Jim Edmonds: A Hall of Famer in my book

Jim Edmonds won’t get another shot at the Hall of Fame. After receiving a terribly low amount of votes(2.5 percent, needed 5 to stay on another year) in his first year of eligibility, Edmonds won’t get next year or the year after that. It’s a shame. Edmonds deserves a discussion or at least another chance to be considered.

I’ll admit I am bias. I watched all of Edmonds’ golden years at Busch Stadium from behind the Manual Scoreboard at old Busch. He was a unique and game changing player. He didn’t have the lofty 3,000 hits, 500 home runs or multiple World Series wins that voters covet or look for. Edmonds did plenty in his 17 year career.

He slugged .527 and compiled an average WAR(wins above replacement) of 3.5 over his career, which included six teams, mostly spent with the Angels and Cardinals. He won eight gold gloves and made four All Star game appearances. He changed the way center field could be played, hovering in shallow center and being able to cover a ton of ground by the time he dove into the grass making an unbelievable catch.

Edmonds was elite for an extended period of time with the Cardinals from 2000-2005, compiling an average WAR of 6.1 and winning six straight gold gloves while slugging 30 or more home runs in four of those seasons. With St. Louis, his OPS was .947 over 8 seasons and .856 over 7 seasons with Anaheim.

He wasn’t a playoff slouch. Edmonds hit 13 home runs and drove in 42 runs with 16 doubles while slugging .551 in 64 playoff games. He made the miraculous diving catch off a Brad Ausmus line drive and hit the game winning home run in Game 6 against Houston in the 2004 World Series. Edmonds had several historic moments and a swing that wasn’t as pretty as Ken Griffey Jr.’s but still effective and compact.

Edmonds is far from a Hall of Fame lock. He always has been a long shot. His 393 home runs won’t woo many. His 1199 RBI’s won’t gather a crowd. His 1,949 hits won’t make anybody’s jaw drop. He did deserve another couple of years of discussion and debate.

He made people stop and think. What makes a career Hall of Fame worthy? Is it a prolonged excellence? An overall solid piece of work, perhaps? Or, do you take a player who was excellent for two different periods of time with two different clubs in two different leagues? Edmonds was great from 1995-98 with the Angels but stellar from 2000-2005 with the Cardinals. Doesn’t that deserve more than a year of consideration?

Edmonds signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals after the 2010 season, but retired in February before spring training unfolded. He was 40 and his body was done. He wanted to give it one last go and try to reach 400 home runs, 2000 hits and add more polish to his career. While it may have added a few more long balls to his career, it could have showed an Edmonds that wasn’t as useful or fun to watch. It does make you think. If healthy, could Edmonds have done better than Colby Rasmus and Jon Jay in 2011? We will never know.

Know this. Edmonds had a HOF caliber career. Far from a lock but nearly as distant from a one and done, he was a signature player who left his mark. Years from now. Decades from now. Fathers and mothers will tell their kids about that lefty who cranked meaningful home runs, stole others from over the wall and created dazzling moments. Edmonds is a better ballplayer than at least 2 or 3 of the centerfielders currently in the Hall of Fame, right?

Edmonds deserved better from the voters. Better than 2.5 percent. He was a Hall of Famer in my book.

(In case you missed it on KSDK)

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