With the release of the first ballot that cost Edgar a spot (and gave it to JASON FREAKING VARITEK), I found myself dangerously close to becoming Mad Online yesterday. For my own edification—and also for ammunition for you in any arguments in which you may find yourself—I thought I’d break down where Edgar stands relative to the other Hall of Fame candidates in several categories, using Baseball Reference’s handy chart.
Let’s start with the counting stats, since that’s where Edgar, with his injury- and front office ineptitude-shortened career, usually suffers the most.
No real surprise here, although it’s interesting to note that Edgar only comes in about 60 hits behind Jeff Bagwell, who will most likely get in this year. That still puts him in the middle of the pack, but that’s not a number HOF voters want to see out of a DH.
Again, counting stats won’t like Edgar, unless it’s counting walks. This is where counting stats punish hitters who play on weak teams: all a pitcher had to do was pitch around the one dangerous batter. It is interesting to note, however, that Edgar’s 309 puts him just behind Ivan Rodriguez, whose stay on the ballot will certainly be significantly shorter than Edgar’s.
Edgar moves up here, but RBIs are stupid anyway.
Finally, a counting stat that likes Edgar. It doesn’t just like Edgar, though; the top seven hitters in this category are elite walkers (Bonds, Sheffield, Bagwell, Raines, Ramirez, McGriff). After Edgar’s 1283 career walks, the next closest is Jorge Posada, with 936. That’s a difference of almost 350! There is no sharper dropoff until you get to the pitchers. And that’s what helps explains Edgar’s dominance in the rate stats:
Batting Average: 3rd (tie)
Vlad, Larry Walker, and Edgar and Ramirez are tied. Bonds is 6th. People forget this: Edgar had a higher career batting average than Barry Bonds. Bonds is totally deserving of the Hall (PEDs aside, he was a flat-out dominant hitter), but Edgar deserves to be in his company. Ramirez and Magglio Ordonez are the other two hitters in the .300 club.
On-Base Percentage: 2nd
Bonds, then Edgar. Ramirez, Bagwell, and Walker are the other guys in the .400 club.
Never a huge home run hitter and not quick enough to hit triples, Edgar’s ability to hit doubles is what keeps him in the top-ten in this category. He trails Bonds and his preposterous .607 SLG, and then Ramirez, Walker, Vlad, Bagwell, and Sosa. However, if you’re a Hall purist and believe the PED guys aren’t worthy of inclusion, period, Edgar is actually 3rd or 4th. (FYI: I am not a Hall purist in the case of Bonds or Clemens, but Ramirez—who openly flaunted the rules after they were put in place—is, to me, a different story. So too is Sosa, whose numbers are borderline enough that they make me question how much of that is PED-aided.)
OPS (On-base plus slugging): 5th
Finally, a category where Edgar beats Vlad. Guerrero will almost assuredly get into the Hall this year, but he really wasn’t very good at taking a walk. Really, though, only a couple of points separate the two; Bonds, Ramirez and Walker are all well over .950, and Bagwell just beneath that. Edgar and Vlad are in the next tier down, in the .930s, and then there’s everyone else. If you switch to OPS+, Edgar edges ahead of Walker, at 149 to 147.
Edgar falls back a little when you mix in the pitchers and account for defense, but he’s still top-ten in this class. They are, in order: Bonds, Clemens, Mussina, Schilling, Bagwell, Walker, Ramirez, Raines, Rodriguez and Edgar. This is another case where there’s a pretty clear cliff after the top-ten, so it’s not exactly like Edgar is a borderline case: the next closest to him is Sheffield, exactly 8 points behind Edgar at 60.3. Edgar is closer to number 9, Pudge Rodriguez, trailing him by just one-tenth of a point. (Also? Bonds and Clemens are in a crazy class of their own; the next closest to them is 60 points behind. PUT THEM IN ALREADY AND FREE UP THE SPACE, VOTERS.)
I used Baseball-Reference for this; I’d be interested to see what the numbers are using different criteria. Take these, and use them to wallop whatever intransigent people you come across.