The Comet is still waiting

Two of the best players to not be inducted into the Hall of Fame have another chance to have a wrong righted. The late Ron Santo’s Hall case is always stated, but not as many people talk about Minnie Minoso’s Hall of Fame case. The first black player to wear a White Sox uniform has yet to be inducted, and that’s a travesty considering what he brought to the table as a player and person. “The Cuban Comet” also played in seven different decades of pro baseball (the only player in history) and was a star third baseman in the Negro Leagues and also played in Mexico (“El Charro Negro” or “The Black Cowboy”).

WAR is the best single statistic at getting a general overview of a player’s career, and Minnie Minoso’s 58 WAR career is tied with Sam Rice, Orlando Cepeda, Enos Slaughter, and Johnny Evers. Minoso also had higher WARs than Hall of Famers Jim Rice and Lou Brock.  Sam Rice and Evers are currently in the Hall of Fame, while Cepeda and Slaughter are currently on the outside looking in.  However, Minoso brought more to the table of historical note than those four did. After all, he was the first black to play for the Chi-Sox, and things like that should indeed boost somebody’s HOF resume’.

“Mr. White Sox” had 11 straight seasons of at least a 114 wRC+ from 1951 to 1961, and he never had anything lower than a 4.4 WAR from ’51 to 1960. So, in his peak years, we can conclude that Minoso displayed a consistent high level of play. Minoso’s signature year was in 1954, and he had an 8.2 WAR with a 158 wRC+ (both career-highs). “The Cuban Comet” was his usual terrific self in the field, and he appeared in his fourth straight All-Star game. He would go on to win three Gold Glove Awards and appear in nine All-Star games in his career.

Not only was Minoso a great defensive player, he also possessed good speed and stole 205 bases in his career. “Mr. White Sox” also had a career OBP of .389 (110th in history) and a career wRC+ of 132 (one of the top 150 totals in MLB history).  Bill James developed a statistic called Power-Speed #, and Minnie Minoso’s score of 195.0 is the 85th best in history. If getting hit by a pitch is a skill- Craig Biggio will tell you that- then Minoso was one of the best in that regard ranking ninth in Major League history. Actually, he was known- to the frustration of the opposition- for “stealing first” with his ability to crowd the plate and turn out of inside pitches that hit him to mitigate the effects of the blow. Whether or not you like it, that’s some skill right there.

The number nine was retired in 1983 by the Chicago White Sox in honor of Orestes (was he named after the Greek character?) Minoso, and he was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum in 2002. Since hitting a 415 foot home run off of Yankees star pitcher Vic Raschi in his first at-bat with the White Sox, Minoso has been one of the most celebrated players in franchise history. His addition to the team sparked a 14 game winning streak, and he finished off with a 6 WAR in his rookie season. I will never get how Yankees shortstop Gil McDougald edged him out for the award, when the 3B/corner outfielder was better by pretty much every measure. In fact, as a rookie, he posted an insane 7.8 Bill James Speed Score.

The patient Minoso had a career walk rate of 10.6% compared to a strikeout rate of 7.6%, and this was the main reason why he had such a high on-base percentage. It baffles me as to why one of the greatest players in the Golden Era’s highest percentage of votes from the BBWA was 21.1% in 1988. “The Cuban Comet” is one of the top 150 players in MLB history, and he should be among the already 234 players who are currently in the Hall of Fame. Seriously, it’s about time guys; the Veterans Committee has to rectify things sooner or later. And the sooner the better, I don’t want to risk the chance that one of the most beloved and important players in MLB history doesn’t get to be inducted in person. Every White Sox fan was elated when they saw Minoso throw the first pitch of the 2011 season, so why not give them more joy and put him in the Hall!

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Tags: Minnie Minoso

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