The Time Has Come to Induct Dwight Evans into Cooperstown
Sunday July 22nd, 2012
By Patrick Languzzi (Guest Baseball Writer):
As we embark on baseball’s most exciting weekend, the eyes of baseball fans everywhere will be on Cooperstown, NY for the induction of Barry Larkin and Ron Santo into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Larkin was elected through the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) and Santo via the Veterans Committee after falling off the ballot in 1998.
The Veterans committee consists of 16 members made up of veteran media members, executives and current members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For a player to be elected, they must receive 75 percent or 12 of 16 votes.
But there’s another player that I’ll take a special interest in come the winter meetings of 2013. That’s when the Expansion Era ballot (Veterans) finalists are announced. It’s also when former Red Sox great Dwight “Dewey” Evans becomes eligible again. Evans fell off the BBWAA ballot back in 1999. Now his chance to shine comes up again very soon.
Bill James once wrote, “Dwight Evans is one of the most underrated players in baseball history because he did many things well, rather than having once central skill that people could use to explain his excellence”.
My interest in Evans’ case began when Jim Rice was elected with the class of 2009 and a challenge was thrown down from my wife, simply stating, “If you feel so strongly that Evans deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, then do the research and prove it”.
I quickly went to work. The more I uncovered, the more convinced I became that Evans belonged in the Hall of Fame. For instance, Evans was the best right fielder in baseball for close to two decades (‘70s, ‘80s). He was selected to the All-Decade Team of the ‘80s, was a three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger, won eight Gold Gloves in 10 seasons and was selected by MLB as having one of the nine greatest outfield arms in baseball history.
And when you combine both Evans’ offense and defensive abilities since the inception of the Gold Glove Award (post-1955), it’s truly remarkable what he’s accomplished. For example, for an entire decade (‘80s) Evans has been the only player to lead his league (American) in home runs, with 256, win five-straight Gold Gloves (’81-’85) and lead all of Major League Baseball in extra base hits and runs created. Hall of Famer Henry Aaron is the only other player to lead MLB in both extra base hits over a decade (‘60s), as well as win multiple Gold Gloves with three, in his entire 23-year career. Pretty good company if you ask me.
Since the turn of the century, all the players listed to lead their respective decade in extra base hits through 1980 have been inducted in Cooperstown:
Extra Base Hit Leaders by Decade
1900s – Honus Wagner
1910s – Tris Speaker
1920s – Babe Ruth
1930s – Jimmie Foxx
1940s – Stan Musial
1950s – Stan Musial
1960s – Hank Aaron
1970s – Reggie Jackson
1980s – Dwight Evans
If you were to subtract Evans’ Hall of Fame caliber defense and focus strictly on his offensive numbers, he still compares well as a viable Hall of Fame candidate.
It’s all right there on: www.calltothehall.com, a website designed to inform baseball fans on Dwight Evans’ Hall of Fame credentials, career accomplishments, Hall of Fame player comparisons, video footage, online petition and much, much more!
Evans Compared to the Average Hall of Fame Hitter
Avg HOF Runs Hits 2B HR RBI BB SLG OPS
Hitter 1275 2313 395 202 1168 858 .459 .834
Dwight Evans 1470 2446 483 385 1384 1391 .470 .840
Evans was clutch in the post-season, as well. In 14 World Series games (two series, ’75, ’86), Evans hit .300, with 15 hits, three HRs, 14 RBIs, seven walks, seven runs, .397 OBP, .580 SLG, .977 OPS with 29 total bases. Dewey even made one of the greatest catches in World Series history. Evans played, however, in the shadow of Hall of Fame teammates Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski and Wade Boggs.
And according to Bill James, one problem voters have had with Evans in the past is that they recall his offensive numbers from the first few years of his career, “the public image of him is a .270 hitter with 20-homer type power set in stone.”
The fact is, Evans went on to be closer to a 30-homer, 100-RBI hitter and was the only player in MLB throughout the ‘80s to hit 20 or more home runs in nine consecutive seasons (’81-’89).
James went on to write in an Open Letter to the Hall of Fame, “Dwight Evans is the very unusual player who had all of his best years in his thirties … Less than 5 percent [of players] have all of their best [offensive] years in their thirties. Dwight Evans is that unusual case.”
Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski said it best: “Dewey was a great offensive player and one of the greatest right fielders to play the game; there is no doubt in my mind that he belongs in the Hall of Fame.”
In closing, I’d like to acknowledge that throughout all my research, I’ve gotten friendly with Evans. And what I’ve found is that Evans is a quiet, classy individual. A man who would not discuss himself as a potential Hall of Fame candidate, in spite of his accomplishments on the diamond, all while caring for two seriously ill young children with a life threatening disease. To learn more on Evans, please visit: Dwight Evans – Hall of Fame Individual.
Sources: Baseball-reference.com, Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame? by Bill James, An Open Letter to the Hall of Fame About Dwight Evans by Bill James
Patrick Languzzi is currently a contributing writer to a nationally syndicated sports blog called the Bleacher Report.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PatrickLanguzzi
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Posted on July 22, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged all-star, barry larkin, Bill James, boston red sox, carl yastrzemski, cincinnati, cooperstown, dewey, dwight evans, gold glove, hall of fame, henry aaron, jim rice, ron santo, Silver Slugger, wade boggs, world series. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.