Usually, these pages are reserved for discussing the Hall-worthiness of marginal players like Kent Tekulve and Ken Phelps…I myself still have hopes for Jack Clark and Jeff Leonard. But I thought I’d change it up a little, and talk about someone who actually WILL make the Hall sooner than later.
One of the previous entries discussed the Hall-worthiness of a couple of second basemen. I’d like to throw another hat in the ring: Craig Biggio, the newest (and, unless Bonds finds a new team next year, probably the last for a while) member of the 3000 Hit Club. Three thousand hits is one of the last hitting stats guaranteed to put you in the Hall, but I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about Biggio NOT being good enough for the Hall. And I can understand this, because it’s CRAIG BIGGIO.
When talking about the great players of this era, he’s not a name that enters the discussion. He’s not flashy, nor has he put up any super numbers; he’s gotten where he is by being boringly consistent. He just doesn’t pass the Hall of Famer “smell test.”
However, I think he’s a Haller…and a first ballot one, at that. And to make my case, I’ll compare him to another converted middle infielder and 3000 hit Hall of Famer who played his entire career with one team: my arch-nemesis, Robin Yount.
These two are actually a pretty good comparison, as, by the time Biggio retires at the end of the year, they will have played the same number of years, and be close in games and plate appearances.
Yount is another case of a guy who kinda played in the shadows. Not flashy, not a great fielder, not particularly popular (playing in only three All-Star Games), playing on a not particularly-good, small-market team that would have 11 straight losing seasons after he retired…yet he somehow won two MVPs. Of the 3000 hitters…Yount’s stats are some of the weakest. He was not a consistent power hitter, he didn’t drive in a lot of runs, he didn’t hit for average, he didn’t steal bases. This guy didn’t put up super numbers every year. He just went out there and put up the same stat line, year after year…not a great stat line, at that, but consistency DOES count for something.
And baseball writers realized the shallowness of his numbers, inducting him by a mere 12 votes. It didn’t help that Nolan Ryan and George Brett, both 98% vote-getters, became eligible the same year.
But, he went in first ballot, nonetheless.
As far as stats go, Biggio is about as close to Yount as you can get. Their stat lines are remarkably similar, with a slight edge (I think) to Biggio. In fact, with the exception of hits, triples, and RBI, Biggio’s numbers are better across the board in fewer games. I’m willing to give a pass on the RBI thing, because, while both players usually batted second in their respective lineups, Biggio batted behind a myriad of unremarkable squids (and pitchers). Yount batted behind Paul Molitor.
You tell me who’s gonna have more RBI!
Biggio has some additional pluses in his column. He was a four-time Gold Glove winner, he played in all but three All-Star Games in the ’90s, his 666 (and counting) doubles are good for fifth all-time, his 1840 and counting runs are good for 12th, and he will probably end his career as the all-time leading hit batsman.
Now, mind you, Biggio’s great-but-not-awesome stats are somewhat skewed to the high side due to Biggio’s high number of games and plate appearances. To get an understanding what I mean…look at Ken Griffey Jr’s numbers, and consider the fact that The Kid has played nearly 500 FEWER games than Biggio.
But, playing in every game didn’t stop Yaz or Hammerin‘ Hank from going into the Hall…and shouldn’t be a problem here.
Biggio also ranks 10th in outs, but considering that everyone (excepting Ralph Palmeiro) in the top 20 is in the HOF, it’s a good thing to get out. His company on the strikeout list, where he currently ranks 11th, is not as Hall-worthy.
All that being said, I’ll conclude my case by paraphrasing a comment I made in the Sandberg/Alomar debate: If you put Yount in, you gotta put Biggio in.
Plain and simple.
We’ll see how it pans out in 2013.