The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Dick (don't call me Richie) Allen should get his due in HOF

By now you probably have already read several stories about the career of Dick Allen, who died on December 7 at age 78. So, bear with me as I reminisce about the player who was initially called Richie by Philadelphia Phillies publicists when he made his major-league debut in 1963. Ten years later he declared to the media he wanted to be called Dick, since it was the name he grew up with.


Allen played in 10 games in his debut season, and then played his first full season in 1964. He was an immediate success individually and almost got the Philadelphia Phillies to their first pennant since 1950. Allen had an impressive slash line of .318/.382/.557, as he led the National League in runs (125), triples (13), and total bases (352). He was voted the Rookie of the Year, garnering 18 of 20 first-place votes.


Allen went on to one of the best major-league careers during his prime years (1964 to 1974), matching up well with some of the all-time greats. He made seven all-star teams during that timeframe and captured the American League MVP Award in 1972. During his 15-year career, he averaged .292, hit 351 home runs, and drove in 1,119 runs.


Yet he never really got the recognition as those other superstars. He was viewed as a malcontent, frequently at odds with team management. He broke team rules, such as showing up late for games and missing flights. Some days he decided he didn’t want to take batting practice. Furthermore, he was not a favorite of the press in Philadelphia, as he frequently denied interviews.


When he got into professional baseball his early twenties, he had to deal with racial issues that existed around the nation. Baseball had been integrated since 1947, but there were still lingering problems with bigotry within the game. Allen spoke up when others shied away from the issues. His openness contributed to the negative perception that often surrounded him.


However, the fans loved Allen. They loved the way he hit home runs with his 41-ounce bat, often in extra-inning games, although it was joked the fans were sometimes disappointed when he hit homers--because the ball couldn’t be found since he hit them so far.


When Allen became eligible in the Hall of Fame voting in 1983, he received a meager 3.7 % of the votes. The highest percentage of votes he obtained during his 14 years on the ballot (18.9%) was far lower than the required minimum of 75%. Since he had not accumulated 3,000 hits, hit 400 home runs, or averaged .300 or better, common benchmarks for election at that time, he never got serious consideration by the baseball writers. Furthermore, many of them remembered the disgruntled perception that plagued Allen during his playing days.


Yet with modern analytics now being utilized in the criteria for election to the Hall, there has been renewed interest in Allen by the Golden Era Committee (formerly known as the Veterans Committee). This blue-ribbon group of veteran players, managers and executives re-considers the careers of former players from past decades for election to the Hall. Allen missed by one vote for election by this committee six year ago. He was scheduled to come up again this year, but the committee deferred its voting until next year.


There are strong sentiments by today’s baseball analysts that Allen deserves to be voted in, based on his on-field performance and disregarding prior negative perceptions of his persona. The Athletic’s Jayson Stark produced the following analysis (for years 1964-1974) that shows Allen in good company with current Hall of Famers when considering several of the non-accumulation stats. The facts are pretty revealing when he is compared to peers of his era.


Best OPS: Hank Aaron (.941), Dick Allen (.920), Willie McCovey (.937).


Best Slugging Percentage: Hank Aaron (.561). Dick Allen (.554), and Willie Stargell (.541).


Best OPS+: Dick Allen (165), Willie McCovey (164), Hank Aaron (.159), Frank Robinson (159).


Assuming Allen gets the nod to enter the Hall next year, it will be a huge tragedy that it occurred after he passed. It is reminiscent of Ron Santo’s posthumous election in 2012.

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