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Nomar in the Hall Still Could be Justified



By Mike Silva ~ March 11th, 2010. Filed under: Hall of Fame, Mike Silva.

Let me preface this by saying I don’t think I would vote for Nomar Garciaparra for the Hall of Fame. I realize that his position, shortstop, changes the dynamic of the vote, but his days at the position pretty much ended in 2004 when he was traded to Chicago.

When we debated the 2010 Hall of Fame inductees I was pretty much adamant about saying no to two other shortstops, Alan Trammell and Barry Larkin, so it would be hypocritical to vote for Nomar and not the other two. Perhaps, but not completely.

Garciaparra achieved numbers very similar to Trammell and Larkin, if not better, in roughly 3,000 less plate appearances. Both only had a couple of seasons where they were elite hitters, regardless of position, but Garciaparra’s six seasons of elite numbers were right up there with anyone in baseball, shortstop or not.

From 1997 to 2000 it would be easy to argue that it was Garciaparra, not A-Rod or Jeter, who was the best shortstop in baseball. The wrist injury in 2001 seemed to be the beginning of the end for Nomar who, by 2004, was a shell of his former self. He did rebound with LA in 06′, but that was as a first baseman where his numbers didn’t nearly match up with the elite.

Dan Szymborski speculated about what Nomar could have been if not for injury over at ESPN. It’s hard to balance longevity versus dominance when it comes to Hall of Fame voting. If you go by pure accumulation of numbers, Garciaparra falls short, even more so than Larkin and Trammell. His position, however, should give him a bump because he dwarfs other Hall members like Phil Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese.

We can debate this five years from now. I don’t believe Nomar Garciaparra will sniff 75% of the vote. Maybe down the line the veterans committee revisits it. Regardless, no one can argue that Garciaparra, Jeter, A-Rod and later on, Tejada, were the best crop of short stops at one time. They redefined a position that historically was all field and no hit. Today you have a new generation, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins and Yunel Escobar who are more well rounded than the short stops of yesterday. If these players are more indicative of the positions future than we might point to the late nineties as when it changed. At one point Garciaparra was the face of that change.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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6 Responses to Nomar in the Hall Still Could be Justified

  1. tony

    Then I have to believe that you would vote in Mattingly. He was a dominate player for most of the 80′s before his back made him a shadow of himself. Now I’m a big Mattingly guy. but I can’t vote him into the hall.There are plenty of players who have had HOF careers cut short due to injury or death; Tony O. and Munson come immediately to mind. As far as Nomar dwarfing the careers of Rizzuto and Reese; I would say that they were the state of the art SS’s in the 50′s and were very well regarded in comparison to SS’s up until the power SS’s like Ripken and Arod came along.

  2. Mike Silva

    Tony

    I agree with many of your points. Both Rizzuto and Reese, according to OPS+, were below league average hitters. Of course, that is in comparison to the entire league, not just SS. But keep that in mind when talking about their offensive prowess.

    Btw – I vote NO for Nomar, but you can make a case for him, just like Mattingly.

  3. birtelcom

    Once you adjust for the fact that Nomar played in more favorable offensive environments than Larkin, and that Larkin had much more value on the basepaths, Barry was just about as valuable an offensive player as Nomar per game, both in career and peak terms, and of course Larkin played five or six more seasons worth of games than Nomar. So Barry was essentially as valuable as Nomar would have been had Nomar played five or six more seasons at his career level. That’s why Larkin is worthy of BBWAA Hall of Fame election, while Nomar is not. Trammell was a step below Larkin and Nomar in offensive value, but substantially more valuable on defense than either of them (with a career length comparable to Larkin and way ahead of Nomar). That brings Trammell close to Larkin in overall value, also well ahead of Nomar.

    Where does this show up in documented performance? Using b-ref’s neutralized runs created (which reflects the stolen base prowess that OPS+ doesn’t, and also better balances OBP and SLG than OPS+), Larkin created 1388 neutral-environment offensive runs in his career, while Nomar created only 961. That gives Nomar a career rate of 6.4 neutral runs created per 27 outs, compared to Larkin’s 6.3. As I said, Larkin was just about as valuable an offensive star as Nomar on a rate basis, and then if you take into account Larkin’s much longer career at that level, Larkin is way ahead in a fair HOF evaluation.

  4. Craig

    Great points about Larkin. Larkin IS a HOFer. He will probably get in next year. Also, keep in mind his MVP, which is always impressive for a MI…he’s the first 30/30 SS as well…and while I don’t think winning a WS should have too much impact on a player’s HOF candidacy, it should at least factor in when a player is already very close, as Larkin is for some people.

  5. birtelcom

    Mike, in connection with debates like this regarding Hall of Fame qualifications, etc. your readers might be interested to know that over at the Mets fan forum The Happy Recap, we are conducting a Hall of Fame voting alternative we call the Circle of Greats (COG). Unlike Baseball Think Factory’s Hall of Merit, the COG is intended to be a small-hall with only the best of the best (probably around 100 to 110 inductees by the time we’re finished).

    We conduct a vote every two weeks or so, and we are just now completing our fourth vote, with many more to come. In the first vote, the eligible players were all players born in 1965 who played at least 10 seasons in the majors. The second vote was all players born in 1964 who met the 10-season minimum, plus those who appeared on enough ballots in the previous round to remain eligible. The third vote added players born in 1963, the fourth vote now finishing up includes players born in 1962, etc.

    Ballots to be valid must include three and only three names. Whichever player appears on the most ballots is inducted into the Circle of Greats. One and only one player is inducted each round. A player who is not inducted but appears on 20% or more of the ballots has his ballot eligibility extended into the next vote. A player who is not inducted but appears on 50% or more of the ballots has his eligibility extended into the next four rounds of voting.

    So far, the first three votes have resulted in the induction of Craig Biggio (born in 1965), Barry Bonds (1964) and Randy Johnson (1963). Kevin Brown, Barry Larkin and Edgar Martinez have all fallen short of induction but have appeared on at least 50% of ballots in at least one round, receiving extended eligibility for future rounds. We are currently just completing the born-in-1962 vote, with Roger Clemens the marquee name on the ballot.

    You can check out the current voting here: http://thehappyrecap.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=11086. If you’d like to participate in the voting yourself, registration at The Happy Recap is easy and free, there are no ads or pop-ups – and it’s a particular friendly Mets fan forum that is also a congenial setting to talk baseball (and, if you like, other stuff) generally. There are both saber-savvy folks and others who just enjoy the game, and we all get along pretty well.

  6. Mike Silva

    Birtel I am a member of THR, actually go on their radio show quite frequenly. I am going to take a read and actually write about it. I am learning more and more how the HOF voting really varies to such a large degree. The process is honestly probably broke to begin with.

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