Was Dwight Evans HOF good?

Tonight, I ran across Baseball Hall Monitor’s latest post on Jim Rice.  They state:

Rice’s teammate on the Red Sox, Evans has more career HRs than Rice, more runs scored, a higher on-base percentage and nearly as many hits and RBI. Oh, and Evans won eight Gold Gloves to Rice’s zero. But you can’t vote for Evans anymore, since he was dropped from the ballot in 2000 for lack of support.

It’s a compelling argument and I don’t necessarily disagree.  Honestly, I didn’t know Evans’ stats compared that well.

My guess for Rice’s appeal is the intimidation factor.  Rice hit 35+ homeruns four times back when 35 homeruns really meant something.  He can also point to his mantle and right there is his MVP award from 1978.

Evans offensive stats were gathered over a longer period of time (20 seasons to Rice’s 16).  That doesn’t discount it in any way at all but it does mean for less impact per year.  Ironically, Evans’ most productive year came at the advanced age of 35 when he hit 34 homers and drove in 123 runs.

Was Evans HOF material?  It’s a moot point since we’re too late to vote him in now.  But considering that Evans’ and Rice’s OPS+ are within 1 point of each other plus add to that Evans’ defensive value, it would have been close.

On the other hand, comparing players for the Hall of Fame is a slippery slope.  If you start playing this game instead of holding players up to a certain standard (most likely standardized to their era), it could never end.  Then you could end up inducting players like Mark Grace and Greg Vaughn.


15 Responses to “Was Dwight Evans HOF good?”

  1. Yes, without a doubt Dwight “Dewey” Evans is a HOFer! His offensive numbers are excellent but his real talent was his great defense. One of the best 5 right fielders in history with an arm second to none, including the arm of Roberto Clemente. No championships hurts his chances but he was still the best right fielder of his generation. I have compared his numbers as well and find that there are several position players like Dewey that are in the hall. It’s time to do the right thing and elect him into the hall. The real problem is the BBWAA. They are so out of touch with the game it isn’t funny. Far too many members have not attended a game in the last 5 years. How can they pick players either way? The system has to be changed.

    Dewey Evans along with players like Gil Hodges, Bert Blyleven, Ron Santo, Lee Smith just to name a few MUST receive serious consideration. The BBWAA has to get responsible and do their job.

    Objective Yankee Fan

  2. I always admired Dwight Evans even though I’m a Yankees fan. In many ways Dwight Evans was similar to Carl Yastrzemski – steady player who had several great seasons sandwiched in between average to above average seasons.

    I don’t think Dwight Evans belongs in the hall though. He only has a 272 career average with 2446 hits. If he were to get in the hall you could make the same argument for secondary stars like Al Oliver (303 career average with over 2700 hits), Vada Pinson (286 career average with over 2700 hits), Rusty Stub (279 career average with over 2700 hits), and Rocky Colavito (266 career average with 374 homers- the majority of which were hit in an 8 year span) – all players who compiled nice, but not great, stats over their careers. Colavito actually had a string of 8 great years in a row which if he had sustained it over the longer course would definitely be worth of hall of fame induction.

  3. I am a lifelong Red Sox fan, so I am biased. However, I feel the Dewey belongs in the Hall due to the fact that he has comparable offensive numbers to other HoFers, but also because he had one of the best arms in the majors. Defense does not count enough for the Hall of Fame. I doubt he will ever make it, but I hope some day he does. In addition to this, Evans was an ambassador to the game. A class act all the way.

  4. There’s no question that Dwight Evans was a great defensive player. So was Graig Nettles though – probably the best defensive 3rd baseman in his era – and he’s not in the hall either. Dwight Evans’ stats are good because he played a long time though never lead the league in any specific offensive categories, much like the pitcher Don Sutton who was never viewed as one of the greatest pitchers of his time yet averaged 15 wins a year for 20 years and is in the 300 club.

  5. If Jim Rice is a Hall of Famer, then so is Dewey Evans. The Hall of Fame voters are pathetic. They elected Rice, but left out his better teammate in the same outfield. They elected Dawson, but so far they’re doing the same thing to Tim Raines, who was twice the player Dawson was. But Raines never hit 49 home runs for the Cubs in a year where they juiced up the ball. (He just hit .330 in a pitcher’s park that same year and had an on-base percentage about 100 points higher…)

    Graig Nettles wasn’t quite a Hall of Famer IMO, but he was better than Rice. The player you should really be making a case for isn’t Nettles, it’s Darrell Evans, who was exactly like Nettles, only better.

  6. I was in Fenway to watch Dewey play in both his early and late career, while missing most of his prime (1979-86). He was a star ballplayer. He had arguably the best arm in the American league, and the best of anyone who ever wore a Red Sox uniform.

    But he does not quite have the stats to put him in the Hall of Fame. His best year might have been 1981, in which had he maintained his pace in home runs and RBIs he would have had 33 homers and 127 RBIs.

    Now, there are any number of players in the Hall with a .272 or lower BA. Harmon Killebrew hit .258 career. But he had 573 home runs, with 40 or more 8 times, and 100+ RBIs 10 times.

    Ozzie Smith is in the Hall with a .262 BA. But he was a 15-year Allstar with 13 Gold Gloves, to Evans’s 3 and 8, respectively, probably as good a modern example as can be found of a player whose glove got him in the Hall.

    Reggie Jackson hit .262 career also. But he had 10 HR less than Killebrew career, was a 13 year Allstar, and had an MVP Award (1973).

    Mike Schmidt hit only .270, but he led the National League in homers 8 times, slugging 5 times, walks 4, and won 3 MVPs, plus 9 gold gloves, including 8 years in a row. Had he hit for average too, Schmidt would be one of the top ten PLAYERS that ever played. He even was a threat on the basepaths, stealing 171 bases over a 16-year career, with a career high of 29 in 1975, while leading the league for his second time in HRs.

    Bill James, the eminent baseball historian, posits four possible definitions for a Hall of Famer. Evans clearly does not fit definitions A or B.

    Definition A is, simply, the greatest ever, arguably, to play his position. Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Lefty Grove are examples of that level of HOFer. Mike Schmidt, mentioned earlier, also probably fits this definition, up there with Jimmy Foxx and, today, Albert Pujols, whose place among the all-time greats is cemented, with 432 homers in 11 seasons, the biggest Rookie of the Year season of the century, 2 Gold Gloves and 3 MVPs (with no evidence that he is “juiced”) so far, but how high he’ll rate is unclear. All three of those arguably-greatest-ever first basemen also played significant time at third base, so they are really comparable.

    Definition B says, “one of the greatest ever” at his position. “Such a player should be the dominant player at his position at the time he is active,” with the exception of one-of-the-greatest-ever talent doubling up at one position, like Mantle and Mays concurrently in center field. “He should be the biggest star on the field at any time,” says James.

    Evans was not the dominant right fielder in baseball at any time. He does, however, fit SOME OF definition C for HOFers: he was consistently (especially after he became a power hitter) among the best in the league at his position for a long time.

    James says, “Such a player would ordinarily be the biggest star on his team unless it was a pennant-winning team, in which case he would be regarded as one of the most valuable members of the team.” Some HOFers James says are covered by this definition include Billy Williams, Willie Stargell (the only one of this list I ever actually watched, in HIS ONLY MINOR LEAGUE SEASON, in Asheville in 1962– 42 homers in 140 games, off he went to the Pirates after the minor league season was done in September), Johnny Evers and Harry Heilmann.

    And sorry, there is no way that Evans comes anywhere close to Heilmann. Between 1921 and 1927, Heilmann, Ty Cobb’s teammate, led the American league in hitting four times with BAs of OVER .390. (In fact, between 1907 and 1927, only five batting titles were won by players who were not Detroit Tigers.) He is one of the select bunch (the last being Ted Williams) to hit over .400 in a full season.

    Stargell had 479 homers and was an MVP and World Series MVP in the same season, 1979. He was not the biggest star on the team when Roberto Clemente was there, but thereafter he arguably was.

    Evans was never the biggest star on the Red Sox. In the early part of his career, he wasn’t even close. There were Fisk and Yastrzemski, for starters, in the 1970s. And in his prime: well, still Yastrzemski, though Yaz’s stats had diminished by the last 5-6 years of HIS career, and late on, Roger Clemens and the hitting machine Wade Boggs were the biggest stars on a string of consistently good to great teams. Evans was, always one the most valuable members of his team, fulfilling that part of James’s definition C.

    James posits a definition D: “A player who rises well above the level of the average player, a player who would be capable of contributing to a pennant-winning team, and who would be one of the outstanding players on an average team.”

    James includes “Little Poison”, Lloyd Waner, brother of “Big Poison”, Paul Waner, who have the best statistics of any brother non-pitchers in the history of the game, and are one of the three greatest brother acts ever to play baseball (5,611 hits between them), with Gaylord and Jim Perry (529 wins combined), and Phil and Joe Niekro (538 wins), Eppa Rixey, whose career record was probably the worst of any HOFer– 266-251, for some mediocre teams, but his games-over-team is probably negative, and Wally Schang, a catcher who is not in the Hall even though Ray Schalk is, with almost identical statistics over an almost identical statistical career at the same position at an almost identical time in baseball history (Schalk, 1912-29; Schang, 1913-1931) as players fitting this definition D. Evans does fit this description fully.

    So: while Dwight Evans was a star player, he by no means satisfies any of the first three definitions. I loved watching him. I was one of the rightfield Grandstand Gods (sometimes I baked in the center field bleachers), and I was able to watch the outfield of Evans, Lynn and Yaz, the greatest ever to play the Green Monster (for about 5 years, Fred Lynn was the arguably greatest defensive center fielder who ever played, right there with Mays and Mantle).

    “Dew-ey! Dew-ey! Dew-ey!” Yeah, takes you back, doesn’t it?

    But I couldn’t put him in the Hall of Fame if I was a BBWAA writer who votes for these things.

    Nobody’s more biased than me; I am a third-generation citizen of Red Sox Nation. My grandfather watched Babe Ruth pitch for the Sox in 1916, before grandpa went off to World War One. We Homanses predate the alleged, lifted Curse of the Bambino. But reality is reality. Dwight Evans is a near-HOFer– but not one.

  7. We can all theorize on why a player should or shouldn’t be in the HOF and you can go as far as using any system you want to define player A, B, C or D. Bill James, the very person responsible for this system (noted in the post above by William P. Homans) wrote in his book on pg. 330 of “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame”…

    “Dwight Evans is also one of the most underrated players in baseball history, because he did many things well, rather than having one central skill that people could use to explain his excellence.”

    A correction to a comment posted above by Glenn Reiser stating: “Dwight Evans’ stats are good because he played a long time though never lead the league in any specific offensive categories.”

    It’s virtually impossible to lead ALL of MLB (of which Evans did) for an entire decade (1980-89) in Runs Created – 1067, Extra Base Hits – 605 and the AL in HR – 256 without somehow leading the league in one or more offensive category. In 1981, Evans led the league in HR – 22, BB – 85, Total Bases – 215 and an OPS of .937. He also led the league in 1982 with an OBP of .402 and in 1984 he lead the league with an OPS of .920.

    Dwight Evans is arguably the greatest right fielder of his time. He won eight gold gloves in 10 years, including five straight (’81-’85). Evans is the ONLY right fielder throughout the span of two decades (1970-89) to win eight gold gloves. He ranks third all-time in putouts, sixth all-time in games played and 10th all-time in assists. He was also selected by MLB as having one of the nine greatest arms in baseball history

    So it would be easy to see how his offensive skills could often be overshadowed by his own defensive exploits, but his numbers are HOF worthy.

    Selected to the All-Decade Team of the 80’s, Evans lead all of MLB in Runs Created (1067) ahead of HOF’s Ricky Henderson, Eddie Murray, Robin Yount and Mike Schmidt. Also, first in Extra Base hits (605) ahead of Messrs. Yount, Murray, Schmidt and Brett. He hit more home runs (256) throughout the decade than any other AL player and was the ONLY player in MLB to hit 20 or more home runs in nine consecutive seasons (’81-’89).

    Among all of MLB right fielders from the decade of the ‘80s, no one was more offensively dominate than Evans. He led all MLB right fielders in HR, RBI, walks, runs, runs created, extra base hits, times on base, runs produced, OPS and doubles as well as finishing four times in the top 10 for the leagues most valuable player award.

    Evans led the Red Sox Team for the ENTIRE decade of the 80’s in: HR’s, RBI’s, Runs Created, Runs Produced, Base on Balls, Runs Scored, Total Bases, Games Played, Plate Appearances, At Bats, Triples, Slugging, Times on Base and Extra Base Hits. (Let’s not forget, Jim Rice and Wade Boggs were on that team too!)

    Of only 13 players in baseball history to have at least 2400 hits, 1450 runs, 1,375 walks, 1375 RBI, 480 doubles and 385 HR, Evans is the only player that’s been eligible not to have been enshrined in major league baseballs Hall of Fame. This list includes such Hall of Fame greats as: Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Robinson, Williams, Ott, Gehrig, Musial and Yastrzemski.

    Upon retirement from MLB in 1991 Evans was Ranked in the Top 10 in the History of MLB as an American League Right Handed hitter in HR (385, fourth), Extra Base Hits (941, fourth), Total Bases (4,230, sixth), Base on Balls (1,391, fourth), Times on Base (3,890, fourth), Runs Created (1,612, fourth), Runs Produced (2,469, seventh) and RBI (1,384, ninth).

    Since the turn of the century, all players to lead their respective decade in extra base hits through 1980 have been inducted into baseballs Hall of Fame.

    Extra Base Hit Leaders by Decade: 1900s – Honus Wagner, 1910s – Tris Speaker, 1920s – Babe Ruth, 1930s – Jimmie Foxx, 1940s – Stan Musial, 1950s – Stan Musial, 1960s – Hank Aaron, 1970s – Reggie Jackson, 1980s – Dwight Evans.

    In comparison to the average hitting hall of fame player, Evans averages higher in Runs, Hits, Doubles, HR, RBI, Base on balls, Slugging and OPS.

    In the post season, Evans raised his game to another level. He was involved in four postseason appearances and two World Series with the Red Sox. In 14 World Series games (two series, ‘75, ‘86) Evans hit .300, 15 hits, three HR, 14 RBI, seven walks, seven runs, .397 OBP, .580 SLG, .977 OPS, 29 total bases and made one of the greatest catches in a crucial World Series game in extra innings that eventually led to Carlton Fisk’s 11th inning infamous walk-off home run.

    Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski was Evans’ teammate for 13 seasons. He tells Dick Bresciani, Vice President and team historian for the Red Sox, “Dewey was a great offensive player and one of the greatest right-fielders to play the game, there’s no doubt in my mind that he belongs in the Hall of Fame.”

    A decade of documented offensive dominance, eight gold gloves, a proven post season performance and one of the greatest arms the game has ever seen should earn Dwight Evans enshrinement into baseball’s Hall of Fame.

  8. Interestingly, as I was doing a GoogleSearch on Rice and Evans, I remembered the problem Rice had with his balloting and was surprised that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009; wondering to myself how I could have missed that. That brought me over to the second half of my search, Dewey Evans. I watched him play and he was good. His stats are very good, as good as many in the HOF. I am disappointed that they have dropped him from HOF consideration; that came also as a surprise now having found that out.

    Fire the writers and put someone in their place. Evans was a better player than someone like Mark Grace that they tried to catorgorize him with in a person’s comment. He was the other part of the power hitting tandem with Jim Rice.

    Without Evans, I believe Rice would have found it more difficult in amassing his totals. And Rice deserves his spot in the HOF.

  9. I was sitting in the right field seats when he made the catch off Morgan in WS Game 6, 1975. A better play by an outfielder I never saw. I agree with other analyses that his numbers are as good as many in the HOF. In my mind, the greatest defensive right fielder of his generation should be voted into the HOF.

  10. I can appreciate those whose recent comments favor Dewey being considered for the HOF. There were many other supporting players of his generation who sometimes compiled great years in between good years. I put Dewey in this category as I would also place Bill Madlock, Bernie Williams, Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly, and the others that I mentioned in my original post of June 29, 2010. Excellent players? Yes. HOF’s? No.

  11. @Glenn:

    I can certainly appreciate your opinion. After all, isn’t that what makes a great sports debate, having opposing views?

    That said, I would strongly disagree with your argument on Evans. Especially the comparison you made to Yaz in which you stated:

    “In many ways Dwight Evans was similar to Carl Yastrzemski – steady player who had several great seasons sandwiched in between average to above average seasons”. Yaz was a first ballot HOF’er, and was the last player to win the Triple Crown, you do realize that?

    What Evans did in the 80’s (10 yrs) – alone, is nothing short of amazing. He’s the ONLY player in history to win 5 GG’s, lead ALL of MLB in Extra Base Hits, and Runs Created as well as the AL in HR’s. It’s NEVER been done before! And add the fact that he had one of the greatest arms the game has ever seen. (Selected by MLB) How do you discount those accomplishments?

    Also, you admittedly state that Evans’ numbers are good, but discount them because he played so long. Why would you penalize a player for their longevity? Wouldn’t that show a players durability? You go on to compare him to Don Sutton and what Sutton accomplished, Don Sutton is in the HOF for what he was able to accomplish in the years that he played.

    There’s also mention of Evans never leading any offensive catagory, which is incorrect. I stated the catagories he lead in my previous post, see my post from Nov 18th.

    Lastly, there are PLENTY of players in the HOF with a lower than .272 BA. Here are just a few that played in the same Era as Evans.
    Reggie Jackson – .262, Mike Schmidt – .267, Ozzie Smith – .262.

    Also, there are OVER 100 players in the HOF with less than 2500 hits. Some great hitters to: Mantle – 2415, Kilibrew – 2086, Schmidt – 2234

    Oh, and let’s not forget the latest member Barry Larkin with 2340.

    If you don’t believe Evans is a HOF’er that’s fine, its your opinion, and your entitled but you may want to think of a better argument for WHY he doesn’t deserve to be elected other than the objections you already stated.

  12. Patrick, your points are all well taken. Right or wrong, the public’s perception of Dwight Evans during his playing career was that he was a good player. Not great, but good.

    Of course I realize that Yaz is a first time hall of famer. Even in Yaz’s own words, he viewed himself as a Chevrolet among Cadillacs. But Yaz stands out because he has over 3000 hits. I don’t want to make this post about Yaz, but if not for his longetivity (he played 23 years) he wouldn’t have reached 3000 hits and probably wouldn’t have made it into the Hall. In Yaz’s 23 years he hit 300 only 6 times and reached 100 rbi’s only 6 times. In between many average years he had several great ones – those years where he hit 300 and/or had 100 or more rbi’s.

    Now let’s compare Yaz to Evans. In a 20-year career Evans drove in 100 runs only 3 times and batted 300 only once. I’m sorry but that’s just not good enough to qualify as a superstar. The HOF is for superstars, not good players. There’s no question Evans was a great outfielder who enjoyed a very good and productive career filed with consistency. HOF’er though? Not in my book. Graig Nettles was probably the best defensive 3rd basemen in the past 50 years. You could make an argument that he belongs in the HOF, but his poor batting average (.248) keeps him out.

  13. Glenn,

    Before I comment on your last post, we should probably agree to disagree on Evans. I believe he has HOF credentials and you’re certainly entitled to your own opinion.

    Like you, I don’t want to make this entire post about Yaz, however, for you to state that Yaz stands out (and may not have made the HOF) because he has over 3000 hits over a 23 year career is absurd.

    Yaz was an 18x All-Star, 7 Gold Gloves, 3 batting titles, the FIRST American League Player to reach 3000 hits and 400 HR’s and ONLY 1 of 2 Players in Baseball History to have over 400 HR’s, 3000 Hits, 1500 Walks, 1500 Runs and 1500 RBI’s. (Stan Musial is the other). Also, he’s the last player to win the Triple Crown (only 13 players in history have ever won a triple crown)

    1968, Yaz won his third batting title, with a .301 mark. This was, the Year of the Pitcher, and Yaz was the ONLY batter in the league to crack .300, a full 10 points ahead of the second-best Danny Cater. Only four batters hit .285 or above.

    Players should be compared to players of their own Era. You seem to have your own little formula of milestones for who belongs in the HOF.

    Regarding Evans, he’s perceived as a defensive player, not an offensive player and defensive players aren’t typically viewed as HOF candidates, the only one that comes to mind during Evans’ Era is Ozzie Smith and his offensive numbers are not that impressive. Also, Just to clarify, Evans drove in 100 runs 4x not three as you stated. As far as your argument for only hitting 300 once. So what? Who said you had to hit over 300 so many times to go to the HOF? Those are obviously your standards.

    A players batting average does not have a direct correlation to run production. A players greatest contribution is the correlation to producing runs, that being: runs batted in, runs, extra base hits, runs produced. Anything that contributes to helping your team win. ALL of which Evans finished very favorably in. Look at my post from Nov 18 where I broke down all his stats.

    The newest member of the HOF Barry Larkin NEVER had over 100 RBI in ANY year of his 19 yr career and finished with 2340 hits (less than Evans). Should he not have been inducted either?

  14. Glenn, take it up with Bill James now!


  15. It has often irked me that when determining a position player’s credentials as a HOF member, it often comes down to home runs first, RBIs second, hits third and then batting average. Almost never does fielding come into play. By this standard, DH players should have no trouble entering the Hall, yet they won’t due to the fact that they seldom took to the field.

    Just as I think it would be ridiculous to elect a player to the Hall who was an amazing fielder but could not hit at all, it is also absurd to minimize the importance of excellent fielding in favor of “easy” numbers.

    Fielding is really impossible to bring down to stats. If anyone could find a decent algorithm to assess a player’s true value on the field, then fielding might garner more respect amongst voters. However, they are the ones who are supposed to know better, and a player’s overall value, both offensively and defensively should be considered.

    No one doubts that Dewey was among the greatest right fielders of all time. If arms could be reduced to statistics, his would be off the charts. When you combine outstanding defense with really good (but not great) offense, to me that spells Hall of Fame.

    But even when you eliminate all consideration of defense, many of his numbers still place him among the top 50 hitters of all time. Considering that there are 207 HOF members that were players, doesn’t that seem like he should belong? As for comments that most of his numbers were inflated due to a long career, since when do we penalize a player for longevity? We don’t give extra consideration to players who’s careers were cut short by injuries.

    However, if you just look at offensive numbers, yes, Dwight Evans does not quite hold up. If you consider those numbers and then add in his value defensivley, he would overshadow many who are already in the Hall of Fame.

    Just my opinion.

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