As you doubtless have heard, the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2016 will be announced this evening at 5:00 pm. While one dynamic center fielder who made his bones on the west coast before finishing his career in the NL Central is pushing to become the first man to be voted unanimously into Cooperstown, there's another who deserves more attention than he's getting, even if he spent much more time killing the Brewers than he did helping them.
Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) has been doing the lord's work, compiling the votes for every ballot that has been made public in the weeks leading up to tonight's announcement. With approximately 43% of the ballots known, Jim Edmonds has garnered just six votes. That means that Edmonds is appearing on just 3.1% of the ballots, and he'll need a major bump from those who keep their ballots private -- either until after the results are revealed or permanently -- to avoid falling off the ballot in his first year. There may yet be some hope however: last year, Nomar Garciaparra was on only 2% of known ballots prior to the announcement of the 2015 class, only to see his name appear on over 10% of private ballots and survive to see another year.
Edmonds, a five time All-Star and eight time Gold Glove winner, began his career in 1993 with the California Angels. In seven season with the Angels he socked 121 home runs, hit .290/.359/.498, and murdered dreams:
Edmonds was traded to the Baby Eaters Cardinals prior to the 2000 season, where he continued to remove center field as a viable option for professional baseball hitters while turning into a verifiable monster at the plate. He averaged over 30 home runs per season while racking up an OPS of .947 and posting a remarkably consistent bWAR year in and year out -- he was worth between 6.2 and 6.7 wins every year from 2000 to 2003 before exploding for an 8.3 win year in 2004.
Edmonds spent the twilight of his career bouncing from San Diego to Chicago to Milwaukee on one-year deals. The Brewers traded Edmonds to Cincinnati in August of 2010, his final season in the big leagues. He officially retired as a member of the Cardinals on February 18, 2011.
While Edmonds enjoyed a major league career that spanned nearly two decades, his style of play in the outfield that resulted in so many highlight reel catches also led to a number of injuries that caused him to miss significant time, including the entire 2009 season. The missed opportunities and lost at-bats left Edmonds short of many statistical milestones that get the blood flowing for much of the BBWAA establishment. Edmonds sits seven home runs shy of 400 and 51 hits shy of 2,000, and no player in the expansion era has ever been inducted to Cooperstown with so few base hits. Also hurting his candidacy among the, ahem, more traditional voters is his sub-.300 batting average, even while his superior OBP gave him a career OPS of .903.
Is Jim Edmonds a Hall of Famer? I don't know. And honestly, maybe it doesn't matter anymore. With the venerable preservers of the Integrity Of The Game™ set to withhold enshrinement once again from the greatest hitter and the greatest pitcher of all time, it's difficult to get too worked up about any decision the voters make. With the greats of the so-called steroid era clogging up the ballot and forcing voters to make hard decisions about otherwise-deserving players, likely the only way Edmonds' will ever have a plaque in Cooperstown is if he makes one himself and leaves it there. But he at least deserves a better fate than being tossed off the ballot in his first year with the likes of Jason Kendall and David Eckstein -- Edmonds was a terrific player who earned the right to have his name in the Hall of Fame conversation for more than a year.