Thursday, November 29, 2007

Why I despise Maury Wills

Every now and again, some stupid Los Angeles sportswriter will go back to the 1962 rip-off MVP award to Maury Wills and proclaim that Wills should be in the Hall of Fame. It's this kind of idiocy that makes Dodger fans the stupidest in MLB. This idiotic fan site even has a positive comment from resident SF Chronicle dingbat Bruce Jenkins -- America's most embarrassing sportswriter after the LA Times Bill Plaschke.

I got to thinking about this while writing on another board about why Tim Raines should be in the Hall of Fame. One of the reasons why Raines is the best candidate this year is that he was a great base-runner. As you probably know, I think that caught stealing is a very ignored stat; if you're not successful at least 75% of the time, you're actually harming the team by creating too many outs.

Rickey Henderson stole 1,406 bases but got caught 336 times -- leader on both lists; Raines stole 808 bases (5th highest) but got caught only 146 times (23rd highest). Raines had six straight seasons of stealing at least 70 bases. He also scored over 100 runs six times. He's 46th all time in runs scored -- even though he played on mostly crappy teams.

After Henderson and Lou Brock, two over-rated Dodgers are the next two leaders on the caught stealing list -- Brett Butler is third in caught stealing with 258 but only 24th on the SB list with 558; and Maury Wills is 4th with 206 caught stealing and only 19th on the SB list with 586. In other words, these guys ran their teams out of a lot of innings. The very under-rated Davey Lopes was a far better base runner than either Wills or Butler. He stole 557 bases (25th on the list) but was caught only 114 times (70th on the list).

I realize Butler was a Giant for 3 of his 17 seasons, but I remember him as a real rally-killer while in the Orange and Black -- getting thrown 16 out 47 times one year and 20 of 63 times another.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the short period between 1959 and 1966, Maury helped the Dodgers win 4 Pennants and 3 Championships. They missed another Pennant and possible World Series by one pitch in the third game of the 1962 playoff with the Giants. (Maury did all he could to win that third game, stealing 3 bases, setting the National League stolen base record at 104, and going 4 for 5.) Most people think post season play is important in electing Hall of Famers, and Maury certainly fits the bill. Fairness should also be a factor. The Giants from 1959 to 1966 won no World Series and only one Pennant (by that same one pitch in the 1962 playoff). Yet that Giant team now has 5 players in the Hall of Fame: the magnificent Mays (who came in second to Wills in the 1962 MVP voting), the majestic Marichal, the mighty McCovey, Perry, and Cepeda (who publicly has stated that Maury belongs in the Hall). The dominant Dodger team from that era has only 2 players in the Hall: Koufax and Drysdale (Snider and Sutton were only involved on the margins of the 1959 - 1966 period). Fairness demands that this great Dodger team have at least one more player in the Hall compared to the 5 players of their Giant contemporaries, and Maury Wills is the player most obviously a part of that dominant Dodger team, playing a major role in all seasons during the dominant run from 1959 to 1966.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Big D said...

Well, that's just plain silly. By the same logic, John Roseboro and Jim Gilliam should also be in the Hall of Fame.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous A.J. Guilford said...

The silliness is yours. The comment says "Maury Wills is the player most obviously a part of that dominant Dodger team". Not Roseboro (whose kindness Marichal has said got Marichal in) or Gilliam. What animates me here is when the Giants got their FIFTH player in from a team that won no championships: Orlando Cepeda. Right number (30), wrong guy. But Cepeda was smart enough to publically say Maury deserves election.

Andrew J. Guilford

7:21 AM  
Blogger Big D said...

More silliness from Dodger fans. Andrew J. Guilford now argues that Maury Wills deserves to be in the Hall because Orlando Cepeda is in the Hall. Listen to me, Andrew -- MAURY WILLS IS NOT A GOOD PLAYER WHEN MEASURED BY CAREER STATS. Cepeda and Don Drysdale are at the very bottom of acceptable Hall members. But if Maury Wills got in, it would mean hundreds of other undeserving players should also be let in.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous AJG said...


Well, listen to me, and READ what I (and others) write. You write about stats, but factors beyond stats are important. I wrote: "Most people think post season play is important in electing Hall of Famers, and Maury certainly fits the bill."

Many writers (besides Jenkins) have said that another factor beyond stats is that Maury changed the game. For example, this year, Doug Krikorian said, "Vote Maury Wills into the Hall of Fame because he forever changed the fabric of baseball in 1962".

And even using the stats you elevate, Maury's lifetime batting average is higher than many Hall of Fame middle infielders. For example, his average is 21 points higher than Bill Mazeroski, 19 points higher than Luis Aparicio and Ozzie Smith, 12 points higher than Pee Wee Reese and 8 points higher than Phil Rizzuto.

He deserves the Hall for these and many other reasons. See

10:29 PM  
Blogger Paulie said...

Wills had a few legitimate All-Star seasons but for most of his career he was an abysmal hitter (even in the pitcher friendly '60's) who benefited from the halo effect of being on the same team as Koufax and Drysdale. Just because Cepeda says he is deserving, doesn't make it so.

The argument that the Dodgers "deserve" as many Hall-of Famers as the Giants because they won more pennants is absolutely ridiculous. Why don't we elect Mark Belanger and Paul Blair to the HOF because the 1970's Orioles "deserve" a bunch of HOFers. And, fuck, while we're at it, why not Scott Brosius and Paul O'Neill from the late-90's Yankees? They sure "deserve" a bunch of Hall-of-Famers, right?

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Guilford said...

<< And, f---, while we're at it, why not Scott Brosius and Paul O'Neill from the late-90's Yankees?>>

If one of them was the best offensive player on a team that won it all three times in seven years, all experts agree that this should be a factor. If that player also changed the game, that would be another factor. Also winning the MVP, Gold Gloves, etc., while batting higher than other HOF'ers would be a factor. Also, support from folks like Reggie, Ryan, Morgan, Cepeda, Aaron, and many other experts should be a factor. All together, the case is compelling.

I give facts and arguments that are not addressed. I receive the ad hominems and profanity that is typical of stupid sports blogs. I'm out.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Big D said...

Oh, poor you, Andrew. People don't agree with you so you're leaving and whining as you go after making a bunch of silly assertion. Fine with me.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Paulie said...

Sorry, but Wills didn't change the game in any way, shape, or form. If you are referring to the run-run era, it started before Wills came up, and stolen bases didn't become any more frequent in the years he was in the league. Don't take my word for it...just check out the entry for Wills in Bill James's New Historical Baseball Abstract; this is a total myth.

And Wills wasn't the best hitter on the Dodgers during any of their pennant-winning years. Tommy and Willy Davis and Ron Fairly might have something to say about that.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting debate.

For a discussion of Wills' deficiencies as a major-league manager, see:

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, because of the rule change in 2007 barring ties, plus the one-game-only playoff rule, Wills' major league record of 165 Games in 1962 will never be broken, barring a rule change. The only main "leaderboard" record, season or year, that cannot be broken.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree Willis dod not change the sport in any way

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know how old you are, but my sense is that none of the guys on this thread ever actually saw Maury WIlls play in person. Not only was he a game changer, he was a game winner.

Growing up a Cardinals fan in St. Louis in the 1950s and 60s, I witnessed many occasions when Wills' mere presence on first base took a pitcher out of his rhythm and forced him to put the ball over the plate.

That, of course, opened up hitting opportunities for the next Dodgers batter. I'm not sure there's a stat for that, but believe me the Dodgers eked out a lot of wins because of Wills. He was one of the most exciting players to ever put on a uniform.

Blue collar Joes plunked down their hard earned cash at every National League park in America to come watch Wills play. Wills gave fans a glimpse of the highly effective (and entertaining) Negro League style of play.

He proved there were other ways to win games besides home runs. He filled seats and his teams won championships. So what's the problem? Vote Maury Wills into the Hall of Fame for everything he accomplished in baseball and not just the stats.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Big D said...

Thanks for your thoughtful post, Anonymous, but Wills is one of the most over-rated players ever around. The Dodgers won pennants when he was on the team despite his crappy offense, not because of it. the 1962 MVP vote was a travesty.

And yes, I've been going to games since 1958 so don't pull this "I'm older than you, so I know better" nonsense.

11:16 PM  

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