I am 22 years old. My first vivid baseball memory is from 1998. I have been a die-hard fan ever since. Below are the players from that time period that ARE Hall of Fame players, but 90% of the baseball universe do not recognize as such- BECUZ OF TEH RBI’S AND W/L RECORDS!!
In no particular order…
Chase Utley: 287/.372/.493/.373/128+ 58/5 fWAR (6.2 per 650 PA)
So he has averaged 6 WAR a season for a 12 year career of which he has only played 140+ games four times. Now, being healthy is valuable in itself. But he has been so dominant that he is the rare player who is HOF worthy despite a shorter, injury plagued career. From 2005-2010 he was the second best player in the NL besides Albert Pujols. His WAR is also nearly identical to Jackie Robinson’s- a HOF second baseman.
Carlos Beltran: .281/.356/.494/.363/120 63.3 fWAR (4.5 PER 650 PA)
Carlos Beltran is the best base runner of our generation. He has 310 stolen bases at an 87% clip. That is insane. He was also a really, really good defensive center fielder who could get on-base and hit for power. Plus, if Andre Dawson is in the HOF, Carlos Beltran has to be.
Jim Edmonds: .284/.376/.527/.385/132+ 64.0 fWAR (5.2 per 650 PA)
Yeah, so Jim Edmonds is the white Ken Griffey Jr. No really, he is. Ken Griffey hit .284/.370/.538/.384/131+. Granted, he stuck around a few years longer than he should have so his numbers took a hit, but they are nearly identical. They both played every year from 1993-2010 and both made the jump from the AL to the NL in 2000. Griffey at his best was a better hitter than Edmonds, but Edmonds had the better glove.
Scott Rolen: .281/.364/.490/.368/122+ 69.9 fWAR (5.3 PER 650 PA)
There are only 10 HOF third baseman. Rolen is top 10 in career fWAR at the position. He should be enshrined next. In addition to being a fantastic hitter, he is arguably the best defensive third baseman ever outside Brooks Robinson, along with…
Adrian Beltre: .284/.335/.480/.349/114+ 68.0 fWAR (4.5 per 650 PA)
People look at his Seattle years and think he was a bust there. Those people are wrong. He was average to above average offensively but was a freak defensively. He was an All-Star caliber player during his time there. But he’s been an MVP level player since being freed from Safeco. Along with Rolen he is an all-time fielder at the position. And his 2004 still happened.
Mike Mussina: 3562 IP, 7.11 K/9, 1.98 BB/9, 0.95 HR/9, 3.68 FIP, 82.5 fWAR (4.6 per 200 IP)
He has a nearly identical career to Curt Schilling. Curt Schilling is a HOF’er. People think Schilling is a HOF’er. A lot of people do not think Mussina is. They think this because he missed out on so much- Cy Young’s, a perfect game, a World Series title, etc, etc. He was also overshadowed by other HOF’ers- Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens. Yet Mussina was a control freak who consistently dominant for over a decade.
Kevin Brown: 3256 IP, 6.62 K/9, 2.49 BB/9, 0.57 HR/9, 3.28 FIP, 73.5 fWAR (4.5 per 200 IP)
Most people remember Kevin Brown for his “failed” stint as a New York Yankee. But that was at the end of his career. At his best he pitched at an elite, MVP level for five seasons from 1996-2000. That’s in addition to pitching at an All-Star level the four years prior to that. I’ll vote in a guy who pitched at that level for ten seasons.
Nomar Garciaparra: .313/.361/.521/.376/124+ 41.5 fWAR (4.4 per 650 PA)
From 1997-2000 he was better than both Derek Jeter and A-Rod. Yes, injuries cut his career short. But he was the premiere shortstop of the AL’s three-headed monster in the late 90’s. On a career longevity he should not be in. But to put up the career numbers he did in such a short amount of time is so amazing that I can live with such a short peak/career. I recognize that Nomar is my most controversial pick and he should be penalized for having such a short career. But when he was healthy…oh boy.
And guys who many think are Hall of Famers but aren’t quite:
Larry Walker- I used to think he was.
Todd Helton- I really used to think he was.
Vladimir Guerrero- I could either way. But his defense was atrocious to the point it hurt his offensive value enough to drop him below the HOF range.
This is just a list of guys off my head. I’m sure there are more I can think of but it’s late.