As I pondered the Hall of Fame prospects of young members of the Kansas City Royals 2015 World Series champions, I wondered how rare it would be for a world champion to have no Hall of Famers.
While any young star faces long odds of reaching the Baseball Hall of Fame, quick research showed that a World Series winner without anyone making it to Cooperstown is also exceedingly rare.
I just went back to 1947 in answering my question, because, as I noted in an October post, Hall of Fame standards were much lower before baseball integrated.
So I will note year by year the starters and other important contributors of world champions who eventually became Hall of Famers. While I won’t speculate on whether players appeared bound for Cooperstown at the time (the point of yesterday’s post), I will note their ages at the time they won. If a player is in the Hall of Fame, but primarily for his play with another team, I will note that.
Champions: Yankees. Hall of Famers: Mickey Mantle, ’51-3, 19-21; Whitey Ford, ’50 and ’53, 21 and 24; Berra, all years, 24-28; Rizzuto, all years, 31-5; DiMaggio, ’49-’51, 34-6. Johnny Mize, a member of all five Yankee teams, was not a full-time starter most of these seasons. He joined the Yankees at age 36 and is in the Hall of Fame primarily for his slugging for the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Giants.
Champion: Yankees. Hall of Famers: Mantle, 24; Ford, 27; Berra, 31. Rizzuto, 38, was a part-time player, as was Enos Slaughter, 40, elected to the Hall of Fame primarily as a St. Louis Cardinal.
Champion: Yankees. Hall of Famers: Mantle, 26; Ford, 29; Berra, 33; Slaughter, 42.
Champions: Yankees. Hall of Famers: Mantle, 29-30; Ford, 32-3; Berra, 36-7.
Champions: Dodgers. Hall of Famers: Drysdale, 26, and Koufax, 27.
Champions: Dodgers. Hall of Famers: Drysdale, 28, and Koufax, 29.
Champion: Detroit Tigers. Hall of Famers: Al Kaline, 32; and Mathews (a part-time player in his final year at age 36). Since yesterday’s post was about Hall of Fame projections, I should note here that 24-year-old Denny McLain, who won 31 games that year and won the Cy Young and MVP awards, looked like a lock for Cooperstown, but didn’t make it.
Champion: Orioles. Hall of Famers: Palmer, 24, and the Robinsons, 33 and 34.
Champion: Pirates. Hall of Famers: Willie Stargell, 31; Mazeroski (playing part-time at 34); Clemente, 36.
Champions: Oakland A’s. Hall of Famers: Rollie Fingers, 25-7; Catfish Hunter, 26-8; Reggie Jackson, 26-8. I don’t count Cepeda, who had just three at-bats for the ’72 A’s and didn’t play in the post-season.
Champions: Cincinnati Reds. Johnny Bench, 27-8; Joe Morgan, 31-2; Tony Pérez, 33-4. Pete Rose, 34-5, would be in the Hall of Fame, but he accepted a lifetime ban from baseball for betting on games.
Champions: Yankees. Hall of Famers: Jackson and Hunter, both 31-2; and Goose Gossage, 26 (’78 only).
Champions: Pirates. Hall of Famers: Bert Blyleven, 28, and Stargell, 39. Dave Parker of this team probably deserves mention with Denny McLain as a player who appeared on his way to the Hall of Fame. Cocaine use sidetracked Parker’s career.
Champions: Philadelphia Phillies. Hall of Famers: Mike Schmidt, 30; Carlton, 35. Rose, 39, was also on this team.
Champions: Dodgers. No Hall of Famers yet. Steve Garvey probably has the best shot of making it someday.
Champion: Tigers. No Hall of Famers yet. Jack Morris, 29, probably has the best shot.
Champion: Kansas City Royals. Hall of Famer: George Brett, 32.
Champion: Mets. Hall of Famer: Gary Carter, 32. As noted in yesterday’s post, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, 24, of this team appeared headed for the Hall of Fame before drug use stalled their careers.
Champion: Minnesota Twins. Hall of Famer: Kirby Puckett, 27, and Blyleven, 36. Carlton, 42, pitched nine games for the Twins that year, but not in the post-season.
Champion: Dodgers. Hall of Famer: Don Sutton, 43, was in his last year. He pitched only 16 games, none in the post-season. Of major contributors on this team, Orel Hershiser, 29, and Kirk Gibson, 31, may have the best shots at reaching Cooperstown someday.
Champion: Oakland A’s. Hall of Famer: Rickey Henderson, 30, and Dennis Eckersley, 34. This is the first champion where performance-enhancing drugs are keeping a player out of the Hall of Fame (Mark McGwire, 25, for sure, possibly Jose Canseco, 24).
Champion: Reds. Hall of Famer: Barry Larkin, 26.
Champion: Twins. Hall of Famer: Puckett, 31.
Remember, baseball had no champion in ’94 because of a strike. Champions: Atlanta Braves. Hall of Famers: John Smoltz, 28; Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, both 29. Chipper Jones, 24, appears to be a certain Hall of Famer, but retired in 2012, so he won’t be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration until the 2018 election.
Champions: Yankees. Hall of Famer: Wade Boggs, 38. Derek Jeter, 22, and Mariano Rivera, 26, appear certain to reach Cooperstown when they become eligible for election: 2019 for Rivera and 2020 for Jeter. Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada are less likely to make the Hall of Fame, and will be on the ballot in 2019 (Pettitte) and next year (Posada).
Champions: Yankees. Again, Jeter, 24-6, and Rivera, 28-30, are certain Hall of Famers. Roger Clemens, 36-7, pitched for the ’99-2000 Yankees, but suspicion of PED use is keeping him out of Cooperstown. Tim Raines, 38, a ’98 Yankee, got 55 percent of the baseball writers’ vote last year and almost certainly will make the Hall of Fame someday, but mostly for his play for the Montreal Expos.
Champion: Anaheim Angels. No Hall of Famers and no likely prospects.
Champion: Florida Marlins. Miguel Cabrera, 20, is a Triple-Crown winner and two-time MVP. He’s still playing and only 32 years old but certain to make the Hall of Fame if he stays free of scandal. Iván Rodríguez would be a certain Hall of Famer if not for allegations that he used PEDs.
Champion: Boston Red Sox. Hall of Famer: Pedro Martínez, and Schilling will follow. David Ortiz, who’s still playing, would be an automatic selection if not for his failed drug test. Manny Ramírez won’t be on the Hall of Fame ballot until 2017, but drug issues are likely to keep him out of the Hall of Fame, too.
Champion: Chicago White Sox. Hall of Famer: Frank Thomas, a part-time DH at 37.
Champion: Cardinals. No Hall of Famers yet, but Albert Pujols, a three-time MVP, is a lock if he can avoid scandal.
Champion: Red Sox. This seems a good place to stop this exercise. No star of the ’07 Red Sox, or any subsequent champion, is already in the Hall of Fame, and most aren’t even eligible yet. I’ve already addressed Schilling, Ortiz and Ramírez. While I projected the Hall of Fame chances of the 2015 Royals, I’m not interested in doing that for the young stars of other recent teams.
What does this mean?
Obviously, the numbers or Hall of Famers on some of these teams, especially the more recent ones, will grow, as Morris, Raines, Schilling and others eventually get elected.
But already the vast world-champion teams have multiple Hall of Famers. In a 60-year stretch, only five teams don’t have Hall of Famers yet. From 1947 to 1980, the 1960 Pirates and ’68 Tigers were the only World Series champions without at least two Hall of Famers elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
All of the champions with no Hall of Famers or even just one played since 1980, so many of their best players aren’t even eligible for Hall of Fame consideration yet (or are being kept out of Cooperstown because of drug suspicions). Few of the contenders who aren’t automatic Hall of Famers have had second chances yet through the Expansion Era Committee.
As I noted in yesterday’s post, I expect at least two players from the 2015 Royals to join the Hall of Fame. If I’m wrong, they will be one of few exceptions among World Series champions.
Source note: Players’ ages are taken from the Baseball-Reference.com team rosters for the championship years.