By Glen Sparks
The baseball writers were sure in a hurry to knock Jim Edmonds off the Hall of Fame ballot.
Edmonds received just 2.5 percent of the vote last week, or half what he needed to remain as an eligible candidate. He fell 72.5 percent short of the requisite 75 percent for induction.
True, the Hall of Fame case for Edmonds is not a slam-dunk one. He may be one more solid player destined for the Hall of Very Good, along with guys like Reggie Smith, Dave Parker and Tommy John. Still, it seems harsh and misguided for the former centerfielder to be exiled as a one-and-done candidate.
Edmonds retired with 393 home runs over a 17-year career. He batted .284 with a .376 on-base percentage and 1,199 RBI. The California native belted at least 25 home runs in 10 seasons and drove in at least 100 runs in four. He topped the 30-homer mark five times and the 40-homer mark twice. Always eager and energetic as a centerfielder, Edmonds won eight Gold Gloves while filling up plenty of highlight shows.
More stats: Edmonds ended his career with a .903 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) and 132 OPS+. The left-handed batter compiled 60.3 WAR points (Baseball-Reference) with high marks of 7.2 (2004), 6.7 (2002) and 6.3 (2000).
On the downside: He played in at least 140 games in just seven seasons and got into at least 150 games only three times. Edmonds fell 51 hits shorts of 2,000. Surprisingly, he only made four All-Star teams.
Let’s compare Edmonds with a center-fielder from an earlier era, Duke Snider, one of the fabled Boys of Summer for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Snider played 18 years in the majors, one more than Edmonds, who spent much of his career with the Anaheim Angels and St. Louis Cardinals. Snider hit 407 home runs, just 14 more than Edmonds. The Duke collected 167 more career hits than Edmonds and 134 more RBI. Snider batted .295, 11 points higher than Edmonds, with a .380 on-base percentage, four points higher than Edmonds.
The Duke’s slugging percentage (.540), OPS (.919) and OPS+ (140), also beat out Edmonds’ numbers (.527, .903 and 132, respectively). He retired with 66.5 WAR.
Snider made eight All-Star teams. He led the National League in runs scored three times, slugging percentage and OPS twice, and hits, home runs, RBI and on-base percentage one time each. Edmonds never led the league in any important offensive category.
Edmonds did not beat out Snider in any of the aforementioned categories. Still, the differences between the two players do not seem that dramatic. The question is, did Edmonds get a fair shake from the Hall of Fame voters?
The baseball writers elected Snider to the Hall of Fame in 1980, in his 11th year of eligibility. Interestingly In his first year on the ballot (1970), Duke received just 17 percent of the vote. He failed to get at least 30 percent until 1975 and didn’t crack the 50 percent mark until 1977, in his eighth year of eligibility.
The Duke finally made it to Cooperstown with 86.5 percent of the vote. He needed time to build some momentum and for writers to make a solid case for him.
As for Edmonds, he’ll have to wait for the veteran’s committee to examine his HOF merits a few decades from now.