Outfielder Jim Edmonds officially announced his retirement from major league baseball today, concluding a 17-year career in which he played for the Angels and Cardinals, and spent stints with the Padres, Cubs, Reds, and Brewers.
Edmonds played in four All-Star Games, collected eight Gold Glove awards, and collected MVP votes six times.
But is his career worthy of a selection in the Baseball Hall of Fame?
Let’s analyze his 17-season career and then we’ll decide.
For starters, Edmonds was one of the best fielding center fielders of his era, possibly any era. He won eight Gold Gloves, and led all outfielders in range factor per game twice. He topped the league in assists four times and was the best defensive player in the National League in 2005, according to wins above replacement. And in 1997, he provided one of the single greatest catches in the history of baseball.
Edmonds was a pretty good hitter, although he was never one of the most feared hitters in the game. He finished fourth in the MVP voting in 2000, when he bashed 42 homers, batted .295, and drew 103 walks. And he finished fifth in the MVP voting in 2004, when he belted 42 homers, batted .301, and walked 101 times.
He was a pretty good hitter in the postseason. In 14 different series with the Cardinals and Cubs, he batted .274 with 13 home runs. He led the Cardinals to a world championship in 2006, and another pennant in 2004.
His wins above replacement rank him 92nd in history, much higher than most would expect. He ranks ahead of Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, Craig Biggio, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Vlad Guerrero.
For his career, Edmonds slugged 393 home runs, an impressive total, but nothing noteworthy in the Steroid era. He batted .284 and posted a solid on base percentage of .376. His OPS+ of 132 is very good but not great, landing him in the company of players like Rafael Palmeiro, Mo Vaughn, Juan Gonzalez, and Jose Canseco.
And his offensive win percentage (.6592) is very good but nothing exceptional, ranking him below Greg Luzinski, JD Drew, Kevin Youkilis, and John Kruk.
He also struck out 1729 times, the 20th highest total in history.
Edmonds was a very productive hitter for his major league career. He is an underrated fielder and probably one of the ten best fielding outfielders in the last half century.
He posted a pretty impressive on base percentage, knew how to hit for power, and played an important role on a bunch of playoff teams.
But Edmonds was never one of the best players in the league, as indicated by lack of MVP votes. He ranks 273rd in career MVP shares.
And Hall of Fame is for the greatest players in history. Not everyone has to be Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle. However they need to be more than Jim Edmonds, who lacks the longevity and the career statistics to deserve consideration for the Hall.
If he played three more seasons and knocked out 100 more homers (or 107 more, giving him 500), he would have a chance. But a power hitter with 393 home runs in the Steroid era?
A very good ballplayer and underrated when factoring in his defense. But not a Hall of Famer.