After two rounds of balloting in which he received powerful voting support but fell short of induction, coming in behind first Mickey Mantle and then Willie Mays, Eddie Mathews this week rose to the top to become the 50th inductee into the High Heat Stats Circle of Greats.  More on Eddie and the voting after the jump.

Eddie Mathews entirely re-defined what a third baseman could accomplish over a baseball career.  Here’s a list of the highest career total Wins Above Replacement (baseball-reference version) for players whose primary position was third base as of Mathews’ retirement at the end of the 1968 season:

1. Eddie Mathews 96.1
2. Ken Boyer 63.1
3. Home Run Baker 62.4
4. Jimmy Collins 53.1
5. Stan Hack 52.5

That’s a career WAR that was more than 50% higher than any other third baseman in major league history to that point.  Mathews changed the notion of what a third baseman could accomplish, and led the way for Schmidt, Brett, and the rest.

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44 position players in major league history have accumulated career WAR totals of 90 or more. Here are the stretches of consecutive seasons during which two or more of these guys played for the same team:

13 seasons, Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews (Braves, 1954-1966)
12 seasons, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (Yankees 1923-1934)
4 seasons, Eddie Collins and Jimmie Foxx (Athletics, 1927-1930, joined by Ty Cobb in 1927-28 and Tris Speaker in 1928)
4 seasons, Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx (Red Sox 1939-1942)
2 seasons, Al Kaline and Eddie Mathews (Tigers, 1967-1968)
2 seasons, Babe Ruth and Tris Speaker (Red Sox, 1914-1915)
2 seasons, Carl Yastrzemski and Wade Boggs (Red Sox, 1982-1983)
1 season, Joe Morgan and Eddie Mathews (Astros, 1967)
1 season, Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt (Phillies, 1983)
1 season, Rickey Henderson and Alex Rodriguez (Mariners, 2000)
1 Season, Rickey Henderson and Joe Morgan (Athletics, 1984)
1 season, Rogers Hornsby and Mel Ott (Giants, 1927)

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Mathews was the starting third baseman in one or more World Series games for both the World Champion Milwaukee Braves and the World Champion Detroit Tigers.  He and Mike Lowell are the only third basemen to start a World Series game for World Championship-winning teams from both the AL and NL.

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Observations regarding the 1930 round of voting:

–No player from the birth year class of 1930 received more than a single vote.

–None of the 13 men on the holdover list fell below the 10% vote threshold.

–With Mathews winning induction from the holdover list, with no other holdovers dropping off and with no one from the 1930 birth year group earning a second ballot appearance, the holdover list for next time is at 12, a rather low level — but we have a redemption round about to start.

–Ron Santo, Sandy Koufax, Ernie Banks and Juan Marichal all earned a bonus year of guaranteed  ballot eligibility to add to their stash.  Koufax is now tied with Lou Whitaker for the largest collection of stored ballot eligibility; they each now have six rounds on the ballot guaranteed.   Santo, Banks and Marichal each had come into this round with two rounds of eligibility assured, and each leaves this round with three.  The six holdover guys who were on the bubble coming into this week remain on the bubble: McCovey, Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Grich, Lofton and Sandberg.

    
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The full spreadsheet showing this round’s vote tally is here: COG 1930 Vote Tally.

The vote summary for recent Circle of Greats voting rounds is here: COG Vote Summary 2 .  An archive with fuller details of the 1968 through 1939 rounds is here: COG 1968-1939 Vote Summary .  In both cases, raw vote totals for each past round appears on Sheet 1 and the percentage totals for each past round appears on Sheet 2.

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A spreadsheet listing the full membership to date of the Circle of Greats is here: Circle of Greats Inducted Players . You can also now find that same link any time by clicking on “Circle of Greats” at the top of the High Heats Stats home page.

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