PSA HoF- No Shortstops, So What's Out in Left Field?

UPDATED WITH LEFT FIELD INDUCTEES

Charlie Keller

***

Here are the results from the balloting for shortstops to be inducted into the Pinstripe Alley Hall of Fame:

Roger Peckinpaugh (20/33, 60.6%)

Frankie Crosetti (12/33, 36.4%)

Tony Kubek (7/33, 21.2%)

The people have spoken! There were no shortstops good enough to join Phil Rizzuto in the PSA Hall of Fame. This development might be a little surprising, but the field was not spectacular for this position. Peckinpaugh, Crosetti, and Kubek were all important players on great teams; there's no denying that. However, I can understand the argument that none were quite on the same level as Ruth, Posada, or even Randolph. "Scooter" won't be forever alone though; that Jeter kid will likely join him in due time.

I think we've spent enough time in the infield for now. Let's back up from the shortstop position to left field, a position which is currently vacant! All other PSA Hall of Fame outfielders played in either center or right, so perhaps we will have our first true left fielder join them. The nominees are Bob Meusel, Charlie Keller, Tom Tresh, and Roy White.* Let's see how they compare after the jump.

*Hideki Matsui was also nominated, but since he is not yet retired and played as recently as last year, he will be judged another time.

The Nominees

Bob Meusel

(NYY: 1920-29) Meusel is sometimes forgotten when discussing the Yankees' championship teams, but he was one of New York's best players in the 1920s. After the 1919 season, the Yankees picked up the California boy from the Pacific Coast League, and he joined them at an opportune time--they had also traded for Babe Ruth during that offseason. Meusel immediately stepped into the number five spot in the batting order and hit .328/.359/.517 with 40 doubles and a .406 wOBA as a rookie, a 126 wRC+. The '20 squad set a then-franchise record with 95 wins but lost the pennant by three games to the Indians; after his rookie year, Meusel would help the Yankees reach the World Series in six of the next eight years. In his first nine seasons in the league, Meusel hit .315/.364/.509 with 323 doubles and a .394 wOBA, compiling 32.8 fWAR, a mark exceeded in this period by only two other primary left fielders (Ken Williams and Goose Goslin). He also became the only non-Ruth player to lead the league in homers from '23-'31 by winning the home run crown in '25 with 33 homers.

Meusel likely had his finest season for the legendary '27 Yankees team-- he hit .337/.393/.510 with 47 doubles and a 136 wRC+. He earned the second of three World Series rings that year. Meusel was a great left fielder as well; although his range was only a tad better than league-average, his powerful throwing arm was so feared that it has been compared to the arms of both Roberto Clemente and Ichiro Suzuki. He led the league in outfield assists in two of his first three seasons (28 in '21 and 25 in '22), and he was rarely challenged again, though he still finished his Yankees career with 149. After a disappointing age-32 season in '29, his numbers fell, and the Yankees allowed him to be purchased by the Reds. Meusel might not have been the most well-known player on the 1920s Yankees, but his immense contributions helped make the team World Series champions rather than a one-man show. (B-Ref) (FG) (SABR Bio)

Charlie Keller

(NYY: 1939-43, '45-'49, '52) "King Kong" Keller has become a sabremetric darling in recent years, and new statistics have helped baseball fans further appreciate his skill. He was signed as a 20-year-old amateur from the University of Maryland, and he immediately joined the heralded 1937 Newark Bears, helping them win 110 games by hitting .353 and slugging .541. After improving to .365/.569 in '38, the Yankees realized that they had to find a spot for him on the major league roster. Keller made an immediate impact, hitting .334/.447/.500 in his rookie season with a 146 wRC+ and .435 wOBA. He then starred in the four-game World Series sweep of the Reds by slugging 1.188 with three homers. Keller also established a reputation as a solid fielder with a good arm; he posted only one negative dWAR and Total Zone season in his career, respectively. He was elected to the first of five All-Star teams in '40, and he proceeded to hit like one over the next four years with a .287/.410/.531 triple slash, 111 homers, and a staggering 159 wRC+, good for 29.8 fWAR. Keller helped the team win two more World Series titles in '41 and '43, slugging a combined .421 in the two five-game sets.

Keller spent the '44 season in the military, but returned in late '45 to hit .301/.412/.577 in the season's final 44 games. After another stellar season in '46 (.430 woBA, 159 wRC+, 7.4 fWAR), a ruptured disc in his back began to plague him, and he was moved to a reserve role. Though he never exceeded 83 games from '47-'49, he proved he could still hit with a .255/.386/.447 triple slash and a 129 wRC+. Keller was released following the '49 season, and he retired after a brief return in '52. Only 20 players (and three Yankees) in baseball history have a higher wRC+ than Keller's 154, and his .428 wOBA ranks 24th all-time (fourth in team history). He was one of the most underrated Yankees of his era, but he helped combine with Joe DiMaggio and Tommy Henrich to make the one of the best outfield trios in team history. (B-Ref) (FG)

Tom Tresh

(NYY: 1961-69) Tresh was one of the last great players to emerge on the Yankees' mid-century dynasty teams; he was a switch-hitting threat who played all around the baseball diamond. Tresh moved quickly through the minor league system after being signed as an amateur in 1958, never spending more than a half-season at any level until his '61 campaign with AAA Richmond (.315/.378/.428). He earned a late-season callup, and he won the starting shortstop job in '62 Spring Training after Tony Kubek was summoned to the Wisconsin National Guard. Tresh covered for him admirably, hitting .286/.359/.441 with 20 homers (more than Kubek ever hit) and an All-Star selection, then was moved to left field upon Kubek's late-season return. He ended his season with a 117 wRC+ and 5.1 fWAR, earning AL Rookie of the Year honors, and he won a World Series ring after hitting .321/.345/.464 in the seven-game set with the Giants. Tresh had arguably the finest moment in his career when he hit an eighth-inning three-run homer in Game 5 to give the Yankees a 5-2 lead.

Now entrenched in the outfield (and mostly filling in for the injured Mickey Mantle in center), Tresh had another good year in '63 with a .286/.359/.441 triple slash and a 140 wRC+, earning another All-Star selection. He spent his third straight season with the majority of his playing time at a different position in '64 (left field), and hit .273/.414/.636 in what would be his final World Series appearance.The Yankees plummeted from greatness in '65, but Tresh continued to be a productive player. Over the next three years, Tresh won a Gold Glove, hit .246/.333/.430 with 67 homers and a 122 wRC+, and even finished ninth in the AL MVP voting in '65. Unfortunately, his career crashed in '68 with a poor season (.195/.304/.308), and after showing no signs of improvement the next year, he was traded to the Tigers in June. Though he was only 30, his career ended after the '69 season. Regardless, only one Yankee posted a higher fWAR than Tresh did with the Yankees from '62-'69 (29.6), and his name was Mickey Mantle. (B-Ref) (FG)

Roy White

(NYY: 1965-79) The Yankees' all-time leader in games played by position is likely not surprising until one sees who is in left field. Roy White played 1,521 games for the Yankees in left field, 650 more than anyone else, a margin greater than the leader at all positions except shortstop. White, a switch-hitter, was a multi-sport star in California when the Yankees signed him out of high school in 1961, luring him away from UCLA's baseball team and Long Beach State's football team. It took him a few years to properly develop, but he was called up near the end of the '65 season. Though he played in 115 games in '66, he didn't become a regular until '68, when he became one of the best players on the team. White hit .267/.350/.414 with a 137 wRC+ in the pitching-rich season, and finished 12th in the AL MVP voting. That year was the first of 11 consecutive 100+ wRC+ seasons for White, who was named to the All-Star team twice, and hit .277/.367/.415 with a 129 wRC+ and 48.2 fWAR during this time. In one two-year stretch ('70-'71), White's season numbers were almost identical--a combined .294/.387/.471 triple slash with a .382 wOBA and 144 wRC+. White gracefully patrolled the spacious Yankee Stadium left field and rarely posted below-average defensive seasons. White was also a consistent basestealer, as he swiped over 200 bases in this 11-year period.

Despite his production, White constantly flew under the radar. Though he often hit third or fourth in the lineup, he was not a big home run hitter (his career-high was 22 in '70), so baseball fans often underestimated him. Yet when asked why no current Yankees were stars, Mickey Mantle would always respond that White was "as good a player" as Mantle's contemporaries. White's patience playing on poor baseball teams was rewarded when the Yankees returned to prominence in the late '70s; he was still productive, and he hit .278/.387/.430 over six playoff series. White won two World Series rings, but a contract dispute throughout the '79 season led to his departure at season's end and his decision to leave MLB for Japan and the Yomiuri Giants. White has returned a few times to serve on Yankees coaching staffs, and he is routinely one of the most applauded Yankees at Old Timer's Day festivities. Yankees fans knew they had a great player, whether the rest of baseball acknowledged it or not. (B-Ref) (FG) (SABR Bio)

***

So those are your candidates:

Bob Meusel, Charlie Keller, Tom Tresh, and Roy White

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 Monday at 7 PM. We will examine the center fielders 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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