Before we get to Jim Edmonds, here’s a quick recap of where things stand to date. Eventually I’ll post a comprehensive list of our projections and upload a spreadsheet so everyone can ridicule us or whatever, but for now, if you haven’t gotten your guesses in, please go to the appropriate entry and do so.
Or not. Your call.
Anywho, on to Edmonds. I really do not have a good feel for what he’s capable of at this stage in his career. He’s 38 years old and he barely cracked 400 plate appearances each of the past two seasons. His offensive skills appear to be in precipitous decline (I love that phrase, even if I don’t love what it describes in this particular case).
Among the 10 most similar players at his age, three remained productive in their twilight years, while the rest either stunk or didn’t play much. The three who continued to perform at a high level are Willie Stargell, Andres Galarraga, and Bob Johnson.
Stargell and Galarraga benefited from playing a less physically demanding position (first base), while Johnson benefited from the fact that World War II took many great players away from baseball. This isn’t entirely fair, of course, because Johnson was a great hitter, but that 174 OPS+ at age 38 is pretty far out of whack with the rest of his career.
Let’s focus on the guys whose careers took place (at least partly, in the case of Stargell) during my lifetime. Stargell’s hitting prowess was disgusting. He never really experienced a decline, he just got to a point where he couldn’t play anymore. (Incidentally, you could make a decent case that if Stargell is a Hall of Famer, then Johnson probably deserves consideration as well, although that is way beyond the scope of our current investigation.
Stargell. Right, we were talking about him. Stargell was hurt for much of 1977 but came back with a vengeance (another phrase I love) at age 38, posting a 158 OPS+. He dropped off some the following year, but still gained a share (with the more deserving Keith “Just for Men” Hernandez) of the MVP vote because, well, that’s the sort of thing MVP voters do.
So, the point is that Stargell remained effective into his late-30s. Unfortunately he’s not a great comp for Edmonds because of their different positions and the fact that Stargell never stopped hitting.
Four things I loved about El Gato Grande:
- I remember hearing that while he played in Montreal, Galarraga used to take the bus to work. I love that. Nothing endears me so much to a pro ballplayer as a touch of humility.
- His smile.
- His footwork around the bag at first base. It was great, and I won’t even qualify that with the expected “for a man his size.” First basemen should be required to watch video of him playing the position.
- He came back from cancer after sitting out the ’99 season and hit .302 with 28 homers. Oh, and he was 39 years old when he did that. What a freakin’ stud.
Galarraga had a weird career. He was a productive player for Les Expos before Bud Selig and friends ran them into the ground, then he got hurt and stunk for a few years before re-emerging as a force with the Rockies and Braves. This comp isn’t working real well either, because Galarraga posted a 157 OPS+ at age 37. Edmonds posted an 88 OPS+.
That was a colossal waste of time. Well, not really. It’s always fun to reminisce about old ballplayers.
Still, we need to refocus on our expectations for Edmonds in ’08. I guess I’ve been avoiding that. I want to believe, but this is the best I can do: 400 PA, .244/.337/.415.