Ex-Yankee and fan fave Bernie Williams popped by Spring Training this week, to visit some old friends and take part in the Opening Day ceremonies at Steinbrenner Field. The Daily News’ Mark Feinsand caught up with him and discussed a few things, most notably his chances at Cooperstown. He writes:
Williams, a five-time All-Star who won four Gold Gloves, a batting title and four World Series rings, says he realizes that his numbers aren’t as overwhelming as those of some others from his era – he hit .297 with 287 home runs and 1,257 RBI. The question remains: Will history – and Hall of Fame voters – view his career more favorably now that so many other players have been busted for using performance-enhancing drugs?
“How is it going to affect people that had sort of normal numbers?” Williams said yesterday at Yankees camp. “I don’t look at my career differently. My career is what it is. I have the satisfaction of saying that I played through a lot of pain, through a lot of injuries, and I never did anything like that. That’s probably reflected in my numbers.
“At the end of the day, it’s a very complicated issue,” Williams continued. “Who knows who did what and who can prove whatever? You just have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Did you do it the right way?’ I had a great time playing this game and I have no regrets.”
Maybe we should enlist ex-teammate (and BR junkie) David Cone to sit down with Bernie and tell him that we have a way of dealing with the era a player played in. It’s called OPS+. It is adjusted for the park and the league in which the player played, but not for fielding position. Bernie stands at +125 for his career. Not bad for a CF, but nowhere near immortal status. That ranks him 243rd on the All Time list, with other non-HOF CF’s such as Fred Lynn and Larry Doby ahead of him on the list. Advanced fielding metrics weren’t around when Bernie played, but by all accounts he was an inconsistent defender who was prone to lapses. His speed could outrun many of his mistakes, but his arm was generally considered poor, and it got worse as he aged. So much so that it was a big factor in him losing his starting job in Center late in his career after a particularly rough day facing the Red Sox.
We all loved Bernie, and he put up some monster seasons (1998) as a Yankee. From 1997-2002 he was one of the best hitting CF in the game, if not the best. But as with Mattingly, you need more than a great 5 year run to get inducted to the Hall. I just don’t see a future for him in Cooperstown.
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