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Lou Brock Overrated, But Not So Bad!
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Lou Brock Overrated, But Not So Bad
by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com
April 22, 2006

Awesome! I get to have the middle ground in a discussion! I love it!

Richard, I do not even begin to understand how someone with your obvious talents for baseball analysis could look at Tim Raines and Lou Brock and think that they are similar. The biggest difference, in addition to those Keith pointed out, to me comes in K/BB ratio. Tim Raines walked significantly more than he struck out, and Lou Brock struck out way more than he walked. This indicates to me that they are completely different players. Raines is one of the rare speedsters in the last 50 years to actually know how to get on base, like Rickey Henderson, Kenny Lofton, and Joe Morgan, and Lou Brock is just another speedster who couldn't, like Vince Coleman, Maury Wills, Willie Wilson, Juan Samuel, Otis Nixon, Bert Campaneris, Cesar Cedeno, Luis Aparicio, Delino DeShields, Marquis Grissom, Tony Womack . . .

Richard seems to base his assessments of Brock's value on how not much worse Brock is than other players. Hmm. I must agree with Keith that "he wasn't much worse than . . . " doesn't make for good first ballot criteria for me.

In talking about Brock's stability, Keith mentions that Raines had to endure three labor strikes. Also, don't forget about the fact that Tim Raines was battling Lupus at the end of his career as well. That he was playing at all was impressive.

So, in the sense that Lou Brock is accused of being overrated, yes, he is. Lou Brock is a member of the 3,000 hits club, but he got there because of longevity and because he hit leadoff and thus got lots of at-bats, not because of his hitting ability (though his .293 average does put him ahead of Ripken and Palmeiro). He is second all time in stolen bases, but as has been pointed out, his stolen base percentage was not particularly great, and he got to 938 on longevity, not because of any ability to get on base or steal bases efficiently.

And by the way, Rich, how did you miss the obvious difference in their defensive stats. Night and day, dude.

Having said that, I must quibble with Keith on something over which we have quibbled before. Keith has, in my opinion, a misguided understanding of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Keith is under the impression that the Hall of Fame is kind of like a Top 100, that the only players who should be allowed in should be the best overall players in baseball history, based on overall value rating rather than based on individual accomplishments.

That is not, and never has been, true. This is a Hall of Fame we are talking about, after all. Don't take me too literally Ė I am not saying that any player who has ever been "famous" should be in the Hall, and I do think that there are players who were incredibly popular who got in purely based on popularity when their stats indicate that they don't belong there.

Nevertheless, unlike a Top 100 (or even a Top 200), one dimensional players who achieve milestones which few others have achieved do in fact belong in the Hall of Fame. It would be silly to argue that getting 3,000 hits should automatically put you into the Top 100; it is not silly to say the same about the Hall. Similarly, if a guy retires as the all time leader in a major baseball category, it is not silly to put him into the Hall either.

I think the best case example of this is Nolan Ryan (actually, the best example is Lou Brock). Nolan Ryan was, let's face it, not one of the greatest pitchers of all time. He pitched for a long time, he struck out guys like no one else, and he has the lowest all time hits/inning. He also played forever, and was loved and adored uniformly around the country. However, there are probably 50 pitchers in baseball history that you could put on the mound that would give you a better chance of winning a game than Nolan Ryan. But, because he was the all time strikeout leader, the single season strikeout record holder, a member of the 300 wins club, and had seven no-hitters, he was an easy first ballot Hall of Famer. Because milestones matter in the Hall of Fame. Itís a Hall of Fame for Pete's sake, not a "Hall of Only the Best Overall Players of All Time." No one has ever claimed that someone who was only good at certain things, or who wasn't a great percentage player but stayed around long enough to amass impressive counting stats, doesn't belong in the Hall.

They arenít my rules, but that is the way it has worked. If this makes me inclusive, so be it. I just think that the guys who set the big records belong in the Hall.

When Lou Brock retired, he was a member of the 3,000 hits club, the all time leader in stolen bases, and the modern era single season record holder in stolen bases (by a healthy margin). Furthermore, he had been the leadoff hitter for a Cardinals team that went to three World Series, winning two of them, and finished with a losing record only four times in his years with the team.

I am sorry, Lou Brock is Hall of Fame material, because that is what Hall of Fame material is.

Lou Brock is not overrated on the basis of his admission in the Hall of Fame. Lou Brock is overrated because there are people who think he is one of the greatest leadoff hitters of all time, which he isn't. Lou Brock is overrated because there are people who think that he is one of the great hitters of all time, which he isn't.

And Lou Brock is overrated because there are people who think he compares favorably with Tim Raines, which he doesn't. Richard.

Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Asher resides in Alexandria, VA, and can be reached at asher@baseballevolution.com.

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