From 1995 through 2005, Jim Edmonds hit .293/.388/.554 while averaging 30 home runs, 87 RBIs and 93 runs per season. That stretch includes one strike-shortened season and one injury season in which he played only 55 games. Now, we're talking about a different offensive era, but that's a .942 OPS that only five players topped in 2015.
Oh, for good measure, he won eight Gold Glove awards.
A guy named Ryan Thibs keeps track of Hall of Fame votes from those who make their ballots public. As I write this, Thibs has tabulated 68 ballots out of an estimated 450 that will eventually be sent in by the Dec. 21 deadline.
Jim Edmonds has received one vote. One. From a writer named Earl Bloom who worked 36 years for the Orange County Register, where he would have covered Edmonds when he played for the Los Angeles Angels.
Here's the thing: Earl isn't crazy. Edmonds has a solid Hall of Fame case. Most of his career value was tied up in that 11-year run of dominance, but even without much value on either side of that stretch, his career WAR of 60.3 puts him at the Hall of Fame border. There are many Hall of Famers with a lower career WAR. I prefer players with high peaks like Edmonds. ... Hall of Fame voters prefer longevity.
As Jay Jaffe, creator of the JAWS Hall of Fame evaluation system, pointed out at Sports Illustrated, no player whose career took place since 1960 has been elected to the Hall of Fame with fewer than 2,000 hits, and Kirby Puckett is the only post-1960 player with fewer plate appearances than Edmonds' 7,980. Edmonds finished with 1,949 hits. Maybe he shouldn't have drawn so many walks.
Over those 11 seasons, Edmonds ranks fifth in WAR among position players behind Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell and Chipper Jones. Edmonds was a legitimate star for a decade, part of six playoff teams with the St. Louis Cardinals. (And he was a terrific postseason player, hitting .274/.361/.513 with 42 RBIs in 63 games.)
But only one vote. It appears as if Edmonds will fail to earn five percent of the vote and fall off the ballot after one year. Hall voters have been tough on center fielders: Bernie Williams fell off after two years, Kenny Lofton after one. Edmonds, who ranks 13th among center fielders in career WAR since 1901, at least deserves the opportunity to have his case heard out.
Longevity versus excellence? Longevity got Andre Dawson in, even though Edmonds had a longer and better peak. Longevity helped get Craig Biggio elected. Tom Glavine got in while Curt Schilling waits.
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This year's Hall of Fame election will be interesting. The Hall purged many of the voters -- those who hadn't covered baseball in the past 10 seasons -- so there will be fewer voters and younger voters, who tend to have larger ballots. Many candidates will see their percentages increase as a result. Even if they don't get elected, that will create momentum for future elections. Look at some of the vote percentages so far (again, with around 15 percent of the ballots counted) in the chart at right:
Even Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are over 50 percent right now. Newcomers Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman are at 100 percent and 67.6 percent, respectively. What's interesting is Hoffman's level of support versus Billy Wagner, who has received just 13.2 percent. Again: longevity over dominance.
Writers are still limited to a maximum of 10 players per ballot. So far, the public ballots have averaged 8.6 players. So many voters are perhaps being hamstrung by that limit.