Posted by Andy on October 19, 2010
Willie Stargell is already in the Hall of Fame, but that doesn't mean we can't debate his credentials.
Stargell played his entire career for the Pittsburgh Pirates and helped them win two World Series (1971, 1979). He had a monster year in 1973, leading baseball in doubles, homers, RBI, SLG, and OPS. He shared the 1979 NL MVP award with Keith Hernandez and had 3 other top-3 finishes.
He was a 7-time All-Star and winner of numerous other awards, including the 1974 Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente Awards, the 1978 Hutch Award, and the 1979 Babe Ruth award. In 1979, in addition to the regular-season MVP, he was the NLCS and World Series MVP as well.
Let's take a look at his career, discuss, and vote.
For Willie Stargell in the Hall of Fame:
- Firstly, we can't ignore the fact that he was already voted in. Although the voting process is far from perfect, the fact that he did get enough votes to be elected must count for something.
- From 1971 to 1973, Stargell had a very high peak. He led MLB in HR:
Rk Player HR Age G 1 Willie Stargell 125 31-33 427 2 Hank Aaron 121 37-39 388 3 Bobby Bonds 98 25-27 468 4 Lee May 96 28-30 443 5 Johnny Bench 92 23-25 448 6 Reggie Jackson 89 25-27 436 7 Nate Colbert 87 25-27 452 8 Billy Williams 85 33-35 463 9 Earl Williams 83 22-24 428 10 Bobby Murcer 80 25-27 459
Rk Player RBI Age G 1 Willie Stargell 356 31-33 427 2 Lee May 301 28-30 443 3 Billy Williams 301 33-35 463 4 Hank Aaron 291 37-39 388 5 Johnny Bench 290 23-25 448 6 Joe Torre 287 30-32 451 7 Bobby Murcer 285 25-27 459 8 Tony Perez 282 29-31 445 9 Bobby Bonds 278 25-27 468 10 Nate Colbert 275 25-27 452
He was also first in SLG over that period.
- His WAR Batting is 49th among players since 1901 and in the same neighborhood as Wade Boggs, George Brett, Ken Griffey, Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and Dave Winfield.
- Pops was money in the 1979 post-season, part of 2 championship teams, and 6 playoff teams overall (back when only the division winner made the playoffs...) He's the only guy prior to 1993 to homer in 5 different post-season games in the same season. That's pre-steroids and pre-Wild Card era with extra playoff games each season.
- Stargell played in a low-offense era, primarily, and his neutralized batting stats reflect that, putting him at 507 HR and 1699 RBI in his career, along with a .295 BA.
Against Willie Stargell in the Hall of Fame:
- Stargell's peak was high but short. His Black Ink and Gray Ink (measures of how often a player led his league or was among league leaders in major statistical categories) are not bad but are below average for Hall of Famers. Similarly, his HOF Monitor of 44 is a bit below average. Keep in mind that Stargell played before the Wild Card era, back when these numbers meant a little bit more. Most of his black ink came in the 1973 season; he barely led the league in anything in all the rest of the years of his career.
- For all his post-season success, he also had some big failures, such as the 1971 NLCS when he went hitless in 17 plate appearances across the 4 games and the 1972 NLCS when he managed just 1 hit in 5 games. His overall post-season batting average was .278, close to his career number, so this is kind of a wash.
- By pretty much all measures, he was not a good fielder (although I expect some to argue this.)
- Stargell's career WAR of 57.50 is nothing to sneeze at and puts him ahead of a bunch of other HOFers, but also puts him right in the neighborhood of Jeff Kent, Ken Boyer, Will Clark, Darrell Evans, and Bobby Bonds. To me, this seems about right in terms of what he achieved as a player (with the exception of the 2 WS wins, which is definitely special.)