ukrneal wrote:I think a few things are being missed:
1) For those that lived through it, don't you remember the irrepressible joy you had watching this guy play?!?!? I remember watching replay after replay of his various exploits with my mouth hanging open. And despite the personal-life problems we would later discover about him, at the time there was no one who could pump you up about the game like Kirby. He brought a joy to the game that was inspiring. .
I never thought of Kirby as the face of baseball. I was about 10 when Kirby started playing and was a pure baseball fan. Maybe it's my east coast bias but I always thought Mattingly, Boggs, Strawberry and Ripken were the faces of baseball. I'd even say Gwynn was more of the face of baseball than Puckett was. However, that's all a completely subjective argument that can be made for or against any HOFer or borderline HOFer because you have to be phenomenal to even be considered a borderline HOFer.
ukrneal wrote:2) Hits: This guy was a hitting machine. Someone mentioned quickest to 2000 hits and then someone else said it's a slippery slope since what about 1750, 1500, or 1000? Well, he was the second fastest to 1000 until Ichiro came along, but the analogy is not quite the same.
That's not the point of a slippery slope argument. The point of the slippery slope argument is that we have always considered 3000 hits the magical benchmark, right? So why would it matter how fast one individual got to 2000 hits? If Puckett was the fastest person to 1000 hits, but then just trolled along for the next 15 years as a journeyman and managed to get 2000 hits does he get extra points because he was the fastest guy to 1000 hits? No way. Hypothetically say that Player X comes along and gets 250 hits in each of his first four season and is the fastest player by a mile to 1000 hits. However, he suffers a career ending injury in the off-season when he tragically loses his legs to a great white shark while surfing off the coast of Maui on his honeymoon. Is Player X a HOFer because he was the fastest ever to 1000 hits? I think not.
ukrneal wrote:3) Stats: His lifetime batting average of .318 was the highest of any right-handed batter since Joe DiMaggio retired in 1951. (from Wikpedia). Rarefied air...
To what extent was this because Puckett was able to retire in his prime instead of playing three, four or even five years past his prime? Let's say Kirby played three years past his prime and average .280 per year past his prime. He averaged about 600 ABs per year. Given those static numbers, if Puckett played three years past his prime his career average would be .310. Nice. Four years past prime? .308. Five years past his prime? .306. That's a mighty big difference. Coincidently, it would have taken Puckett about four or five more years to get to 3000 hits.
ukrneal wrote:4) Charity work and community involvement.
Does that mean Al Leiter is a HOFer? There might not be a better charity and community guy that ever existed in baseball than Lieter. No? Go figure.
ukrneal wrote:5) More stats: Hit .300 8 times, and over .290 3 times (in fact, .296 and .298), had an OBP+ of 132 in his injury-ended season - showing he probably could have gone on for several more years, led total bases twice despite averaging about 20HR per year.
More stats, I won't argue the AVG because that's what Puckett had going for him. I won't argue the 132+ OPs because, in part, I already have. Yes, he got cut down in his prime or at least toward the end of his prime. However, it's the Hall of Fame not the Hall of Could Have Been. The Hall is for actual achievements not potential achievements.
I will argue total bases. Puckett finished 2nd in the league in TB in 1986 with 365. Then he finished 1st in 1988 with 348 and 1st in 1992 with 313. In 1986, Puckett walked only 41 times. In 1988 he walked only 23 times. In 1992 he walked 44 times. The total base number rewards those players who hit the ball as opposed to get on base via the walk. Adding walks to TBs. In 1986 Puckett had 406 bases. In 1988, Puckett had 371 bases. In 1992 he had 357 bases. In 1986 Boggs only had 280 something TBs, but he walked 105 times. So he had 385 bases. Barfield has 398. It's very indicative that he only finished in the top five in times on base once in his career, 1986. Again, in 1988, Boggs had 400 bases to pucks 371. Canseco had nearly 420. Greenwell had 400 on the nose. McGriff had 375. Winfield had 365. That's just in the AL. I don't have time to look at 1992, but TB is indicative of nothing.