How will Hall of Fame voters decide on Jim Edmonds in five years?
With the news on Friday that graceful center fielder Jim Edmonds is retiring from the game of baseball after a stellar 17-year career, the talk of whether or not Edmonds is worthy of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame can begin.
While Edmonds was absolutely a human highlight reel during the height of his playing days, injuries severely curtailed his career in the latter years. He ended up sitting out the 2009 season altogether due to nagging leg injuries.
Edmonds did come back in the 2010 season, playing as the fourth outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers and putting up decent numbers in a limited role, with eight home runs and 20 runs batted in. He was later traded to the Cincinnati Reds for the pennant race, during which Edmonds appeared mostly as a pinch-hitter.
Edmonds learned from his physicians that the nagging Achilles tendon injury he suffered last year was not healing correctly, and it was determined that further damage could occur if Edmonds attempted to play again.
So, now the Hall of Fame talk will start, and we will attempt to compare the overall numbers of Jim Edmonds against those who are currently enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jim Edmonds hit 393 home runs during his 17-year career, which ranks him sixth among center fielders. Only two of those players, Ken Griffey Jr. (630) and Andruw Jones (402), are not currently in the Hall of Fame, however Griffey Jr. no doubt will be a first-ballot inductee.
Several players ranked below Edmonds in career home runs for center fielders are currently in the Hall of Fame, including Joe DiMaggio (361), Larry Doby (253), Hack Wilson (244) and Earl Averill (238).
Overall, Edmonds ranks 52nd all-time in career home runs.
Very few outfielders in history have more Gold Glove awards than Jim Edmonds. Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays are tied at the top with 12 each, followed by Al Kaline (10), Andruw Jones (10), Ken Griffey Jr. (10), Torii Hunter (9) and Ichiro Suzuki (9).
Edmonds is tied with five other outfielders with eight Gold Gloves all-time (Barry Bonds, Dwight Evans, Paul Blair, Andre Dawson and Garry Maddox).
During his career, Jim Edmonds was regularly featured on ESPN's Baseball Tonight and their Top Ten Plays of the day.
Jim Edmonds ranks 11th all-time among center fielders with 1,199 runs batted in. Only three of the players ranked ahead of him, Bernie Williams (1,257), Andruw Jones (1,222) and Ellis Burks (1,206) are not currently in the Hall of Fame.
Two players ranked below Edmonds in career runs batted in are currently in the Hall of Fame, Earl Averill (1,164) and Hack Wilson (1,063).
Overall, Edmonds is currently ranked 141st all-time in career RBI.
Jim Edmonds ranks eighth all-time among center fielders in wins above replacement, the sabermetric statistic used by the analytic community to measure the value of replacing a player and how much overall value the team would lose by replacing said player.
Every center fielder above Edmonds on the WAR list is currently in the Hall of Fame, with the exception of Ken Griffey Jr.
Jim Edmonds currently ranks eighth in career slugging percentage among center fielders at .527, and every player above him, with the exception of Ken Griffey Jr., is currently in the Hall of Fame.
Several players ranked below Edmonds are in the Hall of Fame, including Ty Cobb (.512),Tris Speaker (.500), Larry Doby (.490) and Kirby Puckett (.477).
Jim Edmonds currently ranks tenth all-time among center fielders in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) at .903. Only one player above Edmonds on the list is not currently in the Hall of Fame, Ken Griffey Jr. (.907).
There are several center fielders currently in the Hall of Fame who had a lower career OPS than Edmonds, including Billy Hamilton (.888), Larry Doby (.876), Earle Combs (.859) and Kirby Puckett (.837).
During the time that Jim Edmonds played (1993-2010), only two center fielders had more home runs and runs batted in than Edmonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Andruw Jones, and only one player (Johnny Damon) had more doubles during that span.
Only Ken Griffey Jr. had a greater slugging percentage and OPS during that time span as well.
While there are those that will say that Jim Edmonds fell short in terms of benchmark numbers (career hits, less than 400 homers etc.) his offensive production combined with his defensive dominance during the time that he played would certainly indicate that Jim Edmonds has indeed earned his spot among baseball’s elite.
There are a number of players who gained entry into the Hall of Fame based on statistics other than just offensive numbers. If the great Ozzie Smith were to be judged on offense alone, he wouldn’t have even deserved a sniff by the baseball writers. However, Jim Edmonds combined offense with an uncanny ability to patrol center field unlike that of the vast majority of his counterparts. Like Ken Griffey Jr., the latter years of his career saw a drop-off in production due to the reckless nature of his play in center field.
What are your thoughts? Does Jim Edmonds deserve recognition and inclusion into the Baseball Hall of Fame? Chime in with your opinion in the comments section down below!
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