Nomar Garciaparra was one of the “Holy Trinity” of shortstops of the late 90s, with Jeter and A-Rod. All were considered at the time to be likely Hall of Famers. Unfortunately for Nomar, the early part of this decade has not been kind to his chances, and 2004 continued the trend. He hit well enough for a 30 year old Hall of Fame candidate shortstop, .308/.365/.477, but he was traded by the Red Sox to the Cubs in a 4 team trade at the deadline. It will undoubtedly will be remembered that the Sox went on to their first Series win in over 80 years after the trade.
Nomar was drafted by Boston with the 12th pick of the first round of the 1994 draft. He played a month of high A ball in 1994, followed by a year of double A in 1995. He was a solid hitter, but with little power. In 1996, he developed power at triple A Pawtucket- slamming 16 homers in 172 at-bats while hitting .343, and had an impressive cup of coffee at the end of the year in Boston. He emerged in 1997 as the Rookie of the Year, followed it up by a fine year in 1998 and was absolutely great in 1999-2000. Unfortunately for him, his greatness was masked to some degree by the amazing performance of Pedro Martinez, who pitched better than any pitcher ever has during those same years for that same ballclub. It will be remembered that Pedro left Boston after their World Series triumph in 2004. Nomar’s offensive performance from 2001-2004 has been very good, but at nowhere near the level of his 1999-2000 peak.
Nomar’s defence had always been considered solid, but not outstanding, and his statistics reflected this. But, the Red Sox gave his defence as a reason for the trade in 2004, and his zone rating did in fact plummet into the hazardous zone in 2004. As he turned 31 in July, this was not entirely a shock, although the fall was so precipitous that one guesses that a recovery is possible.. Nomar has been a fine post-season performer, posting a cool .323/.391/.625 line in 5 series.
So, without further ado, here’s a chart of comparables:
Player G AB H HR W BA OBP SLUG OPS+
Nomar 1029 4133 1330 182 295 .322 .370 .549 133
Banks 1216 4670 1355 298 452 .290 .353 .552 138
Stephens 1412 5481 1588 224 598 .290 .360 .474 124
Cronin 1363 5108 1539 80 653 .301 .383 .453 114
Vaughan 1539 5763 1846 86 829 .329 .410 .460 138