This is an admittedly random post at a random time, but I strongly believe Keith Hernandez belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I acknowledge that, offensively, Hernandez was merely awfully good. His lifetime average is .296, with 2,182 hits over 17 seasons. Those are Mark Grace and Hal McRae and Wally Joyner numbersâ€”which gets you a lifetime of autograph requests, but not a ticket to Cooperstown.
What gets Hernandez in is defense. Not just good defense. Not just great defense. No, in Keith Hernandez (aka “Mex”) we’re talking about the best defensive first baseman to ever play the game. He won 11-straight Gold Gloves, and probably should have a couple of more. He could go left or right with equal aplomb; charge balls with remarkable grace; handle throws from the worst third basemen ever (See: Jefferies, Gregg). Having grown up in New York watching the ’80s Mets, I can’t recall Hernandez ever not scooping out a ball. He was, simply, remarkable. Unparalleled. Magical.
For some reason, that doesn’t matter with voters. Hernandez has never come close to being elected, primarily because the decision makers view first base as a spot where dunder-gloves like Jason Giambi and Carlos Delgado can hide. Hernandez, however, turned defensive first base into an art. He surely saved hundreds upon hundreds of runs throughout his career. I understand not letting in every really, really, really, really good fielder. But if you’re the best ever at your positionâ€”and, without question, Hernandez is the best-fielding first baseman everâ€”you’ve earned your spot.
To me, it’s a no-brainer.