Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

Minnie Minoso's case for the Hall of Fame

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The White Sox recently hosted the "Minnie Minoso Hall of Fame Forum" at U.S. Cellular Field to celebrate Minoso's career and support his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

A gathering of media, statisticians, historians and former players discussed Minoso's career to raise awareness for his worthy candidacy. ESPN's Pedro Gomez served as the moderator of the forum, with Minoso in attendance.

Here's a sampling of what they said:

Author and University of Illinois professor, Adrian Burgos Jr.: "Minnie Minoso achieved nothing but excellence in baseball despite segregation and a host of extraordinarily difficult circumstances.''

Author and president of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), Vince Gennaro: "The single, most important thing a batter can do is avoid making an out and get on base. Minoso did just that on an unparalleled level.''

Fellow Hall candidate Luis Tiant: "In the Latino culture, especially Cuba, Minnie Minoso was the biggest thing in the sport. I wanted to be just like him, and when I look at him now, I still want to be like him. I am so grateful for what he did for us."

Hall-of-Famer Tony Perez: "I will never forget how honored I was when Minnie was in the same locker room as me when I was a younger player in Cuba. And the only thing that could be better is if his plaque was in the same room as mine in Cooperstown."

Orlando Cepeda: "Orestes Minoso was the Jackie Robinson for all Latinos; the first star who opened doors for all Latin American players. He was everybody's hero. I wanted to be Minoso. Clemente wanted to be Minoso."

Minoso will be considered for enshrinement by the 16-member Golden Era Committee, which will meet Sunday to vote on the 10 candidates at the Winter Meetings in Dallas. The 16 members consist of eight Hall of Famers, five executives and historians and three media. Minoso needs 12 votes for the required 75 percent for induction.

A candidate must receive 75% support (12 votes) for induction. Committee members are allowed to vote for as many from the finalist list as they want. An announcement will be made Monday morning.

The nine others on the ballot: Ron Santo, Tony Oliva, Gil Hodges, Ken Boyer, Minnie Minoso, Jim Kaat, Tiant, Allie Reynolds, Buzzie Bavasi and Charles Finley.

One of the most compelling cases for Minoso's enshrinement comes from Stuart Miller, in a recently published story in the New York Times. Miller points to more modern statistical analysis which emphasizes on-base percentage, wins above replacement and wins probability to make a strong argument for Minoso.

Here is a sampling:

"In a 10-year span beginning in 1951, Minoso finished in the top 10 in batting average eight times, and in the top 10 in steals nine times (leading the league three of those years and finishing second another three times). But he was no mere singles hitter -- he was top 10 in doubles eight times (leading the AL once) and top 10 in triples six times (leading three times); he even finished 10th in homers twice. Similarly, while he was top 10 in runs scored nine times, he also landed in the top 10 in RBI five times. And while I believe Gold Gloves are often handed out for the wrong reasons, he did manage to add three to his mantel.

"But the more modern statistics paint an even more vivid picture of Minoso as an overlooked Hall of Famer. For starters, he had five years with an on-base percentage over .400, he was always at .374 or higher, and only once in the decade was he not in the top 10. His mix of walks and gap power meant he was in the top 10 in O.P.S. (on-base plus slugging) eight times in 10 years. (And Minoso would do whatever it took to get on base. As I wrote in The Times in 2010, in the early years of integration, minorities were victimized by beanballs at a dispiriting rate. But Minoso, who took 192 for the team in his career, was far and away the tops-he was hit more than any batter in the AL every year but one from 1951 through 1961. It wasn't just prejudice, Minoso crowded the plate and was skilled at leaning in and taking a ball in the side to get on.)

"Looking at Baseball Reference's Wins Above Replacement -- the statistic that analyzes how many more wins a player brings his team than a replacement-level minor leaguer -- buffs Minoso's credentials and potential Hall plaque to a bright finish. Seven times he was among the top five in the American League for WAR among position players, and twice -- in 1954 and 1959 -- he ranked first. (His numbers are nearly as impressive--top 10 instead of top 5--for Wins Probability Added.)''

From 1951 to '61, Minoso ranked second in the American League in hits, runs, triples, extra-base hits and total bases - sandwiched between Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Nellie Fox and Yogi Bera in each of those categories.

Minoso was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1951, was selected to nine AL All-Star teams and finished in the top four of the American League MVP voting four times.

Minoso broke the White Sox color barrier, becoming the first black player in franchise history.

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This page contains a single entry by Daryl Van Schouwen published on December 1, 2011 6:36 PM.

Ventura: Winter meetings will chart White Sox course was the previous entry in this blog.

Ventura, Konerko, Dunn to attend SoxFest is the next entry in this blog.

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