The April project for United Cardinal Bloggers is to pick your two candidates for the Cardinals’ HOF and explain your choices. From the first moment I saw the list of candidates, I knew who my two choices were going to be. I am going to surprise people I imagine, because from the outset I knew I was not going to choose fan favorite Willie McGee. I love Willie, make no mistake about that. He was my David Freese of the 1982 World Series. But while I would have voted for Willie eventually, because he deserves to be in, I could not pick him over the two players that I believe were better players and deserve to be in the first selection year. My two choices and my rationale for my choice, follow.
1. Ted Simmons
I am an Older American, and therefore had the chance to see Ted Simmons play during his best years. During my late high school and early college life, 1977-1980 to be exact, I watched Ted Simmons give the best performances of his career (he was no slouch before that either) . During those 4 seasons, Simmons hit 90 HRs, drove in 360 runs, and OPS’ed .908, .889, .876, and .880 respectively. Simmons was a better defensive catcher than he often got credit for. He never rose to the Yadier Molina level but he had a decent arm, catching base stealers at a career rate of 34%. That isn’t terrible, by today’s standards that is higher than league average. Sadly, Simmons was traded to the Brewers after the 1980 season and his career went into a decline after that. This was probably more normal age related decline than anything to do with the trade, as Simmons was in his age 32 season when he started with the Brewers.
There are many people who believe Simmons belongs in Cooperstown, including me. His numbers were borderline, and the baseball writers obviously believed they didn’t measure up. Simmons fell off the ballot in his first year of eligibility, garnering only 3.7% of the vote. Catchers have traditionally fared poorly with HOF voters. Many think despite his impressive offensive numbers (He is second in hits all time for catchers, behind Pudge Rodriguez) his non-elite defensive numbers ruined his chances. This has always seem short sighted to me, because he was not a bad defensive catcher. Perhaps the Veterans Committee will right this wrong someday, as they have for 5 other catchers now enshrined in the Hall.
Despite the snubbing from Cooperstown, Simmons belongs in the Cardinals HOF. The best years of his career were wearing the Birds on the Bat. Unfortunately, many fans today never saw Simmons play and do not understand what a superior player he was. It is unfortunate in my opinion that popularity will most likely prevail over actual baseball performance, but there it is.
2. Jim Edmonds
Boy, do I love good defense. I love good offense as well, and Jim Edmonds provided both in spades. During his prime years with the Cardinals, 2000-2005, Edmonds provided power from the left side and gold glove defense in center field. Six gold gloves with the Cardinals, as well as one Silver Slugger award, 3 All Star appearances and one World Championship are Edmonds’ contributions during his Cardinal years. His offensive numbers during those years were gaudy; 210 HRs, 490 RBIs, OPS’es of .994, .974, .981, 1.002, 1.061 and .918. On the defensive side, his average UZR for the years 2002-2005 (2000 and 2001 numbers not available), was 7.325, and he had 12 Defensive Runs Saved.
Edmonds was a fan favorite, and for good reason. The man just dazzled. In his last two seasons with the Cardinals, health issues, and a public tiff with manager Tony La Russa led to Edmonds being traded in 2007 to the San Diego Padres in exchange for David Freese. Edmonds’ career never revived, but in 2011 Edmonds mended fences with La Russa and officially retired from baseball as a Cardinal. Edmonds now periodically does pre and post game shows for the Cardinals on Fox Sports Midwest and remains a part of the St. Louis community.
Edmonds was a top tier center fielder. He was a better player than his earlier counterpart, Willie McGee, which is why I cannot choose Willie over Edmonds. Edmonds is a MLB HOF candidate, McGee is not.
Those are my two picks for the Cardinals HOF. Sadly, I don’t think Simmons has a chance this year, despite his superior talents over other candidates. Hopefully he will get in in a future year.
Thank you for reading.