Hall of Famers who played all or close to their entire careers with a specific team are not necessarily locks to make my version of their all-time team. If they're questionable Hall of Fame selections, they might get passed over, but if it's a toss-up, the Hall of Famer probably gets the nod.
There's an example of the latter situation on this team. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out who I'm talking about.
Atlanta Braves (1966- )
Milwaukee Braves (1953-1965)
Boston Braves (1912-1935, 1941-1952)
Boston Bees (1936-1940)
Boston Rustlers (1911)
Boston Doves (1907-1910)
Boston Beaneaters (1883-1906)
Boston Red Stockings (1876-1882)
An asterisk (*) denotes a Hall of Famer.
C - Joe Torre* (1960-1968)
1B - Fred Tenney (1894-1907, 1911)
2B - Bobby Lowe (1890-1901)
SS - Herman Long (1890-1902)
3B - Eddie Mathews* (1952-1966)
LF - Hugh Duffy* (1892-1900)
CF - Andruw Jones (1996-2007)
RF - Hank Aaron* (1954-1974)
Kid Nichols* (1890-1901)
Warren Spahn* (1942, 1946-1964)
Greg Maddux* (1993-2003)
Phil Niekro* (1964-1983, 1987)
Tom Glavine* (1987-2002, 2008)
John Smoltz (1988-1999, 2001-2008)
C - Brian McCann (2005- )
1B - Joe Adcock (1953-1962)
SS/2B - Rabbit Maranville* (1912-1920, 1929-1933, 1935)
3B/LF - Chipper Jones (1993, 1995- )
OF - Wally Berger (1930-1937)
OF - Dale Murphy (1976-1990)
OF - Tommy Holmes (1942-1951)
John Clarkson* (1888-1892)
Vic Willis* (1898-1905)
Tommy Bond (1877-1881)
Lew Burdette (1951-1963)
Bobby Cox* (1978-1981, 1990-2010)
This is one of the teams where starting pitchers reign supreme. Maybe that will be the case for most franchises with such a long history, but with eight Hall of Fame caliber starting pitchers (thank goodness one of them is also the greatest closer in team history), it was hard to think of someone like Gene Garber as deserving of a roster spot.
Greatest Eligible non-Hall of Famer:
With nine existing Hall of Famers, four virtual locks for future induction (Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, C. Jones) and two additional active players (A. Jones, McCann) on this roster, that narrows things down a bit. In my opinion, the distinction pretty clearly comes down to either Torre or Murphy.
Murphy played a greater portion of his career with the Braves (12+ of 14 full seasons vs. 8 of 16 for Torre), but Joe Torre, in my book, has a greater overall Hall of Fame case.
He hit .297/.365/.452 (BA/OBP/SLG) over 8802 plate appearances for his career. 2342 hits, 252 HR, 1185 RBI and 996 runs beef up his resume as well. Those numbers don't really jump out at you as indicative of a sure-fire Hall of Famer, but his 128 OPS+ says he was a pretty great hitter in an era that favored pitchers.
Additionally, Torre's Hall of Fame candidacy gets a boost from the difficulty of the primary position he played. However, one mistake Hall of Fame analysts often make is to compare a player like Torre to other catchers when making a case for him. Catchers, due to the demands of the position and the reduced playing time that results, deserve special consideration, but Torre only deserves partial catcher credit. Here's how his primary positions break out by year for his 16 full seasons (not including insignificant partials at the beginning and end of his career):
C: 1961-63, 1965-69
3B: 1971-72, 1975
1B: 1973-74, 1976
That makes nine seasons (eight full plus two halves) as a catcher, and 3 1/2 each at first and third base. So, a little more than half of his career (less than half if you go by games played, but that's mainly due to the playing time disadvantage of the position) behind the plate.
Torre's 56 WAR over those 16 seasons (3.5 per) would be Hall of Fame worthy for a player who was exclusively (or close to it) a catcher. But, for a guy who was essentially half-catcher/half-corner infielder, they're borderline.
My opinion is Torre falls a little short of the Hall based on his playing career. Of course, that still means he's more deserving than a lot of current Hall of Famers, and he's plenty worthy based on his managerial career. In fact, if you were to evaluate his lifetime of baseball service, it would be hard to say that any player-turned-manager is more deserving.
He and Murphy do share very similar experiences with regard to Hall of Fame support. Torre received consistently greater than the necessary 5% and remained on the ballot for the full 15 years. But, he never even reached 25% in a single year, peaking at 22.2% in 1997, his final year on the ballot. Barring an unforeseen spike in his support, Murphy will drop off the ballot after next year's vote, his 15th unsuccessful attempt at enshrinement. Although it occurred earlier in his campaign (his second year on the ballot), Murphy's peak of 23.2% in 2000 was quite similar to Torre's.
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