On Sunday night, the Hall of Fame Modern Era Committee announced they would be electing two players to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell. The Milwaukee Brewers had one former player on the ballot.
The 16 person committee made up of owners, former players, and writers, focused on the era of players from 1970-1987. Former Milwaukee Brewers catcher Ted Simmons was among the group of ten finalists that the committee voted on. But unfortunately he got snubbed.
Ted ‘Simba” Simmons played most of his career as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, consistently putting up .300 batting averages and 15-25 home runs a season. He was traded prior to the 1981 season along with Pete Vuckovich and current Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers to the Milwaukee Brewers. He spent five seasons with the Brewers and was a major part of the golden era of Brewers baseball and the World Series run of 1982.
The case for Simmons
Simmons finished his career with a batting line of .285/.348/.437 and 248 home runs. He was an All Star eight times. Twice as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. His career numbers are comparable to other Hall of Fame catchers. In some cases, his stats are even better.
Using the JAWS system of measuring Hall of Fame-worthiness, Simmons ranks in the top 10 catchers of all-time. He posted better numbers and is viewed as a better Hall of Fame candidate than Gabby Hartnett, Buck Ewing, Ernie Lombardi, Roger Bresnahan, Roy Campanella, Ray Schalk, and Rick Ferrell, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame. He posted more Wins Above Replacement over his whole career, during his peak, and played longer than any of those players named above.
Under Baseball-Reference’s Hall of Fame Monitor, Simmons should be a near-lock for the Hall of Fame. The statistic give a number of 100 as a likely Hall of Famer, while a number of 130 is a “virtual cinch” for Cooperstown. Simmons is at 124. He is well above a likely Hall of Fame player and is rated pretty close to being a lock for the Hall. How much closer does he need to be?
Why no induction?
Perhaps if he didn’t go to Atlanta for the final three years of his career where he didn’t play all that well, his overall stats would stand out more. But that’s not the major reason he’s been passed up for the Hall of Fame time and time again. It’s because Simmons had the misfortune of being a catcher at the exact same time Johnny Bench did.
Johnny Bench had his peak during the same time Simmons did. And Bench was just better. Bench won ten straight Gold Gloves from 1968-1977. He was an All Star 13 straight years. He won the MVP twice and was a dominant member of the Big Red Machine in the 1970s. Simmons had to play in Bench’s shadow virtually his entire career. Because of that, Simmons is overlooked for the Hall of Fame time and time again. But that is not a fate he deserves.
Simmons first year on the ballot for the Hall of Fame was in 1994, and he didn’t even receive the necessary five percent of the vote to stay on the ballot for next year. The BBWAA petitioned the Hall of Fame to reconsider Simmons eligibility in 1995. The Board of Directors approved but for some reason the BBWAA decided against putting him back on the ballot.
How close was Simmons to getting inducted?
So, Simmons was eligible for induction this year on the Modern Era committee, a 16 person panel, with 12 votes needed for induction. Simmons received 11 votes.
This is an absolute shame. Simmons was consistently great throughout his career and he continues to be looked over because he didn’t receive any awards at his position or throughout the league because he played at the same time as Johnny Bench. But by almost every Hall of Fame measurement, Simmons belongs in Cooperstown.
It’s unknown when Simmons, 68, will get another chance at induction into the Hall of Fame. But he has deserved an induction, and the continued stonewalling of Simmons has gone on too long already.