Monday, June 8, 2009

Omar Vizquel is a Hall of Famer

Today, Landon Evanson over at Bugs & Cranks has a post entitled "Is Omar Vizquel a Hall of Famer?"

Landon makes the case for Vizquel, who in my mind absolutely belongs in the Hall of Fame. But the debate does rage on, and one commenter even posted the incredibly ignorant assessment that Vizquel is "The classic compiler. He's never been one of the great ones of his era, he's just been around 20 years."

With all due respect, that is one of the most insanely idiotic things I've ever seen or heard about Omar Vizquel.

First, let's dispel the notion that Vizquel was never one of the great ones of his era. You're right, he wasn't "one of the great ones" if you're judging baseball solely on swinging the bat, which is the equivalent of judging a football team soley on how many points they score. The Denver Broncos love that assessment (at least before they traded Cutler). Vizquel wasn't just one of the greats of his era, he was the greatest one at fielding the most important infield position of his era. In fact, he is arguably the second best defensive shortstop in the history of baseball, trailing only Ozzie Smith. And honestly, the difference is razor thin.

Vizquel has won 11 Gold Gloves during his days, two less than Ozzie Smith's 13. No other shortstop has that many. And in reality, that number should be greater. Vizquel won the Gold Glove 9 straight years from 1993-2001 in the AL. Then, in 2002 and 2003, the moronic voters awarded Alex Rodriguez with the award because he was a better hitter. This explains how Bobby Abreu once won a Gold Glove. Then in 04, Derek Jeter, who can field the shortstop position about as well as Greg Dobbs fields third, won the award. Derek fucking Jeter.

Vizquel easily should have won in 02, 03 and 04 in the American league, which would have been 12 straight years winning. Oh, and that number would have extended to 14, besting Smith's mark, seeing as he won the NL Gold Glove in 05 and 06. Although I will argue, in 06, Khalil Greene should have won. Still, 13 straight should have happened.

And let me tell you something, winning that many Gold Gloves, legitimately deserving every single one of them (and more), makes you one of the greats of your era. Defense is half the game, after all. Unless you're the Mets. Or Marlins. Or Nationals. Then defense is optional.

That's something that really sticks in my crawl, as they say. Just because Omar Vizquel wasn't hitting massive home runs like his steroid-using counterparts or winning World Series like Jeter (who honestly, was a slightly above average fielder at best during his prime), Omar isn't deemed worthy, isn't remembered as one of the best. Frankly, that's just bullshit.

I was entirely too young to watch Ozzie Smith play shortstop. By all accounts, he was beyond amazing. Well, since I've truly been old enough to watch and understand baseball, there has never been a shortstop who could touch Omar Vizquel in his prime. No one. He got to way more balls than all the other shortstops combined, and he never, ever made errors. Watching him pick it at short, make those incredible acrobatic plays while firing perfect strikes, was a thing of beauty.

While everyone was in love with the way those Cleveland Indian teams of the 90s could smash the cover off the ball, I marveled at the greatest defensive double play combo of all time. Watching the poetry in motion that was Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar turning a double play was a delight (as was watching Kenny Lofton track down fly balls). But defense doesn't get the glory, because chicks dig the long ball.

Well, the long ball is great, but it doesn't mean shit if you give away runs with errors. Vizquel did the opposite. He may not have produced as many runs as the Alex Rodriguez's of the world, but he certainly helped save his pitchers from giving them up. And he did it more often than anyone else in his day.

Secondly, when you look at Vizquel's offensive numbers, they are far from atrocious. The guy is in his 21st season and currently has a career batting average of .273 with a .339 on-base percentage. He has played in 2,703 games, scored 1,368 runs, has 2,676 hits, 430 doubles, 73 triples, 77 home runs, 899 RBI, 387 steals and hit .280 or higher in 8 of his 20 full seasons, and this year is batting .345 with Texas in limited duty. Compared with Ozzie's .262 career batting average, .337 on-base percentage, 2,573 games, 1,257 runs, 2,460 hits, 402 doubles, 69 triples, 28 home runs, 793 RBI and 580 steals in his 19 seasons, the numbers are virtually identical, if not better except for steals, for Vizquel.

No one questioned Ozzie Smith's induction, and rightfully so. So why is there any doubt that Vizquel, who is the closest thing to Ozzie Smith, should have the same honor? In the era of steroids, I'm pretty confident in saying I highly doubt Vizquel was using while the likes of his counterparts who overshadowed him, namely Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada, have been linked to the juice.

Omar Vizquel is a Hall of Famer. No questions asked. And if he's not voted in, why should we even make teams play defense? Why not just turn baseball into a permanent home run derby?

Then a guy like Vizquel could be forgotten. But until they decide defense should be outlawed, the guys who are the best at it deserve their day in the sun … or I should say, place in the Hall.

BallHype: hype it up!


  1. Nice post man...wasn't sure where you were going with the cumulative numbers (seemed contradictory to your non-compiler argument) until you compared them to the Wizard' sold me.

  2. Yeah, I mean, he is a compiler offensive, but defensively, no one freakin could touch Omar in his era. Defense gets no respect.

  3. thats my favorite commercial haha

    and youre spot on with this Rev