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The Hall of Fame Case for Keith Hernandez

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This time in late January tends to create a cavalcade of excitement for those in the baseball community. Specifically for, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Alan Trammell, and Jack Morris.  This group of baseball greats will be entering Cooperstown’s National Baseball Hall of Fame later this summer.

However, widespread debates arise this time of year as to who is not being inducted into Cooperstown.  My argument is for a player who is no longer on the ballot.  A player who made a defensive difference at a position that’s defense is often overlooked and undervalued.

Keith Hernandez spent his 17-year career at first base for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, and Cleveland Indians.  Hernandez was the 1979 National League Co-MVP (Shared with Willie Stargell), five-time NL All-Star, and most remarkably, an 11-time Gold Glover.

The 11 Gold Gloves that Hernandez received are the most ever won by a first baseman.  Don Mattingly is just behind Hernandez with nine Gold Gloves.  Hernandez is the only player to lead his position in Gold Gloves and not be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Hernandez was a gap-to-gap hitter and hit .300 or better on seven occasions.  He finished with a .296 career batting average.  His career WAR is 60.0 which is 20th among first basemen.  Thirteen Hall of Famers are in front of Hernandez on the career first basemen WAR list and two players (Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera) will eventually arrive in Cooperstown.

Hernandez was a leader on the field and in the clubhouse.  His baseball prowess often made the difference in big games.  He won two World Series Championships with the Cardinals in 1982 and the Mets in 1986.

So why is Hernandez being omitted? First base is traditionally a position where power hitters reside.  This notion has often been the main reason to Hernandez’s absence from Cooperstown.  Hernandez finished his career with only 162 home runs, and only drove in more than 100 RBI’s once in 17 seasons.

Ozzie Smith, a teammate of Hernandez was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his unmatched abilities as a defensive player.  Smith won 13 Gold Gloves (Most by a shortstop) throughout his career.  However, Smith was less than a productive offensive player.  The Wizard of Oz finished his career with a .262 lifetime average and 28 career home runs in 19 seasons.

Brooks Robinson is another elite defender in the Hall of Fame.  Robinson, like Hernandez leads his position (third base) in Gold Gloves.  The parallel between Hernandez and Robinson is that they both played traditional power hitting positions, and neither put up big home run totals.  Robinson finished his career 268 home runs and a .267 batting average in 23 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles

I absolutely believe that Smith and Robinson belong in the Hall of Famer.  However, they are both examples of the primitive thinking when it comes to Hall of Fame stereotyping by position.  Defense just means more on the left side of the infield in the eyes of the voters.  The offensive output just falls by the wayside.

The consensus for Hernandez is that since he did not put up gaudy offensive numbers at first base, he is not a Hall of Famer.  Hernandez is being portrayed more so as a luxury than as a necessity.  His defensive skills, leadership qualities, and ability as a line driver hitter warrant the Veterans Committee giving him a second look down the road.  Keith Hernandez’s legacy deserves something other than being dumped by Elaine Benes and frank commentary on SNY.

 

American League

Indians Activate Francisco Lindor, DFA Hanley Ramirez

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The Cleveland Indians have activated star shortstop Francisco Lindor from the injured list on Saturday.

In a corresponding move, the Indians have designated veteran Hanley Ramirez for assignment to create the necessary roster spot for the return of Lindor.

Ramirez, 35, appeared in 16 games this season for Cleveland, posting a slash line of .184/.298/.327 with two home runs.

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American League

Red Sox Place Nathan Eovaldi On 10-Day IL

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The Boston Red Sox have placed starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi on the 10-day injured list due to a loose body in his elbow, according to MassLive.com’s Crhsi Cotillo.

In a corresponding move, left hander Bobby Poyner will take Eovaldi’s spot on the roster and the move is retroactive to April 18th.

The struggling Red Sox will have to move forward without Eovaldi, who missed around 2 months last season following arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose body, for the time being.

Eovaldi has started 4 games for Boston this season, going 0-0 and posting a 6.00 ERA in that span.

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American League

Red Sox Call Up Top Prospect Chavis

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Top Red Sox prospect Michael Chavis was recalled for the first time on Friday.

With two infielders being placed on the DL and desperate for any kind of spark they can get, the Boston Red Sox called up their top prospect Michael Chavis (MLB no. 75) from Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday.

Dustin Pedroia and Eduardo Nunez were both placed on the disabled list this week with knee and back injuries, respectively. And with super utility man Brock Holt out as well with an eye injury, Boston’s infield has become quite depleted in a hurry. Infielder Tzu-Wei Lin was recalled as well as the stumbling Red Sox open up a three game set in Tampa with a Good Friday matchup.

Boston hasn’t yet announced if Chavis will be in the lineup tonight, but the team is evidently hoping that the presence of the 23-year-old can provide some kind of a spark. Boston has struggled considerably so far in the young season and is coming off consecutive embarrassing losses to arch-rival New York. At 6-13, the defending World Series champs are dead last in the AL East.

Chavis, on the other hand, has risen through Boston’s minor league system quickly despite a setback last season. A PED suspension cost him half of 2018 after he was busted for Turinabol, an anabolic-androgenic steroid. He denied knowingly taking any banned substance but played well enough after his return to be promoted from Double-A to Triple-A.

Can Chavis provide a boost for the struggling Sox and help them shake off their World Series hangover?

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