This is our old blog. It hasn't been active since 2011. Please see the link above for our current blog or click the logo above to see all of the great data and content on this site.

Jim Edmonds’ Hall of Fame chances

Posted by Andy on March 2, 2010

On a recent blog post here, a reader pointed us to a discussion on another blog about Jim Edmonds' Hall of Fame chances. The source blog is this post on The House that Dewey Built, writing generally dedicated to the Red Sox.

According to the author, Edmonds has 72.20 wins above a replacement player, more than numerous other Hall of Famers such as Willie Stargell, Dave Winfield, Ande Dawson, and Jim Rice. Also noted is Edmonds' career OPS+ of 132, a really good number.

I have to admit--if I had been asked about Edmonds before seeing these numbers, I would have regarded his HOF chances as slim to none. That 132 number is tough to ignore, though, especially given that he was (is?) a centerfielder.

Let's see what we can find as far as numbers go. There are only 64 players since 1901 with more plate appearances than Edmonds and an OPS+ of at least 132. The vast majority of those guys are Hall of Famers with some of the leftovers including Edgar Martinez, Ken Singleton, Will Clark, Jose Canseco, Reggie Smith, Norm Cash, and Boog Powell. Of the 29 non-HOFers ahead of Edmonds, an excellent HOF case can be made for at least 16 of them (when ignoring steroids-related issues.) That means the total number of non-HOF calibur players ahead of Edmonds is at best a dozen players. There are another 18 HOFs below Edmonds (with fewer PAs.) So, right off, this is clearly not a crazy debate.

I think in terms of raw numbers and length of career, Edmonds is clearly good enough to be reasonably considered for the Hall of Fame. Let's look at his peak and see how dominant he was. His best 5-year career stretch was clearly 2000-2004, his first 5 seasons with the Cardinals, when his seasonal OPS+ was never below 146. Let's look at leaders over that period.

Here are the top OPS+ figures for the years 2000-2004, minimum 2000 plate appearances:

Rk Player OPS+ PA
1 Barry Bonds 241 3050
2 Jason Giambi 167 3036
3 Albert Pujols 167 2728
4 Manny Ramirez 167 3012
5 Todd Helton 160 3446
6 Jim Thome 158 3257
7 Jim Edmonds 156 2970
8 Gary Sheffield 156 3171
9 Sammy Sosa 156 3210
10 Vladimir Guerrero 155 3168
11 Carlos Delgado 154 3299
12 Alex Rodriguez 152 3542
13 Brian Giles 151 3326
14 Lance Berkman 149 3142
15 Frank Thomas 144 2387
16 Bobby Abreu 143 3477
17 Chipper Jones 142 3248
18 Larry Walker 140 2406
19 Luis Gonzalez 138 3213
20 Edgar Martinez 138 2805
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/1/2010.

So Edmonds slides into the top 10, well ahead of lots of excellent players. Bonds was in a class by himself, but at 156 Edmonds isn't all that far off the pace of the #2 guy, Jason Giambi. I think a reasonable argument can be made that Edmonds was one of the dominant players in baseball at his peak. I'm sure he was helped immensely by hitting in the same order as Albert Pujols, but I don't think Edmonds can be penalized for this. He took the opportunities given to him and did the most with them. Incidentally, for the period 2000-2004, Edmonds also makes the top 10 for home runs.

Edmonds also played on two World Series teams, including one winner (2006 Cardinals.)

Regarding his defense, I know there are mixed opinions. I know early in his career he was accused of intentionally taking slow routes to balls just so he could make a diving catch and get on SportsCenter. Some thought he missed a few balls due to showboating. I have no idea if these are true. The detailed defensive stats suggest that his range wasn't as good as some think. I'm not sure how to look at the numbers here, but I will say this: the guy was good enough to be a starting centerfielder for many years, and that says something. From a defensive standpoint, the CF is more valuable than the LF or the RF and so Edmonds deserves some 'extra credit' here.

The biggest knocks on Edmonds that I can back up are that his ancillary batting numbers are not all that great. While he's 56th career in homers and 50th in slugging percentage, his RBI total is good for only 148th. Why didn't he drive in more runs? His career walk total is only 121st all time but he's 26th in strikeouts. He's ranked in the top 10 in hits or batting (for a given season) only once each and career wise he's way down the lists. His most similar players are Andruw Jones, Ellis Burks, Jason Giambi, Dick Allen, and Shawn Green. That's a good group but not Hall of Famers.

Hmm, so what do you think? Please vote in the poll below and post a comment with your opinion.

65 Responses to “Jim Edmonds’ Hall of Fame chances”

  1. James Kunz Says:

    The same subject occured to me after Andre Dawson got elected. As a matter of fact, I used Edmonds as an example of how overrated Dawson is. You know, like "If Andre Dawson gets elected, then would you elect Edmonds as well?" After all, Dawson's OPS+ was a less impressive 119. Ultimately I think neither should have made it. Edmonds was a good (and at times, great) player who impressed me a great deal when in St. Louis playing for my beloved Redbirds, but he falls just short in my opinion

  2. Andy Says:

    At least Dawson was a broader and more accomplished offensive player, despite the lower OPS+.

  3. Zachary Says:

    I voted Yes, First Ballot because I believe that if a player is worthy, a player is worthy. I don't expect him to be enshrined, but I think he should be.

  4. Detroit Michael Says:

    Given that The Book and other studies have shown that line-up protection on average is a complete non-issue and your HOF case is not based on runs or RBIs, I'm not sure why you assert that he benefitted from being in the same line-up as Albert Pujols.

    I didn't vote in the poll because I don't know. You make a good argument. Part of my hesitancy is while rWAR seems to say that Edmonds had enough career value to be in, what happens if a few years from now we have a better fielding metric that evaluates Edmonds more harshly? There's a measurement uncertainty that isn't always acknowledged.

    I remember when the stathead consensus was in favor of Richie Ashburn's HOF case because of his tremendous range factors. Now he's regarded as a more borderline selection as our opinion of his defense has come back to earth.

  5. DavidRF Says:

    #2: "broader and more accomplished offensive player" sounds like hand-waving to me. What exactly does that mean? He stole bases? I don't mean to pick on you specifically. These arguments end up being quite common. Dawson is *remembered* as being a bigger star when he was in his prime and there is some desire to retroactively explain that.

    I really like Edmonds and perhaps he more deserving than some HOF-ers, but in the end I think his career is too short. He came up relatively late, retired a bit on the early side (didn't hit well enough at the end to move to a corner), plus he was plagued by in-season durability issues which cut down on the number of full-seasons he played. None of these issues are extreme but lumped together they make for a short-ish career which is similar to guys like Reggie Smith or Jimmy Wynn.

    Certainly not a crazy debate as you say and I look forward to seeing Edmonds' name in the mix when guys like Bernie Williams are discussed in a few years.

  6. Anarchy99 Says:

    The OF that I am more curious about in terms of HOF probability is Larry Walker. Walker's OPS is 140 (vs. 132 for Edmonds). Walker ranked in the Top 10 in batting 6 times (first 3 times), OPS 8 times (first twice), homers 5 times (first once), and RBI 5 times to go along with 7 Gold Gloves. Yet many of the people I have discussed him with were not suitably impressed, suggesting that his totals were inflated playing for the Rockies and he usually played on a non-contending team.

  7. AlvaroEspinoza Says:

    0% chance. Edmonds never led the league in a single category. How many HOFers can say that?

    Forget OPS as so many of the voters are old-school.

    >400HR, >2000H, 4 All-Star games. Crap.

  8. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    He's right on the HOF "fault-line", and will get some votes, but be well short; there's going to be a flood of good candidates in the next five/ten years, many of whom will still be on the ballot the first time Edmonds is (on the HOF ballot). IMHO he's better than Earl Averill and Kirby Puckett for peak, but both of those two had better in-season durability. If you're a short-career HOF candidate like Puckett or Averill, you'd better have something "extra" to add, like lots of All-star appearances (Averill-7; Puckett-10), eye-popping Triple Crown stats, or World Series heroics (Puckett).

    I guess it depends on whether you're a "small Hall" or "big Hall" voter,as the folks at BBTF like to put it. I'd put him in, but I'm more of a big-Hall guy,and the BBWAA is trending small-Hall. Amongst unelected players on the current HOF ballot, he'd get in line behind Burt Blyleven, Tim Raines, Mark McGuire and Alan Tranmell; probably Dale Murphy; maybe Lee Smith - there's just too many worthy candidates ahead of him now, let alone the future.

  9. Zachary Says:

    Walker was good - he may have been great - but the simple fact of the matter is that he had a .381/.462/.710 line at Coors and a .313/.400/.565 line overall. Now, he was excellent in Montreal - his overall career line in the fairly neutral Stade Olympique was .293/.373/.518 - but not slam-dunk Hall of Fame excellent. Do that for ten years and win some Gold Gloves and we can talk, but it sure ain't shoo-in. His big problem is that his peak took place in Colorado, so we don't really know exactly how good his bat was, and that's obviously the single-most important component of a corner outfielder's game. His neutralized batting line .299/.384/.539 is very, very good - and given his good defense and solid all-around game, it might be good enough - but the problem is that it looks downright pathetic when you compare it to the video game-style numbers he put up in Coors. Right or wrong, it makes him look like a product of a great home park. As for me? I don't have a problem including guys like Walker. Just let guys like Blyleven and Raines in, too!

    In regards to Edmonds: the guy had nine seasons where he qualified for the batting title and posted an OPS+ of at least 123. Considering that he was a center fielder - and probably an excellent one - that's pretty darn compelling. And while I'm not a 'You have to win!' kinda guy, Edmonds _was_ a key player on the decade's best NL team and won a WS ring. No, he's not the best center fielder of all time ... but I think he belongs in Cooperstown. He was the best center fielder this decade, and he might be top ten all-time. Among players with 6000+ career PAs and 50% games played in center, Edmonds has the tenth-highest OPS+ ever. Every guy ahead of him is either in Cooperstown or on their way, and several guys behind him are, too. (Side note: Fred Lynn, who ranks 11th, was a _really_ good ballplayer.)

  10. Djibouti Says:

    #7 - The argument I generally use that 'league leading' stats don't mean much is Derek Jeter. In his career he's lead the league in PA 3 times, R once, H once, and that's it. And you could easily argue that all of those were more products of the team he was on and his position in the lineup than actual performance. That said, there's no one (at least not any sane person) that will argue when Jeter is elected first ballot HOF. It's about putting up great numbers consistently, not the best numbers in some subset of time. That said, I think Edmonds falls just a bit short. Definitely a 'great' player, but compared to his contemporaries who will be on the ballot with him, not in the league of 'greatest' players.

    As a side note, Boog Powell belongs in the HOF for Boog's BBQ alone. Yet another of the many reasons Camden Yards is my favorite ballpark.

  11. Andy Says:

    David, yeah I just meant that Dawson had more skills in his toolbox than Edmonds, not that his overall achievement level was better. I certainly wasn't trying to use that throwaway statement to say that Dawson deserved to be in as compared to Edmonds.

    Michael, I'm not familiar with the studies about lineups. My instinct is that hitting before or after a really good hitter must help since it means you're either seeing better pitches or hitting more often with runners on. Maybe that's bunk--perhaps the issue is that the difference between Pujols and an average cleanup hitter is maybe only 20-30 times on base per year (I am just guestimating that number, might be way off) and so while it helps the guy who hits after him a little bit, it's not a huge difference between Pujols and the average guy.

    When it comes to replacement stats, fans often tend to forget that a hole in the lineup is being filled by SOMEONE. Take away Pujols and add in, say, Frank Thomas pulled out of retirement, and Thomas will still hit 10-20 HR in all likelihood. It's not like the 4th hole becomes an absolute automatic out.

  12. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #10 - Djibouti: While Derek Jeter has been on top of the leaderboards only a hundful of times, he has much more of a "presence" on the BB-Reference leaderboards than Jim Edmonds. To quantify:

    BLACK INK: Jeter 6//Edmonds 0 (yes, zero)
    GREY INK: Jeter 129, 136th all-time)//Edmonds 60 (411th all-time)

    Another useful offensive comparison is in seasonal "Top-10" finishes in Adjusted Batting Wins:
    JETER: 2nd/10th/9th (not consecutive)
    EDMONDS: 8th/7th/5th (consecutively)

    Edmonds probably had a better offensive peak than Jeter, but both were clearly NOT amongst the true elite hitters of their time. Jeter does have a clear advantage over Edmonds in career length, and especially in seasonal durability.

    I bow to Sean Foreman, for his god-li-ness in creating the best time-waster (I mean web site) ever...

  13. Andy Says:

    It's not looking good for Jim...with over 150 votes, a little more than half the voters think he doesn't deserve to be in.

  14. john Says:

    entire career, not one single MVP vote. No sportswriter has ever thought he was the best player in his league for a season, and you think he belongs in the Hall? Come on.

  15. Andy Says:

    A couple of the comments seem to think I am in favor of putting him the HOF. I didn't say that in my original post and I voted 'no' in the poll...

  16. john Says:

    OK, how about this: If Edmonds gets in the Hall, then so should Rocky Colavito. More HRs, same number of hits, better bat control (half the Ks), AND that same OPS+ 132 that you claim should get your boy in. AND, Colavito got some MVP votes.

  17. Andy Says:

    I did not claim that 132 should get Edmonds in, nor is he "my boy". My post above is simply a list of facts, with a little bit of speculation thrown in.

  18. daveg Says:

    It's the *define a decade* rule, which i just made up, but i think it is valid. Does a player, thru any combination of starts or performance metrics, DEFINE a specific 10-year period in which he played?

    Andrew Dawson: f/ 79-89 yes
    Derek Jeter: 97-present
    JIm Rice: 76-86
    Don Mattingly: 84-94 ... he would be a true borderline case

    Reggie Smith, Jim Wynn, Jim Edmonds: great dudes, true talents ... HOF ... nope

  19. daveg Says:

    and i meant ANDRE dawson obviously. andrew dawson i think i knew in middle school

  20. Andy Says:

    I can't tell you how many times I've typed Andrew Dawson, given that Andrew is my first name...

  21. Jim Says:

    Edmonds NEVER lead the league in ANY offensive category, not even the most obscure ones. He is the proto-typical above average player. And that's all he was, above average. Not great, just good. Yes, he did win 8 gold gloves, but that is not an astronomical amount, and we also know that the gold glove is more of a popularity contest than an actual achievement.

    For the record, growing up, Edmonds was one of my favorite players (even though he never played for my team) and I was always impressed by how hard he tried and his work ethic. but the hall of fame doesn't elect players based on their work ethic.

  22. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #14 - "John: entire career, not one single MVP vote"
    John, this is not correct; Edmonds got MVP votes in SIX different years, finishing as high as 4th. If you mean "he never won the MVP award", that's different, but that's not what "MVP vote" means to me.

    #16 - I'm not sure the Edmonds/Colavito comparison holds up; even though they are very close in both OPS+ (132%) and Adjusted Batting Runs (114th/118th, paper-thin edge to Edmonds), Colavito was a career right fielder known for having a cannon arm but not much range, versus a very good center fielder (Edmonds). THE HOF expectations for corner outfielders vs. centerfielders are quite different (or should be).

  23. mebejoe Says:

    No to Edmonds. Great player, but not HOF great. If he is in, then Mattingly deserves it too. And as much as I loved Donnie Baseball, he isn't quite HOF.

    Mattingly won an MVP.

    Look at the career stats, only significant advantage to Edmonds is HR's and Slg:


    1993-2008 1925 7708 6612 1207 1881 414 25 382 1176 65 50 974 1669 .284 .377 .528 .905 132 3491 120 48 10 64 91


    1982-1995 1785 7721 7003 1007 2153 442 20 222 1099 14 9 588 444 .307 .358 .471 .830 127 3301 191 21 13 96 136

    But even more, look at the HOF monitor:


    Gray Ink
    Batting - 60 (411), Average HOFer ≈ 144
    Hall of Fame Monitor
    Batting - 88 (185), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
    Hall of Fame Standards
    Batting - 40 (154), Average HOFer ≈ 50


    Black Ink Batting - 23 (84), Average HOFer ≈ 27
    Gray Ink Batting - 111 (188), Average HOFer ≈ 144
    Hall of Fame Monitor Batting - 134 (99), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
    Hall of Fame Standards Batting - 34 (215), Average HOFer ≈ 50

    Wow, I'm starting to re-think my position on Mattingly.

  24. DavidRF Says:

    People always bring up Mattingly and compare him to players at more defense-oriented postions. Edmonds played centerfield! If Mattingly played CF, he'd have a much better case than he does now. The competition at 1B is much steeper. Its very hard to rank Mattingly ahead of Will Clark. Mattingly doesn't necessarily beat Olerud, either. Then there's the avalanche of 90s greats (Thomas, Bagwell, Thome, Delgado, etc).

    ... to reiterate Andy's point. I don't think the issue is that Edmonds is necessarily deserving, just that he was underrated while he was playing and deserves to be in the discussion. Reggie Smith, Jimmy Wynn, Bernie Williams (though Bernie may rise above these guys). Those types of guys.

  25. rico petrocelli Says:

    Thanks for the analysis of my query. Good discussion

    Edmonds aint done yet, trying to latch onto the Brewers this year.

    But doubt he'll add to his case...his last years have been weak.

  26. Pageup Says:

    Perhaps #14 meant Edmonds never got a single 1st place mvp vote, which he didn't...

  27. MrDave Says:

    Edmonds also missed a good chunk of time in 1999, and approximately 100 games over his last two seasons. If he'd been able to stay healthy, he's definately over 2000 hits, and his case becomes better for the hall. I think before the 'advent' of the newer stats, he would have had zero chance of getting in. He'll probably get a few votes now (people voted for Jay Bell) but he won't make it in.

  28. rico petrocelli Says:

    So then is Sheffield a lock?

    Is Abreu?

  29. Andy Says:

    #25: this point raises a major weakness in my original post and in evaluating active players. If Edmonds plays another 1 or 2 years, it's quite likely that his career OPS+ will fall to the range of 129-131. That means he won't even be on my lists above, which had a cutoff of 132. When we evaluate retired players, their final numbers include, in almost all cases, subpar seasons at the end of their career. Edmonds has tailed off in his last few seasons but if he plays more will almost certainly tail off even more. Comparing him now to retired players isn't really a fair comparison and the bottom line is that if he does play more, he will almost certainly fall into a lower comparison group, making the HOF debate clearly moot.

  30. Zachary Says:

    61 players in major league history have had at least 6000+ plate appearances and played at least 50% of their games in center. Edmonds ranks 10th by OPS+, and I don't think anyone would object to saying he's at least as highly ranked defensively. I don't know if that's good enough for a lot of people, but it's good enough for me. I'm more of a Big Hall kind of guy anyway, and I know a lot of people aren't, but consider that Edmonds was far and away the best center fielder this decade - he had an OPS+ of 140 this decade, compared to second-place Grady Sizemore's 124 and uber-talented third-place Carlos Beltran's 122 - and that counts for something. I firmly believe in comparing players against their own positions, especially against contemporaries, and Edmonds stacks up very, very well. I'm also pretty well convinced that since '70s Lynn, '00s Edmonds is second only to '90s Griffey. That's pretty dang good.

  31. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I don't think you can play your way out of the HOF. If he currently deserves to be in, or deserves serious consideration, that shouldn't change no matter how many terrible seasons he has from here on out.

  32. Tomepp Says:

    I would definitely put Larry Walker way ahead of Edmonds (actually, I'd put Walker in the Hall but for his injury-shortened career). Larry was a better offensive player (even outside of Coors) and a better defensive player. Though he played primarily RF, he did play CF quite capably when called upon to do so, and would have been a Gold Glove-caliber CF but his managers wanted to take advantage of his cannon arm. Larry had great range, a cannon arm, and great field instincts. He also had more power and a better average than Edmonds at the plate. (Larry's career OPS+ is 140, and that adjusts for home park.) Walker was also a better base runner and base stealer than Edmonds. (230-76 SB-CS for Walker, 65-50 for Edmonds). Unfortunately, Larry only managed to play 150+ games in a season once, and 140+ games in a season four times. He got 600+ PA just twice in 17 years. His median season was just 131 G and 524 PA.Oh what might have been...

  33. Johnny Says:

    RE #28,

    I think Sheffield has a pretty strong case:

    *9 time all star
    *5 time silver slugger
    *world series ring 1997
    *1/4 players with 500 hr/250 stls (bonds, mays, arod)
    *1992 major league player of the year
    *1992 batting title & total bases leader
    *1996 OBP, OPS leader, OPS+ leader
    *140 career OPS+
    *7 years with MVP votes, 6 times was in top 9, 3 times in top 3 , and 55th all time in MVP shares.
    *36th all time in runs
    *27th in total bases
    *24th in homers
    *25th in rbi
    *19th in walks
    *22nd in runs created
    *23rd in adjusted batting runs
    *27th in adjusting battings wins
    *32nd in extra base hits
    *26th in times on base
    *11th in power speed #
    *13th in sac flies

    Sheffield had a 20/20 season at the age of 38 and even was productive last season at the age of 40. Love or hate the guy but his career compares to Ott, Reggie Jackson, Grffey Jr, Mantle, Frank Robinson, Frank Thomas, Al Kaline, and Ernie Banks.

  34. Johnny Says:

    Another tidbit I just came across.

    "Sheffield joined Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Frank Robinson and Reggie Jackson as the only players with 500 homers and at least 2,500 hits, 1,500 RBIs and 200 stolen bases."

  35. Andy Says:

    JT, I don't disagree. My point was just that comparing final career rate stats is unfair when including a guy who hasn't finished his career yet. I agree that final subpar seasons have nothing to do with ranking peak seasons or total non-rate stats.

  36. dave Says:

    Edmonds seasonal average is close to Dawson. Except an additional 20 bags by Andre.
    Edmonds fell short of 400 hr.
    Dawson has 400 and 300+ SB to go with.
    No Brainer.
    Hall for Andre.
    No hall for Jim.
    More than half those guys listed above won't make the hall either.
    We'll see how the steroid era plays into effect.
    Just a hunch, Bonds and ARod sneak in.
    But Giambi, Sheffield, and Sosa not as likely, since all they ever had was pop.
    Helton and Walker both hit around 80 points higher at Coors.
    Giles, cmon now.
    And the rest, predominantly 1B and/or DH with limited speed and/or defense. The rest sub .300 hitters
    Throw in Big Hurt and Man-Ram. That's four from that list, only 20%, not the greatest of company to validate Hall of Fame consideration.

  37. Johnny Says:

    RE: #36

    I don't understand saying that all Sheffield had was pop when he has a .292 career average, 300 more walks than strikeouts, and has over 250 steals?

    We have to remember that he WAS NOT mentioned in the Mitchell Report and the only reason he gets a "steroid rap" is because he testified that he used the clear/cream when rehabbing an injury. Another thing I find weird about the Sheffield steroid thing is that he was 195lbs as a 19 year old rookie and is playing at 215 as a 40+ year old man. 20 pounds of weight gain in a 20+ year career seems very natural to me.

  38. Zachary Says:

    It seems pretty clear to me that if you're the best player at your position over the course of a decade, and the second-best over a thirty-year span, you deserve to get in. Since Lynn, Griffey is the only center fielder to top Edmonds. Just take a look in the PI: 3000+ PA's, 50% at center field, ranked by OPS+. Edmonds and Griffey are far and away the top two since the '70s. You can't tell me that the position that combines some the greatest defensive demands with some of the greatest offensive demands has only produced one Hall of Famer in two generations.

  39. Anthony Says:

    You can show me all the numbers you want, and they may make a case, but as far as I'm concerned Jim Edmonds isn't a Hall of Fame player. I just know it, regardless of any numbers. The fact that you have to run all those numbers merely to make a "borderline" case for the guy is proof enough that he doesn't belong.
    True Hall of Fame players don't need dissertations on the various aspects of their career.

  40. Andy Says:

    Wow, that is the emptiest argument on either side I've heard all day. Time was that BBWAA members voted based on arguments of that sort.

  41. DoubleDiamond Says:

    I haven't thought of Edmonds as a superstar, probably for a lot of the reasons already mentioned.

    My personal reason for wanting him in the Hall of Fame is that there would finally be a player from this page noted as HOF:

    I see that Jeff Conine's career batting average was one point higher than Edmonds'. Does that make him more HOF worthy? (I'm still getting used to the OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+ statistics, so BA is still the most easily understood computed batting statistic to me.)

  42. Zachary Says:

    Anthony, I actually would argue that those numbers are not part of a borderline case, but on a bigger picture, if the criteria for Cooperstown is universally recognized genius, nobody's a Hall of Famer. Some think that Ripken doesn't belong because he was merely average for a long time. Some think that Williams doesn't belong because he had a lousy World Series. Some think that Koufax doesn't belong because he was only great for six years. The point is that the stats can help us move beyond those, frankly, ridiculous notions, and tell us that, yes, that guy really was excellent. I don't believe that stats alone should get somebody in the Hall - even before the PEDs scandal, I was against the statistically great Clemens, as he tanked it in Boston, threw a bat at Piazza, and was generally one of the most unpleasant gentleman in sports - but they should be a serious component of the discussion for 99% of players.

  43. Zachary Says:

    DoubleDiamond, I believe I speak for all of us when I say that Jeff Conine is not a Hall of Famer. Maybe some of the others could explain those more advanced numbers better than I could, if you're curious.

  44. rico petrocelli Says:

    Loving this discussion!

    Zachary the Lynn/Griffey/Edmonds point is compelling

    Here's a list for of the "top 50 cf of all time" why I dont know. Edmonds is #20

    1. Willie Mays
    2. Ty Cobb
    3. Ken Griffey Jr.
    4. Joe DiMaggio
    5. Mickey Mantle
    6. Tris Speaker
    7. Duke Snider
    8. Oscar Charleston
    9. Billy Hamilton
    10. Larry Doby
    11. Kirby Puckett
    12. Jimmy Wynn
    13. Dale Murphy
    14. Earl Averill
    15. Fred Lynn
    16. Wally Berger
    17. Vada Pinson
    18. Amos Otis
    19. Cesar Cedeno
    20. Jim Edmonds
    21. Cool Papa Bell
    22. Andruw Jones
    23. Richie Ashburn
    24. Edd Roush
    25. Willie Davis
    26. Al Oliver
    27. Jimmy Ryan
    28. Hack Wilson
    29. Hugh Duffy
    30. Max Carey
    31. Dom DiMaggio
    32. Eric Davis
    33. Willie McGee
    34. George Van Haltren
    35. Brett Butler
    36. Bernie Williams
    37. Kenny Lofton
    38. Roy Thomas
    39. Cy Seymour
    40. Earle Combs
    41. Andy Van Slyke
    42. Ginger Beaumont
    43. Chet Lemon
    44. Curt Flood
    45. Rick Monday
    46. Baby Doll Jacobson
    47. Doc Cramer
    48. Johnny Damon
    49. Willie Wilson
    50. Garry Maddox

  45. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Zachary, re top CF since the '70s, what about Dale Murphy?

    or Bernie Williams?

    Reasonable minds may disagree but I can't see how Edmonds is "far and away" superior to them.

  46. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Zachary, I do agree with you that the gap in HOF CF is peculiar. There was always at least one (usually multiple) HOF CF active from the 1880s to the 1970s. But not one between Mays and Puckett. Dale Murphy would fill some of that gap.

  47. dave Says:

    Yeah, in recent decades, it's been hard to come by great HOF caliber CF's. But that shouldn't be the driving home point for Edmonds, because he sits practically alone behind Griffey over a 30 year span. So lets just wait it out a few years, and see where Torii Hunter(33), Carlos Beltran(32), Juan Pierre(31), and even Grady Sizemore(26) stack up. Given a handful of solid healthy years, knock on wood, Hunter looks to get 300/200 10+GG, Beltran 350/350 3+GG, Pierre 700 SB .300+ car.avg, Sizemore 400/400++ 6++GG who knows with this kids talent. Set against Edmonds 384/65, 8 GG, that point becomes a non-issue. Sure only reg. season stats, not counting intangibles, but I never see why postseason is held the highest regards either, how 'bout Scott Brosius gets some HOF consideration then, as well as Bernie Williams wouldn't have the most postseason extra base hits+rbi's if he played for the Royals.

  48. Anthony Says:

    Zachary: It must be a borderline case, otherwise there wouldn't be so many arguments about it.

    The point I was making was that I can make my own judgement from what I see, and that I don't necessarily need statistics to help me. Because I watch the games.
    If somebody has to run out a bunch of numbers in order to make a (borderline) case, then maybe the player doesn't deserve to be in the Hall.
    Even Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron didn't get 100% of the votes on their ballots, so the idea that anything is "universally recognized" isn't worth discussing.

  49. Andy Says:

    Personally I think the "I can judge by what I see" argument has been largely debunked. That's how most managers and coaches used to rate defensive capabilities until it became widely recognized that humans tend to have very selective memory and that we usually remember things as being far better or far worse than they were because we tend to remember extreme cases more. Recent studies have shown that coaches who rate, for example, defensive range based on observation only are not accurate as compared to actual measured numbers (due the selective memory phenomenon.) I think the same is true of hitting and pitching. This means that the only objective measure we have to fall back on is the statistics, which themselves are historical facts (although highly context-dependent, meaning the ballpark and era in which they occurred, among other things.)

    Do I think that observation is worthless? No. Do I think statistics paint the entire picture? No. Determinations should be a combination of the two, but arguing that a player is or is not a HOFer based purely on "I know what I saw" is as silly as basing it on "This guy hit .300 for his career" with no other information.

  50. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Addressing #39/#40/#42: HOW DO YOU DEFINE A HALL-OF-FAMER?

    Well, practically speaking, there are three basic ways players get elected into the HOF:
    1) PEAK: a relatively short but spectacular career, with some great individual seasons
    EXAMPLE: Sandy Koufax; Ralph Kiner; Kirby Puckett; Dizzy Dean (the ultimate peak candidate)
    2) CAREER: not a great peak, but a very long career with a number of above-average to excellent seasons
    EXAMPLE: Tony Perez; Don Sutton; Lou Brock; Paul Molitor
    3) BOTH of the above; a number of great individual seasons AND a very long career: these are the "slam dunk" or "no brainer" candidates, so to speak
    EXAMPLE: Tom Seaver; George Brett; Stan Musial; Tris Speaker/most underrated of the all-time greats

    Obviously, candidates that fit into #3 (peak + career) require little or no discussion. Some players do not fit clearly into one of these catagories: for example, both Cal Ripken and Yaz had only a few TRULY great seasons, but both had extremely long careers, so both fit into #3 (no-brainer) rather than #2 (career). It's the guys in categories #1 or #2 that need the discussions. Often players's eras/ballparks can help or hinder their arguments greatly. For example, both Hack Wilson and Chuck Klein put up huge Triple Crown numbers for about a half dozen years, and eventually got selected by the Veterans Committee. Of course, they both played in the best hitters era (c. 1930) in great hitters ballparks, Wrigley Field and the Baker Bowl. On the other hand, Jimmy Wynn, whom I consider about as good as Wilson and Klein (all three are ranked #105-#121 in Adj Batting Wins), got KILLED by both his era (pitching-dominated mid-60s) and ballpark (the Astrodome), and thus got ZERO Hall of Fames votes, on his only time on the ballot.

    As for Edmonds - well, he's not a Career candidate,so he needs to be evaluated on Peak. He's got a nice peak from 2000-2004, and very good rate stats most other years, but there's just too many other people with similar/bigger numbers in this offense-oriented era. He doesn't stand out as much because he missed quite a few games in a number of different years, so his Triple Crown numbers don't look as inpressive. As I said way waaay back in #8, I'd LIKE to see him in, but there are currently too many other worthy candidates on the ballot still waiting to get elected. His HOF chances are quite poor right now.

  51. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Dave, Juan Pierre will never get a single vote for the HOF.

  52. dave Says:

    We shall see. If he can play into his late thirties, get to that 700 SB plateau, of the 10 men who have done it in the history of baseball, only 3 aren't in the hall: Tim Raines, Arlie Latham, and Vince Coleman.
    Tim Raines will be in someday. Arlie and Vince are .260 hitters, Arlie played in the 1800's, his realm of consideration is long gone, and Vince, as it stands, only has 45 more Runs than Pierre.
    Not to mention, Pierre already has 4, 200 hit seasons to show for.
    The greatest ever, Rickey Henderson, zero.

  53. BJ Says:

    Jimmy deserves to get in. No question in my mind. Absolutely dominant CF'er. Outside of Griffey, nobody was close to him. Of course, I'd put Murphy, Raines, and Bly in as well.

    A guy like Murphy put up a 140 OPS+ over an 8 year period. He played superior defense at one of the most challenging defensive positions, averaged 20-25 SB's, and was a great all-around team mate. Unfortunately, he just fell a part after his peak but man when he was good, he was amazingly good.

  54. Zachary Says:

    Johnny, the "far and away" might be too strong. Edmonds has a higher OPS+ and appears to be a statistically better defender, but Murphy was still a great player in his heyday. Edmonds is my number two center fielder of the past thirty years by a healthy margin, but I wasn't around during the '80s, so I'm basing my opinion on Murphy on stats and second-hand writings. From what I've read (Joe Posnanski at, for instance, included him in an article on the Hall of Fame candidates), it wouldn't bother me at all to see Dale Murphy in Cooperstown.

  55. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Regarding my Jeff Conine remark - No I don't consider him to be a Hall Of Famer. But I couldn't help but notice the very close batting averages of him and Edmonds. Both guys played around the same time, too.

  56. Tomepp Says:

    Anthony: I watch a lot of games, too. And without a scorecard, I couldn’t tell you a .280 hitter from a .260 hitter. (The difference is about 1 hit every 10 to 12 games.) Try determining this with a minor league team or a local softball or Little League team some time. A large part of the reason we know the "good" (not great) hitters from the "mediocre" hitters is because we're told who they are by announcers and others who keep stats on such things. Observation - without record keeping - will not allow you such accuracy. As to defense, I certainly couldn't tell you who makes more plays per opportunity without keeping records. I can tell you who looks like they’re making spectacular plays, but that is a matter of perception, not fact.

    That was the argument made for years why Ripken didn't deserve the Gold Glove at shortstop - he didn't look like he was making spectacular diving plays as often as other regular shortstops. In fact, when you examine the numbers, his fielding range was among the best of his era. Cal used smart field positioning and his size (6’3” – unheard of for a SS at the time) to not have to make diving plays; he just make the tough plays look routine. The converse is true of Derek Jeter. He looks like he’s making spectacular plays on a weekly basis, when in fact many of those diving plays would be routine outs for most good-fielding-range shortstops. In an earlier blog comment one of the regular bloggers recalled a joke about a kid wanting to see the player with his favorite nickname, “pastadiving” Jeter. Observation is not what it seems to be.

    I am a teacher by profession. While I can tell you the “A+” students without referring to my gradebook, when it comes to the borderline cases on a student who is wavering between an A and a B, I have to go and look at his or her grades, evaluate the test scores, etc. Sometimes I’m even surprised and discover that a student whom my gut said was in no-way an A student has in fact a solid A, or a student whom I thought was surely a solid A turns out to only have a B+ or even a B (but sure talks impressively). I can’t rely on my observations without having solid quantifiable data to back it up when I assign grades in my classes.

    Also, as to the Bambino an Hammerin’ Hank not being unanimous picks, I don’t think that any of the voters felt that either didn’t deserve to get in the Hall (except, perhaps, due to bigotry in Aaron’s case). But BBWAA members have this weird concept about being a “first ballot” HoFer. There have been numerous documented cases where writers have said that they felt a guy was HoF worthy, but did not vote for him on the first ballot because they felt the guy was not a “first ballot HoFer” (like there’s a difference). I’m sure that by the second or third vote, Ruth and Aaron would have been unanimous selections – it’s just that that second or third vote was unnecessary. Which also brings me to another point – it is worth discussing (as I just did).

    DoubleDiamond: Relying on BA to evaluate a player is like relying on EPA mileage estimates to evaluate a car – it’s nowhere close to giving you a complete picture. Any reasonable consumer will consider horsepower, comfort, safety, reputation for quality, price, and a whole host of other criteria as well. BA was actually somewhat more informative back a hundred-plus years ago when the stat debuted. Back then, guys didn’t hit for power, and runs were scored primarily by stringing together lots of hits (plus good base running skills). Costing your team outs (which lowers your BA) was more harmful than getting extra bases (which does not affect your BA) was helpful. A .350 hitter in the context of the 19th century game was better than a .300 hitter with some extra power. Also, it was a reasonable first-effort to get a stat that measured a player’s rate of production rather than just his total production.

    In the modern game, however, BA is not a particularly good tool for evaluating a player’s value to his team. (It is still a reasonable tool for evaluating a particular skill – the ability to make contact.) In the modern game, extra-base power is more important than it was back in the 1800’s. The ability to draw a walk – historically attributed just to poor control on the pitcher’s part – is also an important asset for batters. Neither of these are accounted for in BA. My pet example of the weakness of the BA stat is Al Oliver. Al was a perennial .300 hitter, but rarely drew a walk (only twice did he draw more than 40 walks in a season), and had relatively little power (only once did he hit more than 20 homers – and that year he hit only 22; to be fair, Al did hit a bunch of doubles). If you consider BA alone, Al should have been a perennial MVP candidate, as he finished in the top 10 in BA nine times, winning the BA crown once. But he only finished in the top 10 in MVP voting three times (7th twice and 3rd once), and was generally never a serious MVP threat with the exception of 1982. He probably would have finished even lower in the MVP voting in more recent years with today’s more “stat savvy” BBWAA voters. Other than 1982, he only finished in the top 10 in either OBP (On Base Percentage) or SLG (Slugging Average) once; 9th in SLG in 1974. In OPS – which combines OBP and SLG – Al only finished in the top 10 in 1982. (He finished 4th in OPS that year, and 3rd in the MVP voting). There are probably even better examples of players who point out the flaws of BA, but Al Oliver has been my “poster child” for neigh three decades now, so I’m sticking with him.

  57. Andy Says:

    Nice explanation Tomepp, particularly citing Ripken and Jeter as examples. I went through exactly the paths you describe about those guys in terms of thinking they were one way and then coming to understand that they were the opposite.

  58. Zachary Says:

    Great post, Tomepp. (And I do love that pastadiving joke!)

  59. Andy Says:

    Nearly 500 votes in, Edmonds has only about 44% yes. Of course, if a player on the ballot for the first time got 44% of the vote, he'd have an excellent shot of making it in the HOF before his 15 years of eligibility expired.

  60. Sweet Uncle Lou’s Friday Roundup: The “What the Hell is a ‘Rising Starlin’” Edition | Hire Jim Essian Says:

    [...] Jim Edmonds…Hall of Famer? [...]

  61. Joe R Says:

    Andy @ 59

    Yeah, but look at the demographic here, most of us are on board with the numbers that value Edmonds. Once someone pulls the "impact" card, he's done.

    And FWIW, FRAA has Edmonds as a +91 in his career w/ a 105 rate (5 runs above average per 100 DG's). If the voters really want to assert themselves as anti-steroid, they should vote for a guy who would've been a lock had others not been juicing.

    To think, Teixeira pre-decline is a 136, I bet a few more good seasons in NY and he'll get in. Sucks that Edmonds was underrated.

  62. Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive » Poll: Tim Raines and the Hall of Fame Says:

    [...] our recent Hall of Fame debate on Jim Edmonds, I decided to open a similar discussion on a player about whom I'm much more curious: Tim [...]

  63. Pat Says:

    There should be no such thing as "Yes, but not on the first ballot." That is a stupid statement. A player is either in or not in. Should not matter who else is on the ballot.

  64. Andy Says:

    Many writers feel that 5 years (the waiting period after retirement) is not enough time to put a player's career in proper historical perspective, which is a big reason why vote totals tend to go up over time.

  65. Zachary Says:

    Andy, that's probably the first legit reason I've heard for "Yes, but not on the first ballot". Fair point.