Sunday, February 13, 2005


By Stockton

I ascribe to the Bill James theory of who should and who should not be in the Hall of Fame; I have no idea who should be in or out. As James states: "The Hall of Fame is a self-defining institution that has manifestly failed to define itself."

Still, I remain intrigued when I find two players, from the same era, with similar statistics, one of whom was considered a shoe-in and the other largely forgotten.

Player A

Player A played his first full season in 1972. He played his last full season in 1991. He spent his entire career in one league and finished with impressive numbers.

Hits - 2350+
Runs - 1250+
Doubles - 400+
Homeruns - 350+
RBI's - 1300+
Average - .265+

Player A hit .280 or better in ten seasons. He hit over .300 twice, scored 100+ runs once and had two 100+ RBI seasons. Player A won one Gold Glove and was in the top ten MVP voting four times. Player A was not a frequent name on the leader boards. He went to one World Series and his team lost. He was on eleven All-Star teams.

Player B

Player B played his first full year in 1971 and his last full year in 1985. He played predominately in one league. He too amassed impressive numbers.

Hits - 2450+
Runs - 1000+
Doubles - 450+
Homeruns - 200+
RBI's - 1350+
Average - .280+

Player B hit .300+ seven times. He had three 100+ RBI seasons. When he didn't drive in 100 runs, he drove in 90+ five times. Player B was in the top ten in MVP voting three times. He was frequently on the leader boards for batting average, doubles and RBI's. He was an eight time All-Star. He went to one World Series and his team lost.

Player A struck out more than he walked. Player B walked more than he struck out. Neither was blessed with speed but Player A was faster. Player A was the better defensive player. Both were catchers, although Player A almost exclusively caught while Player B did play other positions. Player A is in the Hall of Fame. Player B is not.

Player A is...

Carlton Fisk

Player B is...

Ted Simmons

Since the Hall of Fame refuses to tell us why a player is selected to join, I have no idea if Fisk or Simmons should be in the Hall. My gut tells me that Fisk would have a place in my Hall of Fame. Simmons? Maybe. The point is, Simmons deserves a closer look from the Old-Timer's Committee.

I can make the argument that Fisk should be in the Hall and was a better player than Simmons. Fisk played a grueling position for a much longer time than Simmons. Fisk won a Gold Glove and was a Rookie of the Year. Fisk was a fiery competitor and a team leader. In the 1975 World Series, Fisk provided baseball fans with one of the most memorable hits ever. Fisk's record can be found here.

Still, is that enough? Fisk provided his impressive numbers over the course of a 24 year career. Simmons provided his more impressive numbers over the course of 21 years (really 19 years, Simmons played a total of seven games in his first two seasons). In five fewer years, Simmons collected what I consider more impressive offensive numbers.

In a ten year stretch ('71 - '80) Simmons hit; .304, .303, .310, .272, .332, .291, .318, .287, .283, .303. No small accomplishment in the 1970's National League. During the course of his career, Simmons hit 22 points above the league average. By comparison, Fisk hit 3 points above the league average.

Simmons didn't just hit for average. Between 1972 and 1983, Simmons was in the top ten for RBI's six times. Simmons played in only 123 games in 1979. Still, he managed to drive in 87 runs. During his peak years, Simmons walked almost twice as much as he struck out. Unlike Fisk, Simmons played 195 games at 1B and 279 as a Designated Hitter for Milwaukee.

In the end, maybe Fisk belongs and Simmons doesn't. I just want to know how and why the Hall made that determination.

Perhaps a player can elevate himself above his statistical equals with one dramatic moment. Certainly Fisk's homerun in Game 6 of the '75 World Series qualifies as one of the most dramatic moments in baseball. Perhaps Fisk would not be in the Hall but for that homerun. Perhaps Fisk was merely a good player with one terrific, nationally televised homerun. Perhaps.

But, aren't those dramatic moments really what baseball is all about? Thomson's Miracle at Coogan's Bluff, Mays' catch off of Vic Wertz, Bill Mazeroski's series wining homer, Kirk Gibson's dramatics in 1988; those are the moments remembered forever, long after anyone can remember who won the 1966 World Series. Those moments create heroes and legends and if a hero and legend doesn't belong in the Hall, who does?


Terry Head said...

Let’s look at the season by season comparison between Carlton Fisk and Ted Simmons to see why the Hall of Fame voters thought enough of Fisk to enshrine him into the HOF while Simmons didn’t get the 5% vote to remain eligible to remain on the ballot. Your article takes a sweeping look at the entirety of their careers, which emphasizes the inequity clearly. You argured they should take a look at Simmons if Fisk is in the HOF. Let’s look at the year by year numbers and see who had a better career.

The beginning: In 1968 Simmons had 3 AB’s as an 18 yr old. In ’69 Ted had 14 AB’s. In 1970, Simmons came up around the All Star break at age 20 and started his ML career. Fisk had 5 AB’s in ’69 at age 21 and 48 AB’s in ’71 at age 23.

Fisk: DNP
Sim: 3-0-1-0-0-0-0-1-1-. 333-1
Fisk: 5-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-2-. 000-0
Sim: 14-0-3-0-1-0-3-1-1-. 214-5
Fisk: DNP
Sim: 284-29-8-2-3-24-37-37-. 243-90
Fisk: 48-7-15-2-1-2-6-1-10-. 312-25
Sim: 510-64-155-32-4-7-77-36-50-.304-216

After the ’71 season Fisk was 23 and Simmons was 21: Stats:
Fisk: 53-7-15-2-1-2-6-1-10-. 312-25
Sim: 811-93-228-40-7-10-104-75-89-. 281-312

The numbers favor Simmons since he broke in earlier also being two years younger. Let’s look at the next 14 years and compare their stats on a yr to yr basis.

Fisk: 457-74-134-28-9-22-61-52-83-. 293-246
Sim: 594-70-180-36-6-16-96-29-57-. 303-276

This was Fisk rookie of the year yr and Simmons outperformed him on a team that scored 568 runs vs Boston’s AL leading 640. I mention this since Fisk’s 22 HR’s and 61 RBI’s show he knocked in himself 22 times and his teammates only 39 times. While Simmons knocked in 80 teammates on a team that scored 82 fewer times. Fisk scored more, had more triples, HR’s & BB’s. While Simmons had 44 more hits, 35 more RBI’s, hit higher by .10 and had 30 more total bases. Advantage Simba but a good rookie yr for Fisk

Fisk: 508-65-125-21-0-26-71-37-99-. 246-224
Sim: 619-62-192-36-2-13-91-61-47-. 310-271

Simmons is on a roll and Fisk has a good second season. While Boston scored 738 runs to the Cards 643, Fisk only scored 3 more runs and knocked in 44 teammates to Simba’s 78. Simmons had 67 more hits, 20 more ribbies, hit for a higher ave by .64 points, 47 more total bases, while having a W/K ratio of 61/47 vs 37/99 for Fisk. A much better year for Simmons!

Head to Head stats:
72-73: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 965-139-259-49-9-48-132-89-182-. 268-470
Sim: 1213-132-372-72-8-29-187-90-104-. 307-547
While some only look at HR’s, knocking in runs is the name of the game and Simmons had knocked in 55 more while his team had scored 223 fewer runs in these two years. Through 2 head to head years there is not much of an argument.

Fisk: 187-36-56-12-1-11-26-24-23-. 299-103
Sim: 599-66-163-33-6-20-103-47-35-. 272-268
Fisk did have a higher average but it could be argued he didn’t have enough AB’s for it to level out. No need to compare this season. Simmons is now up 3-0

72-74: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 1152-175-315-61-10-59-158-113-205-. 273-573
Sim: 1812-198-535-105-14-49-290-137-139- .295- 815

Now let’s look at 1975, the year of Fisk’s post season HR which is speculated for a possible reason Fisk is enshrined.

Fisk: 263-47-87-14-4-10-52-27-32-. 331- 139
Sim: 581-80-193-32-3-18-100-63-35-. 332-285
Fisk gets famous as he has his 4th straight year where Simmons outperformed him. Incidently Boston scored 796 runs vs the Cards 662. Let’s not even compare the ballpark factors.

72-75: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 1415-222-402-75-14-69-210-140-238-.284- 927
Sim: 2393-278-728-138-17-67-390-202-174- .304- 1100

Fisk is famous while Simmons is unoticed in the NL because all the attention is on The Big Red Machine. Simmons has been better all four years head to head

Fisk: 487-76-124-17-5-17-58-56-71-. 255-202
Sim: 546-60-159-35-3-5-75-73-35-. 291-215

In a year where Simmons led his team in RBI’s for the 5th consecutive yr, Fisk was 6th on his team which outscored the Cards by 87. While Simmons only had 5 HR’s he knocked in 70 teammates while Fisk knocked in 41. Not even close again for a 5th straight head to head victory for Simmmons.

72-76: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 1902-298-526-92-19-86-268-196-309-. 277-1129
Sim: 2939-338-887-173-20-72-465-275-209-. 302 –1315

Fisk: 536-106-169-26-3-26-102-75-85- .315-279
Sim: 516-82-164-25-3-21-95-79-37- .318- 258

This is a close one. Fisk scored 24 more runs but Boston scored 859 vs St. Louis’s 737. Fisk was tied for 3rd on his team in RBI’s while Simmons led his team for the 6th straight yr. Fisk had more TB’s but Simmons obp was .06 higher, .408 vs .402. The NL ave was .334 vs the AL .346 so Simmons was on base .72 higher than the league ave vs 56 pts higher for Fisk. 85 K’s vs 37 for Simba. It’s a close one so I will call this one a push.

72-77: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 2438-404-695-118-22-112-370-271-394- .285-1408
Sim: 3455-420-1051-198-23-93-560-354-246- .304- 1573

Remember Simmons had far superior numbers going into this head to head competition.

Fisk: 571-94-162-39-5-20-88-71-83-. 284-271
Sim: 516-71-148-40-5-22-80-77-39-. 287-264

Another close one where Fisk had 7 more TB’s in 65 more AB’s. Boston scored 796 runs vs the Cards 600. Fisk’s rbi total was 51 less than Jim Rice’s while Simmons led his team in RBI’s a major league record 7th consecutive time. Being on a team that scored just short of 200 fewer times, I give this close one to Simmons. All the numbers are close but how about the W/K ratio.

72-78: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 3009-498-857-157-27-132-458-342-477- .285- 1679
Sim: 3971-491-1199-238-28-115-640-431-285- .302- 1837

Fisk: 320-49-87-23-2-10-42-10-38- .272-144
Sim: 448-68-127-22-0-26-87-61-34- .283-227

This was Simmons strongest power year until he hit by a pitch in late August to cut his season short. At age 29 he started getting lift to his line drives.

72-79: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 3329-547-944-180-29-142-529-352-515- .284- 1823
Sim: 4419-559-1326-260-28-141-727-492-319- .300- 2064

Fisk: 478-73-138-25-3-18-62-36-62-. 289-223
Sim: 495-84-150-33-2-21-98-59-45-. 303-250

Another superior season by the guy who didn’t get enough votes to remain on the HOF ballot.

72-80: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 3807-620-1082-205-32-160-591-388-577- .284-2046
Sim: 4914-643-1476-293-30-162-825-551-364- .300- 2314

After the 1980 season both players switched leagues so look at who has had a better head to head career so far. It’s not even close. Simmons even had more HR’s and scored more runs in a much less friendly stadium. Fisk known for his power had 268 fewer TB’s in their first 9 years head to head. Fisk had 73.3% of hits and 71.6% of Simmons’ RBI’s. Let’s move on to the Brewers and the White Sox.

Fisk: 338-44-89-12-0-7-45-38-37-. 263-122
Sim: 380-45-82-13-3-14-61-23-32-. 216-143

In what many consider Simmons’ first bad season was effected by the strike where he was just getting hot before the strike and then had to start cold again after the strike. That said he had much better power numbers than Fisk even though his average was down after switching leagues and going though the work shortage.

72-81: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 4145-664-1171-217-32-167-636-426-614- .283-2168
Sim: 5294-688-1558-306-33-178-886-574-396- .294- 2457

In 1981 the Brewers had the best record in the second half and made the playoffs for the first time. Rollie Fingers was the MVP and Cy Young award winner. Simmons influence?

Fisk: 476-66-127-17-3-14-65-46-60-. 267-192
Sim: 539-73-145-29-0-23-97-32-40-. 269-243

Simmons with another better year across the board and the Brewers made it to the World Series with Pete Vuckovich winning the Cy Young. Two years in the AL and the Brewers make it to the playoffs both times and there are two Cy Young’s and a MVP award

72-82: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 4621-730-1298-234-35-181-704-472-674- .281-2360
Sim: 5883-761-1703-335-33-201-983-606-436- .289- 2700

11 years of head to head competition and Fisk hasn’t won one year and has gotten blown away for the totals.

Fisk: 488-85-141-26-4-26-86-46-88-. 289- 253
Sim: 600-76-185-39-3-13-108-41-51-. 308-269

One of Fisk’s better years but being 22 RBI’s short with 44 fewer hits gives 83 to Simba.

72-83: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 5109-815-1439-260-39-207-790-518-762- .282-2613
Sim: 6483-837-1888-374-36-214-1091-647-487- .291-2969

Fisk: 359-54-83-20-1-21-43-26-60-. 231-168
Sim: 497-44-110-23-2-4-52-30-40-. 221-149

This could have been Fisk’s first outright win for a season if he didn’t just knock in 22 teammates vs 48 for Simmons. An awful year for both but Simmons outproduced Fisk.

72-84: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 5468-869-1522-280-40-228-833-544-822- .278-2781
Sim: 6977-881-1998-397-38-218-1143-677-527- .286- 3118

Fisk: 543-85-129-23-1-37-107-52-81-. 238-265
Sim: 528-60-144-28-2-12-76-57-32-. 273-212

This could be a year for Fisk but, a .320 obp vs a lg adj/park adj OBP of .332 vs Simmons .342 vs a lg adj/park adj .327 is -. 10 vs + .15. Fisk knocked in 70 teammates vs Simmons 64. I will give 1985 to Fisk even though he had 15 fewer hits and 49 more K’s.

This puts an end to the 15-year head to head battle between Carlton Fisk and Ted Simmons since Simba played part time in Atlanta for three more years. Let’s look at the numbers:

72-85: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 6011-954-1651-303-41-265-940-596-903-. 275-3046
Sim: 7505-941-2142-425-40-230-1219-734-559- .285 3330

Fisk scored 13 more runs
one more triple
35 more HR’s

Simmons had 491 more hits
122 more 2B’s
279 more ribbies
138 more walks
344 fewer K’s
Batted .10 better
284 more total bases

I don’t know if anyone could argue on a year to year basis that Fisk had a better 14 yr head to head stats. But Fisk kept on playing so maybe he did well after 1985 when Fisk was 37 and Simmons was 35. But first we should add in the numbers before they went head to head.

Career totals up through 1985:
……………. AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 6064-961-1666-305-42-267-946-597-915- .275-3071
Sim: 8316-1034-2370-465-47-240-1330-809-648- .285-3642

Fisk had 27 more HR’s

Simmons scored 73 more runs
704 more hits
160 more doubles
5 more triples
384 more ribbies
212 more walks
267 fewer K’s
.10 higher batting ave
571 more total bases

At this point there is no argument for who has been more productive. Simmons played 3 more years on the Atlanta bomb squad as a part time player and a mentor to Zane Smith. Fisk played for 8 more seasons, full time until age 43 while Simmons ended full time at age 35. Let’s look at the post head to head numbers and see how the numbers add up.

Fisk: 457-42-101-11-0-14-63-22-92-. 221-265
Sim: 127-14-32-5-0-4-25-12-14- .252-49

By no means was this a good year for Fisk batting .221 and a 22/92 W/K ratio but let’s see how this production added to the career totals:

Career thru 86: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 6521-1003-1767-316-42-281-1009-619-1007-. 271-3336
Sim: 8443-1048-2402-470-47-244-1355-821-662-. 284 3691

Fisk got his 1000th career RBI at age 38 while Simmons got his at age 30! Let’s move on:

Fisk: 454-68-116-22-1-23-71-39-72-. 256-209
Sim: 177-20-49-8-0-4-30-21-23-. 277-69

Career thru 87: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 6975-1071-1883-338-43-304-1080-658-1079-. 270-3545
Sim: 8620-1068-2451-478-47-248-1385-842-685-. 284- 3760

Fisk moves on and stays way behind Simmons!
Fisk: 253-37-70-8-1-19-50-37-40-. 277-137
Sim: 107-6-21-6-0-2-11-15-9-. 196-33

Career thru 88: AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk: 7228-1108-1953-346-44-323-1130-698-1119-. 270- 3682
Sim: 8680-1074-2472-483-47-248-1389-855-694-. 285-3793

After 1988 Ted Simmons retired and finished with better career numbers than Fisk and Fisk kept on playing. Let’s look.

Fisk: 375-47-110-25-2-13-68-36-60-. 293-178
Fisk: 452-65-129-21-0-18-65-61-73-. 285-204
Fisk: 460-42-111-25-0-18-74-32-86-. 241-190
Fisk: 188-12-43-4-1-3-21-23-38-. 229-58
Fisk: 53-2-10-0-0-1-4-2-11-. 189-13

At age 45 after breaking Bob Boone’s games caught record by playing one inning of his last 13 games Fisk hung up his Hall of Fame career.

Let’s look at the numbers;

Fisk: 8756-1276-2356-421-47-376-1330-849-1386-. 269-3999
Sim: 8680-1074-2472-483-47-248-1389-855-694- .285-3793

Fisk had:
76 more AB’s
202 more runs scored
128 more HR’s
206 more TB’s
Played til he was 45

Simmons had:
116 more hits
62 more doubles
69 more ribbies
6 more walks
692 fewer K’s
.16 higher BA
Stopped playing full time at age 35

Playing 8 yrs after Simmons stopped playing full time, Fisk approached Simmons career numbers but did not surpass them.

After 1985 Fisk’s last 8 yrs were:
……………. AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk 86-93: 2692-315-690-116-5-109-384-252-471- .256- 928

8 yr average of AB-R-H-2B-3B-HR-RBI-BB-SO-BA-TB
Fisk 86-93: 336-39-86-14-.625-14-48-31-59-.256- 116

If we agree that Simmons stats were better after 1985 when Simmons stopped playing full time, do we think that a .256 average averaging less than 50 RBI’s and 86 hits is what got Fisk in by playing to age 45?

Other numbers: Career:
BA vs lgBA:
Fisk .269 v .266 (+. 03)
Simmons .285 v .263 (+. 22)

Obp v lgObp
Fisk: .341 v .332 (+. 09)
Simmons: .348 v .329 (+. 19)

Slugging v lgsl
Fisk: .457 v .399 (+. 58)
Simmons: .437 v .390 (+. 47)
OPS v lgsl
Fisk: .797 v .731 (+. 66)
Simmons .785 v .719 (+66)

Fisk 117
Simmons 118

The only thing Fisk has on Simmons was HR’s and if your OPS+ is less than Simmons that negates the significance of Fisk’s HR’s. Playing on more productive teams in more hitter friendly ball parks along with breaking in with Peter Gammons kept Carlton Fisk on the baseball radar while Ted Simmons’ career was overlooked by all but 17 HOF voters. Name me another position where the leader in hits at that position and 2nd in RBI’s is not in the Hall. Throw in how the pitchers respected Simmons, the Cy Young’s, MVP’s, a major league record leading your team in RBI’s 7 times. Ted Simmons does not only belong in the Hall of Fame, he had better careers than arguably every catcher in the Hall. It’s not right and should be corrected by the Veterans’s Committee.

Any thoughts?

Terry Head
Fox Point, WI

Stockton & Tweed said...


Any Thoughts? I think you just about summed it up with an exhaustive look at the career of both catchers. Simmons has clearly been given short shrift over the years. I suppose that if he had played in NY or LA, or if he had played for 24 years, things may be different.

Unfortunately, he's been left behind. I also understand that he was very underrated defensively. I never can understand how the HOF makes its decisions. Thanks for the informed comment.