Former Nippon Ham Fighters outfielder Matt Winters, commenting on my Hall of Fame vote, said in a tweet: “You need Boomer in there somewhere.”
The answer, of course, is that no one lets me decide who is on the ballot. For the record, Boomer, LeRon Lee and Don Blasingame were all recently dropped from the expert’s division ballot, where Randy Bass is still going strong. The reason for this is not clear. Another guy who failed to make it in the expert’s division, former Lotte third baseman Michio Arito, was laughingly excluded.
There are few candidates in the Hall of Fame who were better players than Arito, yet he, Hanshin Tigers shortsop Taira Fujita and Lions outfielder Masahiro Doi, three guys who are more than qualified, are no longer qualified for election.
But just for curiosity’s sake, where does Boomer rank in terms of peak performance — as measured by his best five-year win shares average? The answer is 12th all-time among foreign registered players who had five-plus seasons. I’d suspected Tuffy Rhodes had the highest peak value of any foreign player in NPB history, but Rhodes ranks fourth — although he is No. 1 in career value. See the list below of the top-20 five-year peaks among foreign players in NPB.
A lot of things could be wrong with the model that produces these, but it seems reasonable that the honor of the first foreign player in Japan’s Hall of Fame went to the deserving Wally Yonamine. It seems also clear that Tuffy should be No. 2. Alex Cabrera was knocked off the ballot last year, when he received just 2.7 percent of the vote. That may well indicate that player popularity with the media is a key factor.