On Thursday, Aramis Ramirez officially announced a decision that was long assumed to be coming: after a stellar 18-year career split between the a trio of NL Central teams, the 37-year-old third baseman is hanging up his cleats. As always when a good player with a long career calls it quits, the question of his Hall of Fame worthiness is posed. The rest of the baseball world will have to wait four years until Rammy meets the Hall's eligibility requirements, but you, dear reader, do not. I've got the answer for you right here, right now. Is Aramis Ramirez headed to Cooperstown?
I'm sorry. Ramirez was a great player, he just officially ended his career yesterday, and one should never speak ill of the recently departed. He finishes his career with a terrific .283/.341/.492 slash line, 386 home runs, 1,417 RBI and 495 doubles. He was a three-time All Star and finished top-10 in MVP voting thrice, including his debut season with Milwaukee in 2012 when he smacked a league-leading 50 doubles. Those are all great career numbers, and Ramirez is certainly among the best to play the game, though it won't be enough to get him to the Hall. And really, y'all, he would have gone in with a C on his cap anyhow, if he chose a logo at all, and who the heck needs another Cub in the Hall of Fame?
Why so much certainty about Rammy's chances? First of all, third basemen have historically had a tough time reaching Cooperstown. They are the least represented position (excepting designated hitters) in the Hall, with just 14 entrants. There are a number of great third basemen in front of Ramirez who are still on the outside looking in: Ramirez ends his career with 38.3 fWAR, which is 45th all time among third basemen.
Baseball Reference has a neat little feature near the bottom of each player's page where they keep track of a number of metrics that can be used to help predict the likelihood of a player reaching the Hall of Fame. They're certainly not written in stone, but they utilize historical information for players that have previously gained entry to keep tabs on what voters are looking for. Here's where Aramis rates on each of the four metrics:
Black Ink*: 2 (Average HOF: 27)
Gray Ink*: 53 (Average HOF: 144)
Hall of Fame Monitor**: 85 (Average HOF: 100)
Hall of Fame Standards***: 39 (Average HOF: 50)
As you can see, Ramirez falls well short according to some of these metrics, and is borderline in some others. Given the voters' historical bias against third basemen, and the sheer number of them that aren't in the Hall but had better careers than Ramirez, it's seems to be almost a foregone conclusion that Ramirez will fall short of immoralization in the Hall of Fame.
There's a number of recently retired who are ahead of Ramirez on Hall of Fame totem pole, including likely first-ballot entrant Chipper Jones and a couple of fringe candidates in Scott Rolen and Troy Glaus. This of course doesn't even include the still-active greatest third baseman of all time, who doesn't have a prayer of making the Hall. Rolen ranks 10th all-time among 3B with a 70.1 career fWAR, so if he doesn't make a legitimate push when he's eligible in 2018, you can forget about it. Troy Glaus, who will be eligible next year, might represent the best comparison for Ramirez: his 34.4 career fWAR ranks just below Rammy's, but his World Series championship in 2002 will give him a boost.
While Ramirez won't be going to the Hall of Fame unless he buys a ticket, he'll certainly still be around the baseball world. While he's said he doesn't see himself in a coaching or managerial role, he would be interested in a front office position helping with player development. It would be great to see someone as highly respected as Ramirez return to Milwaukee in such a capacity. Even if he's only heading to the Hall of Very Good, we congratulate Ramirez on an absolutely fantastic career, and wish him well in his retirement.
*Black Ink measures how many times a player led the league in a variety of weighted categories (four points for HR, RBI and BA, two points for 2B, BB and SB, etc.). Gray Ink uses the same measures, but gives points for top-ten finishes.
**The Hall of Fame Monitor assigns points based on career achievements to discern how likely -- not necessarily how deserving -- as player is to make the Hall of Fame.
***The Hall of Fame Standards allows for a maximum of 100 points, with 50 representing the average Hall of Famer, giving points for various statistical milestones.