Examining the Hall of Fame case for Boston Red Sox legend Dwight Evans

OAKLAND - MAY 1989: Dwight Evans of the Boston Red Sox plays in a Major League Baseball game against the Oakland A's during May 1989 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
OAKLAND - MAY 1989: Dwight Evans of the Boston Red Sox plays in a Major League Baseball game against the Oakland A's during May 1989 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images) /
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Boston Red Sox outfielder Dwight Evans is, perhaps, one of the overlooked players for the Baseball Hall of Fame in recent memory.

Evans, who was affectionately known as “Dewey,” spent parts of 20 seasons in the majors from 1972 through 1991 and spent 19 of them with Boston as their right fielder and (for a pair of seasons) their first baseman.

He was a three-time All-Star, won eight Gold Glove Awards, won two Silver Slugger Awards, and four top 10 finishes in AL MVP voting in his career.

However, when it came time for him to be on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, Evans fell off of the ballot after three years since he did not garner five percent of the vote in the third year. The most votes he ever received was in 1998, when he got 10.4 percent.

When you dive further into his career, though, you see that Evans should be a Hall of Famer but, as most snubbed players of the 1970s and 1980s, Evans was a bit of an anachronism.

Boston Red Sox legend Dwight Evans should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame

Boston Red Sox legend Dwight Evans was a bit similar to players of the current generation in that you have to dig into the numbers to see how good he was and not look just at the stats of yesteryear.

For example, in his 1975 season, Evans played in 128 games. If you look at the three main offensive stats of the time, you’d think he was an average player or slightly better. He had 13 homers, 56 RBI, and he hit .274. But he had an on-base percentage of .353, an OPS+ of 120, and, defensively, he had 24 Total Zone Runs (TZ or Rtot), which is the predecessor of Defensive Runs Saved.

Combine that all together and he had a 5.1 rWAR season, which was the fourth-best of his career. The Red Sox also got to the World Series that year but Evans did not get any awards or accolades (no Gold Glove, All-Star selection, etc.).

Evans actually got better as his career went on. Entering the 1981 season (his age 29 season), Evans was an All-Star once and won three Gold Glove Awards but from 1981 through 1988 (his age 36 season), Evans was an All-Star twice, won five Gold Gloves, got MVP votes five times (including all four of his top 10 finishes), and both of his Silver Slugger Awards.

Before that period, Evans also only had more than 20 homers in a season twice and never more than 24. From ’81-’88, he had 25 or more in six seasons and in ’81 (which was shortened by a players’ strike), he led the AL with 22 homers. He also never had more than 70 RBI in any season before 1981 but from 1981 through 1989, he had at least 80 RBI in each season except one and four 100+ RBI seasons.

Overall, he had a career slash line of .272/.370/.470 with a career OPS+ of 127. He also had 10 full seasons with an OPS+ of 120 or better, eight seasons with an rWAR of 4.0 or better (and two more seasons with an rWAR of 3.7 or better), and a career 67.1 rWAR.

That rWAR is 14th all-time among primary right fielders. Here are some of the players around him in rWAR with the number of years played as well. Bold indicates a Hall of Famer

10. Reggie Jackson73.9 WAR, 21 seasons

11. Larry Walker72.7 WAR, 17

12. Harry Heilmann72.5 WAR, 17

13. Tony Gwynn69.2 WAR, 20

14. Dwight Evans, 67.1 WAR, 20

15. Reggie Smith, 64.6 WAR, 17

16. Dave Winfield, 64.2 WAR, 20

17. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, 62.2 WAR, 13

18. Gary Sheffield, 60.5 WAR, 22

19. Bobby Abreu, 60.2 WAR, 18

20. Ichiro, 60.0 WAR, 19

Jackson would be a Hall of Famer if he wasn’t banned from baseball for the “Black Sox” scandal, Sheffield would be in if not for the PED allegations against him, Abreu is still on the ballot, and Ichiro will be in when he’s eligible.

Among the Hall of Famers below Ichiro in the WAR department are Vladimir Guerrero, Enos Slaughter, Tony Oliva, and many right fielders from 70+ years ago. Also, Evans’ WAR is the sixth-highest among non-Hall of Famers to make their MLB debut after 1901 and to not have a “character” clause issue clouding their candidacy (e.g. PED users, Pete Rose, Curt Schilling, etc.)

Next. The HOF case for former Yankees 3B Graig Nettles. dark

Boston Red Sox legend Dwight Evans should receive more consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame but he will have to wait until at least the 2023-24 offseason when the Modern Baseball Era Committee votes on people who made their biggest impact on the game from 1970 through 1988.