AND VADA: Will
the Hall Ever Call?
by Jim Amato
Although it now seems very unlikely to happen, there are two former major leaguers who I feel have a strong case for induction into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. They are both outfielders who made their mark in the 1960’s. Tony Oliva who played his whole career for the Minnesota Twins and Vada Pinson who had his best years with the Reds but also enjoyed a few fine seasons with Cleveland. Oliva played in fifteen seasons but in truth his career was cut short due to injuries. Pinson played eighteen years in the big leagues. I would like to compare their statistics with those of Hall of Famer Al Kaline and to use Kaline as a measuring stick. Kaline played 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers and his final numbers are very worthy of Hall of Fame status. Al racked up 3007 hits and sent 399 baseballs out of the park while batting .297. Oliva on the other hand had only 1917 hits and 220 homeruns while batting at a .304 clip. Pinson who was healthy most of his career had 2757 hit and 256 home runs. To compensate for the years Oliva was not 100% and to show how impressive he was during his “prime” years I have amassed Tony’s stats over his ten best seasons. I then did the same for Kaline and Pinson.
So here goes. For Pinson I picked the seasons 1959 through 1971 omitting only 1964. His statistics for those selected ten years were as follows: AB-6255 – R-933 – H-1867 – D-334 – T-89 –HR-192 RBI-791 – AVG-.2984 – SB-226. For Oliva I picked the years 1964 through 1974 omitting 1972 due to an injury: AB-5679 – R-809 – H-1752 – D-314 – T-48 – HR-208 RBI-868 – AVG-.3085 – SB-86. For Kaline I picked the seasons 1955-59, 1961-63 and 1966-67. His stats for those year: AB-5308 – R-932 – H-1663 – D-267 – T-50 – HR-249 RBI-942 – AVG-.3133 – SB-78.
To try to be as fair in comparison as possible I brought Kaline and Oliva’s up to match Pinson’s high of 6255 at bats. Below are the pro rated stats of Kaline and Oliva along with Pinson based on 6255 at bats during the designated ten seasons for each player.
R H D
T HR RBI
Pinson: 933 1867 334 89 192 791 .2984 226
Oliva: 956 1938 345 53 248 956 .3085 95
Kaline: 1098 1956 325 59 293 1110 .3133 92
As you can see the stats are very comparable. Kaline had 101 more home runs than Pinson but Vada had more than double the output of Al and Tony in stolen bases. Also Vada had a sizable lead in triples. There really isn’t much separating the three in batting average. Although longevity should be rewarded, Oliva should not be punished or to compare to his peers. In the ten years I listed for Tony, he led the league in runs scored once. He led the league five times in hits, four times in doubles and he won three batting titles. Pretty impressive. Kaline led the league one time in hits, doubles and batting average. Pinson led the league in runs once and twice led the league in hits, doubles and triples. Although Vada didn’t win a batting crown his .343 in 1961 topped Al’s .340 in 1955 and Oliva’s .337 in 1971.
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