for baseball to aggressively market its stars since star players don’t impact teams the same way they do in other sports. LeBron James, for example, carries whatever team he’s on to the NBA Finals. James has appeared in the NBA Finals every year dating back to 2011. Trout, despite being far and away the best active player in baseball and one of the best players of all time, has only reached the postseason once, in 2014 when his Angels were swept in the ALDS by the Royals. Trout can’t carry his team to the playoffs and his team hasn’t helped him any in getting there on a regular basis.

Baseball is also more of a regional sport. Fans follow their local team, of course, and don’t really venture beyond that even though games are broadcast nationally throughout the week. The NFL schedule is much shorter and occurs once a week, so fans put aside time to watch not just their favorite team’s game, but other games of interest as well. A June game between the subpar White Sox and Tigers doesn’t have much appeal to it since it’s one of 162 games for both teams, and both teams will play again later in the season. Comparatively, a game between the Bears and Lions has more intrigue since they only play twice a year.

It’s kind of a shame for baseball that Trout isn’t bigger than he is because he is a once-in-a-generation talent, like Ken Griffey Jr. In fact, Trout is so good that he’s still underrated. He’s on pace to have one of the greatest seasons of all-time, going by Wins Above Replacement. Despite that, he’s anything but a lock to win the MVP Award at season’s end because the narratives around other players, like Mookie Betts, are more compelling.

Trout’s marketability is an issue that isn’t likely to be fixed anytime soon. Trout is who he is and forcing him to ham it up for the cameras would come off as forced and unnatural. Major League Baseball will simply have to hope its other stars, like Betts and Bryce Harper, can help broaden the appeal of the sport.