When you think back to the sluggers of the 1990s and 2000s, there are many names that come to mind. During that time frame were the glory days of the likes of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey Jr. and many more. However, one name that does not instantly pop into mind is Jim Edmonds. Yet, he was an impressive slugger in his own right.
Edmonds made his big league debut with the then California Angels in 1993, playing 18 games. After 94 uneventful games in 1994, Edmonds broke out in 1995, hitting .290/.352/.536 with 33 homers, a 124 wRC+ and a .380 wOBA in 141 games.
From there on, Edmonds did not stop hitting. From 1995 to 2005, he only posted below a 124 wRC+ one time in an injury-shortened 1999 season. That season was also the only time in those 11 years that Edmonds slugged below .500. Overall, in 1475 games between ’95 and ’05, Edmonds slashed .293/.388/.554 with 326 home runs.
Edmonds started to decline in 2006, hitting .257/.350/.471 with a 109 wRC+ and a .348 wOBA. You have to wonder how much of that decline was due to injuries, too. Edmonds had an oblique injury during the year, which is notoriously tough for hitters. He also suffered what was first thought to be a minor concussion, but he ended with with post-concussion syndrome that affected him for the rest of the year.
Edmonds never shook the injury bug, with post-concussion syndrome affecting him on and off for the rest of his career. He also had more problems with his oblique and an Achilles problem as well. He remained productive nonetheless, hitting .252/.336/.456 in 314 games from 2007 to 2010 while posting above-average wRC+s in two of the three years (he sat out the 2009 year). However, injuries continued to get the best of him, and Edmonds retired from the game in spring of 2011.
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As a whole, Edmonds hit an impressive .284/.376/.527 with a 132 wRC+ and a .385 wOBA in his career. To put that into perspective, Griffey Jr. was a career .284/.370/.538 hitter with a 131 wRC+ and a .384 wOBA. Griffey is considered by many to be one of the greatest hitters in recent memory, and Edmonds was right up there with him.
Plus, Edmonds did it all while being a solid defender in center field. He won eight Gold Glove awards, and he was worth 73.3 runs above average in his career according to Def. The fact that he played good defense only furthers the case that he was one of the better players in an era filled with plenty of stars.
In my opinion, Edmonds should be a first-ballot inductee into the Hall Of Fame when he appears on the ballot for the first time next year. Of course, there is always the controversy surrounding the age that he played in. But, the fact of the matter is that Edmonds was a great player for a long time, and he can get overshadowed sometimes because of the quality of hitters that were around when he was playing.