The Hall of Fame case for San Francisco Giants legend Will Clark

2 Aug 1992: First baseman Will Clark of the San Francisco Giants swings at the ball during a game against the Atlanta Braves. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule /Allsport
2 Aug 1992: First baseman Will Clark of the San Francisco Giants swings at the ball during a game against the Atlanta Braves. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule /Allsport /
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Will Clark, San Francisco Giants, Baseball Hall of Fame
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – APRIL 26: Former player Will Clark of the San Francisco Giants looks on before the game against the Cleveland Indians at AT&T Park on April 26, 2014 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Cleveland Indians 5-3. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /

Will Clark is better than a few modern Hall of Fame first basemen

Will Clark’s 56.5 rWAR is very comparable to current Hall of Famers. In fact, all-time, Clark is in a four-way tie for WAR. The other three players (Bill Dickey, Larry Doby, and Bill Terry) are all Hall of Famers.

Among first basemen, Clark’s WAR is tied for 23rd all-time with Terry. Clark is ahead of some modern (post-World War II) Hall of Famers, including David Ortiz, Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda, and Gil Hodges. All four of those players played at least two more seasons than Clark as well.

The next three Hall of Fame first basemen ahead of Clark (Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, and Eddie Murray) are within 12.1 WAR of Clark but each of the three played at least six more seasons than Clark so their average WAR is much lower than Clark.

When you look at OPS+, Clark’s 137 OPS+ is ahead of Cepeda, Murray, Perez, and Hodges.

By WAR7 (a player’s WAR in their best 7 seasons), Clark is 30th among primary first basemen at 36.1. He is just behind Perez (36.5) and Killebrew (38.1) and ahead of Ortiz, Cepeda, and Hodges.

When you look at JAWS (which averages WAR and WAR7), Clark is 27th all-time among first basemen at 46.3. That’s ahead of Ortiz, Perez, Cepeda, and Hodges.

Particularly with Ortiz, he was voted into the Hall of Fame on his very first ballot with 77.9 percent of the vote just a few months ago. He was a primary DH so he didn’t play the field like Clark and he wasn’t leaps and bounds better offensively (Ortiz is the first current Hall of Famer above Clark in OPS+ at 141). Ortiz had a longer postseason resumé but Clark was also excellent in the postseason.

Instead, Clark got 4.4 percent of the vote on his first and only BBWAA ballot in 2006 so he fell off of the ballot. However, he did make the 2019 Today’s Game Era Committee ballot for the Hall of Fame and while he didn’t get enough votes to get into the Hall, half of the battle is actually getting on to one of those ballots.

Next. The HOF case for Clark's former teammate Rick Reuschel. dark

Will Clark is someone that would have been a first ballot Hall of Famer had he played a few more seasons. But even with his current career, he should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame because of his peak years, especially because he played in the steroid era and rivaled many of the players on steroids. Clark never touched them.