This post is part of a series concerning the 2020 Modern Baseball Era Committee ballot, covering executives and long-retired players whose candidacies will be voted upon at the Winter Meetings in San Diego on December 8. For an introduction to JAWS, see here. Several profiles in this series are adapted from work previously published at SI.com, Baseball Prospectus, and Futility Infielder. All WAR figures refer to the Baseball-Reference version unless otherwise indicated.
|Player||Career WAR||Peak WAR||JAWS|
|Avg. HOF RF||71.5||42.1||56.8|
A five-tool player whose power, ability to hit for average, and strong, accurate throwing arm all stood out – particularly in the Pirates’ seemingly endless and always eye-catching assortment of black-and-yellow uniform combinations — Dave Parker was once considered the game’s best all-around player. In his first five full seasons (1975-79), he amassed a World Series ring, regular season and All-Star MVP awards, two batting titles, two league leads in slugging percentage, and three Gold Gloves, not to mention tremendous swagger, a great nickname (“The Cobra”), and a high regard for himself. “Take Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente and match their first five years up against mine, and they don’t compare with me,” he told Roy Blount in a 1979 Sports Illustrated cover story.
Parker, who had debuted with the Pirates just seven months after Clemente’s death and assumed full-time duty as the team’s right fielder a season and a half later, once appeared to be on course to join the Puerto Rican legend in Cooperstown. Unfortunately, cocaine, poor conditioning, and injuries threw him off course, and while he recovered well enough to make three All-Star teams, play a supporting role on another World Series winner, accrue hefty career totals and play past the age of 40, his game lost multiple dimensions as he aged. Hall of Fame voters greeted his case with a yawn; he debuted with just 17.5% on the 1997 ballot, peaked at 24.5% the next year, and while he remained eligible for the full 15 seasons, only one other time did he top 20%. He made appearances on both the 2014 Expansion Era ballot as well as the ’18 Modern Baseball one, but even after going public with his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, he didn’t come close to election. Aside from the precedent set by Harold Baines‘ election last year — a small committee can throw us a wild card now and then — there’s little reason to believe his fate will be different this time. Read the rest of this entry »