Mark Simon of ESPN New York argues the case for voting former Mets Keith Hernandez and John Olerud into the Hall of Fame.
My vote is based partly on the eye test (which also allows me to vote for Jack Morris and Dale Murphy) and partly on the stat test (why I’ve also checked off Bert Blyleven and Tim Raines). I’ll admit to being biased. Hernandez and Olerud are my father’s two favorite Mets, so I’ve been subject to many lengthy discussions in which their virtues were extolled. I vote for both rather than just one because the two are baseball’s version of identical twins. Thus, if I think one is worthy, the other is as well.
He presents the evidence in their similarities:
Hernandez hit .296 in 17 major league seasons.
Olerud hit .295 in 17 major league seasons.
Hernandez walked a lot (11.2 percent of the time)
Olerud walked a lot (12.6 percent of the time)
Hernandez finished his career with a 128 OPS+
Olerud finished his career with a 128 OPS+
(both had an OPS 28 percent better than league average)
Hernandez age 24 to 33 :.305 BA, 134 OPS+
Olerud age 24 to 33: .307 BA, 136 OPS+
Hernandez rates first among first basemen in Total Zone Runs.
Olerud ranks third among first basemen in Total Zone Runs.
(Total Zone Runs is a defensive measure that ranks players with 500 or more games played at each position.)
In clutch situations, that is to say at-bats that could impact the game such as a tied or one-run game with men on base in the mid-to-late-innings, both first basemen score high especially during their Mets years as their Leverage Index would indicate.
Hernandez reached base 40.1 percent of the time for his career in such plate appearances, including on-base percentages of .422, .486, and .445 from 1984 to 1986, three pretty significant years in Mets history.
Olerud reached base 40.7 percent of the time and had an on-base percentage of .395 or better in all three of his season with the Mets (all of which were playoff-contending teams).
Simon writes that both of those rate as exceptional marks in the context of their eras (Hernandez slightly more-so, because most of his career came outside the steroid era and his primary ballparks favored pitchers).
Mark Simon is a heck of a researcher for ESPN and an avid Mets fan who digs up some of the most informative and telling statistics after any Mets related news hits the wire.
I happened to enjoy his piece today and while I’m not 100% sure he convinced me regarding the Hall of Fame candidacy of either Hernandez or Olerud, he did prove how similar these two players were and at the very least how each are certainly borderline candidates.
I think that eventually Keith Hernandez will get in because of the 11 Gold Gloves and his MVP, but he will still have a long wait ahead of him.