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The Omar Vizquel Hall of Fame train is already chugging

Nov 18, 2013, 2:07 PM EDT

The guy isn’t even eligible yet, but people are already digging in on the next Hall of Fame war:

No reason to mention that in the context of his hiring as the Tigers first base coach, of course. Just some early scouting before the troops actually get to the battlefield. The pro-Vizquel crowd doesn’t want to be caught snoozing like they were with Jack Morris. Gotta come out of the gates strong to head off the Internet hordes.

My guess is that Vizquel, by virtue of his longevity and defensive excellence — and because he was nice and there’s a lot of “he’s our generation’s Luis Aparicio” stuff — will get into the Hall of Fame eventually. It won’t be the best induction ever. But in keeping with what I said about Jack Morris last week, it’s probably a battle best not fought too furiously.

  1. Mark Armour - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    The battle will be fought though, with anger and insults, when the time comes. In fact, I suspect it will be fought today by some of your peers. Hope I am wrong!

  2. NYTolstoy - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    what’s wrong with Omar? now I’m with most guys who laugh at the Jack morris supporters but what is wrong with Omar? I honestly thought he was a hall of famer, I don’t think it’s fair that a clear hall of famer is 3000 hits or 300 wins. it should have a lot more variables, so people let me know why and why not. Then insult me for not knowing and being an idiotic fan boy or such and such.

  3. cohnjusack - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Vizquel gets a lot of comparisons to Ozzie Smith…god knows how often I hear “Vizquel was just as good as Smith! And a better hitter too!” (okay, I’ve heard someone say this like twice). I’d like to pre-empt those arguments now.

    Both of those are wrong.

    On defense:
    Vizquel: 28.4 dWAR, 7676 assists,
    Smith: 43.4 dWAR, 8375 assists (in 200 fewer games at short)

    That doesn’t seem terribly close to me.

    On offense:
    Vizquel does as a slightly higher OPS…. in a much better offensive era

    Vizquel: .688 OPS, 82 OPS+, 207 DPs, 404 SB, 32.3 oWAR
    Smith: .666 OPS, 87 OPS+, 167 DPs, 580 SB, 47.9 oWAR

    That being said, while I wouldn’t put Vizquel in the hall, I wouldn’t throw a snit about him getting in. Great fielder, okay hitter at a positon where being an okay hitter is plenty acceptable. Let’s just not start the arguments with “He was just as good as Ozzie!”

    • bravojawja - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      okay hitter at a positon where being an okay hitter is plenty acceptable

      Except that wasn’t necessarily true during Vizquel’s prime. If the HOF is about “best of his era,” you’re comparing him to Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, and Miguel Tejada. Vizquel was never in the same conversation as those guys.

      While Nomar and Tejada fell off the map and aren’t Hall-worthy, Vizquel doesn’t really fare well against A-Rod and Jeter, either. Not with the bat, anyway.

      • cohnjusack - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:38 PM

        I stand by my ringing endorsement of “okay hitter”.

        From 1996-2002, which can probably be described as his “prime”, Vizquel’s wOBA actually ranks 9th out of 35 among shortstops with at least 2000 PAs. Yes, the people at the top were downright silly, but it’s not as though Vizquel was Mario Mendoza or something.

      • bravojawja - Nov 18, 2013 at 4:16 PM

        I’m not saying your overall point is wrong; if anything, I’m agreeing with you. And still agreeing with you when saying 9th out of 35 ain’t exactly Hall-worthy, either. Being an “okay hitter” doesn’t get you into the Hall, or shouldn’t anyway, especially in such an offensively offensive-minded era.

  4. raysfan1 - Nov 18, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    Longevity certainly is a consideration, and playing for as long as he did at a premium defensive position will rightfully earn him a lot of love. However, just based on WAR, we really should be haing this discussion now in that he should have retired 5-6 years ago and thus be HoF eligible now.

    I’m kind of on this dance about him. Right now I think there are over 10 others that are more HoF worthy; so if he were HoF eligible this year (and if I actually, you know, had a vote) he would not be on my ballot. However, the list will start getting shorter later in the decade for first year eligibles. 2018 has him, Chipper Jones, and Jim Thome. The only sure-fire guy in 2019 is Mo Rivera. That could be good news for Vizquel if enough of the holdovers on the list either get inducted or fall off the list by the time his name comes up.

    • raysfan1 - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      Just for fun, more fun than actually working anyway, I decided to do a little guesswork as to what the ballot might look like in 2018, besides Jones, Thome, and Vizquel. For this next class, there are 17 holdovers plus a strong first year contingent including Glavine, Maddux, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent, Mussina. Of the holdovers, 4 will be out of eligibility by 2018 and thus off the ballot (Morris this year, Mattingly–last chance 2015, Alan Trammel–last chance 2016, Lee Smith–last chance 2017). 4 others received over 50% of the vote and thus, historically speaking, have a good shot at getting in during the next five years: Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza, and Raines. 2 more received less than 15% of the vote and thus likely will fall off the ballot in the next 5 years: Sammy Sosa and Palmeiro. I think Glavine, Thomas, and Maddux are in by 2018. Leaving the following holdovers still on the ballot in 2018: Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, McGriff, Mussina, and Kent. (I’m not saying none of these guys get in, just guessing they’re still waiting in 5 yearis without some major movement up the ballot.)

      In 2015, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Smoltz, and Garciaparra are added to the ballot. I assume Johnson and Martinez are in. I assume Smoltz will be in but that it will take a few years. I think Garciaparra will still be on the ballot in 2018 and never elected. (I think some of the others getting to the ballot for the first time 2014-2017 will also be on the ballot still in 2018 and likewise never get elected. I listed Garciaparra because he was a shortstop.)

      In 2016, Griffey is the no-brainer immediate election. Jim Edmonds, Troy Glaus, Trevor Hoffman, and Billy Wagner at minimum all likely still on the ballot two years later.

      In 2017 there’s a good chance no new candidates get selected (and thus a chance some holdovers make it in). Vlad Guerrero, Posada, Manny Ramirez, Renteria and Pudge Rodriguez will all at least make the cut to still be on the ballot the next year though.

      So, in my completely nonscientific framework, the 2018 ballot could include: Schilling, Bonds, Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, McGriff, McGwire, Jeff Kent, Mussina, Garciaparra, Smoltz, Edmonds, Glaus, Hoffman, Wagner, Vlad Guerrero, Posada, Manny Ramirez, Renteria, Pudge Rodriguez, Vizquel, Chipper Jones, and Thome.
      I think the PED vendetta will continue (so it’s possible some others could still be on the ballot due to innuendo). As a result, Vizquel might be stuck at #9 or 10 among the eligibles until the PED-associated players eventually fall off the list.

  5. rbj1 - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    If Rabbit Maranville is in, hard to see why not Omar.

    • 18thstreet - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      If Rabbit Maranville is in, hard to see why not every shortstop who played 10 years, ever.

      • largebill - Nov 18, 2013 at 4:03 PM

        C’mon, Maranville, while not a great HoF selection, is not the equivalent of “every shortstop who ever played 10 years, ever.” He played in the major leagues for 23 seasons and wasn’t shifted from SS to 2B until 40 years old. Deservedly or not, he received MVP votes in 8 of those seasons. When he was elected to the Hall of Fame in the early 50’s voters did not have access to all the stats we pour over today. First edition of the Baseball Encyclopedia was more than a decade away. At that point 2,600 hits was impressive especially considering not much was expected from shortstops back then. He is 77th all time in hits now, but was around 25th when he retired.

      • yahmule - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:22 PM

        Nice job of providing context, largebill.

    • cohnjusack - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:43 PM

      Worst HOF argument ever.

      Here are some other fun ones.

      –If George Kelly is in, it’s hard to see why not Ray Lankford.
      –If Fred Lindstrom is in, it’s hard to see why not Bill Doran.
      –If Rube Marquard is in, it’s hard to see why not Freddy Garcia

      There are a lot of players in the Hall who have no business being there. Let’s accept they were bad choices and not further degrade the hall by setting them as the baseline.

  6. joestemme - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Again, this begs the question – if the “Omar Vizquel Hall of Fame train is already chugging” based almost exclusively on defense — why not Dwight Evans?

    Evans was just as good an outfielder as Vizquel, and a far better offensive player.

    • largebill - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:41 PM

      “Evans was just as good an outfielder as Vizquel, and a far better offensive player.”

      That sentence would make sense if Vizquel played outfield. Two games as an outfielder out of 2,900 hardly qualifies.

      I do believe Evans deserved far better treatment from the Hall of Fame voters, but the BBWAA failing to elect him 15 years ago has less than nothing to do with Vizquel. There are times when it is appropriate to compare players and to critique who the voters vote for and who they ignore. Blyleven & Morris for example were fairly contemporaneous starting pitchers. So, it was notable when a voter (Heyman and others) supported Morris and not Blyleven since Blyleven has a much stronger HoF resume.

      • joestemme - Nov 18, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        I understand. But, I am comparing Defense to Defense, not SS vs. RF.

        I don’t understand why there is a special “Shortstop exception” to a player so that they get in only on defense, whereas the acclaimed best at his position during his era (if not in the running for All-Time) gets little or no love.

        And, if you compare Evans to other outfielder’s during his non-roid era, he isn’t bad there either. It still makes no sense to me why a SS can get in, but, an ALL-AROUND terrific player like Evans “can’t” because he didn’t hit 500 home runs and hit .300, but some caveman who couldn’t catch, run or throw does.

      • largebill - Nov 18, 2013 at 4:55 PM

        Joe,

        No one is arguing against Evans. Just saying the voters not finding his case compelling has no bearing on Vizquel or other dissimilar players. I will agree with you that defense is undervalued. It is easier for an MVP voter or a HoF voter to quantify and understand offensive contributions. Defense is not always as easily understood and the traditional stats can be misleading. Some outfielders don’t rack up a lot of OF assists because their arm is so respected very few players attempt to take the extra base. Regardless, Evans’ Hall of Fame chances rests with the Veterans Committee now and there is no telling what they may do.

  7. weaselpuppy - Nov 18, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    Well, if Barry Larkin is 99% similar to Alan Trammell and Larkin is a 3rd ballot HOF, then Trammell surely got in by his fourth ballotohwaitaminute…

    Well at least Lou Whitaker didn’t get royally jobbed….

  8. sdelmonte - Nov 18, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    You guys have got to fix the “You Might Like” programming. Apparently, the Mets aren’t negotiating with Jose Reyes.

    • genericcommenter - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:19 PM

      The Yankees and Red Sox are in hot pursuit of Pujols.

      • yahmule - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:23 PM

        And the Marlins think he’s old.

  9. hbdbrowns33 - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    What everyone seems to be forgetting is that Vizquel has 11 Gold Gloves and he got 9 in a row. There are like 5 or 6 guys in MLB history to get that many Gold Gloves in a row. He may not get in the first few ballots but Omar is a Hall of Famer.

    • raysfan1 - Nov 19, 2013 at 9:09 AM

      I don’t think anybody has forgotten Vizquel was a superb defensive shortstop. However, Gold Glove awards aren’t the best evidence of that, witness Derek Jeter and his 5 awards.

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