The Hall of Fame case for Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds legend Dave Parker

PITTSBURGH - 1982: Dave Parker of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks on from the field before a Major League Baseball game at Three Rivers Stadium circa 1982 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - 1982: Dave Parker of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks on from the field before a Major League Baseball game at Three Rivers Stadium circa 1982 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /
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If Dave Parker hadn't had so many injuries and had drug issues in the early 1980s, perhaps he would have been able to maintain his Hall of Fame pace from the early 1970s but in his 15 BBWAA ballots, Parker never got more than 24.5 percent of the vote, which happened on his second ballot in 1998.  Hall of Famer Tim Raines was also implicated in the drug trials as well and he eventually got into the Hall of Fame so the BBWAA voters were willing to forgive Raines for his misgivings. However, the sabermetrics say that Raines was a better player than Parker.  Parker has made the Modern Era Baseball Committee ballot before as he was on the ballot in 2018 when Harold Baines was voted in for the Class of 2019. He didn't even receive half of the vote, though. Parker has had Parkinson's Disease for nearly a decade now so the man affectionately nicknamed "The Cobra" is in the twilight of his life so when they vote in December 2023, perhaps he will receive more recognition on the ballot and, perhaps, he should get some more consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame than he has before.
24 Apr 1991: Dave Parker of the California Angels points to someone during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport /

Dave Parker’s WAR7 shows he had a good peak in his career

WAR7 is more favorable for Dave Parker, as his WAR7 (his WAR in his best seven seasons) is 37.3, or 31st among primary right fielders. Modern Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Enos Slaughter are just ahead of Parker at 37.9 and 37.4. But the only modern HOF right fielder below him? Harold Baines.

With JAWS (which balances WAR and WAR7), Parker is at 38.7. That is 40th all-time. The only modern HOF right fielder below Parker? You guessed it: Harold Baines.

So why the discrepancy between the old school and new school? In a word: defense.

Prior to his injuries and most of his drug use in the 1980s, Parker was an excellent defender. When you look at Total Zone Runs (TZ or Rtot), which is the predecessor to Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), Parker was a great outfielder. From the start of his career through 1979, Parker had 42 TZ, or an average of 6 TZ per season.

But after that, he had -63 TZ, or an average of just under -6 TZ per season. That’s why, in 1986, he has such a big contrast. He came in 5th in NL MVP voting … but he had an rWAR of 0.3. It’s because he had -17 TZ.