Edmonds deserves a spot in Cooperstown

Jim Edmonds announced his retirement Friday at age 40, after 17 brilliant years in the majors:

In a statement released by the Cardinals today, Edmonds said that after he spoke to (Dr. George Paletta, supervisor of the Cardinals' medical staff) "and a number of doctors about the potential risk of future permanent damage, I have decided to retire. Although I feel I can still play and contribute, the risk of permanent injury is too much for me to chance.

"As much as I regret this announcement, I feel that it is for the best."

You may recall that Edmonds injured his right achilles tendon last season on a home run trot, of all things. The foot wasn't responding well to treatment, so Edmonds decided to hang up his cleats.

Let the discussion over Edmonds' Hall of Fame credentials commence.

Take a quick look at his numbers and you might be surprised: a career OPS+ of 132, 68.3 wins above a replacement player (placing him in the top seven center fielders of all time), eight Gold Gloves, a career line of .284/.376/.527 with 393 homers. Frankly, Edmonds has a much better case for enshrinement than many players that have already been elected (I'm looking at you Andre Dawson).

Further, as Aaron Gleeman notes, Edmonds is one of just seven center fielders in baseball history to have slugged more than 350 homers. The other names on that list include some immortals: Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider, and Joe DiMaggio (and let us not forget Andruw Jones).

I don't think there should be much of a discussion: Edmonds is a Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, things aren't that clear-cut, and I'd be surprised if Edmonds received much support among the baseball writers.

Prepare to read a lot of commentary saying things like, "He just didn't seem like a Hall of Famer when I was watching him."

That will be a shame, because Edmonds enjoyed a Hall of Fame-type career, even if many people didn't realize it at the time. Perhaps all the online scribes who were so instrumental in Bert Blyleven's election can pick up Edmonds as their next cause. Sign me up.

Chad Dotson writes Redleg Nation, a blog about the Cincinnati Reds. Follow him on Twitter.