By Chris Bodig
Dick Allen, one of baseball’s greatest hitters from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, is one of the ten candidates on the “Golden Days” Eras Committee ballot. This Sunday [December 5th, 2021], the 16 committee members will consider Allen and the others for a spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. The Golden Days Committee was supposed to meet on December 6th, 2020, but the vote was postponed for a year due to COVID-19. In a bitter irony, the day after the vote that might have put him into the Hall was supposed to take place, Allen passed away at his home in Wampum, Pennsylvania at the age of 78.
From 1964-74, the right-handed hitting Allen can be credibly called the best of all hitters in all of Major League Baseball. During an era populated by Hall of Fame legends named Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Willie McCovey, Carl Yastrzemski, and Harmon Killebrew, only Hammerin’ Hank combined the disparate skills of reaching base and hitting for power at the level approximating the performance of Allen. When adjusted for ballpark effects, not one other batter had a higher OPS (on-base + slugging percentage) than Richard Anthony Allen.
Allen’s adjusted 165 OPS+ from 1964-74 was the highest in all of baseball. You might think that such an extraordinary peak performance would have already resulted in a plaque in Cooperstown. You would be wrong. Despite this significant accomplishment, Allen never got more than 18.9% of the vote from the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) in 14 tries on the Hall of Fame ballot. The concept of OPS (or its adjusted version, OPS+) did not exist when Allen was being considered by the BBWAA.