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Monthly Archives: September 2011

When baseball historians think of a second baseman from the Deadball Era the first name that pops in their mind is Nap Lajoie, and rightly so.  The Frenchman was in a league to his own but there was another player at the position who excelled before World War I and he was John McGraw’s captain for the New York Giants, Larry Doyle.  Doyle was in stark contrast to the common portrait of McGraw–the tongue-lashing, umpire accosting skipper of the great Giants squads of the early 20th Century.  Nicknamed “Laughing Larry,” Doyle had a sunny disposition but despite their dissimilarities, Doyle and Mack had a mutual respect for one another.  Doyle may have been a happy-go-lucky type of guy, but he was a gamer and that endeared him to the fiery McGraw.

There are two second basemen from Doyle’s era in the Hall of Fame: the aforementioned Lajoie and the Cubs’ Johnny Evers.  Before them, only Bid McPhee is in the Hall of Fame among second basemen.  Laughing Larry was an exceptional ballplayer and although not up to the ranks of Lajoie–no one was–he has career numbers quite superior to Evers.  Doyle and Evers have their similarities–both played second base during the Deadball Era, both batted from the left side of the dish, they each posted solid on-base percentages and each man won an MVP Award during his career.  They were both star second basemen in baseball’s early period and each was known for his exaggerated disposition: Doyle’s was sunny and Evers’ was morose.  Players across the National League referred to the twitchy, short-fused Evers as “The Crab.”

Named the National League’s MVP in 1912–two years before Evers netted his MVP Award–Doyle was the heart and soul of the Giants lineup.  The Cubs of Tinker, Evers and Chance had their run from 1906 to 1910 and then it was McGraw’s turn to take the NL.  Laughing Larry, who led the league in hits twice and once apiece in doubles and triples, had a superior slash line to both Evers and McPhee.  When Doyle ended his playing days, he had a slash of .290 BA/.357 OBP/.408 SA.  Both McPhee and The Crab were close to Doyle in on-base percentage but were well behind him in both batting average and slugging average.  Evers’ career slash line is .270 BA/.356 OBP/.334 SA while the old second baseman from the late 1800s, Biddy McPhee, had a slash of .272 BA/.355 OBP/.373 SA.

Johnny Evers became famous with his double play partners, Joe Tinker and Frank Chance, when a poet penned a little ditty about the trio turning twin-killings with unrivalled skill.  Although a solid trio, they weren’t anymore crackerjack at turning double plays than other groups.  Over the course of The Crab’s career he turned 688 double plays while Laughing Larry, who played in about as many contests as Evers, turned a little more with 694.  They were both sound fielders but the edge in overall play clearly goes to Doyle.  Larry averaged 0.544 runs scored per game over his career with an average of 0.449 RBI per game.  The Crab, by contrast, averaged 0.515 runs scored per game and a measly 0.302 RBI per game.

Listed below are Doyle’s career stats compared to The Crab’s.

RUNS: Doyle 960, Evers 919

HITS: Doyle 1887, Evers 1659

DOUBLES: Doyle 299, Evers 216

TRIPLES: Doyle 123, Evers 70

RBI: Doyle 793, Evers 538

The edge in every category listed above goes to Laughing Larry.  An interesting fact about Doyle is that he performed a feat that neither Nap Lajoie nor Honus Wagner could duplicate.  During the Deadball Era, when homeruns were hard to come by, Doyle was the only Major League middle infielder from 1901 to 1920 to post back-to-back seasons with double-digit homerun totals.  Most people would assume that the legendary Lajoie or Wagner would have achieved the feat if asked–but few would answer correctly with Doyle. 

Although Doyle’s career isn’t quite up to the standards of Lajoie, he exceeded all other second basemen from that time in many offensive categories.  Even though Bid McPhee played before Doyle, during the offensive heights of the 1890s, Larry was able to post more seasons with 150+ hits than either McPhee or Evers.  Doyle had five such campaigns while McPhee managed three.  Hall of Famer Johnny Evers, Doyle’s most accurate peer, only fashioned one such season during his tumultuous career.

If Christy Mathewson was baseball’s grandest gentleman in the years before World War I, then Jake Daubert wasn’t too far behind him.  Known to the baseball world as “Gentleman Jake,” Daubert was a humble, grounded man, who, despite leaving school at the age of eleven to support his family by working in the coal mines, was an intelligent man who was as successful off the diamond as he was on it.  He never allowed his head to swell and once, before a game, a writer took notice of the dark marks along his hands and Jake told him, “That’s from mining.  And even now when I look at them I sometimes am afraid to speak for fear that all my success is a dream and that I will wake up in the darkness of the mines again.”

In the years before WWI, baseball had a handful of solid first basemen.  The Chicago Cubs had Frank Chance, who made his way to the Hall of Fame and there were slick fielders like Hal Chase, Stuffy McInnis and Fred Tenney who weren’t slouches with the stick either.  However, of the first basemen from 1900 to 1920, Daubert may have been the best.  At that time, first base was more of a defensive oriented position as teams looked for men like Daubert and Chase and Tenney who could snag errant throws with the crude gloves of the day.  Daubert was often cited as the best all-round first baseman during his day, with none other than Hall of Famer Frank Chance–who knew a thing or two about playing the position–supporting Daubert’s claim as the top man at the initial sack during the second decade of the 20th Century.

An Associated Press article circulated around the States showing Daubert in action, reaching up to bring down a wild toss from one of his infield mates.  The caption read: Daubert, an Animated Telescope.  The nimble, sure-fielding Daubert had twelve Top Three finishes in fielding percentage at first base and currently rests 8th all-time in the putouts department among first basemen.  His peers, Jim Bottomley (17th), Hal Chase (19th), George Kelly (50th) and Frank Chance (107th) all rest quite well behind Daubert.  Jake spent the bulk of his career playing first for the hapless Brooklyn Dodgers whose only other star was southpaw Nap Rucker.  Had Jake turned double plays with the more poetic sounding Tinker and Evers, rather than fellows like Cutshaw and O’Mara, perhaps he would have had a catchy limerick or the like written about him like Frank Chance.

The fabled Tinker-Evers-Chance infield was a solid group but their exploits were vastly overrated.  Frank Chance once committed 36 errors in a season and the most double plays he ever turned were 71.  Daubert, by contrast, was a sparkling gem.  Jake never once committed twenty errors in a single season and he once participated in 127 twin-killings in a single campaign–nearly twice as many double plays as the famous Chance turned in his best season.  However, Caveney to Bohne to Daubert doesn’t quite have the same poetic ring as the Chicago trio. 

Daubert was a defensive wiz but his offense wasn’t far behind.  The former Pennsylvania coal-miner is the only player not in the Hall of Fame to have won back-to-back batting titles before World War II.  The left-handed hitter was team captain of the Reds when they won the 1919 World Series–that tainted affair with the Chicago Black Sox.  Captain Daubert lived up to his rank by doing anything necessary to seal victory.  Over the course of baseball history only Hall of Famer Eddie Collins has more career sacrifices than Jake.  Given that Collins played his entire career in the American League and Daubert played every inning in the National League, Jake is the top sacrifice man in NL history.

Although Daubert was ready and willing to sacrifice his stats for a win, he put together some pretty solid career numbers.  He never once failed to reach 110 hits in a single season over the course of his career.  Daubert’s career hits total of 2,326 exceeds peers Frank Chance (1,274) and George Kelly (1,778) by substantial margins.  And the coal-miner was the only one of that famous trio to ever post a 200 hit season.  Hits came easy to Daubert who tallied nine seasons with 150 or more safeties.  Hall of Famer George Kelly had eight, the legendary crook Hal Chase had seven and Cooperstown resident Chance had just one season with 150 or more hits.

Daubert’s value to the Dodgers was not to be dismissed.  Although sportswriters often bickered about who the best first baseman of the time was, Daubert or Hal Chase, no one argued that Prince Hal was a more valuable man than Daubert.  Chase was notorious for making bonehead plays, such as sluggishly retreating to first base to take a throw from an infielder so the batter could beat him to the bag.  He did this to suit the gamblers that he chummed around with.  Given Chase’s unreliable play, despite his exceptional natural ability, Daubert often received more votes in newspaper polls when the merits of first basemen were scrutinized. 

A terrific fielder and solid hitter, Daubert was also a valuable run-scorer for the lowly Dodgers teams he played for.  Had the Brooklyn boys lacked Daubert’s presence, they would have been doormats year after year but Jake helped them climb the standings occasionally.  Compared to Hall of Famer George Kelly, Daubert was a superior run-scorer.  Jake averaged 0.555 runs scored per game, spent predominately before the Lively Ball Era while Hall of Famer George Kelly, whose career took off thanks to the jackrabbit ball, scored an average of 0.505 runs per game.  In a four-year span, Daubert scored 17% of the Dodgers runs in 1911, 12% in 1912, 13% in 1913 and 14% in 1914.  George Kelly, by contrast, who excelled in a higher scoring era than Daubert, scored 10% of the Giants runs in 1920, 11% in 1921, 11% in 1922 and 10% in 1923. 

For all Daubert’s excellence, his do-what’s-best-for-the-team mindset sent him to an early grave.  While still an active player in 1924, Jake suffered from an unknown malady during the pennant rush.  He had trouble sleeping and many writers felt that the numerous beanings the plate-crowding Daubert sustained was the reason for his health woes.  Despite the illness, Jake soldiered on and led the Reds down the stretch.  After the season ended, it was obvious that something was terribly wrong with Daubert.  It was reported that his appendix had ruptured and he was rushed into surgery but it was too late.  Daubert died shortly after the close of the season.  Days before his death,  a writer asked the old coal-miner why he waited til after the season to go under the knife.  Daubert said, “I didn’t want anyone to think that Jake Daubert was a staller.”

The next Hall of Fame vote could be a fruitless one for the Baseball Writers.  This year we had three men, Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick inducted into Cooperstown but next year there might not be a single player from the writer’s ballot to make the Hall.  With a weak crop of first-timers, the holdovers will get more attention: men like Barry Larkin, Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Lee Smith.  The following is a grouping of the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot first-timers.

Edgardo Alfonzo, Pedro Astacio, David Bell, Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Scott Erickson, Carl Everett, Jeff Fassero, Alex S. Gonzalez, Danny Graves, Rick Helling, Dustin Hermanson, Jose Hernandez, Brian Jordan, Matt Lawton, Javy Lopez, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Jeff Nelson, Phil Nevin, Brad Radke, Joe Randa, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Jose Vizcaino, Bernie Williams and Eric Young.

Many of these former players are bound to receive 0% of the vote–some may get a courtesy vote from writer friends, but don’t expect many to be retained for the 2013 ballot.  It wouldn’t be a shock if Bernie Williams is the only man from the above list to get the necessary 5% of the vote for retention.  Of the above group, I wouldn’t elect any and only suspect Williams to remain on the ballot for 2013.  Vinny Castilla may get five percent, Sierra, Salmon and Young are long shots for five percent and the others will almost certainly fail to receive five percent.  That being said, next year will be the year for holdovers because the 2013 ballot will boast such first-timers as Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Steve Finley, Kenny Lofton, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, and Sammy Sosa–players superior to any of the first-timers for 2012.

Cameron has just been released by the Florida Marlins today and although this doesn’t signal the end of his career, teams surely aren’t eager to fill their roster with 39-year-old center fielders.  Mike will be 39 should he continue his career next season.  Granted, Cameron never was a batting champion threat but he was a quite consistent performer throughout his career.  The journeyed center fielder offset his weak batting averages with decent on-base percentages, above average power and solid defense.  His numbers in Florida this season aren’t too off from his established norm so it is likely some club will bring him aboard next season should he continue his career.

One of the greatest shortstops in baseball history, Dahlen came about his nickname because he was said to have the uncanny knack for enraging umpires with the shortest invective.  Although he was quite well-versed in choice phrases, Dahlen was also a gifted shortstop and quite superior to his Hall of Fame peers–with the notable exception of Honus Wagner, the greatest shortstop of all-time.  No other shortstop can compare with the Flying Dutchman, but two other shortstops in the Hall of Fame from that era, Joe Tinker and Bobby Wallace, failed to measure up with Bad Bill.  Not only was Dahlen superior to both Wallace and Tinker–he was vastly superior as this essay will prove.

A rowdy ballplayer, Bad Bill was the protegé of Hall of Famer Cap Anson early in his career.  Later on he captained John McGraw’s New York Giants because he was a master of McGraw’s fiery brand of ball.  He had such an impact on the Giants the year he joined the team that New York raised their wins total by a whopping 22 games.  Dahlen was such a great well-rounded player that it was written that he had no deficiency on the field.  He hit well, was an exceptional fielder and John McGraw claimed he was the best base runner in baseball.  He currently rests 28th all-time in career bases stolen.

From 1901 to 1945, Dahlen is one of just three shortstops to have led his respective league in RBI–Wagner and the slugging Vern Stephens are the other two.  There were fewer run-getters better than Bad Bill.  When compared with his Hall of Fame peers Wallace and Tinker, Dahlen excels them in baseball’s most important aspect–the scoring of runs.  Dahlen averaged 0.651 runs scored per game and 0.505 RBI per game.  These averages easily eclipsed Wallace and Tinker’s marks.  The former St. Louis Brown averaged 0.444 runs scored per game and 0.470 RBI.  The Cubs shortstop of the fabled Tinker, Evers and Chance double-play team averaged 0.429 runs scored per game and just 0.434 RBI.  Bad Bill had a string of six consecutive seasons during his career in which he scored 100 or more runs.  Both Tinker and Wallace never once scored 100 runs in any single season.

When you peruse the career stats of these three stars of baseball’s early years there is one player that clearly distances himself in all departments, and strangely enough, he is the one not in the Hall of Fame.  Their career totals are as listed:

RUNS: Dahlen 1,590, Wallace 1,057, Tinker 774

HITS: Dahlen 2,461, Wallace 2,309, Tinker 1,690

DOUBLES: Dahlen 413, Wallace 391, Tinker 263

RBI: Dahlen 1,234, Wallace 1,121, Tinker 783

BATTING AVERAGE: Dahlen .272, Wallace .268, Tinker .262

ON-BASE PERCENTAGE: Dahlen .358, Wallace .332, Tinker .308

SLUGGING AVERAGE: Dahlen .382, Wallace .358, Tinker .353

WAR: Dahlen 75.9, Wallace 60.5, Tinker 49.2

By looking at these numbers, an argument can only be made by one whose head is in the clouds that Wallace and Tinker were superior players to Bad Bill.  Dahlen’s career WAR (wins above replacement) is the highest among non-enshrined infielders with the notable exception of Jeff Bagwell, who should have been elected his first year on the ballot.  Of all the shortstops in baseball history, only Wagner, Cal Ripken and George Davis have higher WARs than Dahlen–that’s right Yankees fans, Derek Jeter is below Bad Bill.  Also, Dahlen ranks in the Top 50 all-time in such categories as WAR, triples and runs scored.

Now, Dahlen is clearly superior to both Wallace and Tinker in the offensive facet of the game.  The critics here might claim that the two enshrined gentlemen were better defenders, but that claim would be false.  That fabled double-play trio of the Chicago Cubs only had one year in which they turned in the excess of 70 double plays, despite the poem written about their exploits, which was all too overblown.  Bad Bill turned over 70 double plays twice in his career, one more season than Tinker and two more than Wallace, who never turned 70 twin-killings in a single season.  All three men were exceptional defenders and each shortstop retired with an identical fielding percentage thirteen points above league average.

In career defensive stats, Bad Bill rests much higher on the lifetime columns than both Wallace and Tinker.  Dahlen currently rests second all-time in career putouts among shortstops as only the nimble, scampering oddball Rabbit Maranville has more putouts than Bad Bill.  In assists, Dahlen is fourth all-time.  The Top Three in assists among shortstops are all modern players as Dahlen, number four on the list, has the highest total of assists of any shortstop who debuted before World War II.  Taking all these numbers into consideration, it makes no sense whatsoever to keep Dahlen out of the Hall of Fame.  I say this about so few players, but he belongs in Cooperstown.

A long forgotten third baseman, Lave Cross was arguably the greatest hot corner custodian of the 1800s.  Initially a catcher, Cross moved to third early in his career and was distinguishable on the field for using his old catcher’s mitt to play third base.  Of course, Lave played in the days when gloves, when used, resembled modern-day welder’s gloves, and crude ones at that, than anything close to our advanced baskets-on-hands.  But the Philadelphia third baseman was an elite player to have settled on the left side of the infield.  He was a solid hitter, a flawless defender and a team leader who Connie Mack named his squad captain when the American League was formed.

The third base position is the least represented post in the Hall of Fame but there are plenty worthy candidates for enshrinement.  Lave Cross rests, if not at the top of this list, than right near the summit.  Lave, who played in the late 1800s and for a few years after the turn of the century, retired with 2,651 base hits.  It took many decades before another third baseman toppled Cross’ record of most hits by a hot corner custodian when the legendary Brooks Robinson finally established a new high for the position–in a much larger total of games than Lave.  Not only was Lave the top hitter among third basemen during the 1800s, he remains the top hitter of that time still left out of the Hall of Fame.  No other player who played in the 1800s, who has yet to be inducted in the Hall, has more career hits than Cross.

Lave spent the bulk of the 1890s with the strong, offensively at least, Philadelphia Phillies.  He left the team in 1898 but returned to Philadelphia, albeit in an altogether different league, when he signed on with Connie Mack’s Athletics in 1901.  Mr. Mack, the great gentleman of baseball, was quite fond of Lafayette Napoleon Cross that he named him his team captain.  Behind Lave’s capable leadership and the terrific left arm of Rube Waddell, Connie captured his first AL pennant in 1905 but his team lost to the juggernaut John McGraw built in New York, the Giants.  The rise of the A’s was greatly attributed to Cross who served as the backbone of the team–a sound, reliable veteran in his mid thirties. 

Lave had a few Hall of Fame peers in Jimmy Collins and Frank Baker, but to claim Homerun Baker was a legit peer would be stretching it.  Baker debuted in the 1900s during the Deadball Era while Cross debuted in the 1800s and played through the Deadball Era.  Be that as it may, Collins and Baker are the two best comparisons in Cooperstown for Cross since they manned the same position and their careers overlapped.  Of the three, Lave Cross’ career numbers far and away exceed the two Hall of Famers.  When you give their stats a casual glance you’ll imagine that the voters have mush between their ears and no brain, given the far superior career totals Lave amassed.  Cross was the only one of the trio to exceed 1,300 career runs scored and RBI.  Jimmy Collins scored 1,055 runs but failed to drive in 1,000 while Baker didn’t even reach 1,000 in either department.

Of the fabled trio, Lave was the only one to reach 2,000 career hits and 400 career doubles.  Collins came within one bloop single of reaching 2,000 hits in his career, having to settle for the not-so-round number of 1,999 career safeties.  Baker failed to reach 2,000 career hits as well but at least he and Cross had a 200 hit season during their careers while Collins failed to reach that plateau in any given season.  Lave exceeded both men by a substantial margin in a number of career totals, most notably base hits–he has over 600 more than his two enshrined contemporaries.  Although he excelled with the stick, Lave also ran well and pilfered 303 bases–more than Collins and Baker.  Also, Lave was a far more polished batsman than the two enshrined gentlemen, indicated by his expert plate discipline.  Lave currently rests behind Hall of Famers Willie Keeler, Joe Sewell and Lloyd Waner as the most difficult batters to strikeout in baseball history.  Lave struck out once every 44.62 at-bats.

The career offensive stats of Lave Cross tend to place Collins and Baker’s career numbers in the shadow of inferiority, and the same can be said for his defensive stats as well.  Granted, Jimmy Collins was often cited as the best defensive third baseman of his time and his career putouts total, which barely exceeds Lave’s, can attest to that, but Cross rests fourth on the all-time putouts column among third basemen.  But if one were to judge the men in fielding percentage and errors committed, then Cross exceeds both Collins and Baker not by a slim margin but by a wide gulf.  Over the course of Jimmy Collins’ career he had five seasons in which he amassed 40 or more errors.  Homerun Baker had three such seasons while Lave never once had a single season in which he committed 40 on-field guffaws. 

When looking at their fielding percentages, Lave has quite a distinct advantage as well.  Collins may have been more of an acrobat at third than Cross but he wasn’t as reliable.  Lave, although not as nimble as Jimmy, was more of a brickwall that batters could not get grounders around.  Due to his history as a catcher, Lave wasn’t afraid to get in front of hot grounders and knock them down.  Jimmy Collins retired with a terrific fielding percentage that was 25 points above the league average at third base–quite superior to Frank Baker’s seven point advantage.  However, Cross fielded third base at a percentage a mind-boggling 41 points above league average!  Perhaps, when judging the three men’s entire careers, offense and defense combined, the best of the early hor corner trio isn’t in the Hall of Fame.

As an aside, while researching Lave Cross in newspaper archives, I came across a late article in which Lave, who was a 40-year-old Major Leaguer, gave advice on how to last long in the game.  He gave five pointers and one warning.  The title of the small piece was “Lave Cross’ Pointers on how to Last Long in the Game.”  They are as follows: 1. Leave drink alone  2. Avoid excesses  3. Don’t smoke too much, it hurts the eyes  4. Eat moderately.  A stuffed ballplayer is of no use to his club  5. Make heaviest meal in the evening after the game.  6. A drinking man is a bad man on a ball club.  He has to be watched.

The fact that Hall of Fame voters are gluttons for power hitters isn’t a shocking revelation to those who have followed Hall of Fame voting over the years.  How else can guys like Reggie Jackson and Harmon Killebrew make the Hall without the obsession for power?  It is this craving for the over-the-fence crushers that have left guys like Doc Cramer, great well-rounded ballplayers, on the outside of Cooperstown’s hallowed ground.  Cramer wasn’t a big blaster in the Jimmie Foxx mold but he was a valuable man at the top of the order and a gifted center fielder.

Cramer broke in with the Philadelphia A’s when they were at their best.  Connie Mack had built his final dynasty late in the 1920s and Cramer was an understudy during Mr. Mack’s last great squad.  The Mackmen had an outfield of Hall of Famer Al Simmons and two stars named Bing Miller and Mule Haas.  The outfield picture was crowded but thanks to the Depression, Mr. Mack was forced to sell his stars to get out of the red which opened the door for Doc.  This door, which had been slightly ajar, is what keeps him out of the Hall of Fame.  Had he not been an understudy to Miller and Haas, “Flit” would have reached 3,000 career hits–a Hall of Fame benchmark.  The years Cramer spelled Mack’s star go-getters were some of the most explosive offensive seasons in baseball history.  Hack Wilson set his single season RBI record in 1930 while Cramer served as a back-up.  He could have missed out on anywhere from 450 to 500 base hits.

After the fire sale, Connie Mack inserted Cramer into the everyday lineup and he established himself as one the greatest bat handlers of his era.  A top-of-the-order hitter, Doc typically journeyed to the dish in the excess of 600 times a season and only on two occasions did he exceed 30 strikeouts in a single campaign.  The left-handed hitter made the Top Five in the most difficult batter to strikeout department a whopping nine times over the course of his career. 

When one looks at Doc Cramer’s career stats what typically jumps out at them are his career hits total.  Flit was able to bang out 2,705 career safeties over the course of his career, more hits than other notable Hall of Famers like Fred Clarke, Max Carey, Richie Ashburn, Harry Heilmann and era peers Heinie Manush and Lloyd Waner.  His career total is the highest amount of base hits among those Hall of Fame eligible players who played before World War II.  No other player, currently outside the Hall of Fame, who debuted before the bombing at Pearl Harbor, has more base hits than Connie Mack’s solid little center fielder. 

Some of Cramer’s Hall of Fame peers, those men who played in roughly the same era and the same position, are sluggers Hack Wilson and Earl Averill and the Pittsburgh Pirate Lloyd Waner, who is quite comparable to Doc.  Cramer’s career runs scored total and base hit total exceed each of his Hall of Fame peers.  Doc scored 1,357 runs and notched 2,705 hits.  Earl Averill scored 1,224 runs and posted 2,019 safeties.  Lloyd Waner scored 1,201 runs and tallied 2,459 hits and the stocky Hack Wilson was well behind the others in these two key departments with just 884 runs and 1,461 hits–but he was the most powerful.  Doc’s nine seasons with 90 or more runs scored outdistanced both Waner’s (6) and Wilson’s (4) career totals.

Defensively, Waner is comparable to Cramer but Wilson and Averill aren’t.  Doc is 12th all-time in career putouts among outfielders, which far exceeds his Hall of Fame peers.  His career putouts total also rests above such Cooperstown elites as Joe DiMaggio, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline and Edd Roush–all quite gifted defenders.  Doc was a three-time fielding percentage champ among center fielders but he won his fielding percentage titles after he left the sinking ship that was Connie Mack’s Athletics of the mid 1930s. 

When one analyzes a player for the Hall of Fame they typically judge the overlooked star to his enshrined contemporaries.  Lloyd Waner, the Pirates hit-machine, is about as equal of a player to Cramer was you can get.  Each man were line-drive hitters who swung from the left side of the dish, lashing out hard hit singles and not the bombs that Wilson and Averill hit.  They were both exceptional defenders who rest quite high in the all-time putouts department and each player was a gifted batsman who hardly ever struck out.  Cramer and Waner weren’t the type of batters that gave away at-bat after at-bat by whiffing in large quantities–they were quite the reverse, putting the ball in play nearly every at-bat.

Both Lloyd Waner and Doc Cramer were table setters who hit near the top of the order which allowed them to score plenty runs but limited their RBI chances.  Be that as it may, Waner, who played with some strong Pirate teams, wasn’t quite the run producer that Cramer was.  Over the course of his career, Waner drove in an average of 0.309 runners per game.  Cramer was well ahead of him in this department with a 0.376 average.  And it must be added, Waner was at his peak during the great offensive years when Cramer was still a reserve.  In 1930, when Waner was in his prime, there were nine Major League teams that hit for a combined average above .300.  When Doc was at the top of his game, in 1935, there weren’t any such teams in the Major Leagues.  In 1935, Doc hit .332 while the A’s as a team hit .279. 

Although Waner had one more 200 hit season than Cramer, Doc tallied more career base hits than Lloyd.  Each player had three 100 runs scored seasons and although neither one was much of a slugger, they hit for solid batting averages and were wizards at making contact.  Had Doc sent more balls over the fence, like teammate Jimmie Foxx, he would almost certainly be a lock for the Hall of Fame.  He came up just 295 base hits shy of the coveted 3,000 plateau and was such a solid outfielder that he was still patrolling center field at the age of 40.  Flit may not have hit 500 homeruns, but he was valuable man on a team.  If the lust for muscle should ever subside, then, perhaps, Doc Cramer will make his way to Cooperstown.