Why was Roger Maris never inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

I was born and raised in Fargo, ND. If you ever have a chance to live in Fargo, and if you are a baseball fan, chances are pretty good that you’ll hear Maris’s name mentioned a time or two. You will also find some rabid fans who insist that, career-be-damned, Maris deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

I disagree.

There are a handful of things I look at when rating HOF considerations. Overall career numbers is a good starting point. You have certain qualifiers like 3,000 hits, 500 HRs, 1500 RBIs or runs which, for a batter, usually (not always) ensure induction. Maris most certainly doesn’t qualify here. He barely made it halfway in any of those benchmark categories.

Overall dominance is also a key part of this formula. The way I look at it, anyone who is considered the best int the game at his position for an extended period of time deserves consideration. Of course, this opens the door for a considerable number of second basemen, of which there seems to be relatively few of in the Hall of Fame. While Bill Mazeroski did finally get in, I believe that players like Bobby Grich and Chase Utley also deserve consideration simply because, while they were playing, they were in an elite class of second basemen.

How does Maris fare in that regard? Well, Maris did rank 5th in overall WAR in 1960, a year in which he won the MVP award. Amazingly, he never finished in the top 10 again. That’s not good enough for a hall of fame right fielder. To give an example of how important this is, in 1961, which most players consider to be Maris’s best, he didn’t rank in the top 10 in overall wins against replacement. In fact, if I was drafting outfielders based solely upon their 1961 performances, I would take Al Kaline, Rocky Colavito, Vada Pinson, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle over Maris. Yup, that’s right. In 1961, when Maris was allegedly having the career year upon which his entire Hall of Fame worthiness is supposed to be based, he wasn’t even the best player in his own outfield.

The third part of the formula has to do with how much a player contributed to the long term success of a team. Multiple championships are a big part of this criteria, and a good argument can be made that this is the reason why players like Bill Dickey and Phil Rizzuto are in the Hall. They were both a significant part of several Yankees championships, as they both won 8 rings while playing in the Majors. This is far less of a factor in the modern post-expansion era, but it does play a factor with voting. Roger Maris only won three total championships playing at a time when Yogi Berra 10 and Mickey Mantle had 7. That doesn’t give him any bonus points here, either.

The bottom line is that Maris never made it into the Hall of Fame simply because his career marks weren’t good enough. To the contrary, the only reason he ever even gets mentioned is simply because that one number mentioned twice in succession: “61 in ‘61″.

Because Roger Maris was not a truly great baseball player and came too late to have been eligible for induction by the most notorious era of the Veteran’s Committee of the late 60’s and 70’s, which inducted a slew of marginal players from the 1920’s and 30’s (along with some clearly deserving inductees who had been inexplicably overlooked, like Johnny Mize).

Maris did not have a lengthy career – 1957 to 1968, twelve seasons. Over the course of his career he batted only .260, with 275 home runs and 850 RBI. Those are good totals, but by the standards of the Hall of Fame, they were unimpressive. Maris did get on base reasonably well (.345 on-base percentage), was a good fielder, and his statistics are depressed by spending much of his career in the 1960’s, a notoriously bad decade for hitters – he was by no means a bad hitter, and was in fact quite good. However, apart from two years (1960 and 1961), Maris was never a great hitter.

Furthermore, Maris wasn’t even a regular player during much of his career. He missed a lot of time in season, and only reached 600 plate appearances during three seasons.

Maris simply wasn’t valuable enough to deserve induction – he had two great seasons and a number of other good ones, but he wasn’t good enough for long enough to have much of a case, apart from his setting the single season home run record.

Now, there are players who were little better than Maris who were inducted into the Hall of Fame – Ross Youngs, Tommy McCarthy, Heinie Manush, and so on – but they are largely considered mistakes, and if we inducted every player who was just as good as they were, the Hall of Fame would be twice as large as it is now. There simply are too many players in that realm of quality.

I think the reason is he didn’t play long enough, not that he wasn’t good enough. Hitting 61 ruined Maris. He was so hated and taunted by the Yankee fans that year and following years that the pressure must have been enormous. The year he hit 61 his hair fell out from stress.

He said, “Every day I went to the ballpark in Yankee Stadium as well as on the road people were on my back. The last six years in the American League were mental hell for me. I was drained of all my desire to play baseball.”

Mantle backed that up. In every book I’ve read on Mantle he said Maris was a really good ball player who was pounded unmercifully by the fans. It was Mickey Mantle’s opinion that given a fair shake, Maris would have been a great baseball player.

I compared Maris with a Hall of Fame player who I did get to see, and liked; Ryne Sandberg.

……..Years played .. At bats… HR… BA… Hits… Slugging…. OBP … RBI … Fielding

Maris … 12…………..5101………275… 260….. 1325…. .476…… …. .345 .. 850… .982

Sandberg .. 16…….. 8385 ……. 282….285 …. 2386…. .452………. .344 … 1061 … .989

Notice that in the categories not as affected by longevity such as BA, OBP, Slugging, Maris is pretty darn close to Sandberg. Even in Home runs, which are affected by longevity, Maris is within 7 of Sandberg. Sandberg bests him convincingly on batting average, at 285–260, but is 1 behind on OBP and .24 behind on slugging. Averaging out yearly production, Maris had a hit every 3.85 at bats to Sandberg’s 3.51. On RBI it’s Maris every 6 at bats and Sandberg every 7.9 at bats. And fielding percentage is close with Maris .982 to .989.

He set an important record and for his shortened career he was as good a player as some who did make the cut.

So I go with a short career, partially to blame on fan harassment.

Maris had a good career — but not a great one. The honoraria he did receive — two AL MVP Awards, a few All-Star selections, a Gold Glove, got to play for a few champion teams — is the right amount for his career.

Maris’ candidacy, and the enthusiasm of his fans, rests upon one statistic only — the 61 home runs he hit in 1961. If he had hit, oh, 59 home runs, and let’s credit him six or eight doubles to compensate generally, while that would still be an MVP season, there would not be a fraction of the continuing clamor his theoretical Hall candidacy receives. And a Hall candidacy that hangs from one stat is not the sort of candidacy that influences the BBWAA voters — as witnessed. Maris lasted the full 15 years on the ballot he was eligible to be considered, and peaked at 43.1% on his final turn. He only cracked 40% in his last three years, and that in part was sympathy voting, as he had passed away after the first 12.

I see why some fans support Maris for the Hall (I do not), but they have never made a convincing case, and simply keep running over the same old ground.

He had three seasons in his entire career (1960–62) where he played at a Hall of Fame caliber level. He had a few other seasons where he was a very good player. However, his entire career, taken as a whole, was not of Hall of Fame caliber. The peak of his career was very short, mostly due to injuries that eventually forced his retirement at the relatively young age of 33.

If he had been more healthy and had more outstanding seasons, and had played longer in the decline phase of his career, then his career probably would have reached Hall of Fame standards. But as it was, he didn’t get there, and didn’t even come particularly close. Of the 10 most similar players in history statistically, none is in the Hall of Fame. The third most-similar player all time is Jose Bautista, and while Joey Bats is a fine player, very few people would argue that he’s a Hall of Famer.

A lot of players would be in the Hall of Fame if they had been healthier. Maris is in a class with people like Nomar Garciaparra, Eric Davis (Maris’ eighth-best comp all-time), Bob Allison (his first-best comp, and a contemporary), and Albert Belle. Just off the top of my head. Maris missing out is nothing unusual, and he’s not been discriminated against in any way. If he’d hit 41 home runs in 1960 and 59 in 1961, he’d still be the same player, but no one would even talk about him as a Hall of Fame candidate.

Roger’s lifetime batting record is not good enough to qualify for the HOF. His BA is .260, HRs are 275, and RBI are 850. Most HR hitters in the HOF have lifetime stats more like a BA of .290+, HRs of 400+ and RBI of 1500+. Roger’s career was relatively short. He played 12 seasons, and only 10 seasons of 100 games. His 1961 season was his only season of 40 or more HRs and one of three 100 RBI seasons. He had only one season of 100 runs scored and never hit .300. His OPS of .822 is lower than the great majority of HR hitters in the HOF.

Roger has been considered primarily because of his record braking 61 HRs in 1961, breaking Babe Ruth’s then 34-year old record of 60. He was a fine outfielder and played on 7 pennant winning teams and 3 world series winners with the Yankees and Cardinals.

The question is whether his single season record-breaking HR total and participation in several pennant and world championship teams should put him in the HOF. Regarding the latter, there are many players, mainly Yankees, who played on a lot more pennant and world series winners, who have not made the HOF. So it comes down to the significance of the great 1961 year.

I’ve fluctuated on my own views on this question. Writing now, I find that I cannot support Roger for the HOF. It is unfortunate that Maris is one of three record breaking HR hitters (the other two being McGuire and Bonds) who have been rejected for the HOF- for different reasons of course. Roger was a nice guy, and it would be nice for his family and to honor his memory to have him elected to the HOF. But there are many players with, in my view, more deserving credentials, who have not been elected. It has nothing to do with the asterisk. I find his lifetime performance record just does not support him for the HOF.

Simply put, outside of his 61 home runs in 1961 and the 2 years surrounding it, he didn’t have a hall of fame career.

He won MVP on 1960 and 1961 but didn’t finish near the top in any other year, was an All-Star only 3 times and for his career (12 years) hit 275 home runs and drove in 850 runs, for averages of 23 home runs and 71 RBI with a career average of .260. Not exactly HOF caliber.

He hit 39 homers with 112 RBI in 1960 and 33 homers with 100 RBI in 1962. So in a 3 year span he had 48% of his home runs and 42% of his RBI.

A great 3 year run, but he didn’t sustain excellence long enough to really even threaten enshrinement into the HOF.

Very simply, as exciting and special and controversial as his 1961 season was, he just didn’t have a hall of fame career. This is not to say he wasn’t a good player — he was. Just not a hall of famer. There are already too many mistakes in the HOF based on one great year (or even one game). I have a great deal of affection for Maris (and disgust for Ford Frick), but enshrining Maris doesn’t enhance his reputation — it merely (further) diminishes the Hall’s.

Maris didn’t exactly put together HOF numbers, now, did he?

.260 lifetime batting average is very “meh.”

270 total HR’s? Meh again. That doesn’t even put him in the Top 150 of all-time HR guys! (He’s at #179 to be exact).

He really only had, arguably, 3–4 seasons that were HOF-worthy. Less than half his total career. But he DID knock 61 homers in 1961, which stood as a season record for about four decades! This is without a doubt what he was best-known for.

You gotta know that Maris was no friend of the press. And not liked very well by a lot of players….even teammates. He was seen as curt, aloof, arrogant, and downright anti-social. He wouldn’t play when hurt, and was often depicted as a whiner. This might have had something to do with it, who knows?

Ultimately, he had his ballot run in the wrong time and did not have the peripherals to back up a veteran’s committee run. He had less than 300 HR’s, missed 2000 hits, heck he didn’t even get 1500. At the time, his numbers were simply subpar of the counting stats so often used by hall of fame voters in the 70’s and 80’s: Hits, Homers, and RBI’s. In reality, he had 2 mega years, a few solid seasons, and was replacement level the rest of the time. He misses the mark on virtually every WAR and wOBA metric as well. He was a great player, but not Hall worthy

As others have noted, Roger was not at the peak of the heap over a sustained period, though he was fine as a Cardinal just as he was as a Yank.

But, the NYC press seemed to dislike him (cause he was not The Mick), and I think their vote hurts him a bit.

Nice player. Just not great, all-time.

Simply put, he has just one good season!

245 homes don”t quite cut it. really only had about 3 really productive years, then just above avererage. however,his peers almost to a man,do feel he should be in.really good outfielder as well,great arm.

Because he is not a HOF player. He was a mediocre journeyman outfielder who had a spectacular career year in 1961.