Keith Hernandez

Keith Hernandez……Has his career been given it’s
proper place in Baseball History ?

When a major league ballplayer’s career (10 to 12 years or more or, as in this web-site, 5,000 or more at bats) comes to an end, the inevitable question comes up… Was it a Hall of Fame career? Many baseball people (players, coaches, managers, sports writers, radio talk show hosts and educated fans) feel the player falls into two categories: he either IS a Hall of Famer or he is NOT a Hall of Famer. At www.baseballsgreatesthitters.com we feel strongly about a third category “The Border-line Player.” Examining the history of the Hall of Fame, we feel there have been a number of players who have fallen in this category. Some of these great players slip in to the Hall of Fame, while others fall short.

We would like to take a close look at the career of Keith Hernandez, who we feel should be considered one of those “Border-line Players.” Even though our web-site deals strictly with the rating of great hitters, it is no secret that Keith Hernandez is considered by most
baseball people to be the greatest defensive first baseman in the history of baseball. As we examine his career more closely, the fact that the highest Hall of Fame vote total he ever received was 10.8% in 1998 is an “insult” to a great career, since he is notably the best defensive first baseman in 100 years. Many baseball people feel that his home run numbers do not measure up with other great hitting Hall of Fame first basemen.

Let’s examine the careers of four of the top players of era 6, Keith Hernandez, Don Mattingly, Ryne Sandberg and Kirby Puckett.We do realize the offensive expectations vary at different positions. We are not trying to determine which of the four players should be hall of famers or who should not, but after analyzing their careers, we feel that the 10.8% support Keith Hernandez did receive does not represent his career accomplishments. We do realize his home run numbers are a bit low for a first baseman while the power numbers for Ryne Sandberg are high for second baseman, but how do the power numbers and run production of Kirby Puckett measure up to the power numbers of Mantle, Mays, DiMaggio, Snider and other Hall of Fame centerfielders as well as other home run hitting outfielders ?

Keith Hernandez –  3.582 rating #5 era 6 first baseman #20 hitter of his era #189 all-time
Ryne Sandberg –     3.596 rating #2 era 6 second baseman #19 hitter of his era #179 all-time
Kirby Puckett –       3.632 rating #8 era 6 outfielder #17 hitter of his era #163 all-time
Don Mattingly –      3.657 rating #3 era 6 first baseman #13 hitter of his era #150 all-time.

Keith Hernandez Kirby Puckett Ryne Sandberg Don Mattingly
At Bats 7,370 7,244 8,385 7,003
Runs 1,124 1,071 1,318 1,007
Hits 2,182 2,304 2,386 2,153
Doubles 426 414 403 442
Triples 60 57 76 20
Home Runs 162 207 282 222
R.B.I.’s 1,071 1,085 1,061 1,099
Stolen Bases 98 134 344 14
Walks 1,070 450 761 588
Strike Outs 1,012 965 1,260 444
Batting Ave. .296 .318 .285 .307
On Base % .384 .360 .344 .358
Slugging % .436 .477 .452 .471
M.V.P.’s 1 0 1 1
Gold Gloves 11 6 9 9
Hall of Fame Votes 1996 – 5.1% 2001 – 82.1% 2003 – 49.2% 2001 – 28.2%
1997 – 9.5% First Ballot 2004 – 61.1% 2002 – 20.3%
1998 – 10.8% 2005 – 76.2% 2003 – 13.7%
1999 – 6.8% 2004 – 12.8%
2000 – 10.4% 2005 – 11.4%
2001 – 8.0% 2006 – 12.3%
2002 – 6.1% 2007 – 9.9%
2003 – 6.0% 2008 – 15.8%
2004 – 4.3% 2009 – 11.9%
2010 – 16.1%

The players listed below are perhaps the greatest defensive players at there positions. Both Brooks Robinson and Ozzie Smith are both first ballot hall of famers, after carefully examining their career statistics, it is quite obvious it was there dominant defensive skills that gave them entry into the hall of fame.

When we look back at the career of Keith Hernandez, his defensive dominance of first base is comparable to that of Brooks Robinson at third base as well as Ozzie Smith as short-stop.

As an offensive player, according our rating system, he is a well above average hitter. When evaluating the careers of these three great players, of which two are first ballot hall of famers, does a 10.8% hall of fame vote properly sum up the career accomplishments of Keith Hernandez ?

KEITH HERNANDEZ – Greatest defensive First Baseman
BROOKS ROBINSON – Greatest defensive Third Baseman
OZZIE SMITH –             Greatest defensive Short- Stop
KEITH HERNANDEZ – 3.582 Rating #5 ERA 6 First baseman #20 Hitter of his era #196 all-time
BROOKS ROBINSON – 3.585 Rating #3 ERA 4 Third baseman #27 Hitter of his era #195 all-time
OZZIE SMITH –             3.337 Rating #3 ERA 6 Short-Stop #43 Hitter of his era #317 all-time

Keith Hernandez Brooks Robinson Ozzie Smith
At Bats 7,370 10,654 9,396
Runs 1,124 1,232 1,257
Hits 2,182 2,848 2,460
Doubles 426 482 402
Triples 60 68 69
Home Runs 162 268 28
R.B.I.’s 1,071 1,357 793
Stolen Bases 98 28 580
Walks 1,070 860 1,072
Strike Outs 1,012 990 589
Batting Ave. .296 .267 .262
On Base % .384 .322 .337
Slugging % .436 .401 .328
M.V.P.’s 1 1 0
Gold Gloves 11 16 13
Hall of Fame Votes 1996 – 5.1% 1983 – 92% 2002 – 91.7%
1997 – 9.5% First Ballot First Ballot
1998 – 10.8%
1999 – 6.8%
2000 – 10.4%
2001 – 8.0%
2002 – 6.1%
2003 – 6.0%
2004 – 4.3%
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Content copyright 2017. Joe Angelini. All rights reserved.

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