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For those of us who followed Jim Edmonds' early career, seeing his name here as a possible Hall of Famer is a bit of a shock. But it's no joke. He's arrived in his mid-30s as a powerful centerfielder, with a great glove and a discerning eye. 2004 was his best year yet as he put up a very pretty .301/.418/.643 line in 612 plate appearances. He was a key cog in the Cardinals National League champions.



Edmonds was drafted in the 7th round by the Angels as an 18 year old. He spent 4 years from 1988-1991 in A ball; in his last 2 years in Palm Springs, he played 151 games, hit .293 with 7 triples, 5 homers, 67 walks and 132 strikeouts. In 1992 and 1993 at double A and triple A, he established himself as a .300 hitter, with medium range power and somewhat better than average plate discipline. He had a cup of coffee with the Angels at the end of 1993. Going into the 1994 season, the Angels had a 25 year old Chad Curtis in centerfield, a 25 year old Tim Salmon in right, and the left-field job was up for grabs. Candidates among several others included 22 year old Garrett Anderson, 31 year old Bo Jackson and 24 year old Jim Edmonds. The job was split between Jackson and Edmonds, who hit .273/.343/.377 before the strike ended the season.

The Angels decided that Edmonds was a better player than Curtis, who they shipped off to the Yankees before baseball resumed in 1995. Edmonds proved them right by hitting .290/.352/.536 in 1995. He struck out 130 times. Edmonds performed well in Anaheim, posting similar lines to 1995 and reducing his strikeouts. In spring training 2000, the Angels shipped Edmonds to the Cardinals for Adam Kennedy and Kent Bottenfield. The Cardinals must have told Edmonds to relax about his strikeouts. Since his arrival in St. Loo, he has become a minor Three True Outcomes hero, walking more, striking out more and hitting more homers than he did in Anaheim. It's all worked out well, as he has continued to be a .300 hitter in his early 30s.

Edmonds is 34 and now has had 5 great seasons, 4 very good ones, and 1 mediocre half-season due to injury. He's a long-time Gold Glove winning centerfielder. Most defensive metrics have placed him somewhat behind Andruw Jones, Darin Erstad and Mike Cameron over his career, but that is a very, very high standard.

While he struggled mightily in the World Series last year, he has hit .290/.353/.580 in 138 post-season at-bats. A World Series ring or two would really help his resume.

I will combine the chart for Edmonds and Bernie Williams, who is a year older, (using Williams' age 34 line):

Player    G      AB     H     HR    W     BA     OBP    SLUG    OPS+     
Edmonds   1445   5090   1496  302   734   .294   .384   .544    138      
Bernie    1656   6403   1950  241   898   .305   .390   .492    131
Lynn      1537   5589   1632  241   716   .292   .371   .496    135
Doby      1494   5235   1489  257   861   .284   .388   .494    138
Smith     1748   6338   1814  280   796   .286   .365   .490    137

The key difference between Edmonds and Williams, and the 3 historical stars is their career paths. By 34, Doby and Smith were part-time outfielders, and Lynn was a part-time DH. It was pretty clear that the downhill slide had begun, and in each case, it was rapid. Edmonds is coming off the best three seasons of his career, and while it is unlikely that he'll be able to continue at this pace, neither is it likely that he will become a part-time player in the next year or two.

Should Edmonds go to the Hall of Fame? Will he? Doby is in the Hall of Fame. Smith isn't but should be. Lynn isn't and should be just on the outside. Edmonds has been as good a hitter as all three, and a better fielder. Assuming a normal end-of-career pattern, which will see him with an average length career overall, he should go in. I have no idea whether he will go in. Box readers, what do you think?

Next up: Bernie Williams

Hall Watch 2004-The outfielders-Jim Edmonds | 21 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Kieran - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 08:46 AM EST (#106121) #
I love Jim Edmonds, both for his statistical output (what's not to love about .400/.600) and for his all out hustle in the field.

That said, Neyer often poses this question when considering HOF deservedness: Was Jim Edmonds ever the best player in the league at his position for a period of time?

While Edmonds has had an impressive career, I'm not sure he has ever been considered the best CF'er in baseball. However, I pose that question without an analysis of OPS+ for CF'ers. Does anyone have a quick means to answer this question?
Mike Green - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 09:18 AM EST (#106130) #
Who's been better than Edmonds over the last 5 years? Andruw Jones, Carlos Beltran, Torii Hunter, Bernie Williams or Vernon Wells? Take my word for it; it's not really close. Edmonds has an OPS of roughly 155. Jones would be next with an OPS of between 120-125.
Mike Green - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 09:52 AM EST (#106137) #
Actually, Bernie Williams has been a little better offensively than Andruw Jones over the last 5 years, but far behind Edmonds. Not to mention that there is no comparison defensively.
Brett - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 11:46 AM EST (#106160) #
Was Jim Edmonds ever the best player in the league at his position for a period of time?

This is the third question on the Keltner list, and is a pretty tough standard. There are lots of HOFers who don't meet it. But as Mike points out, a good case can be made that Edmonds HAS been the best centre fielder in the game since he moved to St. Louis.

I think that a lot of people have taken Edmonds for granted the past few years, and I include myself in that group. Looking over my own rankings the past few seasons, I usually have Edmonds ranked #2 or 3, first behind Griffey, then Bernie, then Jones or Wells or Beltran... those guys have all had good years, but none can approach what Edmonds has done since 2000. Five straight seasons with an OPS+ over 148, three straight over 161.

He's only been an All-Star twice in that period, but he's also had two top-five finishes in the MVP voting. A decade from now, I'm sure we will look back and say that he was baseball's best centre fielder from 2000-2004. A case can be made that he has been the best outfielder not named Barry Bonds the past five years, depending on how highly you rate his defence.

If he ages reasonably well, I will be comfortable supporting his HOF worthiness. Whether or not the BBWAA will do the same... one step at a time. Right now I'm just waiting to see what happens to Tim Raines.

Pistol - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 12:01 PM EST (#106166) #
"Who's been better than Edmonds over the last 5 years? "

It's funny you mention 5 years. In his player comment in BP05 they look at Edmond's last 5 years against the all time best 5 year periods of CFs and he came out pretty well.
Anders - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 06:25 PM EST (#106241) #
That said, Neyer often poses this question when considering HOF deservedness: Was Jim Edmonds ever the best player in the league at his position for a period of time?

Someone wrote about this (it could have been Neyer as well) but the era test is a really bad one. Is it Lou Gehrig's fault that he played on the same team as Babe Ruth for ten years?

To me there it seems that Edmonds clearly isnt in if his career ended today. Given that he just posted a 38 some odd win share season. How he's only been an all-star 3 years is beyond me. He needs another 2.5 good years to get in. 400 home runs would help. Anything after that is gravy

Craig S. - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 08:12 PM EST (#106245) #
While Edmonds has had a nice 5-year run with the Cardinals, I still think he's far short of Hall consideration. While he certainly wasn't a bad player while with the Angels, neither was he great, and he didn't seem to become an All-Star caliber guy offensively until he was 30.

At 34, he has less than 1,500 hits, barely 300 homers, 3-All-Star apperances, no MVP awards, and his other numbers aren't overwhelming. Unless he puts together another 5 years like he has from 2000-04, I don't see him meriting consideration. His last few years have been great, but it's tough to get in the Hall based on a streak of 5 excellent seasons. Maybe 5 incredible seasons (Sandy Koufax), but not those like Edmonds has had.
Chuck - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 08:20 PM EST (#106246) #
While he certainly wasn't a bad player while with the Angels, neither was he great

While he had two unimpressive partial seasons with the Angels, during his 4 complete seasons with them (from ages 25 to 28) he averaged around an 890 OPS while playing gold glove caliber center field. I'm not sure where the line for great should be drawn, but that's a helluva player right there.

Craig S. - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 08:45 PM EST (#106250) #
I won't argue that he wasn't very good, but I think Bernie Williams was the better player during that same period. You could argue that Bernie was surrounded by better players, but the same could now be said of Edmonds in St. Louis. I'm not sure where an .890 OPS during that time would rank you, but I think Gonzalez, Thomas and several others would have dwarfed that.

You're right - Edmonds was a helluva player. He just doesn't meet what I'd consider "great," which is only a personal opinion. There are worse players than Edmonds in Cooperstown, that's for sure.
Rich - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 09:10 PM EST (#106252) #
His overall numbers are more impressive than I would have expected, but I would say no for a number of reasons:

1. Fragility - he's played 150 games 4 times in his career
2. His peak of the past 5 years is very good, but it's just that - 5 years. Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly were both even better in their 5 or 6 year peaks (and were rightly considered among the very top 3-5 players in the game at those times) and I don't think either of them was good enough for long enough either to get in.
3. Edmonds has almost never led the league in any offensive category or been a top MVP vote-getter (I say this from memory - please correct me if I'm wrong).
4. His numbers are less impressive put in the context of his era. Lynn's best season approximates Edmonds's best, but Lynn did it prior to the post-1986 offensive explosion era.

Edmonds has been an excellent player, but I certainly wouldn't consider him an all-time great, nor one of the very best players of his own era, such as Griffey, A-Rod, Ripken, Bonds, or McGwire. When considering a player's entire career, the raw totals have to count in addition to the "rate" stats, and in this department Edmonds falls short of being an all-time great (300 HR's, 1500 hits).
Chuck - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 09:11 PM EST (#106253) #
I'm not sure where an .890 OPS during that time would rank you, but I think Gonzalez, Thomas and several others would have dwarfed that.

But you're comparing apples and oranges. Edmonds is a center fielder. Gonzalez and Thomas play on the corners. Edmonds should be compared to other center fielders.

With respect to Williams, there's no doubt that he was the better player in their 20's, but not so in their 30's. And while Williams has logged 1/3 more playing time than Edmonds (7900 PA to 5800) -- and certainly deserves credit for that -- Edmonds has out-OPSed Williams 928 to 875 (to say nothing of also having been the better defensive player). Edmonds' career OPS is better than Carlos Beltran's 2004 OPS.

Mick Doherty - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 09:25 PM EST (#106256) #
This is a totally unscientific bunkum alert, but to me, for whatever reason, Edmonds has never "felt" like a Hall of Famer. I've never though "Jim Edmonds -- Cooperstown?" (Even with the question mark, at lest before this article.) It may be he's just flown under the radar, but for heaven's sake, he's been in the second-largest media market in North America and in the best baseball city in the majors.

I haven't looked at Edmonds' comparables on BBRef, but I've always looked at him as, say, Cesar Cedeno -- hell of a player. not a Hall of a player.
Rich - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 09:30 PM EST (#106258) #
This is a snippet of Edmond's profile on baseball-reference.com:

Gray Ink: Batting - 58 (411) (Average HOFer ~ 144)
HOF Standards: Batting - 35.6 (189) (Average HOFer ~ 50)
HOF Monitor: Batting - 78.5 (206) (Likely HOFer > 100)

Similar Batters
Compare Stats

1. Shawn Green (908)
2. Chipper Jones (903)
3. Tim Salmon (899)
4. Jason Giambi (894)
5. Wally Berger (885)
6. David Justice (885)
7. Hack Wilson (884) *
8. Larry Doby (882) *
9. Ralph Kiner (880) *
10. Carlos Delgado (878)

Their numbers support my own inclination - a terrific player, but not an all-time great.
Chuck - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 09:30 PM EST (#106259) #
His numbers are less impressive put in the context of his era. Lynn's best season approximates Edmonds's best, but Lynn did it prior to the post-1986 offensive explosion era.

Lynn's career OPS+ was 130 over 7900 PA's. Edmonds' career OPS+ is 138 over 5900 PA's. It will be interesting to see how the next few years of Edmonds' career play out. His career arc has been far from traditional. His career OPS+ should start going down any year now.

That Edmonds hasn't done better in MVP voting than he has speaks more to the voters than it does to him, though admittedly does not portend well his HoF chances.

An interesting comp for Edmonds is Puckett, a HoFer (for good or for bad). His career OPS+ was 124 over 7800 PA. Admittedly, Puckett drew far more notice from the media and fans during his career, so he certainly had the fame ingredient for the HoF, even if his credentials were somewhat dubious.

Chuck - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 09:36 PM EST (#106260) #
Their numbers support my own inclination - a terrific player, but not an all-time great.

I keep finding myself defending Edmonds though I'm not even convinced he's a HoFer, at least not yet. I'd like to see him rack up some more playing time.

That said, Rich's list, while true, is misleading. Edmonds should be compared to other CF, not to corner OF and 1B. His position (and his defensive ability at that position) can not just be summarily ignored.

Rich - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 09:55 PM EST (#106265) #
Not my list, by the way, just the one from bbref.com, and it's the only place I know that offers these kinds of comps.

Interesting you mention Puckett - I was thinking about him (not that I really think he necessarily deserved to get in either). While his OBP and SLG were lower, he won an MVP, 2 championships, and led the league at various times in hitting, hits (4 times), total bases, and RBI. Edmonds has never done any of those things, and at the same age at which Puckett retired has 50% fewer at-bats and 50% fewer hits. If you look at Edmonds year-by-year, I'd say he's had 4 great seasons. If he plays like this for another 5 years it may be a different story.
Mike Green - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 10:08 PM EST (#106267) #
Judging by the reaction here, it looks like Edmonds will have an uphill battle. You get the same reaction with him that you get when the name Reggie Smith comes up.

Edmonds is more valuable than Sammy Sosa. Reggie Smith was more valuable than Lou Brock. But, fame eluded Smith, and it is eluding Edmonds. I have this sneaking suspicion that it eludes Tim Raines as well. Cue David Bowie...
Rich - Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 10:23 PM EST (#106268) #
Edmonds is more valuable than Sammy Sosa

It all depends on your perspective. To me, OBP, SLG, and defence are all critical elements, but in terms of the Hall there is more to it. I think you have to consider other factors, such as:

  • Career totals and number of excellent seasons
  • Seasons leading league in various categories
  • MVP awards - was the guy ever among the 3 best players in the league? How many times?
  • Career Comps - look at Sosa's. Almost all of them are in the Hall or are certain to get there in due time.
  • Playoff record and championships won
The Hall is subjective, and subjective criteria need to be included. It's not enough to say, well, Edmonds' OPS plus and defensive rep are excellent (and perhaps compare with a few other HOF'ers), therefore he merits serious consideration. In my view these are the ONLY things going for him, and it's not enough. Sosa's consistency, durability, and peak performance all dwarf Edmonds'. Sammy's peak SLG is 100 points higher, his peak Total Bases is over 100 more than Edmonds. Mike, I'm beginning think your above quote, as well as this whole thread, are really just a wind up on an otherwise slow Tuesday night.
Mike Green - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 09:11 AM EST (#106277) #
I wasn't kidding. For me, value consists in helping one's team win, which in Edmonds and Sosa's case consists simply of offence and defence.

Sosa had very little offensive value until age 25, which is coincidentally when Edmonds got his chance. From that point until now, Sosa has hit .287/.364/.585 with an OPS+ of 142 in 6800 PAs (he's a year older than Edmonds). They've been pretty comparable offensive players during the period 1994-2004, with Edmonds getting on base somewhat more, and Sammy hitting for more power. But, Edmonds is considerably more valuable defensively.

As for the BBRef comparables, you have to take these with a huge grain of salt. Sosa's top two are Mantle and Mays, and believe me, the similarities between the three are remote to anyone who understands the game. At least Edmonds has many of the same attributes as Mantle and Mays, albeit that his skills are pitched significantly lower.
Chuck - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 10:13 AM EST (#106287) #
I don't believe that Edmonds will be voted into the HoF. To my mind, he has three main characteristics that HoF (and MVP) voters tend to overlook or minimize.

1. He walks a lot. This cuts into his counting stats like hits, HR and RBI which voters like. His elevated OBP, resulting from those walks, gets little compensatory attention.

2. He plays a key defensive position. Nonetheless, he gets compared to ALL players, not just players at his position. The same prejudice that held back Gary Carter for so long and now holds back the likes of Grich, Trammell and Whitaker and will probably hold Edmonds back. Voters don't (suitably) make positional adjustments.

3. He is a very good defensive player (and once excellent, if certain metrics are to be believed). Unless you're Bill Mazeroski, defensive ability tends to get undervalued. Few voters lose much sleep in worrying about a corner outfielder's stone glove when evaluating a career.

4. He has missed playing time due to injuries. It is true that he has not been as durable as most, but he's a new man in his 30's, averaging 147 games a season over the past 5 years (that said, his career as a whole must be evaluated, not just his peak).

The HoF voters have not been consistent in how they treat the difference in players with relatively short and higher quality careers than those with longer but lesser quality careers. Koufax is in. Sutton took forever and Blyleven may never make it. Dick Allen is not in (though he does bring other issues to the table beyond a short career) but Tony Perez is.

It is my belief (and correct me if I'm wrong) that generally speaking, the relatively short career is given less due by HoF voters than the longer, drawn out career, quite likely because the latter better affords the tallying of the much beloved counting stats.

I hereby end my defense of Jim Edmonds and am now expecting to be placed on his mother's Christmas card list. ;)
Mike Green - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 10:52 AM EST (#106294) #
It's hard to make sense of Hall of Fame votes. Defence is usually not taken adequately account of, but Aparicio and Maz are in. Counting stats are important to voters, irrespective of context. Sometimes short careers are held against players, sometimes not (cf. Bottomley, Kelly). Fame is definitely an element, as are contributions to a winning team.

Like I said, Edmonds has an uphill battle. I wonder what the readership thinks of Bernie Williams. We'll find out next time.
Hall Watch 2004-The outfielders-Jim Edmonds | 21 comments | Create New Account
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