Friday, January 23, 2009

Keith Hernandez: Hall Of Famer?

Kostya Kennedy - Sports Illustrated has a very interesting perspective of Keith Hernandez should be a no brainer for the National Baseball Hall Of Fame.

I was a fan of ‘Mex’ when he was in with the Cardinals. I remember waking up on June 16, 1983, and learned that the night before, Mets GM Frank Cashen had traded Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey to St. Louis for Keith Hernandez. I was ecstatic. I knew Hernandez was the best 1B I had ever seen, was Co-MVP in 1979, and was a solid hitter. What I didn’t realize was what an indescribable leader he was for the young and up-coming Met stars. People always gave Carter a lot of the credit, but the Mets might have won without Carter, not necessarily with Mike Fitzgerald calling the pitches, but with a solid catcher. The Mets wouldn’t have had a sniff without Hernandez. Carter was the missing piece Hernandez was the puzzle itself.

Kennedy goes on to give some interesting stats; some of which I knew, others, which I wasn’t aware of.

Kennedy compares Hernandez’s stats to those of Hall Of Famer
Tony Gwynn. Gwynn had 135 lifetime home runs, Hernandez had 162. Both RF and 1B are considered ‘Power’ positions.

Hernandez had an On Base Percentage (OBP) of 38.4 for his career. Gwynn’s lifetime OBP is 38.8.

Gwynn hit 90 RBI or better twice in his career – Hernandez did it six times, and over 100 RBI once.

Hernandez’ OPS (On Base Plus Slugging) for his career was .820, which was higher than
Tony Perez’s career OPS of .804

While Major League Baseball kept the stat of Game Winning RBI (1980 – 1988), no one had more that ‘Mex’ – 129.

Which leads Kennedy, and me, to the most important two things:

Keith Hernandez was the greatest defensive 1B to ever step on the field, and his 11 Gold Glove awards is a testament to that
Hernandez was a true leader. A kind a leader you see once in a generation. Similar to what Mark Messier was to the Rangers. What made this evident was how Darryl Strawberry waxed poetic about Hernandez during that wonderful event hosted by Gary Cohen at the 92nd Street Y.

Will Keith ever make it to the Hall? I, being a huge fan of his for more than 30 years, have always thought he was ‘borderline’. After reading Kennedy’s article, which I strongly urge, I believe Keith does belong. Unfortunately, the Hall’s voters are more into
Sabermetrics, and not really understanding what the player meant on the field. I believe this is why Gil Hodges has been so disrespected by the Hall, and the player like Bill Mazeroski and Don Sutton are in the Hall.

Hernandez won’t have a chance to gain enshrinement, so it will be up to the Veterans Committee to vote him in.

P.S. Fred, Jeff – enough already, retire #17!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree that eh should be a HOFer and his number should be retired by the Mets. He lead by example on the field and announcers today still compare todays 1st basemen to him when it comes to defense. If Ozzie Smith was a dominant shortstop of his time how can you not agree that Mex was a dominant first basemen?