(Updated on Jan. 18, 2017)
On the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot for the first time in 2017, catcher Ivan Rodriguez was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Here’s hoping his election will help bring attention to the cause of another deserving candidate, Ted Simmons.
Among catchers, Rodriguez and Simmons rank among the top five all-time in several hitting categories.
Though Rodriguez won 13 Gold Glove awards for fielding and Simmons none, Simmons was at least equal to, if not better than, Rodriguez as a hitter. That qualifies Simmons as Hall of Fame caliber.
(The Gold Glove awards also don’t provide a complete comparison of Rodriguez and Simmons as fielders. Rodriguez has a career fielding percentage as a catcher of .991. Simmons has a career fielding percentage as a catcher of .987.)
Simmons, however, no longer is eligible to appear on the baseball writers’ ballot. He twice has been on the special Expansion Era Committee ballot but wasn’t elected.
When that ballot comes up for voting again in December 2017 _ it has been renamed from Expansion Era Committee to the Modern Baseball Committee _ perhaps Simmons will be helped by the strong showing for Rodriguez on the 2017 baseball writers’ ballot.
It also may help that in 2015, after the Hall of Fame committee last met, Simmons was elected by fans to the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame.
Playing the game’s most physically demanding position, Simmons and Rodriguez both were tough and durable. Both spent their prime years in two notoriously humid cities _ Simmons in St. Louis and Rodriguez in Dallas _ and rarely were out of the lineup.
Simmons played 21 seasons (1968-1988) in the big leagues, including 13 (1968-80) with the Cardinals.
Rodriguez played 21 seasons (1991-2011) in the big leagues, including 13 (1991-2002 and 2009) with the Rangers.
Among players whose primary position was catcher, Simmons and Rodriguez rank in the top five in these hitting categories, according to the Web site Baseball-Reference.com:
1st: Ivan Rodriguez, 9,592
2nd: Carlton Fisk, 8,756
3rd: Ted Simmons, 8,680
1st: Ivan Rodriguez, 2,844
2nd: Ted Simmons, 2,472
3rd: Carlton Fisk, 2,356
1st: Ivan Rodriguez, 572
2nd: Ted Simmons, 483
3rd: Carlton Fisk: 421
1st: Yogi Berra, 1,430
2nd: Ted Simmons, 1,389
3rd: Johnny Bench, 1,376
4th: Mike Piazza, 1,335
5th: Ivan Rodriguez, 1,332
Simmons and Rodriguez each was the starting catcher for the losing American League club in a World Series against the Cardinals. Simmons hit .174 with two home runs and five walks in seven games for the Brewers in the 1982 World Series. Rodriguez hit .158 with no home runs and no walks in five games for the Tigers in the 2006 World Series.
Asked in December 2010 by Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the possibility of being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by a committee, Simmons said, “If it happens, it will be the greatest thing in the world.”
Previously: 10 reasons why Ted Simmons is a Hall of Famer