*** 1981 was the year Rickey or Dewey (/ WAR) deserved the MVP, but there was this strike, you see. Voters could see that offensive numbers looked too low to deserve MVP votes, but didn’t see the same dropoff in Fingers since relievers and saves were relatively new. If Dewey had gotten the MVP WAR says he deserved that year, might he have gotten into the HOF as well? Thus, if we want to fix the HOF, we first have to educate MVP voters. Perhaps Trout might win one next year; with Bourjos gone, he’ll be a full time center fielder and leadoff hitter again, and if Pujols, Hamilton, and Freese can drive him in enough… but I digress. Generalists (players with no holes) just don’t compare to guys with gaudy stats but glaring weaknesses, because the positives almost always outweigh the negatives.
8. Don Mattingly: Mattingly case is simply one of "what might have been." He was a remarkable player during his prime, but back injuries hit him in his late 20s, and after that he just didn't have the power bat you want in a first baseman, and he retired at 34. During his first six seasons as a regular, Mattingly hit .327/.372/.530 with an annual average of 27 homers, 114 RBIs, 203 hits and -- get this -- 34 strikeouts. He won five Gold Gloves during those years, won one MVP award and finished in the top 10 of the voting three other times. He had WAR in those seasons, but just the rest of this career.
Dwight Evans snuck up on greatness so quietly that many people missed his arrival at that destination. After being overshadowed on the star-studded 1970s Red Sox, Evans bloomed in the 1980s, growing a magnificent Selleckian mustache and junking his upright batting stance for a devout and precarious-looking Lau/Hriniak prostration . The new approach worked wonders for Evans, whose hitting rose to the level of his sublime cannon-armed fielding. In all, he won eight Gold Gloves and authored career hitting numbers equal to those of many already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. When he was in his strange crouch with the game on the line I chanted his nickname, Dewey, and believed.