The topic came up today in a comment made to a WasWatching.com entry regarding Bernie Williams chances for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Let us look at the numbers a bit. If you just look at OFers, and hitting, the best match (to date) for Bernie Williams (in my opinion) is Indian Bob Johnson. Note the stats for each (with the numbers for Williams through 2004):
Now, this is interesting – because there are many that feel Bob Johnson should be in the HOF and his omission all these years is a VC oversight. But, the issue for me here is that Johnson was a LF whereas Bernie was a CF. So, what CFers from baseball history best line up with Bernie to date as a hitter? See the following – which, again, is in my opinion:
This is interesting as well – because both Roush and Ashburn are in the HOF and Bernie was a better batter than they were, in terms of relative career batting results (through 2004 for Williams). But, both Rousch and Ashburn were excellent fielding CFers – whereas Bernie, on the whole, was not in their class.
On the other hand, compare Bernie to another recent CF that was granted HOF entry:
The Plate Appearance totals are about the same and clearly Bernie was a more effective batter, career-wise, than Puckett. But, Kirby also was reportedly a good fielding CF – albeit not in the Ashburn-class.
In any event, in terms of CFers with the bat, there’s something to be said for making a claim for Bernie Williams being in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Is he a Mantle, Speaker, Mays or DiMaggio? No. But, Bernie is clearly at the top of the next level.
So, will Bernie Williams be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame? The answer here is: Probably not. Any time that you need to think about whether or not a guy deserves to be in, and then have look at the numbers to see where he stacks up, that usually means the voters will not put him on their ballot.
The only thing that might change this is if the media really starts pounding the comparisons of Bernie to other centerfielders who are in/not in the Hall and the facts become very obvious by the time he’s on the ballot.
What are the odds of that?