Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Ringing Endorsement
By Blogger

The time has come. His Hall of Fame eligibility is upon us. Wasn't he playing just yesterday?

No, he retired after the 2000 season. Some people don't think he is Hall-worthy, despite his status as one of the most feared hitters of a generation. Let's go to the numbers, shall we? His raw totals aren't exactly breathtaking: 381 HR, 1239 RBI, .295 BA. He only played in twelve seasons, though, and in the first two seasons of his career, he totalled only 241 ABs. Do you know who I'm talking about, yet?

Compare those totals to Kirby Puckett, who I don't have a problem with being in the Hall, but who also would have been one of the very best in the Ray Lankford Wing. Puckett played 12 seasons, too, but all of them were full time. He put up 207 HR, 1085 RBI, and .318 BA. But, of course, Puckett was Mr. Genial and considered an all time Good Guy during his career, and that little bit was enough to seal the deal. The man we're considering was -- how to put it? -- never seen in the same light.

Let's move on to the basic rate stats. This guy, for his career, put up a line of .295/.369/.564. That's right, a .933 OPS. That's a 143 OPS+ folks. Good God, the man could hit. In fact, his career OPS+ ties him on the all time list with Ken Griffey, Jr. (for now), Harmon Killebrew, and Eddie Mathews. (For what it's worth, he's tied with Edgar Martinez in career OPS, just behind Griffey and Piazza, and just ahead of Harry Heilmann and Hank Aaron.) In his peak back to back seasons, 1994-1995 (damn that strike!), he first hit .357/.438/.714 in 106 games, then .317/.401/.690 in 143 games. The spirit's overtaking me... I'm dispensing with the pretense... Albert Belle belongs in the Hall of Fame. He hit 50 home runs and 52 doubles in 143 games in 1995, leading his team to a thirty(!) game lead over the second place Royals in the standings, and baseball writers didn't give him the MVP. He topped 30 HR eight seasons in a row and hit 48 or more three times. Per 162 games, he averaged 40 HR and 41 doubles. But it doesn't stop there. In the field, Range Factor says he was better than league average over the course of his career, and he had one season with 16 assists and another with 17.

You're going to see some hand-wringing whether he gets in or not. You'll hear some people say he belongs in the Hall, but shouldn't go in on the first ballot as some sort of punishment for being a jerk. If he belongs, then he belongs, dammit, and I think it's fairly conclusive that Belle belongs. Not that he's Willie Mays, but did you know that Mays only got 95% of the vote in his first year of eligibility? Who would have the cajones and/or idiocy to intentionally leave him off their ballot? My dad claims he read articles at the time in which voting writers said they simply didn't want to give anyone the stamp of unanimity. It's ludicrous that this sort of thinking goes on in the minds of people paid to be rigorous critical thinkers, but then again... maybe that's just my conception of ideal sports writing.

The Albert Belle Admirers Society is trying to advance his cause. We cannot continue our work without support from readers like you.


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