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Nomar Garciaparra to Cooperstown?

Posted on March 11, 2010 by Don Spieles
Nomar Garciaparra #5

Nomar Garciapara was star from the get-go in Boston.

Yesterday marked the end of the line to Nomar Garciaparra.  He announced his retirement from baseball at the age of 36, after playing 14 14 Major League seasons.  In a twist that will forever endear him to Red Sox Nation, Nomar signed a one day minor league contract so that he officially retire with the team where he began it all back in 1994 as a first round draft pick.

But besides the praise he’ll get from Boston faithful after a teary press conference and after throwing out the first pitch of a Grapefruit League match-up, the question now will be asked whether “Nomah” will be a possibility for Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Pros

Garciaparra has some seriously good statistics in his favor.  He batted .313 for his career.  His 229 home runs seems sort of low, but remember that Garciaparra was predominantly a shortstop.  The AL record for homers by a short stop is Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 345.  In the NL, the record is held by Ernie Banks at 277. Garciaparra had over 190 hits in six different seasons, including 209 in 1997, landing him Rookie of the Year honors.  He topped 100 RBI four times, hit 20 or more homers seven times.  He topped 40 doubles four times, including 51 in 2000 and 56 in 2002.  Garciaparra was part of six All-Star Teams and he placed second in the AL MVP voting in 1998 (ironically not a year he made the All Star Team.)  He won the AL batting title in both 1999 (.357) and 2000 (.372).

Cons

Garciaparra developed a bit of a reputation as a prima donna in his later years in Boston.  He had a lot of injury issues and, in the opinion of many, had a tendency to milk them for various reasons.  His trade in 2004 to the Cubs, while working out in Boston’s favor (they got Orlando Cabrera and Doug Meinkevich who helped push them over the top to that famous World Series win), the split was considered, for the most part, acrimonious – not to the extent of the recent saga with Manny Ramirez, but uncomfortable all the same.

Sports - May 13, 2007

Nomar's time after Boston was, for the most part, disappointing.

Garciaparra is a player who’s hay days were definitely in the earlier part of his career.  He never made the same kind of noise with hi latter teams (Cubs, Dodgers, A’s) like he did in his Boston years.  He scored 100 or more runs in six different seasons with Boston and never did it after age 29.

Perhaps most importantly, Nomar Garciaparra never played in a World Series, let alone won a championship.  World Series experience is always good for a push in voter’s minds, especially for players who just make the discussion.

One thing for sure about All-Star balloting as of late is that it is not, in any way, generous.  Usually, those deserving will make it in somewhere in the fifteen year span of eligibility.  Sometimes it takes the veteran’s committee to right a wrong, as in the case of  Joe Gordon.  A stellar player for the Yankees and Indians between 1938 and 1950, he was not included in the Hall of Fame until 2009 as a veteran’s pick.  Why is Joe relevant?  Because according to Baseball-Reference.com, Joe Gordon and Nomar Garciaparra are, statistically speaking, very, very similar.  Joe is the only player on Garciapara’s list of similiar players who in in the Hall, and he got in posthumously.

So, though lots of happy thoughts ran through lots of heads when Nomar threw that pitch yesterday to Jason Varitek, his teammate both in Boston and at Georgia Tech, and while his legacy may thrive in the hearts of Red Sox Nation, it may very well never make it to Cooperstown.


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