In regards to his performance at the plate, Dick Allen is probably the most underrated and overlooked star in baseball history. In fact, there are many modern fans who probably don’t know a damn thing about Allen, which is a shame because he was one of the best offensive players in the game during the 1960s and early 1970s. Unfortunately, due to some grossly unfair attacks by a few baseball historians like Bill James, Allen is remembered by many as just plain offensive.
James spent a lot of ink in his Historical Baseball Abstract depicting Allen as a selfish player who actually did more to hurt his team’s chances than help them win ballgames. That’s patently absurd, maybe the most reckless thing James ever wrote. In the years since Allen last played the game, statistical analysis has come a long way, and experts can evaluate the contributions of players in much better ways than they ever could. It’s not perfect, but the evaluations are very good. Using those methods, Allen rates very well.
- From 1964 to 1974, a span of 11 seasons, Allen’s .554 slugging percentage was second in all of baseball to Hank Aaron.
- The other thing that’s important for a batter to do is to get on base. Over that same stretch, Allen’s .386 on-base percentage ranked 8th in MLB.
- Allen had more total bases over those 11 seasons than anyone except Aaron, Billy Williams, Pete Rose, and Lou Brock.
- If batting average is still your thing (and it shouldn’t be, but that’s another issue), Allen was good there too. From 1964 to 1974 he hit .299, which doesn’t sound exceptional, but in that low-average era it was exceeded by only 12 others.
- Only seven batters drove in more runs than Allen from 1964 to 1974 and all of them are in the Hall of Fame.
- In fact, one of things that jumps out when you look at Allen’s record is that he did the things that other Hall of Famers did during his era, and he outperformed several Hall of Famers. When you make lists of the leaders in batting categories for the 1960s and early 1970s, Allen is almost always the only guy in the top 10 who isn’t in the Hall of Fame (except Pete Rose).
- Prior to the advent of WAR (Wins Above Replacement), OPS (On-Base Percentage + Slugging) was generally considered to be one of the best ways to rate a batter. It’s still the mainstream method used by many baseball followers. Allen’s OPS was 912, which ranks behind only Hank Aaron for his era. Allen wasn’t just the second best right-handed batter in baseball for a dozen years, he was one of the four or five best hitters overall.
- Allen’s career WAR of 55.6 is higher than that of Willie Stargell (Allen was quite obviously a more productive hitter than Stargell), Jim Rice, and many other Hall of Famers.
Having said all that, the chances that Allen will be elected to the Hall of Fame are about the same that four monkeys will independently type the works of Shakespeare on typewriters by accident.