With Jack Morris about to enter the Hall of Fame and Trevor Hoffman likely to go with him, my belittling snark has the possibility of hitting an all-time high. I’ve already discussed Morris, and Hoffman is to MLB what Scott Wedman is to the NBA*, so I really can go off on a tangent if need be. But I’ve decided to go in another direction: Instead of indirectly slamming those who are unjustly inducted (yes indirectly, because it’s really the intellectually lazy writers who vote for them who I attack, not the players or their careers) I’m going to make some noise for those who should be in the Hall of Fame, who are not, and maybe even more egregiously, are never discussed.
Ladies and gentlemen, today I present to you, Jim Edmonds.
Jim Edmonds was better than most of the Center Fielders who are currently in the Hall of Fame. There’s a lot of current HOF discussion about Andruw Jones and Kenny Lofton – the former because his up and down career makes him a tough call, the latter because he was very underrated – and I’m here to tell you Edmonds was better than both of them.
Before we get to analyzations, I’ll give you my very unscientific “I saw him play” opinion, which assuming you’re over 20 years old, should be similar to yours:
He was a highlight waiting to happen in CF. He made so many ridiculous catches in CF I originally thought he was lucky – that maybe he just got bad jumps but was athletic enough to recover. But after 17 seasons, it’s safe to say it wasn’t luck and the numbers that I’ll get to in a minute back that up.
In addition to eight Gold Gloves, he was remarkably consistent with the bat (10 seasons with more than 25 HR) and was one of the best players on 7 teams that made the post season, including the ’06 Champion Cardinals.
That resume alone should get your attention, Hall of Fame voters. But wait, there’s more…
Among Hall of Fame players (yes, we’re only comparing him to the best of the best) who played at least 65% of their games in CF**, Edmonds has…
More HR than all but Mays, Griffey, Mantle and Duke Snider.
A higher SLG% than all but DiMaggio, Mays, Mantle, Hack Wilson, Snider, Griffey Jr. and Earl Averill.
More defensive WAR and defensive runs saved than all but Mays.
More RBI than all but Cobb, Mays, Griffey, DiMaggio, Tris Speaker, Mantle, and Snider.
More doubles than all but Speaker, Cobb, Griffey and Mays.
Additionally, Only 8 Hall CFs have more career WAR, only 7 had more walks and his weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) career average (132) is higher than Griffey Jr’s.
Need more? How’s this:
There are two CF ever to have career OPS+ higher than 130 and defensive WAR higher than 5. They are Willie Mays and Jim Edmonds.
Jim Edmonds clearly was as good, if not better than most CF who are currently in the Hall. The only ones who were superior are clear, inner circle, first ballot, all-time greats.
And for putting up a career that made him one of the best ever by any reasonable evaluation, guess what he received?
11 Hall votes from 440 writers (2.5%) on his first ballot. That’s 9 more votes than David Eckstein received and 139 fewer than Lee Smith received.
Just writing that last sentence gave me a headache. 150 people who have covered baseball professionally for decades believe Lee Smith is a Hall of Famer.
Edmonds 2.5% jettisoned him off to the Veteran’s committee(s) where he’ll surely be ignored like many other qualified candidates as more and more qualified players become eligible.
I’ve written before that I may be done with the Hall of Fame. I was exaggerating as I’ll always pay attention of course. But it certainly is becoming difficult to argue that it isn’t just trivia at this point, as opposed to any legitimate measure of a player’s career.
**I originally started with at least 75% of career games in CF, which would’ve eliminated Snider and Cobb from the above numbers. I’ve always felt that your ability to play your position well for you entire career by definition makes you better at that position than those who need to move to easier spots as they age. But as to not be accused of cherry picking numbers, I dropped it to 65% to include Snider and Cobb.
*Perform an act that about 35% of the players in the league could do, and contribute absolutely nothing else except for that one specific act. Shoot a few uncontested 3 pointers per game for Wedman, get three outs against the bottom of the other team’s order with a two run lead for Hoffman.