Tuesday, June 13, 2006

How 'Bout That Hondo

Our friends at Baseball Primer's Hall of Merit project have been tackling the Hall of Fame elections one year at a time, using what we know now to try and put all players in context -- including Negro Leaguers and players who played before the Major Leagues were up and running as we know them. It's been fun watching them grind it out year to year, making strong, passionate cases for unheralded players from years past.

Well, now they're in the 1970s, and they're considering Frank Howard, the real Capitol Punisher. It's an interesting discussion that's worth a quick skim. There's some valuable information about him, especially posts 36 and 38, which try to explain possible reasons why his career had that strange dip in the middle of it. (It also has the usual "Frank's an amazing person" anecdotes, which, if it's coming from that number-loving set, is a pretty strong indication of how wonderful a person he must be.

Frank was an elite power hitter who had the misfortune of playing in the greatest pitcher's eras in the game's history. Compounding that, he played, for the first half of his career, in the league's best pitcher's park, Dodgers Stadium. His performance was even better than his already gaudy stats indicate.

One of the posters there translated his statistics from his 1968 season. 1968 is known as the year of the pitcher, the absolute nadir of offense. That's why Bob Gibson set the ERA record, with an ungodly 1.12 and the year that Carl Yastrzemski led the league in batting with a .301 batting average. Somehow, despite all this, Hondo hit .274/ .338/ .552 with 44 homers. Amazing.

Translated into today's context, that's roughly a .303/ .369/ .680 performance. To put that into context, Alfonso Soriano's batting .298/ .361/ .607. Hondo has 70 points of slugging on Soriano, and we're dropping our jaws everytime Soriano crushes one! Better than Soriano? Is that possible?

He's not in the Hall of Fame, but these guys seem to think that he's got a decent case in their reconstituted version. I'm pulling for him.


  • It's been my sincere hope that the return of MLB to Washington will, at the very least, get the HoF Veterans' Committee thinking again about some of those borderline players ("many of whom are enshrined" on that baggie in RF) who toiled for the AL Nats. Often lost under the very broad brushstrokes of "first in war, first in peace..." is the fact that a lot of decent players wore the caps with the "W"s on them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/14/2006 10:53 AM  

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