The Dodgers played in the World Series four times from 1974 through 1981, but they don’t have a position player representing that era in the Hall of Fame.
That could change when the Hall of Fame’s Modern Baseball Era Committee considers Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey, who has the strongest case to be in Cooperstown. The committee covers players from 1970 through 1987 and meets Sunday with the results announced that evening at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.
Garvey played in five World Series, four with the Dodgers and one with the Padres in 1984, the October they lost to the Detroit Tigers. He hit .338 with 11 postseason home runs. His home run against the Cubs’ Lee Smith in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series was one of San Diego’s most memorable sports moments.
Garvey was known for sterling defense at first base and finished with 2,599 hits and a .294 career average. He was a 10-time All-Star. Garvey was on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot for 15 years and his highest percentage was 42 percent. Garvey was the 1974 NL MVP. He finished second another time.
The committee, one of four that considers various eras on a rotating basis, is made of 16 members, consisting of former players, club executives, Hall of Fame players and baseball writers.
A player needs 12 of 16 votes to be enshrined. The Hall’s executive committee determines who is on the committee.
Garvey has been considered four other times by the committee.
The other nine on the ballot include Dwight Evans, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Marvin Miller, Thurman Munson, Dave Parker, Dale Murphy, Ted Simmons and Lou Whitaker.
Miller is the only non-player on the list. He was the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 through 1982 and is the leader that negotiated the right for players to have free agency after six years.
Miller, who died in 2012 at 95, has been on the ballot seven times without getting in. He’s controversial because he’s the one that strengthened the players’ union to the point where it had power in contract negotiations.
Does the Hall of Fame work to prevent Miller’s induction by stacking the voting roster with owners and front office executives that vote to keep Miller out of Cooperstown?
Like Garvey, Parker, a seven-time All-Star who played most of his career with Pittsburgh, has a strong case for Cooperstown. He finished his career with 2,712 hits, 339 home runs and 1,493 RBIs. He was third in the National League MVP in 1978 and won the award after winning the NL batting title at .334 with 30 home runs and 117 RBI. His best Baseball Writers’ Association of America total was 24.8 percent.
Evans, a right fielder, is the only player with a local connection, and that’s thin at best. Evan played 20 seasons, 19 with the Red Sox and one, in 1991, with the Orioles, the year he hit six home runs in his final big league season.
Evans was known for his outfield defense and his productive on-base performance, which wasn’t appreciated as much during his time as it is today. He won eight Gold Gloves and was a rangy outfielder long before analytics told players where to play.
His most famous catch game came in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series when he robbed Cincinnati’s Joe Morgan of a potential game-winning 11th-inning home run in Fenway Park.
Evans was a three-time All-Star. He also led the American League in OPS twice, walks three times and on-base percentage once. He finished with 2,446 hits and 385 home runs. He hit .300 with three home runs combined in two World Series, 1975 and 1986, losing to the Reds and Mets.
The two catchers under consideration are the Yankees’ Munson and Simmons, who played 21 seasons for St. Louis, Milwaukee and Atlanta. Simmons finished a vote shot of qualifying for the Hall the last time the veterans’ committee considered him.
Simmons, who had 3.7 percent of the BBWAA vote in 1994, was known as an offensive catcher that played in the shadow of Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench and Gary Carter, all three Hall of Famers. Simmons’ career total for RBIs was 1,389, second all-time among catchers to Hall of Famer Yogi Berra (1,430). Simmons’ 483 doubles are second all-time to Hall of Famer Iván Rodríguez (572).
Munson, a Yankees catcher for three consecutive World Series from 1976-78, played 11 seasons in the majors before he was killed in an airplane accident in 1979. He was a .292 career hitter, eight-time All-Star and was the AL MVP in 1976. He never received more than 9 percent of the BBWAA vote.
Munson was known for his hard-nose defense. He won three Gold Gloves and his offense was huge in the postseason. The bigger the stage, the better he hit. He hit .373 with a .909 OPS in three World Series for the Yankees.
Like Simmons, Munson played in the shadows of Hall of Fame catchers, and Munson’s production started to dip in the two years before his death. His career statistics compare to Detroit’s Bill Freeman and another Yankee, Elston Howard, neither of whom are in Cooperstown.
For John, the first pitcher to have the ligament replacement elbow surgery that was eventually named Tommy John surgery, the question the committee will be looking at for a fourth time around: Was John a dominant pitcher or someone who hung around for 26 seasons to compile 288 wins and a 3.34 ERA.
John finished second in Cy Young voting, once in each league. He finished behind Philadelphia’s Steve Carlton in 1977 in the NL voting and second in the 1979 American League voting to Baltimore’s Mike Flanagan.
John played in the World Series three times, twice for the Dodgers and once for the Yankees.
The Era Committees have elected just one pitcher since 2010 and that was Jack Morris.
Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell are the only players from the 1984 Tigers’ World Series title team, considered one of the best teams of all-time. The Modern Baseball Era committee could make second baseman Whitaker a third.
“Lou is deserving and should be in the Hall of Fame,’’ Trammell says.
Whitaker got 2.1 percent of the BBWAA vote 2001. The 1984 Tigers are defined in part by the Trammell-Whitaker double-play combination, which is the longest running combo in history, going from 1978 through 1991 with the Tigers.
Should that help Whitaker?
Whitaker had 2,369 career hits. He was a five-time All-Star and won three Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers. He never finished in the top five in AL MVP voting.
Whitaker played 2,308 games at second base, fourth most behind Hall of Famers Eddie Collins, Joe Morgan and Roberto Alomar.
Mattingly and Murphy each had stellar careers, just not long enough.
Mattingly played 14 seasons and if he were to be judged on his first six or seven seasons, he’d be a Hall of Famer. He won the 1985 AL MVP (145 RBIs) and finished second the following season.
Murphy won two NL MVPs for Atlanta and was an All-Star in seven out eight seasons. But after his last All-Star appearance, he never hit higher than .245.