My HOF deliberations: Bernie Williams

Posted By on December 24, 2011 2:53 pm

We’ve come to the end of the road. I’ve voted yes for Bagwell, Larkin, Raines and McGwire, and I’ve decided to pass on Trammell, Edgar, McGriff and Walker.

Of all the new guys on the ballot, it seems the only one who didn’t warrant an immediate no is Bernie Williams. I didn’t really think that Bernie deserved much consideration either, but once I started looking at him, I decided to set him aside for a more thorough examination.

It’s easy to discount Bernie if you don’t take into consideration the fact that he was a center fielder.

So, here’s my normal first step, comparing him in his prime to the other players at his position, by OPS+. His prime was 1993-2004, essentially.

That’s pretty good. Looks like he was probably the third best center fielder of his era. That certainly puts him in the HOF discussion. (Jim Edmonds, by the way, is one of the most underrated players of all-time, in my opinion.)

He also won four Gold Gloves. At first I figured that was pretty good, but as I looked at it, it’s not really. There are 27 outfielders who have won more than four Gold Gloves, and most of them are center fielders. Until this year, there was no distinction by outfield positions for the Gold Gloves, so very often all three of the winners were center fielders.

OK, how does Bernie stack up against the other CFs in the HOF? Here are the guys in the HOF who played at least 50 percent of their games in CF:

Bernie’s OPS+ of 125 would put him 11th out of 16, just barely ahead of Kirby Puckett. The Puckett comparison is Bernie’s best shot at getting in, but I’d argue that Puckett was still better than Bernie. He won more Gold Gloves and he was a top-10 MVP finisher seven times. (Bernie only twice.) So there’s really not a modern CF who is worse than Bernie who is in the HOF.

For now, I’m going to say no on Bernie, I’m going to remain open-minded on him and revisit him again next year.

So, that’s it.

Here’s my final HOF ballot:

Jeff Bagwell
Barry Larkin
Mark McGwire
Tim Raines

I expect only Larkin will get in this year. I think Bagwell, and maybe Raines, will get in eventually, and McGwire never will.


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