Saturday, February 19, 2011

Jim Edmonds, Hall of Famer

Let's talk Hall of Fame for a moment here.

The discussion has arisen because of the retirement of one James Patrick Edmonds, a center fielder for 17 seasons in the Major Leagues.

Some reading material on the subject:

* Rob Neyer from back on Feb. 1st at SB Nation (I am an unabashed Rob Neyer fan)
* Andy on the Baseball Reference blog; verdict:  unsure
* Aaron Gleeman at Hardball Talk; verdict:  HoF
* bryn.swartz at Philly Buster via Yardbarker:  nope
* Chad Dotson on Sweet Spot; verdict:  HoF

etc. etc. etc.  I'm sure you can find a heck of a lot more articles on the subject if you look hard enough.

As for me, I suppose you can guess my opinion right from the title line.  I'm not a "small hall" person.  It's okay with me that the Hall of Fame is bigger than Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Walter Johnson.  There's space there.  (Maybe not for Jim Rice, but hey, what can you do?)

My criteria is pretty simple:  Is the guy one of the ten or so best players at his position of all time?  I'd contend that Jim Edmonds is one of the ten best center fielders in baseball history.

That's my argument.

You can take it farther, mentioning his 132 OPS+ or his 393 home runs... but really, it's all about where you stack up historically, and Jim does just fine.  Was he as good as Ken Griffey, Jr.?  No, but that's okay.  Griffey wasn't as good as Mays, and that doesn't lessen him any as a player.

Which center fielders were better than Edmonds?  Going from my Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract:  Mays, Mantle, Cobb, Speaker, DiMaggio, Duke Snider, Junior Griffey... anybody else?  We'll exclude negro leaguers in this conversation (but Oscar Charleston's still got my vote for being in the top three among all baseball players all time).  "Sliding" Billy Hamilton?  Larry Doby?

Jim Edmonds, Hall of Famer.

That's my argument for Alan Trammell being in the Hall of Fame, too, right alongside Lou Whitaker.  Name me 10-15 middle infielders better than them in baseball history.  I don't believe it can be done.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not here to hate on the guy, but I just never saw Jim Edmonds has a Hall of Famer, possibly because I don't draw major distinctions between centerfielders and other outfielders. Jimmy was a great defensive outfielder, no doubt, but I just don't see it on the offensive end. He only finished in the top 10 in the league for OPS three times. He always seemed like a nice player to have rather than a superstar. Also, people tend to lose sight of whether a guy consistently played a lot of games, and because of injuries and platooning, Edmonds never really did. His 7980 career PAs is awfully light for an outfielder who didn't put up eye-popping numbers.