The debate on which players deserve to make the Baseball Hall of Fame has turned up in recent years as stars of the Steroid Era have become eligible for induction.
With the worthiness of players who have or haven’t used performance-enhancers being at the forefront of the debate, those who played in the 70s and 80s have faded away as time goes on.
One of those players is Dwight Evans. The former Red Sox star has yet to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame after an impressive 20-year career that includes multiple All-Star appearances, Gold Glove Awards, and Silver Slugger Awards.
In a ranking of the top 100 eligible players to not be inducted into the Hall of Fame, The Athletic’s Joe Posnanski included Dwight Evans in his top 10. A major crux of Posnanski’s argument for Evans to make the Hall of Fame is the inclusion of one of Evans’s teammates, Jim Rice. The other Red Sox star outfielder was inducted into the Hall in 2009 on his 15th year of the ballot.
Posnanski admits that Evans and Rice were near equals as hitters. The 385 homers Evans hit over his career were just three more than Rice hit over his, with Rice playing four fewer seasons. However, Posnanski marked the notable edge Evans had on the bases and in the field.
“But even if you give Rice a slight edge at the plate — and I’m not sure you can — it is more than made up in the field,” Posnanski wrote. “Rice was a better left fielder than he was given credit for in his time, but Evans was a breathtaking defensive player with a golden arm. I don’t really see any way that you could rate Rice a better player than Evans. Bill James has Evans ahead by 65 Win Shares, a substantial total, and that seems about right to me.”
So, why hasn’t Evans made the Hall of Fame then? Unlike Rice, Evans doesn’t have an MVP award, which Posnanski thinks was a big difference. In making his case for Evans’s inclusion to the Hall of Fame, Posnanski retroactively makes the case for Evans to win the AL MVP in 1981 instead of Rollie Fingers.
“Dwight Evans had the best season of them all, tying for the league lead in homers, and leading in walks, OPS and total bases,” Posnanski wrote. “He was typically brilliant in right field. His Red Sox made a run in the second half but fell short of the Milwaukee Brewers.”
Evans was dropped from the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot in 1999, his third year on the ballot, when he failed to reach the five percent threshold to be included on future ballots (he received 3.6 percent of the vote that year).
Evans wouldn’t be a candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame again until 2020, when he was included as a Modern Baseball Era finalist as part of the 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame voting. Evans didn’t receive the 75 percent of the vote needed for induction by the 16-member committee, receiving just eight votes.
The next time Evans can potentially be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame is in 2023, when the Veterans committee votes on players from the Modern Era again.
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