3. Graig Nettles
Graig Nettles’ Hall of Fame case deserves a second look.
Graig Nettles, as time drags on, has somehow become the forgotten Yankee standout from the 1977 and 1978 World Series teams to the generation that never watched them play.
Nettles is known beyond his counting stats, of course — his reputation as a defensive wizard precedes him, and was amplified on the biggest stage during World Series play. But a check at his ranking, relative to other Hall of Famers, makes it a clearly strange decision that he was shoved swiftly off the ballot, and hasn’t recovered via the Veterans Committee.
The second coming of the Human Vacuum Cleaner is behind only 11 third basemen all-time in terms of JAWS value, and falls inches below the line of an “average” Hall of Famer. Of the 11 who outrank Nettles, 10 have been enshrined, and the 11th, Scott Rolen, seems likely to have a case of his own. Behind Nettles’ 68.0 JAWS (average is 68.4), you’ll find luminaries like Home Run Baker, Jimmy Collins, and Hall of Fame favorite Dick Allen.
Nettles was a six-time All-Star, making the team for the final time at the age of 40 in San Diego. He piled up 2,225 hits and 390 homers, and we’re likely moving past the era where his .248 average will be forever held against him (that’s firmly Harmon Killebrew territory, anyway, right?). Nettles’ counting stats and defense befit a longer examination — he only appeared on the ballot four times, never topping 8.3%.
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