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  • Royce Webb

Crenshaw High Sports Analytics Club builds case for Maury Wills’ Hall of Fame candidacy

According to research by the Crenshaw High School Sports Analytics Club, Maury Wills is a strong candidate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The Crenshaw students, participants in The Sports Analytics Club Program (SACP), applied advanced data science to examine the stellar career of Wills, who played 14 seasons in Major League Baseball, chiefly as a shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wills won the National League MVP award and the NL All-Star MVP award, both in 1962. The Crenshaw High School Sports Analytics Club found that the seven-time All-Star’s unique, innovative game placed him comfortably among the greatest shortstops of all time.

In their work with SACP and professional advisors -- including Dr. Akram Almohalwas, UCLA Department of Statistics, and Michael Spetner of the Los Angeles Dodgers -- the students employed multiple advanced data science techniques and presented their report supporting Wills’ candidacy to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and its Golden Days Era Committee.

As stated by the Crenshaw students:

In this report, we use R programming language to analyze historical MLB data to make a compelling case for Maury Wills’ induction into the Hall of Fame. We chose to narrow our analysis to include current HOF members to showcase that Maury Wills had a statistically comparable impact on the game as those already inducted into the Hall. Wills’ case for the Hall of Fame is centered around his ability to run, score, and field at an elite level.

In particular, the students demonstrated that Wills “revolutionized the game of baseball with his speed.” He was one of the first MLB players to steal bases at a high rate and to have a green light to steal, making running an offensive weapon, and he led the NL in stolen bases for six straight seasons. As noted in the report, “Many baseball purists remember Maury as the man who revolutionized the game of baseball with his speed.”

Additionally, Wills made strong contributions with his glove and as a pioneering MLB manager. His work at the most important defensive position on the infield created wins for his teams, as demonstrated by the Crenshaw students’ employment of advanced defensive metrics, including dWAR. And he was only the third African-American to manage a Major League team.

Wills is one of 10 baseball greats named as finalists for consideration by the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Golden Days Era Committee, which will vote on Dec. 5. Any candidate who receives votes on 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 16-member Golden Days Era Committee will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 24, 2022. The Golden Days Era is one of four Era Committees, each of which provide an avenue for Hall of Fame consideration to managers, umpires and executives, as well as players retired for more than 15 seasons. The Golden Days Era Committee considers candidates whose primary contribution to the game came from 1950 to 1969.

“The SACP Board is confident the Golden Days Era Committee will be impressed and persuaded by the data-driven advanced performance metrics demonstrated by the Crenshaw High Club,” said Robert L. Clayton, CEO of The Sports Analytics Club Program, Inc. “Every student deserves an opportunity to experience an exciting, complex and actionable learning environment.”

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