PSA HoF- Who's in from First? Secondly, Second Basemen Nominees

UPDATED WITH SECOND BASE INDUCTEES

Willie Randolph

Tony Lazzeri (automatic)

***

Here are the results from the balloting for first basemen to be inducted into the Pinstripe Alley Hall of Fame.

Don Mattingly (45/46, 97.8%)

Tino Martinez (19/46, 41.3%)

Wally Pipp (13/46, 28.26%)

Moose Skowron (7/46, 15.22%)

Chris Chambliss (3/46, 6.52%)

Joe Pepitone (1/46, 2.17%)

So Don Mattingly is the only first baseman to join Lou Gehrig in the Pinstripe Alley Hall of Fame, but he was a near-unanimous pick! Donnie Baseball's number 23 is retired for a good reason, and his popularity among Yankee fans is evinced by his selection. Congratulations to him and here's a salute to the other candidates who missed the cut. They were all still terrific players.

Now, we move over on the infield to second base! The only player we automatically inducted was Cooperstown Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri, but another Cooperstown inductee is mixed into the ballot as well as some other very good Yankees second basemen who should have gotten more Hall consideration. Joe Gordon, Snuffy Stirnweiss, Billy Martin, Gil McDougald, Bobby Richardson, Horace Clarke, and Willie Randolph enter the ballot for consideration today. Let's check them out after the jump.

The Nominees

Joe Gordon

(NYY: 1938-43, '46) Baseball's original "Flash Gordon" was a standout Oregon athlete when the Yankees picked him up as an amateur free agent in 1936. Gordon, originally a shortstop, was moved to second in '37 since Frankie Crosetti was entrenched at short and Tony Lazzeri was on his way out the door, and after starring in the minors with the storied 109-win Newark Bears, he was promoted to the big leagues. Gordon remarkably became a tremendous defensive second basemen in his first season, a talent that he would continue throughout a Yankee career that ended with a Yankees-best 103 TZ. He also provided the Yankees with superior offense from a defensive-minded position by hitting .278/.364/.482 in his first six seasons, never amounting a wOBA below .371 by averaging 28 doubles and 24 homers. Gordon won the AL MVP in '42 (albeit controversially) with a career-high 9.3 fWAR, 154 wRC+, and a .423 wOBA, although this year was one of just three in his Yankee career that he failed to win a World Series. Like many players, Gordon's numbers were all over the board in the playoffs-- he slugged .733 and .929 in the '38 and '41 Series respectively, but had just two hits in both the '39 and '42 Series.

Regardless, Gordon earned four World Series rings with the team before he was drafted by the military for World War II, sadly missing his age 29-30 seasons, which would likely have been his prime. When Gordon returned in '46, he was rusty, and only his superlative defense saved him from being a true liability (79 wRC+). The six-time All-Star was dealt to Cleveland after the season for jack-of-all-trades pitcher Allie Reynolds in a rare trade that worked out for both clubs (Gordon helped the Indians win the '48 World Series and Reynolds won six rings with the Yankees). Gordon compiled an impressive 44.6 fWAR in just seven years in New York, and his further success in Cleveland helped him gain entrance to the Baseball Hall of Fame via the Veteran's Committee in 2008. (B-Ref) (FG) (SABR Bio)

Snuffy Stirnweiss

(NYY: 1943-50) Many people forget about Snuffy Stirnweiss, but he was the team's best position player during the interwar years. Despite his small stature (5'8", 175 lbs), he was a multi-sport athlete at UNC and was drafted by the NFL's Chicago Cardinals in 1940. Fortunately for the Yankees, he chose baseball, and he was called up to the big leagues at age 25 in '43, as many players were headed off to war. Stirnweiss was unable to serve in the military because he was the sole worker of his home (and also had gastric ulcers and hay fever), so he stayed in the country and filled in for Joe Gordon at second base. Stirnweiss took advantage of the meager wartime pitching and dominated the AL for the next two years, accumulating 18.0 fWAR with a 150 wRC+ from '44-'45. He led the league both years in hits (205, 195), runs (125, 107), triples (16, 22), and stolen bases (55, 33), then won the batting crown in '45 despite only a .309 batting average. Fans recognized his efforts, and they named him an All-Star in '46 despite both his shift to third base due to Gordon's return and his drop in hitting once the wartime pitchers returned.

Stirnweiss got the second base job back when Gordon was traded, and he scored 100 runs with a 3.8 fWAR on the Yankees' World Series-winning team. Stirnweiss hit .259/.429/.333 in the seven-game win over the Brooklyn Dodgers. He appeared on the '49 World Series champions as well, but he lost his job to rookie Jerry Coleman during the season and was traded away to the St. Louis Browns in '50. His career ended a couple years later, and he tragically lost his life at age 39 in December '58 in a train wreck off the Newark Bay Bridge. Good seasons last forever though, and Stirnweiss's interwar campaigns still rank among the best all-time by second basemen. (B-Ref) (FG) (Hardball Times)

Billy Martin

Remember, we're judging Martin as a player, not a manager.

(NYY: 1950-57) Long before he was the fiery manager of the Yankees in the late 1970s and '80s, Martin was a five-time World Series champion with the team and Mickey Mantle's close friend. Martin was a California boy, and he was signed by the Yankees from the Oakland Oaks of the PCL, with whom he OPS'd .734 in '49. He had a few brief stints in the majors with New York in '50 and '51, when he backed up Jerry Coleman at second. Martin wrested the starting job from Coleman in '52 when he went to Korea, and Martin gave the team respectable defense while improving upon Coleman's offense. He also saved the Yankees' bacon in the World Series by snaring a popup from Jackie Robinson with the bases loaded in Game 7 that no one could get. Martin followed up this performance with a tremendous display of offense in the '53 World Series, setting a Series record with 12 hits in the seven-game set, a .500/.520/.958 showing that earned him the Babe Ruth Award. The award was the highlight of Martin's career though; he only appeared in 20 games over the next couple seasons, and despite an All-Star appearance in '56, team management became convinced that his hard-living lifestyle was a bad influence on Mantle. Thus, when the Copacabana incident of '57 occurred, it gave the team the only excuse it needed to trade him away. Martin only played in four more seasons before retiring as a player, and in his Yankees career, he accumulated 7.7 fWAR. Thus the question remains: was Martin a good enough player to make into team history or did it just seem that way because of his World Series heroics and later managerial career? Regardless, his number 1 was retired in 1986, and his death was greatly mourned when he was killed in a car crash on Christmas, 1989. (B-Ref) (FG)

Gil McDougald

(NYY: 1951-60) The San Francisco native surprised many when he was called up to the Bronx after a season with the minor league Beaumont Roughnecks (which wasn't even the team's top farm club), and won the 1951 AL Rookie of the Year Award. It was McDougald's best season, as he totaled a 144 wRC+ and a .408 wOBA along with a .306/.396/.488 triple slash to help the team win its third straight World Series crown. In that Fall Classic, McDougald homered and slugged .435 in the six-game triumph over the New York Giants. McDougald provided the Yankees with excellent versatility, and he was an above-average defender at second base, third base, and shortstop, though he spent his most time at second. His versatility had its negatives though--manager Casey Stengel would use him in platoons and he averaged only 134 games per season despite his health.

McDougald's offense was never as good as it was in '51, but throughout his ten-year career, he only posted one sub-100 wRC+ season while maintaining an average wOBA of .348 with a .276/.356/.410 triple slash. McDougald made the All-Star team five times and actually finished as high as seventh in the AL MVP vote twice. He probably had his finest career moment during the '58 World Series, when he slugged .607 and hit a tenth inning two-run homer off Hall of Famer Warren Spahn in Game 6 to help the Yankees rally from a 3-1 Series deficit and force a seventh game. After helping the team win eight AL Pennants and five World Series titles, McDougald surprised the team by announcing his retirement following the '60 season in order to avoid being taken by an expansion team in the draft. Although he played under the radar on a team of stars like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford, the contributions of players like McDougald helped the Yankees have the best decade of any team in league history. His 40.0 rWAR ranks fifth among all middle infielders in team history, behind only Jeter, Randolph, Lazzeri, and Rizzuto. (B-Ref) (FG)

Bobby Richardson

(NYY: 1955-66) The Yankees' tradition of All-Star second basemen continued with Richardson, who, like McDougald, had his development stunted under Casey Stengel's platoon system. Richardson spent a little time in the majors for two seasons before being called up for good in 1957. He impressed enough on defense to be named an All-Star in his first full season even though he only played in 97 games. Richardson played more than 100 games for the first time in '59, and he hit .301/.335/.377 in another All-Star campaign. The '60 regular season was not as good for Richardson, but he had the offensive display of his life in the World Series that year. He set a World Series record with 12 RBIs in the seven games, including a record six in Game 3 (Richardson had only three career homers at this point, but hit a stunning grand slam). His .367/.387/.667 triple slash earned him World Series MVP honors despite the Yankees' seven-game loss to the Pirates.

Richardson won his first of five consecutive Gold Gloves with the '61 Yankees, and after winning his second World Series ring with a .391 average in the five-game set with the Reds, he had his career year in '62. He led the AL in hits with 209, posted a triple slash of .302/.337/.406, and was second in the AL MVP voting to some Mantle fellow. In the World Series, he didn't fare well against Giants pitching, but made the most well-known play of his career by snaring a Willie McCovey line drive to end the Series with the bases loaded and the 1-0 lead precariously hanging in the balance. Richardson stayed on the team for their last two AL-pennant winning seasons, and in his last playoff hurrah, set a World Series record with 13 hits in the '64 loss to the Cardinals. He ended his career early at age 30 in '66 with the team in last place and his OBP down to .280. Though he was never much of a hitter, his defense and World Series heroics helped cement his reputation in the minds of Yankees fans forever. (B-Ref) (FG) (SABR Bio)

Horace Clarke

(NYY: 1965-74) The man whose name is the unofficial title for the Yankees' 11-year dry spell was the team's second baseman for for most of this time, stepping into the role after Bobby Richardson's retirement. One of only 11 players to hail from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Clarke toiled in the minors for eight years before being called up to the injury-plagued Yankees in 1965. He split the year with the Yankees and AAA Toledo, and he was on the club for good in '66, though he only served in a platoon role for the last-place team. His .381 slugging percentage impressed the team enough to name him its starting second baseman in '67, a role he held for seven seasons. The role change earned him nearly 300 more plate appearances, but he disappointed the team by collecting only 20 extra-base hits, the exact same total he had in '66. His play declined even further in '68 with a career-low .230/.258/.254 triple slash, but he did have the highest-rated defensive season (12 TZ). Clarke rebounded with his best year in '69 by turning himself into a more aggressive baserunner, hitting career-highs with 26 doubles and 33 stolen bases to go with a 105 wRC+. Despite his efforts, the team finished under .500 for the fourth time in the previous five seasons. The remainder of Clarke's time in New York was not impressive either, as he could only accumulate a .251/.309/.310 triple slash in his final four years. There was a new owner on the scene in Clarke's later years, and he ordered GM Gabe Paul to clean house, so the exec traded Clarke to the Padres for $50,000 in '74. Clarke's career ended that year, but even though his name is tossed around in a derisive light, Clarke was still one of the better players on the team for several years. (B-Ref) (FG) (SABR Bio)

Willie Randolph

(NYY: 1976-88) Randolph was a player before his time--someone whose skills at both getting on base and fielding went overlooked in an era fixed on counting statistics. Randolph was drafted by the Pirates and breezed through their system by spending just one season at Rookie, A-ball, AA, and AAA respectively before being traded along with Ken Brett and Dock Ellis to the Yankees for Doc Medich. He only appeared in 30 games at the pro level before becoming the Yankees' starting second basemen in the '76 season, but he was an All-Star in his first two seasons, combining above-average offense (112 and 106 wRC+) with superb defense (19 and 12 TZ). Although he did not fare well in the playoffs, his Yankees were able to break their World Series drought and win the title in '77. He was on his way to his best season yet in '78 with 5.6 fWAR in 134 games, but an ankle injury prematurely ended his season as the Yankees rallied past Boston to win the AL East and another World Series title. After another good year in '79, Randolph had his career year in '80 with 6.9 fWAR and a .294/.427/.407 triple slash highlighted by a league-leading 119 walks. He was an All-Star again, and he won the Silver Slugger as the Yankees won the AL East with 103 victories. He played well in the ALCS, slugging .538 in 13 at-bats, but the team was swept in three games by the Royals.

The strike-shortened '81 campaign was one of only two seasons with the team that Randolph failed to earn a 100 wRC+ (the other was his final year- 11 for 13 is pretty impressive), but his bat came alive in the playoffs as he hit more homers in the playoffs (three) than he did all season (two). His .480 slugging percentage that postseason was not enough to lift the team to another title however, and Randolph never appeared on a postseason team again with the Yankees. Randolph was well-respected by his team, and the franchise named him and pitcher Ron Guidry co-captains at the start of the '86 season. He remained a reliable hitter and fielder for the duration of his Yankees career, but though his six consecutive .360 OBP seasons from '82-'87 produced many runs, the pitching on these Yankees teams was not enough to to get them to the playoffs. Randolph left the team after a disappointing '88 season and played four more years before retiring at age 37. Nonetheless, in a 13-year career with the team, he hit .275/.374/.357 and 56.2 fWAR, which ranks seventh in team history, most of any second baseman, and his 251 stolen bases rank third in team history. (B-Ref) (FG)

***

So those are your candidates:

Joe Gordon, Snuffy Stirnweiss, Billy Martin, Gil McDougald, Bobby Richardson, Horace Clarke, and Willie Randolph

Here's a quick recap of the rules:

  • Anyone who is a member of Pinstripe Alley can vote! Vote in the comment section!
  • There are no limits as to how many players can be on your ballot- zero is even an option.
  • A player needs to appear on 75% of the commented ballots to make it to the PSA Hall of Fame.
  • Don't assume that a player you think is definitely deserving will make it in! Vote for him, we could see some surprises.
  • Please participate! There's not going to be much of a point to getting the community's input on this series if we're only getting ten ballots per position post.

How many of these guys are Pinstripe Alley Hall of Famers? Sound off with your ballots below! Comments will close Sunday at 5 PM. We will examine the third basemen next.

The Pinstripe Alley Hall of Fame
Catchers | First Basemen | Second Basemen | Third Basemen | Shortstops
Left Fielders | Center Fielders | Right Fielders
Starting Pitchers | Relief Pitchers

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