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Dave Parker: Hall of Fame afterthought

Jan 4, 2010, 12:01 PM EDT

Dave Parker AP.jpgBuster Olney doesn’t actually endorse Dave Parker’s Hall of Fame candidacy, but he does throw out a morsel to chew on, courtesy of the ESPN stats department:

If you go on the idea of a player being a dominant player in his era being an important qualification: Dave Parker finished in the top five of the MVP voting five times. That may not qualify as prolonged dominance, but it’s still impressive. Twenty three players have ranked in the top five of the MVP voting at least five times.

Of those 23 players, Barry Bonds (12 times), Albert Pujols (8 times), Frank Thomas (7 times), Alex Rodriguez (6 times), David Ortiz (5 times), Ken Griffey Jr. (5 times) and Pete Rose (5 times) are not currently eligible for the Hall of Fame. Of the other 16 players, 15 of them are in the Hall of Fame.

Interesting, but such a standalone stat approaches meaningless. Parker played for a team that won a lot during his prime, so his MVP vote numbers are going to be higher than many other players to begin with. And while MVP votes are nice, they could simply be a function of Parker being overrated. One of those top five finishes was 1986 when he had an .807 OPS. The votes were no doubt due to his RBI total, which was a function of Eric Davis and Buddy Bell hitting in front of Parker most of the year, getting on base at an excellent clip.

While Parker’s prime was nice, it was short, and then drugs and weight problems blew up most of the rest of his career. If that hadn’t happened, sure, we’d be having a different conversation right now. But it did, and as a result, Parker had less overall career value than Jim Rice did, and Jim Rice shouldn’t have made the Hall of Fame himself.

Whether the writers’ failure to come anywhere near electing Parker is an appreciation of Parker’s less-than-compelling Hall of Fame case or, alternatively, punishment for Parker’s getting caught up in the cocaine trials of the 1980s is an open, though, probably irrelevant question.

  1. Ernest - Jan 4, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    speaking of the HOF, Jon Heyman has his ballot up and explained. I dont agree with most of it but the man sticks to his guns.
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/jon_heyman/01/04/heyman.hall/index.html

  2. Hiroshi - Jan 6, 2010 at 6:48 PM

    Dave Parker is probably the most underrated and underappreciated major league players in the last 50 years. Why do you think Dave Parker had “less overall career value” than Jim Rice or Andre Dawson? Would the Oakland A’s have won the 1989 World Series without Dave Parker? No. He was the acknowledged team leader. How does that fit into your statistical analysis?

  3. TD - Jan 12, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Nice article, not. Dave Parker was an excellent hitter, an excellent power hitter, won world championships, had great speed for a big man and could throw a strike from right field to home plate (remember the all star game, that wasn’t the first time he did that). People have very short memories of Parker. The one and ONLY reason he is not in the Hall is because of idiot writers fascination with the one poor public decision he made in his life related to his drug use in Pittsburgh. Like he was the only one…yet he contiually 30 years later is punished for it. Complete and utter disgrace, when you think of the Pirates in the 70s 80s, it is his and Willie Stargell’s team, no other.

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