Recently, I wrote about the possibility that Jamie Moyer, who is trying to catch on with the Colorado Rockies this year, could get Hall of Fame consideration in the future, in part due to the sheer longevity of his career and his productivity late into his 40s.
Many of you were skeptical of my position on Moyer. So let's try this with someone else.
There's another man who will play again in 2012 who has had a very long career, is playing competently into his middle 40s (he'll turn 45 in April) and who some think might rate Hall of Fame consideration. I'm talking about Omar Vizquel, who recently signed on with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Many think Vizquel is a shoo-in for eventual Hall of Fame induction, given his longevity, his defensive skills, and his counting stat of 2841 hits (every eligible player with more is in the Hall, although that might change soon with the upcoming eligibility of Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro).
At Hardball Talk, Matthew Poullot is skeptical of Vizquel's Hall credentials:
In 23 seasons, he’s been listed on an MVP ballot once: someone gave him an eighth-place vote in 1999. That was deserved: by Baseball-reference WAR, he was the AL’s fifth-best player in 1999, so there was definitely an argument for him getting a few more down-ballot votes.
But even in his best year, Vizquel wasn’t viewed as one of the AL’s top 10 players. In most years, hardly anyone would have put him in the top 20. Is that really a Hall of Famer? There’s something to be said for being very good for a long time, but was Vizquel even very good?
I think this is a valid point. Jamie Moyer, at least, had a couple of 20-win seasons and finished in the top six of Cy Young voting three times. Vizquel appeared on MVP ballots just once. But then there's the letters "GG" all over his baseball-reference page, as Poullot points out:
The driving force for Vizquel will be the 11 Gold Gloves. Ozzie Smith (13) and Brooks Robinson (16) are the only infielders with more. Offensively, Vizquel matches up nicely with Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio and Rabbit Maranville. He’s a notch below Smith.
That Ozzie was seen by many as such a no-brainer helps Vizquel immensely. After all, if Ozzie is so obviously a Hall of Famer and Vizquel was only a little worse offensively and a little worse defensively, then he must make the cut, too.
I'm not convinced here, either. We should put the poor man's Ozzie Smith into the Hall? There was some controversy about Smith's induction, too.
Also, look at some Hall of Famers with lower WAR than Vizquel -- and now we're talking about many others whose Hall inductions were viewed with less than favor, including Phil Rizzuto, Jim Rice, Elmer Flick, Ernie Lombardi and George Kell. Of course, Vizquel has 13.3 dWAR, which seems impressive for a shortstop until you look at the career defensive WAR leaders and you find Rey Sanchez at 14.2.
Omar Vizquel has never led his league in anything except sacrifice hits, and his career total is 255, which leads active players (by a lot -- next among active players is Juan Pierre with 144) and seems high, until you note that it's about half the all-time most (Eddie Collins, 512).
Vizquel, by all accounts, is a great guy and has been much like a coach/mentor with the White Sox the last two seasons. He'll probably do the same for many young players in Toronto this year. But to me, his career calls for induction into what Rob Neyer calls the "Hall of Amazing", for players who had done things that were... amazing, but not quite Hall-worthy.