You might not have noticed, but the Baseball Hall of Fame announced its Golden Era ballot last week and, wouldn't you know it, but old friend Minnie Minoso is once again up for induction.
A lot of people smarter than me have written a lot of words about why Minoso, now 88, deserves to be elected, but let's recap. Per ESPN SweetSpot editor David Schoenfield:
From 1951 until 1962 (when he fractured his skull and wrist running into a wall, and later fractured his forearm when hit by a pitch) Minoso had the seventh-highest WAR among all major league position players, trailing only Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Eddie Mathews, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks. In other words, for an 11-year span, he was one of the best players in baseball.
Minoso ranked in the top 10 in WAR seven times, including the top five four times, and led the league in 1954 with an 8.3 mark. His 52.1 WAR over that 11-year stretch ranks eighth; everyone else from among the top 13 is already in Cooperstown. His talents received their share of recognition, as he earned All-Star honors seven times and won three Gold Gloves (though the award wasn't introduced until 1957), and while he never won an MVP award, he finished fourth four times, three in the 1951-54 span.
And one more, from NBC Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra:
He had a .389 career OBP, .459 slugging percentage, had speed and was an excellent left fielder. There weren’t a lot of players like him in his era — his prime was the station-to-station baseball of the mid-50s — so his skills were overlooked by many. His age is an open question, but most people believe that he was in his late 20s when he became a major league regular for the White Sox in 1951, delayed by the color barrier. Minoso was the first dark-skinned Latino to play post-Jackie Robinson. If he had a chance to play earlier, he’d have been pushing 3000 hits, one can assume.
Those who rule Minoso out, do so almost entirely based on his career WAR. And while it's true that his career 49 WAR is low by Hall of Fame standards, part of the reason for that is because he hung around so damn long. And his lengthy peak should be enough to make up for that.
And if "mattering" as far as the game's progress is concerned is your thing, he was also the first black player in White Sox history and was a pioneer who paved the way for future black and Latin American players in the league and with the White Sox.
The Golden Era committee, which consists of 16 people, including eight current Hall of Famers, will meet and vote in December, and 12 votes are needed for election. Minoso fell three votes shy the last time elections were held.
Unfortunately for Minoso, at this point the biggest thing working against him may be that he's still alive. The only player elected by the Golden Era committee since its formation was Ron Santo, and it took his departure from this world for them to finally decide he was worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown.