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June 16, 2010

Jim Edmonds Returns to Anaheim

Much was made of Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Jim Edmonds’ return to Angel Stadium…a stadium he hadn’t played in since his final game as an Angel.

He was hitless in what was the Angels last game of the 1999 season (he was 2-5 against the Halos Tuesday night) and right before the start of 2000, he found himself traded to the Cardinals for Kent Bottenfield and Adam Kennedy.

Kennedy had a pretty successful career for the Anaheim (and later Los Angeles) Angels, winning a World Series in 2002, whereas Bottenfield saw himself shipped to Philadelphia at the trade deadline in 2000.

“Jimmy Ballgame” saw his career flourish in the shadow of the Gateway Arch, playing alongside Mark McGwire, Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen, but just how great of a player did the Angels give up?

For starters, there are a few avenues you can go down in order to come to some sort of conclusion.

First, you could start by comparing him to contemporary outfielders like Steve Finley and Luis Gonzalez. Both guys who, in my mind, would illustrate what my gut tells me…Jim Edmonds DOES NOT belong alongside those enshrined in Cooperstown.

Frankly, not one of the three belongs in the same sentence as the sleepy New York town.

Sure, Edmonds is good…he was a world champ in 2006, a four-time all-star and twice he’s finished in the top five in the MVP voting. But Hall worthy?

No way.

But then I remembered…you CAN go into the Hall based on your defense (a la Bill Mazeroski or Ozzie Smith) and Edmonds did bring home eight Gold Gloves in a nine year span. With this guy, his repertoire was the opposite of most…his defense was the delicious dessert at the forefront and batting was the icing.

At the plate, the 39 year-old is sitting at 385 career home runs (more than Joe DiMaggio, Ralph Kiner and Tony Perez), a .284 career batting average with five seasons above the .300 mark.

Barring injuries (and honestly, couldn’t we say that about a bunch of players) and a season away from pro ball, Edmonds could be nearing 500 bombs and 2500 hits versus where he’ll end up…closer to 400 and 2100.

Again, he is good…just not great.

Ask yourself this…do his highlight reel catches and sub-"benchmark" numbers make him more of a Hall of Famer than someone like Jim Thome, Ivan Rodriguez or Chipper Jones? Because, let's face it, that's who he is likely going to be up against when he comes up for selection.

My guess is he'll be a guy, like Steve Garvey, Dave Parker or Don Mattingly, destined to appear on the ballot for the full 15 years...but not great enough to break through the doors.

I could be wrong…but only time will tell.

BallHype: hype it up!


tehuti said...

I missed Jim Edmonds when he left the Angels, but I have to agree. He is good but not HOF material. There are too many other guys that would have to go in ahead of him. That doesn't mean that he's not a gamer who has made many memorable catches.

Anonymous said...

Lots of people don't realize how good Edmonds really was/is. Edmonds is one of only a hand-full of center fielders in major league history to play gold glove defense while ranking as one of the games best hitters.

You think Edmonds isn't a HOF quality player? Check out his WAR. Edmonds ranks higher than Duke Snider, Eddie Murray, Gray Carter and even Willie McCovey.

Guys like Andre Dawson and Jim Rice aren't even in the same zip code as Edmonds when you consider total both offense and defense, again check the WAR rankings.

According to Tim Marchman, who wites for Sports Illustrated, Edmonds is probably the 7th best center fielder in big league history after Mays Mantle, Speaker, Cobb Dimaggio and Ken Griffey.

I don't know if Edmonds will be enshrined in the HOF, but I am sure that he ought to be.

Anonymous said...

You should go look at this story about Ken Griffey,