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Aparicio v. Vizquel

I’ve been wanting to say something about the Baseball Hall of Fame … and I worry that I will not quite hit the point and it will come out like I’m saying something else. Here goes anyway: The last few years, the Hall of Fame process has — more than ever, I think — become a comparative process.

That is to say, more and more players become eligible for the Hall of Fame and we compare the players to those who are already in the Hall of Fame. This is explicitly what Jay Jaffe does with his superb JAWS system. He uses WAR to compare a player’s career value and his peak value against the average Hall of Famer. JAWS has become very, very important in how people think about the Hall of Fame.

And that’s good. But it isn’t just JAWS. Every player who comes up for the Hall vote is at some point compared to Hall of Famers … and, to be clear here, so there is no mistake, NOBODY does this more than I do. I probably have spent half my lifetime word supply comparing Dan Quisenberry and Bruce Sutter, Tim Raines and Tony Gwynn, Luis Tiant and Catfish Hunter, Edgar Martinez and numerous Hall of Famers, on and on. I love doing this. I will not stop doing this. I intend to do this later in THIS VERY STORY.

So, again, please don’t miss the point of what I’m trying to say here.

What I’m trying to say is if we focus too much of our efforts on comparing players we end up missing something crucial.

Every player must cut his own path to the Hall of Fame.

I often write here about Hall of Fame wide receiver Charlie Joiner. Yes, that’s football, but I think it’s instructive. If you look at Charlie Joiner’s career now, it’s hard to understand how he was elected to the Hall of Fame. He only made three Pro Bowls and was first-team All-Pro just once. He never led the NFL in receptions, receiving yards or receiving touchdowns, and only once finished in the Top 3 in any of those categories. For Joiner’s career, he ranks 38th all-time in receptions (behind Eric Moulds), 24th in receiving yards (he was passed by Brandon Marshall) and 57th in receiving touchdowns (tied with Gary Clark and Henry Ellard among others). He never played in a Super Bowl. His postseason record is relatively humdrum; his two best postseason games he was overshadowed by tight ends, one a teammate (Kellen Winslow), the other an opponent (Raymond Chester).

This is not to knock Joiner’s career. He was a very good receiver for a long time. But why Hall of Fame?

The answer, I think, reflects something important, something maybe we’re losing when we talk and talk about the Hall of Fame: Charlie Joiner was unique. Every Hall of Famer is unique. When Charlie Joiner retired, he was the career leader in receptions and receiving yards. He may never have been the best receiver in the league and he was not always the best receiver on his own team, but no wide receiver had ever been as consistent and as durable as Joiner.

In other words: He was the FIRST to do something. And let’s not kid anybody: That matters. You might know that Roger Bannister was the first to run the four-minute mile or that Edmund Hillary (and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay) was the first to ascend to the summit of Everest. Others who followed may have been great too … but they’re not going to the Hall of Fame. Chuck Yeager was the first pilot to break the sound barrier and, as such, belongs in any pilot Hall of Fame. That doesn’t mean that every pilot since Chuck Yeager who broke the sound barrier belongs in the Hall of Fame.

And so it is with Charlie Joiner. His combination of longevity and productivity is very specific to him and his time. When he was elected to the Hall of Fame, that door closed behind him. You cannot be a Hall of Fame receiver by simply matching what Charlie Joiner did.

I say it again: You have to cut your own path. Comparisons are helpful, sure. But no one is elected and no one should be elected merely for the Hall of Fame caliber stats they put up or for how favorably they compare to others. These are guideposts. But the player is elected to the Hall of Fame for the individuality of their greatness, the memories they evoke, the uniqueness and awe-inspiring brilliance of their athletic performance.

There figures to be a Hall of Fame fight over Omar Vizquel, who is coming on the ballot for the first time this year. This is because Vizquel had an unusual career complete with extreme strengths and weaknesses. He won 11 Gold Gloves as a shortstop, second only to Ozzie Smith. He also finished his career with the fourth-most hits among shortstops behind Hall of Famers Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken and Robin Yount … and let’s be honest, Yount wasn’t even a shortstop for the last nine years of his career while Ripken played a lot more third base than most people remember. For lifetime shortstops, when it comes to hits you are talking Wagner and Vizquel.

On the minus side … Omar Vizquel really couldn’t hit. I mean let’s not kid anybody. The number of hits is a nice thing but Vizquel got a lot of hits because he played forever; he got at-bats until he was 45 years old. But he couldn’t hit.

Here are two splits:

Omar Vizquel: 272/.336/.352, OPS+ 82.

Player B: .271/.325/.316 OPS+ 82

There’s just not much difference there. When you consider that Player B played in a much lower run-scoring context — which is why his OPS+ is the same even though his on-base percentage and slugging percentages are lower — you see there’s no difference at all.

Player B is my hero Duane Kuiper.

But there’s a more compelling comparison to make here as you probably guessed from the title if this post. There are so many similarities between Luis Aparicio and Omar Vizquel. They were both brilliant defensive shortstops from Venezuela. They are roughly the same size. Vizquel won 11 Gold Gloves, Aparicio nine (there was no such thing as a Gold Glove the first two years of Aparicio’s career). They both played a long time and compiled a lot of hits and runs and general numbers. They were also both very, very light hitters. Aparicio’s OPS+, like Vizquel’s, like Kuiper’s, is 82.

Here are the raw numbers for comparison’s sake:

Aparicio: .262/.311/.343, 2,677 hits, 394 doubles, 92 triples, 83 homers, 1,335 runs, 736 RBIs, 506 stolen bases.

Vizquel: .272/.336/.352, 2,877 hits, 456 doubles, 77 triples, 80 homers, 1,445 runs, 951 RBIs, 404 stolen bases

As you can see: Vizquel generally has more.

Luis Aparicio is in the Hall of Fame.

So does that mean that Vizquel should be in the Hall of Fame?

Well, to be precise, there are actually two questions inside that one. The first question is: Do those remarkable similarities mean that Vizquel was as good or better than Aparicio? There’s a pretty strong argument that he was not. If you look at Wins Above Replacement and Wins Above Average, for instance, they suggest the two shortstops were not identical.

Aparicio: 55.7 WAR, 20.4 WAA.

Vizquel: 45.3 WAR, 5.0 WAA.

We have seen the raw numbers. We have noted the eerie similarities. Why would Aparicio rate so much better in WAR and WAA statistics?

Well, it’s actually pretty simple. A pinch of it comes down to defense — Aparicio rates a bit better as a defender even though both are all-time great defenders. A pinch of it comes down to offense — even though the Vizquel’s numbers look a bit better, he played in such a different time he actually was more below average than Aparicio.

But, really, the main difference comes down to baserunning. They both were subpar hitters. They were both fantastic defensive shortstops. But Aparicio rates as a sensational baserunner, one of the greatest of all time. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise; Aparicio led the league in stolen bases his first nine seasons. Baseball References credits him for 91 runs above average as a baserunner and 17 runs above average for avoiding double plays. Really, really strong.

Vizquel for his career was one run BELOW average as a baserunner, even with all those stolen bases (he was caught A LOT) and nine runs above average for his double play avoidance. That’s a 100-run difference, Basically, that’s enough of a difference to create the 10-win gap between the two players.

Fangraphs figures things differently but comes to more or less the same conclusion: Aparicio at 49.1 WAR, Vizquel at 42.6 WAR, with the sizable difference being their baserunning value.

So, it might not be fair to say that Vizquel is as good a player as Aparicio. I don’t think Vizquel was quite a good player as Aparicio.

But let’s go to the second part of this: What is Vizquel IS as good? I love player comparisons. I do. But in the end, I think that even if you think Vizquel was every bit as good as Aparicio that does not mean that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Not. At. All.

See: Luis Aparicio was just the second player from Venezuela to become an everyday player in the big leagues (after Chico Carrrasquel, who debuted six years earlier). He was the first great Major Leaguer from Venezuela and a great hero to his country. He was a pioneer as well as a star. He was a daring baserunner at a time when almost nobody else in the American League played that way (he led the league with 21 stolen bases as a rookie). He was not only a great defensive shortstop but a genius at the position, a maestro, a groundbreaker. Mark Belanger, who has his own case as the greatest defensive shortstop, used to study Aparicio, watch his every move. Aparicio was so admired around the game by players and writers and everybody that he almost won an MVP award in 1959 even though he hit .257 with no power. Ten different seasons he got an MVP vote. And everybody knew he couldn’t hit.

Vizquel got one eighth place MVP vote in his entire career.

The point is, Luis Aparicio is in the Hall of Fame because of what Luis Aparicio did. He didn’t create a “no-hit, good-field” shortstop route into the Hall. He created a Luis Aparicio route to the Hall of Fame. All of his talents, all of his flaws, his background, his style, his boldness as a player, the way he carried himself, the things teammates and opponents said about him, all of this is what convinced 84.6% of the voters to say, yes, this guy’s a Hall of Famer.

Vizquel walks his own path. I’ll repeat this again: You will not find a bigger fan of Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system than me (and I am including Jay’s wife Emma in this). You will not see me slow down with the Hall of Fame comparisons because they are fun and they can be illuminating. But I take it too far. I think a lot of us take it too far. How Omar Vizquel compares to Aparicio, Rabbit Maranville and Phil Rizutto (or for that matter Barry Larkin, Cal Ripken and Honus Wagner) will not define his Hall of Fame case. Was he a transformational player? Did he fundamentally change baseball? Was he the best player in the game? Close? Was he the player you would build a championship team around? Was he so unique that he inspired others to play like him? Was there a singular thrill in watching this player play? Were there things he did that nobody else could do?

And so on. Maybe we should try to come up with a new “Keltner List” — those questions Bill James came up with to think about a player’s case for the Hall of Fame. Because: Why do we have a Hall of Fame? To remember. And what is worth remembering? That’s the most important question, really.

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46 Responses to Aparicio v. Vizquel

  1. Bryan says:

    You might know that Roger Bannister (and Sherpas Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher) was the first to run the four-minute mile or that Edmund Hillary (and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay) was the first to ascend to the summit of Everest.

    • Pete R says:

      Well, no. The difference is that Tenzing Norgay didn’t just help Hillary- he climbed to the very top of Everest with him. It’s not clear who reached the summit first, because apparently it didn’t matter to them. Chataway and Brasher helped Bannister but didn’t run a 4-minute mile that day.

  2. Jon says:

    This piece is just a friendly reminder that you are hands down the best baseball writer out there. The combination of stats and thoughtfulness is unique and I feel like you’re speaking from the heart every time you write.

    Keep up the great work, and eager to see for whom you end up voting.

  3. Mark Garbowski says:

    ” He also finished his career with the fourth-most hits among shortstops behind Hall of Famers Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken and Robin Yount … and let’s be honest, Yount wasn’t even a shortstop for the last nine years of his career while Ripken played a lot more third base than most people remember. For lifetime shortstops, when it comes to hits you are talking Wagner and Vizquel.”

    I hesitate to suggest this player has been overlooked, but Derek Jeter?

    • DB says:

      And he is continuing to rack up the hits as well but not at short though.

    • Anon says:

      Was going to post the same thing. Even if you just go by the hits Jeter had at the time Vizquel retired and not his career total, he still had quite a few more than Vizquel (3,304 at the end of the 2012 season)

      • Anon says:

        And if we’re counting Yount we should probably count A-Rod as well since both played a little more than half their games in the field at SS and A-Rod had more hits than Vizquel at the time Vizquel retired as well (2,901 at the end of the 2012 season)

    • Rob Smith says:

      Jeter is not yet in the HOF. So he can’t be used as a comparison for current HOFers.

      • mark G says:

        The comparison quoted wasn’t limited to HOFers, though. It just says, “He also finished his career with the fourth-most hits among shortstops…” Further noting that the only people ahead of him are in the Hall does not imply that the comparison was limited to those in the Hall. In fact, that is usually understood to indicate that of all the shortstops who ever shortstopped, the only ones with more hits are HOFers.

  4. Stephen says:

    Great article. I hadn’t encountered your argument before, but it certainly makes sense! Thanks.

  5. Richard says:

    Excellent essay, Joe! Fans too often overlook the fact that it’s the Hall of FAME and not the Hall of Players Who Are Above Some Arbitrary Statistical Criteria. As an example, Mike Mussina has the numbers down pat for inclusion, but what’s he famous for?

    There’s another problem I see when using little more than statistics. If you keep saying “Well, this player is just a little bit less than the HoF average, and there are quite a few players who are below him, then that justifies his induction” – what happens is that the statistical average for the HoF goes DOWN*, and you’ll be inducting poorer and poorer candidates over the years, bringing down the whole thing.

    * Yes, you do induct a few All Time Greats to balance things out, but there are far fewer of them than there are players who are just a little below Average Greatness.

    We need to stop comparing Jack Morris to Jim “Catfish” Hunter, say, and start comparing him to Ferguson Jenkins and Tom Glavine.

    p.s. I do like the Keltner List as an evaluation method, and I’d support a serious attempt at a new version.

    • Matthew Clark says:

      It’s funny, but I was looking at JAWS in the opposite way, that it is inherently inflationary. I think it might be hard for some voters who feel the standards of the Hall have been lessened over the years to vote for candidates who are below the average for their position. Joe sort of addressed this problem in his Willie Mays Hall of Fame article. No one seriously thinks players should have to be as good as Mays to get in, or Cobb, or Williams, or Aaron. But I would guess that those players’ numbers skew the JAWS numbers a great deal.
      JAWS might be a better comparative tool if we were to omit, say, the top two performers at each position. That could cure the outlier problem and allow us to focus on the player achievements that each generation of fans and writers and analysts find exceptional.

      • Richard says:

        From the little I recall of data analysis from my long-ago days as a scientist, the thing to do is to drop BOTH the highest AND the lowest numbers as being freak outliers. That should work if you’re just talking about Hall of Famers.

    • Brent says:

      you have to be careful with the “what’s he famous for” standard though. Otherwise, you end you with a HOF full of Paul O’Neills and Aaron Boones, rather than more deserving candidates who toiled farther from the East Coast. And taking your example of Mussina, should he denied the HOF because he lost his chance at doing some famous in 2003 when the Yankees couldn’t score a couple runs off Josh Beckett in Game 6 of the WS (Mussina was brilliant in winning Game 3 and would have been the Bombers Game 7 starter)

  6. Craig says:

    I have to disagree a little bit on the Charlie Joiner comparison. It’s a little disingenuous to say Charlie Joiner was 38th and 24th in all time receiving catches and yards, only to note later “yeah, he was first in both of those things when he retired.” The game has changed significantly, so he is now buried lower in those all time lists. I would say that any receiver who finishes his career as the all time leader in receptions and yards would have to be considered for the Hall of Fame today as well.

    • Karyn says:

      I think that’s the point Joe is trying to make.

      • mark G says:

        I agree, and then suggest the interesting question involvesa hypothetical future in which 10 years from now the NFL greatly reduces passing (I know, work with me here) and then 20 years after that someone retires with a Joyner like career: he never led any single year, but he has the most catches and passes in those 20 years, which also is lower than any solid but unspectacular receiver today. Should he make the Hall?
        I think in baseball the answer would be yes, because we are used to adjusting for era. I’m not sure about the NFL.

        • KHAZAD says:

          The NFL (and it’s fans) are horrible at adjusting for era. This especially holds true for skill positions in the passing game, especially receivers. If you don’t get in right away, your numbers are compared to more modern players, and you are hosed.

          The first 5 years after the merger, Fred Biletnikoff led the NFL in receptions with 254. That would rank 44th the last 5 years, between Heath Miller and Charles Clay. The leader in yards per game was a guy named John Gilliam with 61.6. That would be 30th the last 5, right next to Pierre Garcon.

          Teams passed for about 153 yards per game in those years, and the most pass happy QB (Tarkenton) averaged 187 yards passing per game. The average QB rating was 61.7 The last 5 years teams averaged 238 yards passing per game with QB rating of 86.2. The lowest QB with over 400 attempts (Matt Cassel) had a QB rating of 72.2.

          I got a football stat book after the 1975 season. Otto Graham was the all time leader in passer rating by alot, and Len Dawson and Sonny Jurgenson were tied for 2nd. Graham is now 25th, between Alex Smith and Ryan Tannehill. Dawson/Jurgenson are tied for 45th between Brain Greise and Brad Johnson.

  7. Rob Smith says:

    Aparicio stole 506 bases and had a 79% success rate at stealing bases. Vizquel stole 404 bases and had a 71% success rate. Joe made the comment that Vizquel got caught A LOT. I don’t think that’s fair. Vizquel had a very good success rate…. definitely above average. Aparicio had a superior success rate. For comparison, Rickey Henderson had an 81% success rate, Lou Brock had a 75% success rate. Tim Raines had an 85% success rate. So Aparicio was an upper echelon base stealer while Vizquel was merely a good base stealer.

    • Hamster Huey says:

      Ahh… but below 75%, you may be hurting your team more than you’re helping. So that gap looks pretty big – one helped his team by running, the other hurt his. Depends on the run environment, but I’d assume that only hurts Vizquel (you need a higher % to break even in a higher run-scoring environment).

    • MikeN says:

      Vizquel getting caught hurts more with that power lineup behind him.

    • gogiggs says:

      It’s more than just the caught stealings. Vizquel was a bad baserunner. There’s this assumption many had, because he was a SS, who batted second and stole bases in bulk, that he was fast and good on the bases, but he was more quick than fast and he ran into a lot of outs. Omar played 1530 games for the Indians (with postseason). I guarantee I watched at least 1000 of them (conservatively). If he wasn’t the worst baserunner on that team, it’s only because Manny Ramirez was on it, too.

      I loved Omar. He was a mainstay of my favorite teams and a lot of fun, but there was never a time in his career when I thought he was a Hall of Famer and I don’t think so now.

      • Rob Smith says:

        I never watched Vizquel that closely. So it’s interesting to hear from someone who watched him a lot. I had no idea that he was such a bad base runner. Usually guys who steal bases are fast and score a lot of runs. It’s actually kind of weird to have a guy who steals bases and is otherwise bad on the bases.

  8. Ian says:

    Man, I wish you had come to this conclusion when you were thinking about Jack Morris. WAR comparable to Palmer and Hubbel. Top 20 in strike outs when he retired. The 84 post season. 91 post season. Game 7. Universal praise by opponents, teammates and managers. But instead it was always about the numbers and now about the path Morris created. Hell, when guys like Verducci or Heyman pointed that out, you doubled down on comparisons. And now a very large segment of baseball fans think that Morris shouldn’t be in the HOF and that Morris wasn’t a good pitcher.

    So while you’ll spend 10 years writing against Vizquel perhaps you should try and make sure the end result isn’t “Vizquel was a bad player.”

    • Dan says:

      Don’t blame Joe for how others might have misconstrued his opinion of Morris. His opinion is quite clear, and it is NOT that Morris was a bad pitcher. I quote:

      “1. He was a very good pitcher who doesn’t quite reach my Hall of Fame standard.

      2. I think he will get elected and inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.

      3. I don’t see that as a bad thing … Morris was a fine pitcher and I’ll be happy for him. In fact, I hope he gets in this year because I think the yearly Jack Morris bickering that I’m a huge part of is tiresome and unfair to him.”

      He also felt Jack’s “story” worked in his favour – just not enough. After mentioning there were 58 non-PED-tainted pitchers with better WAR than Morris:

      “Now, do I think there are 58 pitchers who are more worthy of the Hall of Fame than Jack Morris? No. I don’t think WAR is that precise. And I think Morris’ remarkable World Series Game 7 and his extraordinary pitching stamina and consistency do add to his Hall of Fame value beyond his aggregate statistics. But I do think there are a few pitchers who should go into the Hall of Fame before Jack Morris does.”

      Reasonable people can disagree. They’re not responsible for the wrong opinions unreasonable people jump to.

      • Ian says:

        I think you’re being a bit kind to Joe. He wrote so many anti-Morris pieces over the years that it had to influence how fans felt. Hell, he wrote one piece on Bill James on the WAR debate and now people are starting to question fangraphs WAR more than they had in years. He’s our best sports writer today. He has significant influence and his constant, year after year, bashing of Morris’ HOF candidacy has significantly diminished Morris’ view in many fans eyes.

        I don’t think Vizquel should be in the HOF but I’m not looking forward to the Greg Gagne comparisons.

        • Dan says:

          I think the difference is whether he was “anti-Morris” or “anti-Morris as a HOFer”. I recall he was vocal and persistent in opposing Morris’ election but I wouldn’t call it bashing. I think he pretty consistently said Jack was a hell of a pitcher but not quite HOF, and there’s no shame in that. But I’m not about to dig through the archives more. 🙂 I do agree it is a shame that Morris’ legacy has been diminished in the eyes of many because of the debate over his Hall-worthiness.

        • Rob Smith says:

          I think Joe was far from the only one questioning Morris’ case. Traditionalists didn’t like his 3.90 ERA, which I think, would be the highest ERA of a HOF pitcher by a third of a run. For those that favor advanced metrics, his WHIP of 1.296, 3.94 FIP, 105 ERA+ and 43.8 WAR are also not exactly stellar. To me the case FOR induction is much harder to make. He had 254 wins, 2,478 K’s and errrrr… the 7th game against the Braves…. and, IDK, his fearsome looking ‘stache? I guess that’s about it.

          • Rob Smith says:

            I guess Red Ruffing checked in at 3.80, but Morris would still be the highest ERA. I haven’t check everyone’s numbers thoroughly, but Ruffing does have some numbers comparable to Morris, although Ruffing’s are still slightly better. I don’t know that you’d want to make a case for Morris being worthy based on a slightly unfavorable comparison to Red Ruffing, however.

    • MikeN says:

      You left out his complaint about women sportswriters, ‘Only time I want to be naked around a woman is if I’m on top of her or she’s on top of me.’

    • Kurt says:

      He has a won/lost (254-186, .577) record comparable but distinctly inferior to Palmer (268-152, .638) and Hubbell (253-154, .622). His WAR (44.1) is comparable to theirs (69.4 and 67.5 respectively) only in the sense that any two numbers of the same metric are

  9. Marc Schneider says:

    You could argue that neither Aparicio or Vizquel deserve to be in the Hall. The fact that Aparicio is in doesn’t mean Vizquel should be in. Voting for the Hall has changed. People put a lot more emphasis in the day on “the little things” like bunting, base stealing, etc. So, Aparicio, in addition to the factors Joe pointed out, likely benefitted from what I call the “Phil Rizzuto effect”, ie, a middle infielder who seemed to do a lot of things well in an era when middle infielders weren’t expected to be able to hit. And, of course, the stolen bases. I don’t think Aparicio was particularly unique except that he was famous for being a great base stealer when that meant something.

  10. Paul Schroeder says:

    I am so glad you wrote this. I am so tired of people saying if player x is in, then we have to let in player y because they are basically the same player. It’s not true. If the writers accidentally vote in Freddie Patek, that doesn’t mean that is now the standard for shortstops.

  11. steve says:

    Um, uh, I already forgot Omar Vizquel.
    OK,so I admit to being less intense about my baseball fandom than many of Joe’s followers. You all can debate what “valuable” means for MVP, but “fame”, as in Hall of Fame, means what it means: renown, esteem, repute, etc.; and Omar Vizquel just ain’t got fame. (Yeah, Jeter does have fame – and I am not a Yankee fan.)

    • denopac says:

      It’s called the Hall of Fame because election is meant to confer fame.

      These are the standards for election:

      Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

      There’s nothing in there about getting elected for being famous.

  12. Dale says:

    I watched Vizquel play every day, and I can tell you he was one of the most thrilling players I’ve ever seen. The overuse of stats to discredit some fantastic careers is becoming mind-numbing. Of course, I’m still appalled that Kenny Lofton dropped off the ballot after one year.

    • Mr Fresh says:

      Agree 100%.

      The joy and the energy that Vizquel brought to the game.. not to mention the way he CONTROLLED games with his defense.. make him a HOF’er in my book, regardless of any unflattering statistical comparisons you want to try and make.

    • Rob Smith says:

      I don’t think stats were Lofton’s problem. His advanced metrics were quite good & he was (and is) a darling of the sabermetrics crowd. His issue was more of an eye test thing, I think, along with never being close to the best player on his own team.

      • Dale says:

        Never close to being the best player on his team? You should take a closer look at his 94-96 seasons. The mashers like Belle may have received more attention from the media dummies, but Lofton was a spectacular leadoff hitter, as well as a Gold Glove CF.

  13. Eric J says:

    “Ripken played a lot more third base than most people remember. For lifetime shortstops, when it comes to hits you are talking Wagner and Vizquel.”

    Not that this has much effect on the article overall, but… games played at positions other than shortstop: Ripken 700, Wagner 891 (in fewer total games). If anything, Ripken was more of a lifetime shortstop than Wagner was; Honus came up as an outfielder who also spent time in various infield spots, and didn’t play an inning of shorstop until he was 27, didn’t play 100 games there until age 29. (Which actually makes him kind of similar to Ripken – both of them were moved from other positions to shortstop despite not looking particularly traditional there in the field.)

  14. Brian Schwartz says:

    “Was there a singular thrill in watching this player play?” Yes, certainly, but he shouldn’t be inducted before the far superior Kenny Lofton.

  15. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    This post is significant not because it answers the question of why is Player X in the HOF or should or should not be, but why we have a HOF. Apropos Joe Morgan letter.

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