When I began to write this article I started by taking a very professional approach. There was some nonsense, at first, about The Red Ribbon Committee. It had some important dates listed. There was a clever intro.
It was terrible. I hated it. It was worse than the normal crap that I write.
So here it is: I just did a simple statistical analysis of the hitters nominated for the Cardinals Hall of Fame. While it's important to note that this is stats-based only, the reason that I decided to do it was to show you that Ray Lankford NEEDS to be one of your two votes if you decide to vote.
It should come as no surprise to anyone, Mr. Lankford held up his end of the bargain here. Also, our very own Alex Crisafulli wrote an amazing article on Friday that shows you how important Lankford was to the Cardinals in the 90's. You absolutely should read it. To sum that article up, Lankford was #1 in the 90's in nearly every statistical category.
Below, you'll find each of the four eligible hitter's stats as a Cardinal. ONLY as a Cardinal. I had a little fun with "Ray Ray's" stats:
1B Keith Hernandez
LF/OF Vince Coleman
3B Scott Rolen
CF Ray Lankford
Now, for the sake of all of us Fangraphs lovers out there, fWAR:
Now it's tallying time
For the sake of tallying, I condensed this list into 17 categories: bWAR, fWAR, plate appearances, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, SB, AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, TB, BB, and SO.
It should be noted that not all of these stats should carry the same weight on the surface. Stats like OPS+ and both types of WAR should probably carry more weight than nearly every other category that I'm ranking. However, I believe that a Cardinals' Hall of Fame candidate should be rewarded for his longevity within the organization. Accordingly, stats like plate appearances, doubles, home runs, etc. mean extra because of how they establish a players legacy within the organization. That's why they all carry the same weight here.
Of those 17 categories, this is the breakdown of who finished FIRST among the HoF nominees:
Lankford: bWAR, PA, R, H, 2B, HR, RBI, TB, BB, SO
Hernandez: AVG, OBP, OPS+, fWAR
Rolen: SLG, OPS
Coleman: 3B, SB
Now, our nominees and second placed finished stats:
Lankford: OPS, SLG, fWAR
Hernandez: bWAR, PA, R, H, 2B, RBI, TB, BB, 3B
Rolen: HR, OPS+, SO
Coleman: H, SO
Since we have momentum, here are the third place finishes:
Lankford: OPS+, OBP, AVG, 3B
Hernandez: HR, SB, OPS, SLG, SO
Rolen: TB, bWAR
If you're keeping track at home, Lankford finished 1st in 10 of 18 categories. One of those categories that he finished first in was strikeouts, and he probably shouldn't get credit for it. I hope to rectify that at the end of this article. Of this group, Lankford and Hernandez are the two that didn't finish in last in any of the categories. Yes, these stats account for ten seasons worth of stats for Hernandez and Lankford and only six seasons worth of stats for Coleman and Rolen, but longevity and tenure have to carry weight if we're talking about a Cardinals' specific Hall of Fame.
BUT I'VE LEFT OFF THE BEST PART!!!
The stats for Ray Lankford only account for his first ten seasons as a Cardinal (1990-1999). The only way that I could even come close to leveling the playing field was by removing three seasons off production from Lankford's career. Here is Lankford's career totals as a Cardinal:
This changes Lankford's rankings among the group to first in fWAR - which goes from 37.7 to 41.5 - and second in triples. That number goes from 45 to 52.
Ray Lankford was the best Cardinal of the 90's as Alex Crisafulli outlined HERE. Of the candidates for the Cardinals Hall of Fame, he's the longest tenured and he carried the most value of any of the nominees and he did all of this while playing almost exclusively up the middle defensively for his entire career.
One last thing. All of the stats above are counting stats. Aside from strikeouts, the higher the total for each stat the better. So, why not count them up! Here is the total if all of the numbers above were counted up. I subtracted the strike out totals from the overall total as a penalty for, well, striking out:
Lankford, 1st 10 seasons: 12,634.7
If you are going to vote for a hitter in this years class it shouldn't even be a question; Ray Lankford is the most deserving.
Thanks For Reading!!