Who are the least-deserving MLB Hall of Famers?

Cooperstown
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

While everyone in the Hall of Fame is special, have you ever thought about who are the worst MLB Hall of Famers who have gained entry to Cooperstown? After all, not all Hall of Famers are created equal.

Some were obvious first-ballot Hall of Famers while others barely sneaked in with 75% of the vote. 

Granted, it gives us no pleasure to single out the worst players in Cooperstown or make a list of the least-deserving baseball Hall of Famers. However, there have been plenty of controversial selections to the Hall of Fame over the years, In fact, most fans probably have their own idea of the worst MLB Hall of Famers.

Worst MLB Hall of Famers

For what it’s worth, it wasn’t easy creating a list of the worst MLB Hall of Famers of all time. Keep in mind that these players are in the Hall of Fame for a reason, so it’s not like they were bad players.

But we are talking about being enshrined forever among the best of the best. In that sense, we were able to put together our (likely controversial) list of the worst MLB Hall of Famers who we think wrongly earned a spot in Cooperstown.

Jim Bunning

Jim Bunning has quite the claim to fame as the only member of the Baseball Hall of Fame who also served in the U.S. Senate. He also threw a perfect game, which certainly doesn’t hurt his case.

However, his 224 career wins and 2,855 career strikeouts aren’t that many for someone who pitched as long as he did, spending over a decade and a half in the big leagues. Keep in mind that starting pitchers got a lot more decisions during his era, making it fair to debate whether Bunning and his career 3.27 ERA are really Hall of Fame worthy.

Harold Baines

As the saying goes, it’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Good. Harold Baines, to his credit, was a very good player, but there’s no way he should be immortalized in Cooperstown as one of the best to ever play the game.


He certainly played a long time with his career spanning from 1980 to 2001. But in more than 20 seasons, Baines was only named to the All-Star Team six times.

He never won MVP honors or a Gold Glove and was only a Silver Slugger Award winner one time. A lot was expected of Baines, who was the top overall pick in the 1977 draft and barely snuck into the Hall with 75% of the vote in 2019. But just 384 home runs and a .289 average over two decades in the majors makes him one of the worst MLB Hall of Famers and shouldn’t be enough for a place in Cooperstown.

Bruce Sutter

Bruce Sutter deserves some credit for being one of the few relief pitchers to ever win the Cy Young. He also led the National League in saves five times, including a stretch of four straight seasons.

But he only pitched for 12 seasons, which means his 300 saves only averages out to a modest 25 per season. Also, his ERA was over 4.00 in four of his 12 seasons. Granted, he was a six-time all-star and a dominant reliever for a few years. But Sutter didn’t maintain a high level of play long enough to get to Cooperstown.

George Kell

George Kell is one of several players who owes his spot in Cooperstown to having several former teammates on the Veterans Committee.

He deserves a little credit for having a long career that spanned from 1915 to 1932. He also had a solid .297 career batting average.

But in all of those years, Kell led the National League in home runs once and RBIs twice. It’s a modest resume and never should have been enough to get to Cooperstown if he didn’t have friends on the Veterans Committee, making him one of the worst MLB Hall of Famers.

Phil Rizzuto

There are a lot of players who are remembered as better players than they were because they won championships with the Yankees, and Phil Rizzuto is one of them.

In his defense, he was the MVP in 1950 and a five-time all-star. But while the diminutive shortstop was great defensively and an excellent bunter, he was only a .273 career hitter with just 38 home runs.

Outside of the 1950 season, Rizzuto never had any stand-out offensive seasons. While he might be a great Yankee who helped the team to seven World Series championships, Rizzuto isn’t one of the all-time great players in baseball history.

Hack Wilson

Hack Wilson was undoubtedly one of the most entertaining players of his era. Despite being a mere 5’6’’ tall, he led the National League in home runs four times, including the magical 1930 season when he hit 56 home runs.

But the 1930 season was the end of a five-year span in which Wilson was an elite player. He didn’t sustain a high level of play that’s comparable to most players in the Hall of Fame, perhaps because he was known as a heavy drinker who would frequently get into fights.

Herb Pennock

Herb Pennock gets credit because he pitched for over 20 years, which allowed him to win 241 games and win six World Series championships, most coming with the Yankees during the second half of his career.

In an era when the great starting pitchers were winning 20-plus games year after year, Pennock only did so twice over his long career. He also ended his career with an ERA of 3.60, which is good but not necessarily worthy of a spot in Cooperstown.

Bert Blyleven

It took 14 tries for Bert Blyleven to finally get enough votes to get into the Hall of Fame, so it’s fair to question whether he actually belongs there or not. While the Dutch righty undoubtedly had one of the best curveballs of his generation, the rest of his resume is a little weak.

He came close to 300 wins but also had 250 losses. His curveball mixed with his longevity allowed him to amass over 3,700 strikeouts, which helped his case. However, Blyleven was only named an all-star twice.

How can he be one of the all-time greats when he was only among the top 20 or so pitchers in the league twice in more than 20 seasons? In fairness, Blyleven was good and should be proud of his career. But it’s not the Hall of Very Good, it’s the Hall of Fame.

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About Bryan Zarpentine 238 Articles
Bryan Zarpentine is a freelance writer and editor with most of his work focusing on the world of sports. He is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and still resides in upstate New York.

2 Comments

  1. Great list — I agree with all. I would also add Ryne Sandberg and Larry Walker. Very good players and “nice guys”, but not HOFers..

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