Late Night VEB: Jim Edmonds, Kirby Puckett & the Hall of Fame

In the build up to and the aftermath of the Hall-of-Fame election each year, a passionate discussion is held regarding the candidacies of various players. Much ink has been spilt over the candidacies of those players on the ballot this year. DanUp wrote a great post on the former Cardinals on the ballot as well as the future candidacies of former Cardinals. That post has links to some of his other writings on a subject dear to his and many of our hearts: the Hall-of-Fame candidacy of Jim Edmonds.

A few years back, former Minnesota Twins center fielder, Kirby Puckett was inducted into the Hall of Fame. This was before I paid much attention to the annual BBWAA ballot. I was happy with Puckett's induction. I knew him to be a decent center fielder whose career numbers and defense paled in comparison to the Cardinals' own Edmonds. I thought Puckett's induction meant Edmonds was a sure-thing Hall-of-Famer.

On defense, Puckett was a poor center fielder. His career Total Zone for center field is -12. For some reason--likely his hitting--Puckett won six Gold Glove awards over the course of his career. Compare Puckett to Edmonds. Edmonds deservedly won eight Gold Gloves. I write "deservedly" because his career Total Zone in center is 83.

Here is a chart comparing the two players' offensive statistics.

Player

PA

H

BB

R

HR

RBI

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

fWAR

Edmonds

7980

1949

998

1251

393

1199

.284

.376

.527

131

67.7

Puckett

7831

2304

450

1071

207

1085

.318

.360

.477

124

49.4

While Puckett had the higher batting average and, relatedly, more total career hits, Edmonds is by far the superior offensive player. Edmonds walked twice as many times, scored more runs, hit 186 more homers, had an OBP 16 points higher, and slugged at a far higher rate--Edmonds's career ISO was .243 to Puckett's .159. Edmonds's OPS was better relative to his peers than Puckett's was, as well. Edmonds posted a career wOBA of .383 while Puckett's career wOBA is .365.

Both Puckett and Edmonds played center field, a position that is woefully underrepresented in the Hall of Fame. Edmonds played the position better defensively and was a better offensive player in his career than Puckett. I've never been a big fan of the argument that, "If Player X is a Hall-of-Famer, then Player Y is should be, too," but Puckett's induction should cause voters to give Jim Edmonds serious consideration.

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