Hoffman: Andruw Jones and Hall of Fame defensive credentials

From Benjamin Hoffman at the New York Times on January 10, 2018, with mention of SABR member John Dewan:

If Omar Vizquel had hit 400 home runs, no one would be debating his Hall of Fame credentials. Marrying that offensive figure with his stellar defensive reputation would have rubber-stamped his induction this year, his first on the ballot.

But for all of the acclaim Vizquel earned for his play at shortstop over a 24-year career — including 11 Gold Glove Awards — advanced statistics say he never had a season as baseball’s top defensive player. He came close, finishing second in the majors in defensive wins above replacement in 1993, but never reached the top.

There is, however, another first-time Hall of Fame candidate who had an extended run as one of the game’s top defenders, including at least one season as baseball’s best over all. He is Andruw Jones, who at his peak, as a center fielder for the Atlanta Braves, delivered some of the most impressive defensive seasons of any player in history while, almost as an aside, clubbing 434 career home runs.

In other sports, it would be unthinkable to overlook a player so respected for defensive excellence. Deion Sanders became a first-ballot Hall of Famer in pro football. Dennis Rodman sailed into the Basketball Hall of Fame with a hearty endorsement from Michael Jordan. But despite having at least as many qualifications as Vizquel — and many other Hall of Fame candidates this year — Jones is getting very little support in his first year of eligibility, according to Ryan Thibodaux’s tracking of Hall of Fame balloting.

Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/10/sports/baseball/andruw-jones-hall-of-fame.html

Originally published: January 10, 2018. Last Updated: January 10, 2018.