Posted by Andy on July 27, 2010
The readers have spoken, and a poll for Vladimir Guerrero is up next. Please read through, vote in the poll below, and add your own comment on Guerrero's Hall of Fame credentials.
Let's look at the arguments for and against Guerrero in the Hall of Fame:
For the Hall of Fame:
- His OPS+ of 144 is 47th all time. As with all rate stats, that number is likely to drop a little before Guerrero retires. Over the last 50 years, Guerrero slots into the top 25. He's probably likely to stay in the top 25, too, as a few guys ahead of him will likely drop a little too as their careers end (Miguel Cabrera, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Lance Berkman, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez...).
- One MVP award and votes in 10 other seasons
- His Win Probability Added is a huge 45.2, 41st all-time. That's quite impressive. (As an aside, I wonder whether he's helped here by virtue of being the best player on the Expos for a number of years.)
- He has a remarkably low strikeout rate, especially for his high HR rate. Check out the top 10 guys all time, ranked by HR, where their HR total is at least 47% of their strikeout total:
Rk Player HR SO 1 Barry Bonds 762 1539 2 Hank Aaron 755 1383 3 Babe Ruth 714 1330 4 Ted Williams 521 709 5 Mel Ott 511 896 6 Lou Gehrig 493 790 7 Stan Musial 475 696 8 Vladimir Guerrero 427 904 9 Albert Pujols 388 618 10 Ralph Kiner 369 749
- He's led the league in intentional walks 5 times and is the active career leader and 4th overall. This isn't because he was the only good hitter on the Expos as most of his IBBs came with the Angels.
- He's never hit below .300 in any season with more than 100 games played and his .321 batting average is 5th among current players.
- His defensive numbers are really good. His Total Zone Fielding Runs is +44 for his career (top 25 all-time for RF) and he racked up 128 assists in right field.
- This guy means a lot to the Expos and would be an ideal representative for the team in the Hall of Fame. He's the franchise career leader in BA, SLG, and HR and single-season leaders in BA, SLG, H, total bases, RBI, times on base, and numerous other categories. Franchise leader includes team years in Washington. If we limited it to just Montreal, he'd lead in even more categories.
- 9-time All-Star (helped by poor Montreal teams)
Against the Hall of Fame:
- His Wins Against Replacement are 58.9, just 159th on the career list. That's not terrible but doesn't support the argument that he's one of the best players in history.
- He has an extremely low walk rate. Minimum 7000 PA's he has one of the worst OBP for a guy with a career batting average of at least .320. That list is Guerrero, Ichiro, Gwynn, Carew, and a bunch of old-timers. Weird to say that comparing well to 3 modern-day Hall of Famers is a negative for Guerrero, but it's unusual for a guy with as much power as him not to have more walks and a bigger bump on his OBP over his BA.
- He's hit pretty well in the playoffs but his team lost 5 out of 7 playoff series and he's never won a World Series.
- His stolen base total is overrated, given that his career success rate is 66%, low enough that it would probably have been better if he hadn't run at all. However, his career XBT% (extra base taken %) is 48%. Eyeballing it, it looks like the league average over the course of his career his about 41%, so that suggest he is, in fact, an above-average baserunner.
- His career rate of pitches seen per plate appearance is 3.24, as compared to a league average over his career of 3.75. Although the results of those plate appearances have been great, it's also important to think about how he helped the rest of his team. By rarely walking and not drawing many pitches from the starter, he's not on base as much for his teammates, nor is he helping to wear out the starter and get him out of the game. (Obviously I'm exaggerating a bit there--it's not that Guerrero is NOT helping at all, just less than a lot of other players.)