Polo Grounds

Polo Grounds

Monday, February 16, 2015

Jim Edmonds and the Hall of Fame

After inducting four players last year into the Hall of Fame, the ballot for the class of 2016 has thinned out, something that will hopefully allow many of the fringe candidates (Mike Mussina, Alan Trammell, Edgar Martinez to name a few) to gain some traction in their quest for the Hall.

The new candidates for next year offer only one surefire, first-ballot, no doubt Hall of Famer in "The Kid", legendary Mariners and Reds centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr. However, outside of Griff there are no new players on the ballot who are a lock for Cooperstown. I would venture a guess that Trevor Hoffman gains induction, although I do not know if that happens in his first year. After those two, the new ballot contains a lot of great players, but none who stand out as no doubt HOFers.

One name that jumped out to me on this ballot is former Angels and Cardinals centerfielder Jim Edmonds. Edmonds played from 1993-2010, hitting .284 with 393 home runs, while also making four All-Star teams and winning 8 Gold Glove awards. Edmonds' career certainly merits HOF consideration, but with a still crowded ballot it may be tough for him to get attention. Let's take a closer look at Edmond's case for HOF enshrinement.

For Jim Edmonds and the Hall of Fame:

Edmonds was an excellent two way player. Very few players have hit for as much power and a high average while sporting excellent defense the way Edmonds did. In fact, there are only seven players in MLB history with eight or more Gold Gloves and more HR than Jim Edmonds: Mike Schmidt, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey jr, Andruw Jones, Al Kaline, Barry Bonds, and Andre Dawson (Only three [Mays, Bonds and Kaline] had a higher career batting average). Of those seven, four are HOFers, one will go in next year (Griffey), one is Barry Bonds, and the other, Andruw Jones, will be eligible in 2018 (although a steroid cloud could hang over Jones like it has with Bonds).

This offensive and defensive prowess helped Edmonds finish his career with a 60.3 WAR, which is tied with Harmon Killebrew, and ahead of Yogi Berra, Sammy Sosa, Hank Greenberg, Willie Stargell, and Kirby Puckett.

In addition to an excellent batting average, Edmonds got on base at a .376 clip for his career. Add that to his .527 slugging percentage (50th all time, right behind Mike Schmidt and ahead of Jim Rice and Ernie Banks) and you have a career OPS of .9030, which ranks 61st all time, ahead of Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Eddie Mathews, Rafael Palmeiro, Harmon Killebrew, Charlie Gehringer and Jackie Robinson.

An overall look at where Edmonds falls shows he finished in the top 150 all-time in:

Offensive WAR (109th)
SLG% (50th)
OPS (61st)
Runs (147th)
Total Bases (149th)
Doubles (126th)
Home runs (57th)
Walks (117th)
Extra Base Hits (83rd)

There are 138 HOF position players, so this shows that Edmonds ranks in and around them in many different offensive categories.

And of course, the primary file for Jim Edmonds hall of fame case:


Against Jim Edmonds and the Hall of Fame: 

There are 18 CF in the HOF. Those centerfielders average a 70.4 WAR, a 42.5 Seven year peak WAR, and a JAWS score of 57.2 (Jaws is a measurement of a players worthiness for the HOF, as compared to the players at their position who are already enshrined. It can be further explained here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/about/jaws.shtml).

Edmonds falls slightly short, with a 60.3 WAR and a 51.4 JAWS score (although his 7 year peak is 44.1, slightly higher than average). What this means in simple terms is this: Edmonds does not quite measure up to what the average HOF centerfielder accomplished in their careers.

Edmonds falls short on the counting stats as well, and these are the ones most often used by BBWAA members to evaluate HOFers. He finished his career with 1949 hits, 1251 runs, 393 HR, 1199 RBI's, and 67 steals. All very respectable numbers, but 393 home runs and 1199 RBI's falls short of the power hitter expectations for the HOF, where 500 HR and 1500 RBI's have become expectations more than guarantees. Likewise, his 1949 hits, 1251 runs and 67 steals indicate Edmonds does not get to go in the route of a speedy singles hitter either (again, 3000 hits or at least in the ballpark would gain him much more attention).

Edmonds never led the league in any offensive statistical categories. Voters especially love seeing dominance, and a player who was never a league leader and has a "Black Ink" score of zero does not point to dominance. Edmonds "Gray ink" score (a measure of being a statistical top ten finisher) is 60, where a HOF player averages 144.


Edmonds was a great centerfielder, a good power hitter, and a player who made some unforgettable plays. He was a legend in his own right and is a player who was vastly under appreciated with his work with the bat. However, his credentials fall just short (in my opinion) of making him a Hall of Famer. I believe outfielders like Tim Raines, Larry Walker and Dwight Evans are more deserving than Jimmy for the HOF. I hope that voters vote for him, but for my (fictional) 2016 ballot, I will be leaving him off. Perhaps if the ballot clears up a bit in the future and he remains over 5% I could make room for him on future ballots, but for now I believe that he falls into a close but no cigar category.


Predicting what HOF voters will do can be tricky. I believe that Edmonds will get votes, but not enough to reach the Hall. With the ballot clearing up he should get some attention. I think he will get enough to stay on the ballot (over 5%) but not nearly enough to go in. Somewhere around what Larry Walker (11.8% in 2015) got sounds about right.

Thanks for reading!

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