So, I’m half-watching this afternoon’s baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers, and after getting over the initial shock of seeing Omar Vizquel batting sixth in a lineup … any lineup … even one that includes Jeff Mathis, Adeiny Hechavarria and Anthony Gose, I’ve started thinking about his career and Hall of Fame candidacy.

At first glance it seems obvious to me that he is not deserving of the honor, and this is certainly a consideration that I would make:

Which leads me to see this:

Source: FanGraphsOmar Vizquel, Alan Trammell

I typically don’t like relying on Hall of Fame arguments that suggest that Player A shouldn’t get in because Player B didn’t. However, Trammell, who isn’t in the Hall of Fame, is just so obviously better.

Now, I admit that a lot of Vizquel’s value over the years can been found in his defense, and we still have a lot of difficulty quantifying that value, and had even more difficulty quantifying that value when Vizquel was at his best, but according to FanGraphs, roughly 27% of his overall value comes from his defense.

For comparison’s sake, 11% of Alan Trammel’s value came from fielding. What stands out more than anything to me is that his batting numbers actually decrease 36% of his overall value. Over the course of his career, Vizquel was worse at offense than he was better at defense.

There are admittedly several more nuanced arguments to be had about Vizquel’s career, and a lot of it was captured by Jay Jaffe, writing earlier this summer for Sports Illustrated, but to me that offense versus defense contradiction is something of a deal breaker.

Comments (10)

  1. I can honestly say Omar Vizquel is my least favourite player of all time. I have a burning irrational hatred for him. It’s not really fair to him, but fuck Omar Vizquel.

    //douchebag out//

  2. And that career 69.5 – 47.5 WAR discrepancy is using Fangraphs and its charitable defensive metrics. Using Baseball-Reference WAR it’s even worse, 67.1 – 40.4

    I’m still a sucker for the argument, expressed in many fine articles I’ve read, that perhaps plain old Games Played is one of the most important aspects in judging a player’s worth. Bill James himself once said of games played: “Few people realize it, but there may be no other single statistical category which does as good a job of defining productive players”. WAR be damned for a minute, how’s this for a subjective assessment of value: the managers of Major League Baseball have determined that Omar Vizquel was good enough to play nearly 3,000 games, which is 3,000 votes of “You’re showing us value right now by starting this game for us.”

    • “Omar Vizquel is old and also weak” stat of the day:

      7: Number of Omar Vizquel career plate appearances at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium, which was torn down in 1989

      6: Number of career Omar Vizquel home runs hit at SkyDome/Rogers Centre. That’s over 24 seasons, 20 of which were in the American League, and 1 of which it was his home stadium

  3. You are going to pretend the idea for this column didn’t come from Keith Law’s tweet last night? OK.

  4. I think Vizquel is underappreciated because his peers at shortstop, in the prime of his career, were Jeter, A-Rod and Nomar. They were the polar opposite of the traditional shortstop, turning it into a major offensive position. Vizquel is the traditional shortstop, a decent-hitting spectacular fielding shortstop. Ozzie Smith was the same player with back-flips and more flash (admittedly I never saw Smith in his prime). Vizquel quietly played on winning teams in Cleveland, was consistent, and was one of the best with the glove that I’ve ever seen. (And I know this is sacrilegious as a Jays fan, but go find some video of him turning double-plays with Alomar. Two masters working together at the peak of their abilities side by side.)

    Advanced metrics and charts are useful and can help identify great players that traditional stats wouldn’t show (Blyleven). On this case, I feel the metrics can be thrown out the window. Vizquel is one of the best defenders to ever play his position and one of the best defensive infielders ever, and I think anyone who ever saw him play in his prime can say that (and that’s before seeing him at the top of almost every SS career mark defensively). And when you can call a guy one of, if not the very best at what he did, then I think he deserves the highest honour you can give him. And that’s Cooperstown.

  5. Omar was great, but he is not a hall of famer. I always looked at hall of famers as the best of the best. Omar is not in that category.

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