Jim Edmonds rates among an elite class of outfielders who fielded with consistent excellence and hit with astonishing power.
Whether that combination is enough to earn Edmonds election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in 2016 is uncertain, but he at least should be given thoughtful consideration.
Edmonds, who played center field for the Cardinals from 2000-2007, won eight Gold Glove awards and had a career slugging percentage of .527 in 17 big-league seasons.
Only one outfielder in the Hall of Fame, Willie Mays, has more Gold Gloves (12) and a higher career slugging percentage (.557) than Edmonds.
The only other Hall of Fame outfielders with more Gold Gloves than Edmonds are Roberto Clemente (12) and Al Kaline (10), but both have lower career slugging percentages than Edmonds. Kaline had a .480 slugging percentage and Clemente was at .425, more than 100 points lower than Edmonds’ total.
Bases add up
Slugging percentage defines a batter who hits for power. It is calculated as total bases divided by at-bats.
Edmonds had 3,615 total bases in 6,858 at-bats.
His slugging percentage in eight seasons with the Cardinals was .555, almost 30 points higher than his career percentage. Edmonds had 2,012 total bases in 3,628 at-bats with the Cardinals.
Many Hall of Famers with reputations as power hitters have career slugging percentages lower than Edmonds’ career mark of .527.
Among the most prominent: Willie McCovey (.515), Eddie Mathews (.509), Harmon Killebrew (.509), Joe Medwick (.505), Jim Rice (.502), Ernie Banks (.500), Orlando Cepeda (.499), Reggie Jackson (.490), Andre Dawson (.482), Eddie Murray (.476), Johnny Bench (.476) and Dave Winfield (.475).
Edmonds has the same career slugging percentage as Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.
Matched with Griffey
Of his eight Gold Gloves, Edmonds won six in a row with the Cardinals from 2000-2005.
The Gold Glove Award first was presented in 1957, so many Hall of Fame outfielders never had a chance to earn one. Still, Edmonds’ total is outstanding and a testament to his talent.
Another center fielder who will join Edmonds in being eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2016 is Ken Griffey Jr.
When Griffey is elected _ and he’s a lock to get the necessary 75 percent of the votes from members of the Baseball Writers Association of America _ he will join Mays as Hall of Famers with more Gold Gloves and a higher career slugging percentage than Edmonds. Griffey, who played primarily with the Mariners, won 10 Gold Gloves and had a .538 slugging percentage (only 11 points better than Edmonds) in a 22-year career in the major leagues.
Whether Griffey’s presence on the ballot will overshadow Edmonds, or enhance his status by highlighting his comparable numbers, will be one of the intriguing aspects of that year’s Hall of Fame voting.
Edmonds likely will be hampered by a .284 career batting average and by falling short of 2,000 hits. He had 1,949 career hits, with 437 doubles, 393 home runs and 1,199 RBI.