I was PLANNING on breaking down both Maris and the player to whom he will forever be tied to, Mark McGwire, today. However, the amount of content available for both players is so vast I decided to make two episodes. So, without further ado, let’s discuss the Hall of Fame case of Yankees, Athletics, and Cardinals outfielder Roger Maris.
Roger Maris’s reasons he SHOULD be in the Hall of Fame
-One of only three two-time MVP winners to not make the Hall of Fame (Barry Bonds and Dale Murphy are the others)
-He hit 61 home runs in 1961, breaking a record many said would never be broken.
-He hit his 275 career homers before the advent of steroids. His 61 home run season is also apparently blameless.
-In his short career, he participated in seven World Series
-He was considered the best corner outfielder in the game during his prime
Roger Maris’s detractors will point to the following:
-Career batting average of .260, the lowest of any Hall Of Fame outfielder.
-Only twelve seasons of major league service, plus only four years where he played more than 140 games.
-Without 1961, there’s no way he’d be featured on this podcast.
I really thought that, after looking at the data, I would look at the back-to-back MVP seasons, plus the single-season home run record (under tremendous media scrutiny, death threats, and a frustratingly antagonistic New York fan base that revered Babe Ruth but treated Maris like a carpetbagger)
The case is much more difficult than I expected it to be. On one hand, the 61* movie by Billy Crystal colored my judgment and made me believe that Maris was a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Sabermatrician Rob Neyer wrote last year that Maris isn’t a Hall of Famer. and it isn’t close. The question, of course, is what is MY verdict? Tune into the episode to find out. You might want to revisit Bill Simmons’ mythical five-level Hall of Fame as you listen to the show.
The 1961 Major League Expansion Draft
Why Isn’t Roger Maris in the Hall of Fame (Moran)
Neyer: Nope, Roger Maris Isn’t a Hall of Famer