While Bernie Williams should be a strong hall of fame candidate you see very few hall of fame debates with him. However, according to my calculations he Is only 53 points from an automatic qualifier. Why is that I can think of five reasons.
- While Bernie was a solid player for many years he never really had a great season. His only black ink was he won the batting title in 1998 for the greatest team of all time.
- He was the center fielder. For that team, but WAR doesn’t rate him as a great fielding center fielder. That makes his WAR only 49.6 when 60 is often considered the line for a center fielder. A lot of SABR people are WAR people and that hurts his rating.
- Williams is mentioned as one of the four Yankees who were the core of their World Series Championship teams and stayed with the team a long time. He probably is the least mentioned and the least thought of the four. Also, the first two Jeter and Mariano Rivera are two of the most publicized players of that era. Rivera is often said (and correctly in my opinion) to be the greatest reliever of all time. He was the first player unanimously elected to the hall of fame. I have him 25th on my all-time player list. Derek Jeter got more publicity. I have him 59th on my all time list. Jorge Posada has not gotten a whole lot of publicity either and has less WAR then Bernie. However, everyone understands that catchers careers are generally shorter. I have Posada as my 17th best catcher and as a member of my hall of fame. So being part of this foursome doesn’t really help Williams.
- I have Williams rated near four other center fielders who played close to his era. Each of the four have some debate about being in the hall of fame. They are:
- Dale Murphy 17th in Center Field. He is being debated and has fallen short. He has some arguments but if he is short and rated ahead of Bernie, that makes it more difficult to argue Bernie should be in.
- Kenny Loft0n 22nd in Center Field. He is only 6 points behind Bernie. However, any of these five can be in any order. I also think SABR ratings don’t give enough credit to leadoff men. Lofton played for a lot of teams and wasn’t always easy to get along with which would hurt his chances against Bernie. Lofton was also in the post season 11 times and his team never won the World Series. He has a lot higher WAR than Bernie though.
- Fred Lynn 23rd in Center Field. He has a lot higher peak than Bernie which helps him.
- Kirby Puckett 24th. He Is already in the Hall of Fame which should help the others. However, he had a career ending injury which ended his career really early. He was elected in part because he had so much charisma. Then they found a few skeletons in his closet and now a lot of people are saying he shouldn’t have been elected. That part doesn’t help this group.
- He was solid in the post season but never had a series where he captured the publics interest. Again, having Jeter and Rivera as teammates hurt him in that regard. In 2004 he had 10 RBIs against the Red Sox, but that is the series the Yankees lost after being up 3 games to none. So, nobody cares how many RBIs he had. The place he hit worst in the post season was the World Series.
Still I can see him easily as a hall of famer and he is as good as anyone in this group of five.