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May 18, 2005

Bernie Williams and the HOF

The topic came up today in a comment made to a WasWatching.com entry regarding Bernie Williams chances for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Let us look at the numbers a bit. If you just look at OFers, and hitting, the best match (to date) for Bernie Williams (in my opinion) is Indian Bob Johnson. Note the stats for each (with the numbers for Williams through 2004):


Now, this is interesting - because there are many that feel Bob Johnson should be in the HOF and his omission all these years is a VC oversight. But, the issue for me here is that Johnson was a LF whereas Bernie was a CF. So, what CFers from baseball history best line up with Bernie to date as a hitter? See the following - which, again, is in my opinion:


This is interesting as well - because both Roush and Ashburn are in the HOF and Bernie was a better batter than they were, in terms of relative career batting results (through 2004 for Williams). But, both Rousch and Ashburn were excellent fielding CFers - whereas Bernie, on the whole, was not in their class.

On the other hand, compare Bernie to another recent CF that was granted HOF entry:


The Plate Appearance totals are about the same and clearly Bernie was a more effective batter, career-wise, than Puckett. But, Kirby also was reportedly a good fielding CF - albeit not in the Ashburn-class.

In any event, in terms of CFers with the bat, there's something to be said for making a claim for Bernie Williams being in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Is he a Mantle, Speaker, Mays or DiMaggio? No. But, Bernie is clearly at the top of the next level.

So, will Bernie Williams be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame? The answer here is: Probably not. Any time that you need to think about whether or not a guy deserves to be in, and then have look at the numbers to see where he stacks up, that usually means the voters will not put him on their ballot.

The only thing that might change this is if the media really starts pounding the comparisons of Bernie to other centerfielders who are in/not in the Hall and the facts become very obvious by the time he's on the ballot.

What are the odds of that?

Posted by Steve Lombardi at May 18, 2005 02:50 PM


FYI, if you're viewing this off the main page and cannot see all the stats, click on my name below for a better view.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at May 18, 2005 03:46 PM

Agreed that the media is a key for Bern baby Bern's HOF candidacy. The problem is that many media types are anti-Yankees and anti Mr. Steinbrenner.

He needs 40-45 more HRs and about 150 more RBIs to be a sure thing for the HOF. He won't get these unless he becomes (almost) the full time DH.

This is pure speculation, but will Bernie's immaculate reputation help him w/voters as a contrast to a lot of the (drug) tainted players of his generation?

Posted by: Jason O. at May 18, 2005 04:14 PM

Larry from RLYW did a Keltner List on Bernie last year.


Posted by: Jen at May 18, 2005 04:22 PM

Thanks for the link, Jen. Good read. I hope Bernie can make it to HOF but then again I want Donnie Baseball to get inducted too(A guy can dream =p).

Posted by: Sean at May 18, 2005 04:40 PM

Jen - thanks for the link.
Jason - "This is pure speculation, but will Bernie's immaculate reputation help him w/voters as a contrast to a lot of the (drug) tainted players of his generation?" That and his post-season resume might help. No one has played more post-season games than Bernie - but, I hope Jeter breaks that record this year.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at May 18, 2005 04:41 PM

Doesn't Bernie also have the post-season home run and RBI records?

Posted by: Jen at May 18, 2005 04:45 PM

Actually, he has the record - now - for G, AB, R, HR, TB, 2B, RBI and BB.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at May 18, 2005 05:09 PM

His post-season counting stat records are a direct result of his post-season games-played record.

Counting stats vs. rate stats.

HoF voters seem to fixate on the counting stats, though - 500 HRs, 3000 hits, etc.

Posted by: Clay at May 18, 2005 05:12 PM

Bernie is definitely a quality player - a "hitting" CF instead of a "fielding" CF. 350 RCAA seems to be the cusp for the HoF, so he's right on the edge. I haven't decided yet myself.

Posted by: Wahoo Sam at May 19, 2005 09:22 AM

Steve- thanks for bringing up this topic.

To me- it boils down to the post-season...and the fact that he holds all of those records. Now- in my opinion- you can not hold the expanded playoff structure against him for two reasons:

1) it is a product of his time...same reason why such a big deal was/is made over the Mick's and Yogi's post season records should apply here as well. In the history of the sport, when games matter the most- Bernie is the ALL time leader in at least 8 major categories, and is in 2nd in Hits behind Jeter.

2) Bernie was a major reason why the yankees were able to play so many post season games. So, to me, its circular logic.

If Bernie had an awful career in the post season- there might be little debate. But the fact that he stands alone with these records is quite telling.

I still shiver when I think we almost lost him to Boston (after 1998?), and Albert Belle was being courted...could you imagine? There should also be something said for playing your entire career with one team (if that holds up).

Posted by: Phil at May 19, 2005 02:24 PM

It's probably up to Bernie as to where he wants to play next year - but, if it's not NY, I could see Buck taking him in Texas to play DH/OF and get about 400 PA.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at May 19, 2005 03:57 PM