Circle of Greats: 1938 Balloting

This post is for voting and discussion in the 38th round of balloting for the Circle of Greats.  This round adds to the ballot those players born in 1938.  Rules and lists are after the jump.

The new group joins the holdovers from previous rounds to comprise the full group eligible to receive your votes this round.  The new group of 1938-born players must, as always, have played at least 10 seasons in the major leagues or generated at least 20 Wins Above Replacement (“WAR”, as calculated by baseball-reference.com, and for this purpose meaning 20 total WAR for everyday players and 20 pitching WAR for pitchers).

Each submitted ballot, if it is to be counted, must include three and only three eligible players.  The one player who appears on the most ballots cast in the round is inducted into the Circle of Greats.  Players who fail to win induction but appear on half or more of the ballots that are cast win four added future rounds of ballot eligibility. Players who appear on 25% or more of the ballots cast, but less than 50%, earn two added future rounds of ballot eligibility.  Any other player in the top 9 (including ties) in ballot appearances, or who appears on at least 10% of the ballots, wins one additional round of ballot eligibility.

All voting for this round closes at 11:00 PM EST on Monday, December 9, while changes to previously cast ballots are allowed until 11:00 PM EST Saturday, December 7.

If you’d like to follow the vote tally, and/or check to make sure I’ve recorded your vote correctly, you can see my ballot-counting spreadsheet for this round here: COG 1938 Round Vote Tally.  I’ll be updating the spreadsheet periodically with the latest votes.  Initially, there is a row in the spreadsheet for every voter who has cast a ballot in any of the past rounds, but new voters are entirely welcome — new voters will be added to the spreadsheet as their ballots are submitted.  Also initially, there is a column for each of the holdover players; additional player columns from the new born-in-1938 group will be added to the spreadsheet as votes are cast for them.

Choose your three players from the lists below of eligible players.  The 15 current holdovers are listed in order of the number of future rounds (including this one) through which they are assured eligibility, and alphabetically when the future eligibility number is the same.  The new group of 1938 birth-year guys are listed below in order of the number of seasons each played in the majors, and alphabetically among players with the same number of seasons played.  As we did in the 1939 round, we have one player who makes the ballot via the 20 WAR threshold without having played at least 10 seasons in the majors — last round it was Wes Parker, this round it’s  Tom Tresh (only  Mickey Mantle played more games as a Yankee during the 1960s than Tresh).

Holdovers:
Lou Whitaker (eligibility guaranteed for 10 rounds)
John Smoltz (eligibility guaranteed for 8 rounds)
Bobby Grich (eligibility guaranteed for 5 rounds)
Edgar Martinez (eligibility guaranteed for 4 rounds)
Phil Niekro (eligibility guaranteed for 4 rounds)
Craig Biggio (eligibility guaranteed for 3 rounds)
Ron Santo (eligibility guaranteed for 2 rounds)
Dick Allen (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Roberto Alomar (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Kenny Lofton (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Eddie Murray (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Rick Reuschel (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Ryne Sandberg (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Willie Stargell (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)
Dave Winfield (eligibility guaranteed for this round only)

Everyday Players (born in 1938, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues or at least 20 WAR):
Willie McCovey
Ron Fairly
Manny Mota
Vada Pinson
Billy Williams
Leo Cardenas
Deron Johnson
Matty Alou
Curt Flood
Ron Hansen
Tony Oliva
Johnny Edwards
Bob Aspromonte
Chris Cannizzaro
Don Mincher
Don Pavletich
Bobby Wine
Jake Gibbs
Mack Jones
Gene Michael
Rich Rollins
Al Weis
Tom Tresh

Pitchers (born in 1938, ten or more seasons played in the major leagues or at least 20 WAR):
Jim Kaat
Gaylord Perry
Mike McCormick
Steve Barber
Bob Locker
Al McBean
Ray Washburn

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140 Comments on "Circle of Greats: 1938 Balloting"

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Jeff Harris
Guest

Whitaker
Smoltz
Martinez

Dr. Remulak
Guest

Biggio, Smoltz, McCovey.

Chris C
Guest

Perry, Biggio, Sandberg

Josh
Guest

Smoltz, Niekro, Winfield

Ed
Guest

Bobby Wine played 12 seasons in the majors and never cracked a 64 OPS+. That may be a record. As might be his 8 seasons of 300+ PAs with an OPS+ at or below 64.

Richard Chester
Guest

Running the PI shows that you are right. Mick Kelleher had 11 seasons and never had more than 59 OPS+ and Bill Bergen had 11 years and never had more than 41. Rafael Belliard had 16 seasons with less than 62 OPS+ and one year of 177+ but with just 2 PA. Incidentally the PI search shows an error in that it returns 11 years for Wine with OPS+ equal to or less than 64 OPS+, not 12.

latefortheparty
Guest

Gaylord Perry
Lou Whitaker
Bobby Grich

Phil
Guest

Alomar, Edgar, Winfield.

MJ
Guest

Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry, Lou Whitaker

Nick Pain
Guest

Niekro, Whitaker, Lofton.

Gary Bateman
Guest

Perry, Santo, Alomar

Artie Z.
Guest

Niekro, Perry, Murray

bells
Guest

Niekro, Perry, Santo

Bix
Guest

Perry, Lofton, Allen

koma
Guest

Phil Niekro, Craig Biggio, Gaylord Perry

ATarwerdi96
Guest

Bobby Grich, Edgar Martinez, Ron Santo

--bill
Guest

Gaylord Perry, Rick Reuschel, Phil Niekro

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Gaylord
Knucksie
Lofton

Mike
Guest

Niekro
Billy Williams
Dave Winfield

Dr. Doom
Guest
First thought: anyone else notice how Cub-errific this round is? Santo, Williams, Reuschel, Sandberg. Maybe, birtelcom, you should sneak Ernie Banks on here a couple rounds early, so we can vote on him, too! A very crowded ballot! In my opinion, the top three spots are easy. But after that . . . yikes. It’s very crowded, in the group Grich-Sandberg-Martinez-Reuschel-Lofton-Alomar-McCovey-Allen-Biggio-Whitaker-Williams-Murray. It will be interesting to see how many of those (if any) ever break through and make the COG, and which one(s) it will be. Well, here are my picks: Phil Niekro Gaylord Perry Ron Santo
Dr. Doom
Guest

First thought: anyone else notice how Cub-errific this round is? Santo, Williams, Reuschel, Sandberg. Maybe, birtelcom, you should sneak Ernie Banks on here a couple rounds early, so we can vote on him, too!

A very crowded ballot! In my opinion, the top three spots are easy. But after that . . . yikes. Well, here are my picks:

Phil Niekro
Gaylord Perry
Ron Santo

John Z
Guest
Wow Stretch can’t get no love, ROY, MVP, perennial All Star and MVP vote receiver, but no love. I know he has been gone a long time, Out of site out of mind im thinking, not to mention the second half of his career he was, well, very pedestrian, but his OPS + of 147 still puts him in some nice company like Mike Schmidt, Willie Stargell, Edgar Martinez and Jim Thome, and his WAR puts him in the company of Reggie Smith and Andre Dawson. So why no love, can someone point something out to me that I am… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
John Z, I was surprised by how low Stretch ranked by my own method. But the truth of the matter is, it seems he may not have been as good as many of us would think. I have him ranked #10 on my own list (Niekro, Perry, Santo, Grich, Sandberg, E. Martinez, Reuschel, Lofton, Alomar, McCovey). He’s really close to Edgar for the #6 spot, and I could see ranking him that high. The problem with that is that Dick Allen, Biggio, Whitaker, and Billy Williams are just as close to him as he is to Martinez. I just don’t… Read more »
John Z
Guest

Doom, thanks for your feedback and opinion. I considered Williams a lot when voting for my 3, but just could not pull the lever to vote for him, on the other hand I have always felt Kaat career goes extremely unnoticed and underrated. Kaat’s WHIP Is Niekro..ish and he should have/could have won the 66′ Cy Young if it were not for this guy named Sandy Koufax.

Artie Z.
Guest
I considered dropping Murray for McCovey. Murray has a little more WAR but isn’t really close to McCovey on a WAR/G or WAR/PA measure (Murray has 4 more WAR in about 3000 more PAs). That being said, I thought McCovey was a hang it up early type, but he actually played parts of more seasons than Murray, 22 to 21. Both started at age 21, but Murray retired at 41 while McCovey retired at 42. The difference in PAs then isn’t “age” or “season” related, but due to injuries, and McCovey had them and Murray didn’t. Both had a “partial”… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest

I’ve always thought that about 1st base, actually. People think that there are all these great hitters there, but it’s not as deep as you’d think. You did miss Harmon Killebrew, who will certainly have a shot (but probably won’t make it, and Hank Greenberg, who probably will.

no statistician but
Guest

A year or so ago there was a discussion about Johnny Mize as an underrated player, and I’d place him far above Killebrew, whom he outranks in OPS+ 158 to 143 and WAR by 10 points despite missing 3 years to WWII. In contention for the lifetime MUP award at his position.

Dr. Doom
Guest

Nailed it, nsb. Totally forgot about Maize. He was a half-generation after Gehrig-Greenberg-Foxx, and in the opposite league, so he slips the mind easily. Good catch.

no statistician but
Guest
Just for fun: Give Greenberg 7 WAR for 1936, most of which he missed due to injury, 24 for 1941-44, when he was in the service, 3 for the first half of 1945 when he was ditto, and he ends up with a total of 91-plus career WAR. Give Mize 18 WAR for 1943-45 when he was in the service, and 2.5 for the 1/3 season he lost in 1946 (his 6.4 ranked him second among position players, despite the fact that he missed over fifty games in August and September) and he ends up with a total of 91-plus… Read more »
mosc
Guest
Greenberg SHOULD get in easily. I agree, we won’t have many first basemen. We seem to prefer middle infielders. I do feel we are screening out the great pure hitters due to defensive and positional adjustments. On one hand I agree that their total value cannot be measured in a slash line but I do shed a tear for those who were simply much better with a bat than so many for so long. Honestly though, I’d rather have Sheffield or Winfield than McCovey, McGriff, Allen, Stargell, and Murray. I’d probably pick McCovey out of that list of first basemen… Read more »
Andy
Guest

McCovey
Biggio
Niekro

KalineCountry
Guest

I must be a large Hall guy, there are 19 or 20 that I would love to see make the Circle of Greats. Lots from my youth…Tony Oliva, Vada Pinson, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, et al.

1.Time to get Lou Whitaker in to join fellow teammate Alan Trammell.
2.Willie McCovey one of most vicious swings all-time (Earl Wilson another).
3.Jim Kaat.

Dr. Doom
Guest
KalineCountry, I have the same problem vis-à-vis Hall size! I used to be a small-Hall guy, but then I sort of came around to thinking that it’s a lot more fun with 200-250 than with 25-30. And since I’m always thinking bout 200+ guys, I always feel guilty for skipping half the guys on the ballot. My Hall is big enough for Mark McGwire and Kevin Happier and David Cone and Sammy Sosa – and all four of those guys got one COG vote each! But then again, it is kinda fun using my baseball-addled brain a bit differently.
Doug
Guest

Allen, Perry, McCovey

PaulE
Guest

Allen. McCovey. Sandberg.

opal611
Guest

For the 1938 election, I’m voting for:
-Ryne Sandberg
-Phil Niekro
-Gaylord Perry

Other top candidates I considered highly (and/or will consider in future rounds):
-Alomar
-Biggio
-Martinez
-Smoltz
-Whitaker
-Grich
-Lofton
-Santo
-Reuschel
-McCovey
-Murray

Jeff Hill
Guest

McCovey, Santo, Lofton

David Horwich
Guest
Alomar, Niekro, Sandberg. For now, at least. Our ballot is getting as badly overstuffed as the current HoF ballot. Have we ever had 15 holdovers before? Add to that a handful of good-to-excellent candidates from this year’s crop, and…yeesh. I’d vote for McCovey, but he a) doesn’t seem to have much, if any, chance to win this around, and b) appears to have already garnered enough votes to join the holdover list, so why bother. I’d like to vote for Santo, but there are several guys on the bubble I’d like to keep on the ballot, while Santo at least… Read more »
Aaron Blower
Guest

Niekro, Perry, Martinez

Chuck Conrad
Guest

Willie McCovey
Billy Williams
Gaylord Perry

JEV
Guest

McCovey, Perry, Biggio

Bryan O'Connor
Editor

Most Wins Above Average, excluding negative seasons:

Niekro 54.7
Perry 50.9
Grich 43.6
Santo 43.3
Whitaker 42.7
Martinez 41.3
Reuschel 40.6
Smoltz 40.1
Lofton 39.3
McCovey 38.9
Sandberg 38.8
Tiant 37.5
Alomar 36.8
Biggio 36.3
Allen 35.9
Murray 34.9
Williams 30.5
Winfield 30.5
Stargell 29.6
Oliva 25.9
Pinson 23.3
Kaat 23.1

Niekro, Perry, Martinez

brp
Guest

Niekro
Lofton
Murray

Ugh, strategic votes.

mosc
Guest
What a friggin’ bloodbath this round is! Best player on the ballot is Niekro so I will vote for him. Perry deserves to get in but I don’t need to carry him nor do I particularly want to see him accumulate years. I spit in his general direction… for now. My third best guy would be Biggio but I’m not sure he needs the support just now. Best offensive player on this ballot is Winfield. Top 50 OWAR should be enough bat to pass all these 1B/DH type guys. I’d vote for Sheffield too if he were on here. Of… Read more »
paget
Guest
Bloodbath for real. An interesting byproduct of the way in which we do the voting for the CoG is that -as the years pass and we accumulate more and more outstanding holdovers- it’s going to feel increasingly arbitrary why you choose certain players over others. I don’t necessarily mean Mantle/Mays types (who are, forgive me!, “inner”circle of greats). I mean more like situations we confront here. The logjam at 2B is going to start developing at 1B, OF, elsewhere. I don’t know if anyone has already brought this up, but I wonder how elections for the CoG would have changed… Read more »
David Horwich
Guest

Someone did recently bring up the question of how the CoG would look if we started at the early end of the timeline, although I don’t remember who that was. My feeling is that we’d have ended up with some players who wouldn’t quite measure up, in the long run, just because the talent is spread thinner in the earlier years. But we’ll never know, unless someone wants to run a CoG 2.0 some day…

I sometimes wonder how things would be panning out if our voting structure more closely resembled that of the HoF.

paget
Guest

Vote change:

From: Niekro, Winfield, McCovey

To: Stargell, Winfield, McCovey

Niekro won’t need the help to get elected. Stargell definitely deserves to stay on the ballot.

Abbott
Guest

McCovey, Biggio, Reuschel

Steve
Guest

Dick Allen
Willie McCovey
Billy Williams

Low T
Guest

Gaylord Perry, Willie McCovey, Ryne Sandberg

I could vote for 10 players on this ballot without even flinching. This is going to get interesting.

Mo
Guest

Rueschel whitaker santo

Darien
Guest

Biggio, Lofton, and Perry

RonG
Guest

Grich, McCovey, Biggio

Hartvig
Guest
So many old favorites and so many deserving. I love Jim Kaat because he said “After 2 hours, my fastball turns into a pumpkin.” which is something that every MLB pitcher should take to heart. Tony Oliva might be the surest “If only…” player ever. Another 2 or 3 healthy years probably would have landed him in the HOF. Billy Williams is a clear Hall of Famer but for me he falls just short of the COG. I’m taking Niekro over Perry because Phil had the balls to throw that knuckler to 22,677 batters and while Gaylord gets extra points… Read more »
Insert Name Here
Guest
Initial vote based solely on merit: 1. Ron Santo (7.0 WAR/162 during 10-yr peak of 1963-72) 2. Gaylord Perry (5.9 WAR/162 during 13-yr peak of 1964-76) 3. Kenny Lofton (6.7 WAR/162 during 8-yr peak of 1992-99) Ranking of other candidates: 4. Willie McCovey (6.7 WAR/162 during 8-yr peak of 1963-70) — Manual override (originally ranked #9) 5. Bobby Grich (6.6 WAR/162 during 12-yr peak of 1972-83) 6. Dick Allen (6.6 WAR/162 during 9-yr peak of 1964-72) 7. Ryne Sandberg (6.2 WAR/162 during 9-yr peak of 1984-92) 8. Craig Biggio (5.8 WAR/162 during 9-yr peak of 1991-99) 9. Lou Whitaker (5.5… Read more »
Insert Name Here
Guest

OOPS! I forgot Phil Niekro is still on the ballot. I had him with an identical peak to that of Perry (5.9×13) but ranked him above Santo last round and as such he, Santo, and Perry are my top three.

Initial vote is actually Niekro, Santo, and Perry.

Mike HBC
Guest

Niekro, Perry, Santo

Arsen
Guest
I’ve watched with interest as various voters have come up with methodolgy for ranking the players. I’ve been a bit more scattershot in how I pick the greats. This time I went through all of the hitters on the ballot and looked at their peak seasons, how many seasons they have above 5.0 WAR (All-Star level), and what their WAR per 600 plate appearances was. Santo’s 1967 was the best single season at 9.8 WAR. Biggio’s 1997 was next with a 9.4 WAR. Both players finished fourth in the MVP voting. Edgar Martinez has eight seasons with a WAR of… Read more »
bcholm
Guest

McCovey, Santo, Billy Williams

Kirk
Guest

Alomar, Niekro & Kaat

Two interesting things (at least to me) I learned looking at this ballot. Billy Williams was a terrible outfielder and Ron Santo was two different players, a HoFer at home and so-so on the road. I didn’t remember either of these watching them growing up.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest
Billy Williams may be the most _consistent_ Cubs hitter ever, but I’d rank them: Sosa/ Banks/ Billy Williams/ Santo. Peak: Hack Wilson, Bill Nicholson, Derek Lee honorable mention: Frank Chance/ Gabby Hartnett/ /Kiki Cuyler/ Stan Hack/ Sandberg Sosa beats out Banks on peak, even after taking the air out of Sosa’s stats. Banks was never the same quality of hitter after 1961 that he was before; I assume this has to do with a recurring knee problem that forced him to move from SS to 1B. This makes it hard to evaluate Banks by career stats only; 1953-61 and 1962-71… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

Riggs Stephenson is practically a clone of Kiki Cuyler, check their stats with the Cubs.

oneblankspace
Guest
Some interesting candidates to consider here. Kaat holds the record for longest time between two World Series appearances (with none in between) and was the last active Senator (Minnesota). Perry was at one time the only pitcher to win both Cy Young awards during the one-award-per-league era. Manny Mota was 150 for 500 as a pinch hitter with 4 HR, 115 RBI, 63 walks (14 intentional) (.300/.375/.368/.743). His last game was a September 1982 pinch-hitting appearance in the 13th against St Louis, who brought in Jim Kaat to induce a groundout. McCovey retired in a tie for 8th/9th on the… Read more »
wx
Guest

Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, Willie McCovey

Sorry to have leave off Edgar Martinez…

Bryan O'Connor
Editor

McCovey’s career line: .270/.374/.515
Martinez’s career line: .312/.418/.515

But wait… parks! eras! Ok, let’s try neutral stats:

McCovey: 147 OPS+, 484 batting runs
Martinez: 147 OPS+, 529 batting runs (more O in that OPS)

But wait… McCovey played the field! Ok, let’s look at defense:

McCovey: -80 fielding runs, -122 positional adjustment, 64.4 WAR
Martinez: 17 fielding runs, -128 positional adjustment, 68.3 WAR

McCovey’s home runs don’t quite close the gap Martinez creates with on-base ability. McCovey didn’t provide any extra value with his glove.

McCovey’s getting a lot more votes than Edgar this round. Anyone care to make an argument that McCovey was better?

RJ
Guest

I don’t have a system like many voters here, but I’m surprised at how much I’m having to consider McCovey, who I assumed would be an automatic selection for me. I won’t argue that he or Martinez are better than the other, but Martinez has four rounds of eligibility, whilst McCovey has none, so that’s probably a large factor in Willie’s voting edge this round.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

@67/Bryan,

Peak for McCovey (1968-70).

I know that the “most feared hitter” schtick was terribly mis-used to bolster Jim Rice’s HOF case, but in those years McCovey was truly one of the scariest batters in MLB.

Bryan O'Connor
Editor

Good point, Lawrence. McCovey’s peak was a little higher than Edgar’s (’95-97). If we extend it to seven years, McCovey’s ’65 to ’71 vs. Edgar’s ’95 to ’01, McCovey still has a 1.5-WAR advantage. McCovey was really bad in the post-Padres portion of his career.

On the other hand, Adam’s Hall Rating, which reflects peak and longevity, still has Edgar ahead, 135 to 126, even though the adjWAA component ignores the six straight below-average years that ended his career.

Paul E
Guest
Lawrence A #75 / Bryan O #104: McCovey was the best hitter in the NL for that period 1968 – 1970 and that, to me, trumps the Edgar story. Literally, when McCovey played/stepped on the field, from 1968 -1970, he was the best. That is huge…..and when you think about all the little kids that wanted to grow up and be the best, the Mickey Mantle or Jackie Robinson of their time – McCovey got there. By the same token, if the Mariners would have given Edgar the chance he deserved earlier in his career, he would have ended up… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

BIRTLECOM #106:

Thanks for the update. For the period 1968-1970 McCovey was first in OPS+ 188 (Frank Howard is next at 173) while Edgar was fifth behind McGwire, Thomas, Bonds, and Piazza. The distance between McCovey and Howard is about the same as the distance between McGwire (1st) and Edgar (5th) at 186 – 172.

Ed
Guest

Birtelcom #106

Actually McCovey was 1st in WAR batting for the 6 year period from ’65-’70, 16 runs ahead of Frank Robinson.

Martinez was 2nd for the 6 year period from ’95-00 (16 runs behind McGwire) and 2nd for the 7 year period from ’95-01 (65 runs behind Bonds).

Paul E
Guest

@ Birtlecom 106 & Ed 108 :

Based on Runs Created x 27/Outs Made/AIR from baseball-reference, for the three year periods discussed initially we have:

McCovey 10.49
Edgar 9.85

….and I’m not going to do the work necessary to compare either to their peers 🙁

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