May 9, 2010

non-HOF Profile Derby #15: Keith Hernandez

Next, is a slick-fielding (not like oil) first baseman, Keith Hernandez .
Place on the WAR chart: : Below Harmon Killebrew and above Willie Keeler and Dave Winfield
Career Overview and Some Numbers:Played for the Cardinals (73-83), Mets (83-89), and Indians (90). Won 11 Gold Gloves in his career, 1 MVP award, and 2 Silver Sluggers. Led the league in runs twice, AVG once, OBP once, and BB once. Had 5 seasons of greater than 140 OPS+. Most similar players numbers-wise were Mark Grace, Wally Joyner, and John Olerud.

His profile was not that of a typical power-hitting 1st baseman, disguising some of his value. His fielding was consistently considered top of the line for his position (both range and sure-handedness). He had middling power (career high of 18 HR) with a relatively high OBP. He also had a good batting eye and plate discipline. This combination gave him a skillset in which he was not outstanding in any one category, but good to great across the board, easily overlooked by HOF voters (not withstanding his Seinfeld popularity)

Best Season:1979: Won the MVP award hitting.344/.417/.513 (151 OPS+), setting career highs in R, H, RBI, 2B, 3B, RBI, AVG, OBP, SLG, and TB.

The Final Numbers: Hit .296/.384/.436 (128 OPS+) with 162 HR,1071 RBI, 1124 R, 426 2B, 1070/1012 BB/K ratio.

Why He Should be Remembered:Redefined first base fielding as an important aspect to consider (along with Mattingly in the '80s). Was a major contributor on the 1982 STL and 1986 NYM World Series winning teams. Also,was the 1st team captain in Mets history. Apparently, there was also a "Curse of Keith Hernandez" for the Cardinals from 1983-2005. Who knew?

HOF Balloting Performance:Remained on the ballot for 9 years until 2004 with a high of 10.8%.

Rookie Card:1975 Topps 623
Modern Cards:2009 Topps Tribute, 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites, many, many more.

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