First and foremost, I have the utmost respect for Omar Vizquel. What he has done in the infield is nothing short of incredible. That being said, I believe Vizquel does not deserve admission into Cooperstown as a first-ballot qualifier.
Vizquel has been the best defensive shortstop of our generation; it is not even close. Not since Ozzie Smith have we seen a shortstop with such range and athleticism. Vizquel's 11 Gold Gloves speak for themselves. Moreover, his ability to stay healthy throughout his illustrious career has seen his high point this weekend as Vizquel passed Luis Aparicio for the most career games played by a shortstop in MLB history, 2,584. That's almost 16 entire 162-game seasons.
When you think how most players' production falls so far after just six or eight seasons, pushing them towards retirement, but Vizquel is still playing ball after 2,584 games, that is staggering.
I must, however, state the obvious: there are two sides to baseball, defense and offense. And quite frankly, Vizquel was merely average at the dish. He hit 77 career home runs. That is, eight more than Ichiro has hit in his career, and everyone knows that Ichiro has very little power.
His .274 career BA isn't bad, but it certainly isn't what you think of when discussing whether or not someone should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and for that matter, on his first attempt. Aside from his 1999 campaign, in which he hit .333, Vizquel never reached the .300 plateau.
From his start in Seattle to his glory years in Cleveland, Vizquel now spends his time as a formidable player in San Francisco. In fact, he has won two Gold Gloves with the Giants, showing that he can still field his position better than any other in the NL, even at the ripe age of 41.
Vizquel does not resonate with nearly as many sports fans as first-ballot qualifiers Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn, both inducted in the Class of 2007. As much as it pains me to say it, I simply don't think Vizquel deserves it.
Is Vizquel a Hall-of-Famer? Absolutely. Is his worthy of a first-ballot election? That's another story.
I think that breaking Aparicio's record will certainly help his cause, however, in the eyes of the voters. And if Vizquel can reach out and grab his 12th Gold Glove, it will be an awfully tough decision for voters.
In the end, despite his defensive brilliance, I think Vizquel will lack the three-fourths vote that the Hall requires. And that's the way it should be, at least for now.