You Are Here > Baseball-Reference.com > Blog >

SITE NEWS: We are moving all of our site and company news into a single blog for Sports-Reference.com. We'll tag all B-R content, so you can quickly and easily find the content you want.

Also, our existing B-R blog rss feed will be redirected to the new site's feed.

Baseball-Reference.com ┬╗ Sports Reference

For more from Andy and the gang, check out their new site High Heat Stats.

Card of the Week: 1983 Topps #451 Ted Simmons Super Veteran (plus a bonus HOF poll)

Posted by Andy on July 28, 2010

(click images for larger versions)

This is our first entry from 1983 although I'm going to pretend it's not. This was a very good year for baseball cards and each of the big three sets deserves a little love. I picked this card because of its subject, Ted Simmons, and because it is a cool Super Veteran card.

Topps included a 35-card subset in their regular 792-card set featuring veteran players in a recent photo and a photo from the past. The old photo was always shown in black-and-white. The Simmons card is a great example, in particular because although he played for the Cardinals in the late 1960s, Simmons didn't get his first Topps card until 1971. Their choice to use a photo from 1968 was inspired.

You can view the entire Super Veterans subset here at 30-Year Old Cardboard.

Be sure to check out the back of the card, too, posted below. Great stuff.

I chose Simmons so I could sneak in a discussion about his Hall of Fame candidacy. He appeared on the ballot in 1994, got 3.7% of the vote, and therefore was dropped from consideration. Many folks feel that he is one of the top catchers of the last 40 years and deserves more votes.

Let's take a very quick look:

  • One of just 130 players since 1901 with at least 9,000 plate appearances
  • Of those 130, only 4 were catchers and Simmons and Carlton Fisk are tied with the best career OPS+
  • From 1975-1980, Simmons was tied for 12th in best OPS+ among players with at least 3,000 plate appearances. The guys he was tied with? Joe Morgan and Dave Winfield. Uh huh.
  • MVP votes in 7 different seasons and an 8-time All-Star
  • A bunch of career rankings in the top 100: hits (96th), doubles (67th), total bases (100th), RBI (71st), ┬áintentional walks (18th), WPA (92nd).
  • Take a second look at his ranking in intentional walks--18th all-time. This is not a guy who batted 8th in front of pitchers--he hit in the middle of the order and was a feared hitter.

So here's a poll for hos HOF candidacy:


This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 at 7:00 am and is filed under Card of the Week. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

43 Responses to “Card of the Week: 1983 Topps #451 Ted Simmons Super Veteran (plus a bonus HOF poll)”

  1. I looked at Gary Carter's stats and Simmons has more hits and RBIs. Plus his average is higher. No gold gloves, but seems to be a very good catcher... at least as good as Carter.

  2. Simmons, while playing, had a rep as being a great hitter and a poor fielder. I was just a young teenager in the mid 70's, but I don't remember him being THAT bad a defensive catcher. And he could hit. His career overlaps quite a bit with Johnny Bench, so he was never going to be the best catcher in the NL. But he made a bunch of All Star teams, and continued to catch after the Card's got Joe Torre, another AS catcher. I don't buy Simmons as "as good" as Carter, or Fisk for that matter. But either Simmons or Torre is the best catcher NOT in the HOF. I think Torre was the better player, but when both were with the Cards, Torre's time as a catcher ended and Simmons remained behind the dish. So its hard to call Torre a career catcher. I would put Simmons in the Hall.

  3. The only knock on Simmons is that he was never the best catcher in baseball, but he was in the top 2 or 3 most of his career.

  4. BTW, this is a GREAT card and the whole set is a blast. Nice pick!

  5. Topps was big on the subsets every once in a while - like the MVP's in 1961 and 1975, the All-Time leaders in 1973, All-time Team in 1976, and the Active Leaders in 1984 (which I believe you have shown in a previous post).

    I remember not really being interested in the Super Veterans set back in 1983, but I should go back and check out the old photos - the Black and white probably did not inspire me at the time.

    I am surprised, however, that you did not choose Ted's regular issue card, because of the 2 image fronts (that you talked about previously in these posts). For most of the cards there is a nice action photo for the main picture, and a close-up photo in one of the lower corners (this feature was also used in 1984). The design is very nice on these cards, although it is still during the time when Topps inexplicably does not use the All-Rookie Team trophys. It is my favorite design of the 80's - followed closely by 1988 and 1984.

    Here is Ted's 1983 Topps card - hopefully we will see him get into the Hall soon.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/1983-Topps-450-Ted-Simmons-Brewers-MINT-/280502727051?cmd=ViewItem&pt=US_Baseball&hash=item414f43f18b

  6. Matt Young Says:

    I think Simmons should go in (catchers are undervalued IMO), but I'll admit that I agree with Rico Petrocelli's statement from a few days ago that Simmons was never seen as the best of the best in his day. I remember Simmons fairly well, and I'd agree with that. It's sort of like Whitaker being remembered as a platoon player, which he was for a few years --even in his best days he would sit against certain lefties. I think Simmons is hurt by hanging on a bit too long, and he is largely looked at as the 4th best of that time period behind Bench, Fisk, and Carter. Also, Whitey shipped him out to replace him with Darrel Porter. Whitey didn't like Simmons b/c he wouldn't follow his orders like Porter did--I think this also hurts Simmons.

  7. Simmons' eight year peak was extremely comparable to Johnny Bench's. The thing that I feel hurts his changes on getting into the hall are the teams he played for. He only played on two postseason squads (the Brewers in 1981 and 1982), and that is one of the knocks that seems to be against him. Statistically, there is no reason for his exclusion.

  8. I think this comes down to whether we look at individual positions or not. Would we take the 12th best C over the 35th best OF even if the OF's numbers were better? Somewhat of a philosophical question, I suppose.

    For me, I see a guy who provided above-average offense from the Catcher spot for 20 years, where I have to assume he was at least competent defensively to have remained. He also had a pretty impressive peak. I'd vote yes.

  9. As for Simmons, he did do a lot of DH/1B/3B at the end of his career for 5 years. He also caught 1770 games which is in the top 5-10. He's hurt a bit for doing a few too many years as a DH/1B/3B guy.

  10. he also played outfield those last 5 years...and during this time playing these positions he was only a part-timer. As for games caught, 1771 ranks 14th, which i think is a strong argument for his induction. I agree he should go in, but those last 5 years, Whitey shipping him out, and being ranked behind Bench, Fisk and Carter hurt him. He'd be a great Veterans committee pick!

  11. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    I'm trying to figure out how it is that he was this good, and only managed to end up with 50 WAR, where a normal strong hall candidate will have 60 or better.

    What are we missing, or what is the WAR formula missing? It looks like the crux of the decision comes down to fielding. Looking at the three guys who made the hall from his era, Fisk was above average in fielding runs and played another 4 years at his 117 OPS+, Bench and Carter got a lot of WAR credit from their fielding. Simmons is somewhat below average by this metric.

    So the question is -- what is the fielding metric for Catchers and how reliable is it? If it's a good measure of their defensive ability, then looking at WAR totals suggests the voters made pretty solid choices. Simmons was a great player who falls a bit short, and the other three guys clearly deserve it. (well dropping him on the first ballot seems abrupt -- most 50 WAR guys get a bit of play at least).

    OTOH, if it's not considering the value of the catcher to the pitcher or some other very important part of a catcher's job, then it's not as useful for catchers as for other positions, and we have to think about whether accounting for that would increase or decrease his overall contribution.

  12. Catchers seem a little undervalued even by the WAR. The other 3 were clear choices, but a WAR of 50 for a catcher is better than one would think. Compare him to the other Catchers in the Hall and I'm pretty sure he's solidly in the mix and not at the bottom. I think there are a few others in the Hall not even on this list below? Help me out here ? Also, his Raw Numbers are all way up there. Even the guys below him I really don't have a problem with as HoFers. Simmons is a borderliner but I think he'd be a good Veterans Committee pick.

    * =Hall

    WAR WAR/yr
    1 C Bench, Johnny 71.3 *
    2 C Fisk, Carlton 67.3 *
    3 C Rodriguez, Ivan 67.1 (will be Hall likely barring steroids))
    4 C Carter, Gary 66.3 *
    5 C Berra, Yogi 61.9*
    6 C Piazza, Mike 59.1 (will be Hall)
    7 C Torre, Joe 55.6 (only 900 games caught --too few games at catcher)
    8 C Dickey, Bill 54.8 *
    9 C Ewing, Buck 51.8 *
    10 C Cochrane, Mickey 51.2 *
    11 C Simmons, Ted 50.4
    12 C Hartnett, Gabby 50.3 *
    13 C Tenace, Gene 48.7 (not a "career" catcher either caught 900 games)
    14 C Posada, Jorge 46.1 (borderliner)
    15 C Schang, Wally 43.8
    16 C Munson, Thurman 43.4
    17 C Freehan, Bill 43.3
    18 C Bresnahan, Roger 41.6 *
    19 C Porter, Darrell 40.6
    20 C Lombardi, Ernie 39.0 *
    21 C Bennett, Charlie 38.0
    22 C Kendall, Jason 38.0
    23 C Campanella, Roy 36.0 *(classic peak guy)
    24 C Parrish, Lance 35.7
    25 C Sundberg, Jim 35.1

  13. I think Simmons' time spent at other positions is being a bit overstated.

    He played:
    1565 innings at 1B
    287 innings in LF
    195 innings at 3B
    23 innings in RF

    That works out to (roughly) 173 full games at 1B, 31 in LF, 22 at 3B, and 3 in RF, for a total of 229 games in the field at positions other than C. He also DHed in 280 games for a total of 500 games played a position outside of catcher. This represents less than 1/5 of his career games and a good amount of these, particularly at 1B, were mixed in throughout his career, which is pretty standard for a C.

    He didn't add too much benefit to his numbers in those last few years anyway. The implication that his evaluation as a Catcher is greatly impacted by his time spent at other positions is a bit of an overstatement. If he stopped playing when he could no longer catch regularly, he might look even better on paper. And, for me, a few hanger on years that maybe shouldn't have happened shouldn't be held against a guy.

  14. #11 - Mike.
    I forget where I read it, but there was a great article on WAR recently and it showed two different sources giving different values for WAR this season for the Mets Angel Pagan. The difference was mainly in the fielding part of WAR. I have a very hard time relying too much on a formula that is not standardized. You raise a great question on how reliable is the fielding metric for catchers, and I might add, it is being applied retroactively for Simmons. Maybe a better way of looking at it is catcher's era. I have no idea how to figure it, but there are two years were Simmons seemed to split the catching chores. 1970, with a then 29 year old Joe Torre. Simmons had more passed balls, but threw out a higher percentage of base stealers. The other year was 1976, were Joe Ferguson caught 48 games. Ferguson threw out a higher percentage of base stealers, but Simmons did clock in at 44% that year, which matched his career high. He also clocked in his highest Total Zone total Fielding runs above average with 6 that year, one year after posting his career worst -10.

    My guess is that Simmons was a good enough fielder to keep his above average bat in the lineup.

  15. I was just saying it hurts him that for the last 5 years of his career he DH 280 games and played other positions for 229 games....and he was a part-timer during this time. I think he should go in, and perhaps the last 5 years are being held against him too much.

  16. #12 Matt Y. Nice list. I think the only two HOF catchers you missed are two Vet's committee picks.

    Ray Schalk 22.6 WAR
    Rick Ferrell 22.9

  17. I think there's a an asymptote for compilers where it's OK to hang on for 2 years at below-average, but once you hang on for 3,4,5 years at below -average, and many times well below average, it hurts you.

  18. This discussion about Simmons' final years is one of the reasons why I think many current players are overrated in terms of likelihood of making the HOF. It's not hard to imagine Posada hanging on the way that Simmons did. Such players have a lot of value beyond the boxscores. Nevertheless, one could expect Posada's final numbers to be hurt tremendously (just as Simmons' were) if he hangs on for 3-5 years past his prime. His rate stats will all go down as would his WAR total. This is true, of course, of virtually all players in the sense that their final seasons are below their own career averages, so evaluating 80% of the way through a career (such as Vlad Guerrero or Johnny Damon) will almost certainly result in overrating, except when one looks only at career totals such as HR or hits.

  19. Thanks @16. I also think Munson would be a good Vet pick given he played 11 years and put up an impressive 43.4 WAR, ROY, 1 MVP, and 2 championships. He was just past his peak but I think he would have played another 2-4 years adding 5-12 points to his WAR.

  20. Definitely true Andy! Simmons lost 2.8 WAR points over those last 5 years. Not good! Usually players can tread water with the WAR. If I was Posada I'd play 2 more years at DH/Catcher and retire somewhere in perhaps the 51-53 WAR range --assuming he can put up a WAR of at least 2 for the next 2 years. It'll be a balance b/w this and hitting a milestone or two like 300 homers and 1000 runs. As long as you can stay near average (1-2 WAR) it's OK to compile for 2-3 years, but if you put up a WAR 0 for 3,4,5 years your done as a borderliner. The last taste will be too hard to overcome. With that said, I think Simmons would be a good Vet pick.

  21. The difference b/w Posada and Simmons, I see there being no chance of the Yankees letting him hang on as a less than 0 WAR player and he actually should have a bit better production at tail end of career given he didn't start until 28 years old. Again, Posada, two more years and that's basically it as long as you can be a 1-2 WAR player. :-) He's stubborn, and out of all the Yankees, I can see him stupidly going somewhere else for a year to hit a milestone.

  22. "What are we missing, or what is the WAR formula missing? "

    As Matt's list shows, it is very high to compile big career WAR totals as a catcher, because the position creates too much wear and tear, and catchers cannot keep up their value as well as players at other positions. The solution then is not to expect 60+ WAR out of a catcher, or you would barely have any catchers in the HOF. You should expect 40-45 WAR from a full time catcher for the HOF (Torre/Tenace as only partial catchers would need to be well in the 50s). Simmons is pretty clearly the best catcher not in the hall and better than enough guys already in the hall that he deserves to be in too.

  23. As Matt's list shows, it is very hard to compile big career WAR totals as a catcher,

  24. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    The 70's were the golden age of catchers, nice list #12

  25. @19

    I agree with you about Munson, although he was pretty much done as a catcher, I have often thought that (had he not died) he would probably moved to 1B as the bridge to Mattingly. If you look at the 1B the Yanks used from 1980 (after trading Chambliss) to 1984 (Mattingly's first full season), they had some guys that weren't exactly the franchise First baseman a team might want (Mayberry, Griffey, Revering

    I am actually happy to see his WAR value put him so high on a list of all catchers.

  26. To make list complete:

    Catchers seem a little undervalued even by the WAR. The other 3 were clear choices, but a WAR of 50 for a catcher is better than one would think. Compare him to the other Catchers in the Hall and I'm pretty sure he's solidly in the mix and not at the bottom. I think there are a few others in the Hall not even on this list below? Help me out here ? Also, his Raw Numbers are all way up there. Even the guys below him I really don't have a problem with as HoFers. Simmons is a borderliner but I think he'd be a good Veterans Committee pick.

    * =Hall

    WAR WAR/yr
    1 C Bench, Johnny 71.3 *
    2 C Fisk, Carlton 67.3 *
    3 C Rodriguez, Ivan 67.1 (will be Hall likely barring steroids))
    4 C Carter, Gary 66.3 *
    5 C Berra, Yogi 61.9*
    6 C Piazza, Mike 59.1 (will be Hall)
    7 C Torre, Joe 55.6 (only 900 games caught --too few games at catcher)
    8 C Dickey, Bill 54.8 *
    9 C Ewing, Buck 51.8 *
    10 C Cochrane, Mickey 51.2 *
    11 C Simmons, Ted 50.4
    12 C Hartnett, Gabby 50.3 *
    13 C Tenace, Gene 48.7 (not a "career" catcher either caught 900 games)
    14 C Posada, Jorge 46.1 (borderliner)
    15 C Schang, Wally 43.8
    16 C Munson, Thurman 43.4
    17 C Freehan, Bill 43.3
    18 C Bresnahan, Roger 41.6 *
    19 C Porter, Darrell 40.6
    20 C Lombardi, Ernie 39.0 *
    21 C Bennett, Charlie 38.0
    22 C Kendall, Jason 38.0
    23 C Campanella, Roy 36.0 *(classic peak guy)
    24 C Parrish, Lance 35.7
    25 C Sundberg, Jim 35.1

    Ray Schalk 22.6 *
    Rick Ferrell 22.9 *

    If Simmons retired 5 years earlier his WAR would have been 53.2 and in 9th place. He really didn't add any value at all the last 5 years and only hit one milestone even remotely worth hanging around for --his 1000 run. If anything, a decent midpoint would have been to retire after the 85 season and his 1000th run and WAR still at 51. Perception would have been better.

  27. to continue my list of Yankee 1B (1980-83) from #25 above (sorry, I hit enter by mistake)

    Mayberry, Griffey, Revering, Watson, D.Collins, Balboni-although he was Ok with Royals).

    I think Munson moving to first base for his age 34-37 years is probably what the Yanks would have done (if he was not traded). I am not sure how much that would have helped/hurt his HOF chances, but it probably would have protected his chances at having positive contributions with the bat.

  28. David in Toledo Says:

    Simmons and Joe Torre (both part-time catchers) are each credited with 315 (or thereabouts, it appears) career shares. Yogi Berra (who got some of his as an outfielder) is highest with 373. No eligible catcher with 264 is not in the Hall EXCEPT Simmons and Torre. Of the 13 catchers in the Hall, 5 rank above Simmons and Torre in win shares, and 8 rank below. If you credit this metric, there's your case.

    300 career win shares as a catcher is a presumption line for my thinking, and if you knock off some points for DHing, Simmons is still around the line (and way ahead of Schalk, Ferrell, Lombardi, Bresnahan, Ewing). To make sure he's over the line, I'd give Simmons some credit for his time (cut short by illness) after playing, as a baseball executive. It's beyond ridiculous that Torre isn't in the Hall for his combined careers as player and as manager.

  29. Matt Young Says:

    I wouldn't consider Simmons a part time catcher. Simmons caught 1771 and Torre caught 900. A big difference. Torre will go in once he retires. No worries there.

  30. Matt Young Says:

    In fact, there are 5 on the above list that didn't catch at least 1000 games. Ewing only caught 636, and Bennett, Breshnahan, Torre, and Tenace caught around 900-950 games. Munson was next at just under 1300 with 1278 --all the others topped at least 1400 with Simmons ranking 14th all time at 1771.

  31. Matt Young Says:

    Campanella was at 1183 as well.

  32. In 1970, when Simmons split the catching duties with Torre, he was also fulfilling his military service obligation. He was not a "part-time" catcher during his Cardinal career. Look at his stats for the ten consecutive seasons between 1971-1980, and compare/contrast them with any other catcher. He's Hall-of-Fame worthy.

  33. Matt Young Says:

    He also caught anywhere from 75-121 games his first 3 years in Milwaukee.

  34. masternachos Says:

    Andy, I'm curious: Did you happen to choose Simmons (and give him a HOF poll) because you heard about the VC changes the other day? According to my 'calculations,' the best players to be on the ballot this winter are Ron Guidry and: Ted Simmons (who is eligible for the VC for the first time this year).
    Of course, which ballot (Expansion, Golden Era, or Pre-Integration) a player is on is based upon 'dominance', so I am not sure if some other greats will be on there, too (Darrell Evans for instance).

  35. I think Simmons should be in the Hall, he was definitely overshadowed by Johnny Bench and Gary Carter, but he had a great career. Simmons' numbers with the Braves are just terrible, but if he could have somehow hung around to reach some more milestones, like 1,400 RBI, 250 HRs, 2,500 hits, would that have helped his case for the Hall?

  36. Masternachos, I picked Simmons because of all the talk about him that came up on Steve's thread about Posada and 1000 RBI for catchers.

    I saw that the VC rules have been changed but haven't even read it in detail yet.

  37. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    I think you guys have convinced me that Simmons should be a yes (I voted maybe). I should have looked at that list of catchers career WAR again (somebody linked it as part of the position players series a couple months back) before voting.

    It seems I made the same sort of mistake that the voters made with Simmons. Not accounting for the shortness of most catcher's careers, and thus failing to properly understand what it means that that Bench, Fisk and Carter were not just ordinary hall of famers, but the best ever at their position. It means guys like Simmons belong in. If I revote will it change my vote, add a new vote or do nothing?

    On another note, I don't like your third category on this ballot. Even if I thought Simmons would be a complete travesty to induct, I would hesitate to register a vote that suggests the voters denying his candidacy till now was all the evidence I needed. I know you are basically trying to get "in" "borderline" and "out" as categories, but I'm just saying. the voters are teh dumm! Ok not really always, but often enough.

  38. Here's a re-post of what I put on the Vlad thread:

    Catching is such a brutal position that it really needs to be looked at separately. And then it was even more brutal in early days of the game because the lack of protection available.

    I think Catching also needs to be looked at with peak performance because of the limited careers of catchers, especially pre-60's.

    Campanella also lost time in the majors because of segregation. He wasn't a full time player until he was 27 years old so that has to factor in the process.

    Simmons and Torre to me should have been HOF years ago. Even a 54 WAR for Torre at 1b/3b is pretty damn good and then you factor that 40% of his career was a catcher...should be a no-brainer. Simmons got hurt by perception because he spent all those years as a fat over the hill DH/1B in Milwaukee/Atlanta.

    Schalk and Ferrell are two of the worst mistakes/selections in the HOF. That would be like electing Bob Boone.

    Lombardi was a mistake, kind of overrated and feasted on ww2 era pitching.

    I don't really have a problem with Bresnahan when you factor the era he played (1897-1915). It just must have been a brutal job. It seems like he was very good/great player during his peak, 31WAR best 7 seasons.

    Freehan is one of most underrated players of the last 50 years. Munson's career was cut short because of his death which I'm pretty sure if it didn't happen, would have been elected to the HOF.

    Tenace is also one of the most underrated players of the last 50 years but only spent about 50% of his career at catcher, so I don't think he makes it.

    Schang has good career value but was never a great player in his peak, only 24.9WAR best 7 seasons. Interesting character though, played mostly at catcher for 19 seasons before the ww2.

    Porter was a very underrated player. One of the all time bad trades was when the Brewers traded him to K.C.. Porter also doesn't get enough credit for the '77-80 Royals.

    Cocharane, Carter, Bresnahan, Dickey, Piazza score higher when you factor in peak, but essentially the same list overall. Schang drops from borderline status when you factor peak.

  39. It also seems that the writers/veterans have done a bad job in understanding the demands of catching and voting for catchers in general.

    Also there seems to be a tremendous HOF in-balance in the list that Matt Y. posted @26.

    There are 13 Catchers in the HOF, 10 started there career pre-1961 and only 3 have been elected since 1961. It seems like the median HOF catcher pre1961 is about 45 WAR, and the Median HOF catcher post1961 is 65WAR. This seems like a huge disparity. The only other position with this type of HOF standard disparity that I can think of is 3b and maybe 2b or CF to a lesser degree. Also it just doesn't make sense logically.

    They never elected a catcher who played the bulk/prime of his career in the 60's. This seems odd to me and the notable omissions are Torre and Freehan. I'm pretty sure it's the only position not represented in the HOF from the 60's.

    And a point I brought up on the Vlad thread is that the writers haven't expanded the HOF candidates even though the league has expanded by 14 teams since pre-1961. That would mean there's 14 extra catchers that you have today that you didn't have in pre-expansion times. So it's logical that you would probably have 2 more HOF candidates at Catcher.

    Simmons got screwed basically because of this pre-expansion era mindset. Johnny Bench was the best National League catcher of the 70's and Fisk was the best from the American league so that's it. Simmons was the second best N.L. catcher so he doesn't get in. And the same kind of thinking hurts Munson to a degree.

    IMO Torre, Simmons, Munson & Freehan should all be in the HOF.

  40. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    It will be interesting to see what happens with Joe Mauer. He's on track to have the #1 catcher resume if he can stay a catcher with the same kind of numbers for another 4-5 years and then put in a few more average years as an platoon catcher or at 1B/DH. If he lasts like pudge (2300 games caught, holy [ed: feces]), he could blow everybody else out of the water, but that's obviously pretty unlikely.

  41. Great point but let's watch the language please.

  42. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Family site?

    I don't write blue, but seemed like an appropriate there. It's in the language, as far as I'm concerned, and I expect any 6 year old to know and use it. But I'll respect the site conventions.

  43. FWIW I agree with you but those are the guidelines I have been given.