It is Friday and we here at Lookout Landing are having ourselves a dinger party:
So in examining Edgar’s case for the Hall, I have unfortunately had to expose myself to the viewpoints of those ding-a-lings who think Edgar does not belong in the Hall, and their favorite thing to trot out is home runs. He simply doesn’t have the home runs, they wail—anathema for a DH. Here’s an example from 2013 of Jim Duquette, himself a member of the “shiniest pate” Hall of Fame, saying he doesn’t think Edgar has HOF numbers:
Listen to Jim refer to the “sabermetric crowd” like they’re members of a dangerous counterculture all hopped up on WAR and OBP, dangerous fugitives from wholesome American numbers like home runs. After all, Edgar only had 309 home runs! That would only be good for...42nd on the list? Oh, well then there must be just a few guys after that
...It turns out there are another 200 gentlemen on this list who did not achieve 300 home runs. Now, a lot of those are pitchers. And some of them are players like Nap Lajoie, pesky on-base machines who also brought stellar defense. But 309 home runs are still well above the average batting HOFer, and more than Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Kirby Puckett, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente. Some of those men played the field well, deep into their careers; some of those men are Kirby Puckett.
All this teeth-gnashing about Edgar not hitting home runs obscures the fact that he still hit a ton of them, when he wasn’t busy hitting doubles or forcing pitchers to walk him. Did Edgar hit as many home runs as teammate Ken Griffey Jr.? Not even close, but then again, no one else did, either; Griffey ranks 4th among all HOFers. Frank Thomas, who people love to compare Edgar to when saying “some DHs can make the Hall” as a way to prepare a soft landing for Ortíz, ranks 12th. Where Edgar trounces the competition, as you know, is in that triple-slash line: his .312/.418/.515 puts him 57th overall, 15th overall, and 29th overall. What’s amazing is when you refresh to sort the leaders for each of those stats, most of the names change except for a select few: Matt Snyder has the list of the .300/.400/.500 club here, and it’s pretty exclusive company.
Edgar hit home runs, sure, but his focus was always to get on base: extend the inning, make the pitcher work, don’t risk a strikeout. If he saw a pitch he could drive, he would do so, but he never angled for the glory of the home run. That’s why I love this series of home runs, from a game played on September 21, 1996 against Oakland. The Mariners already had given Jamie Moyer a lead back in the second, when Edgar singled and Buhner hit a two-run shot, but in the third the Mariners came back to snatch what was left of Dave Telgheder’s soul, going back-to-back-to-back with solo home runs. Each of the home runs is different, and beautiful in its own way:
What a perfect summation of those mid-90s Mariner teams and all the ways they could beat you. Rodriguez to left, Griffey to center, Edgar to right. Griffey’s is a center shot that just clears the wall. Rodriguez sends his deep, but it’s a pull home run. Edgar’s, however, is an opposite-field shot, clear above the scoreboard in right field. He has no runners to concern him with, no deficit to make up or narrow lead to protect. He was free to challenge himself to match the performance of his teammates, those eventual first ballot Hall of Famers. In this, as in so many other things, he proved he is worthy to be in their company.