Examining Torii Hunter’s Hall of Fame Resume
Image courtesy of © Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY SportsHunter was a first-round pick by the Twins back in 1993 and he went on to have a 19-year big-league career. Known for his defensive prowess, he won nine straight Gold Gloves from 2001-09. He was no slouch at the plate either as he hit .277/.331/.461 (.793) while being awarded two Silver Sluggers. He was selected to five All-Star teams and there were five times he finished in the top-20 for the AL MVP. Those numbers are only part of the Hall of Fame equation.
Center field is a tough position to judge when it comes to Hall of Fame credentials. Some of the game’s all-time best players like Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, and Ken Griffey Jr. played the position and this can skew the numbers a little bit. Overall, there have been 24 center fielders elected to the Hall of Fame, which means not everyone was of the same caliber as the names mentioned above. So, what does a center fielder need to do to get to Cooperstown?
JAWS, a scoring system used to measure a player’s HOF worthiness, helps to separate players at each position. According to Baseball Reference, “A player’s JAWS is their career WAR averaged with their 7-year peak WAR.” Hunter doesn’t exactly fare well when using JAWS as he ranks the 34th best center fielder. There are four HOF players that rank lower than him, but all of them played in the 1930’s or earlier. The players directly ahead of him on the list include Curtis Granderson, Ellis Burks, and Andrew McCutchen. None of those players scream that they should be in Cooperstown.
Andruw Jones is a player that might fit a similar mold to Hunter’s career. Like Hunter, Jones was known for his defensive prowess on his way to winning 10 Gold Gloves. In fact, Jones is one of only three center fielders with more Gold Gloves than Hunter (Mays- 12, Griffey Jr.- 10). Unfortunately, their trophy rooms might be the only thing that puts Hunter and Jones in the same HOF conversation.
According to JAWS, Jones is the third best center fielder that has yet to be enshrined in Cooperstown behind Carlos Beltran and Kenny Lofton. That puts him well ahead of Hunter’s JAWS total. What might be even more discouraging is the fact that players like Lofton (10th place JAWS) and Jim Edmonds (15th place JAWS) fell off the HOF ballot after only one appearance. Even Jones has struggled on the ballot as he reached 19.4% in 2020 in his third year of eligibility.
Hunter will always have a special place in the hearts of Minnesota Twins fans. His energy and leadership help to define the teams that put Twins baseball back on the map. Looking at the numbers, it’s hard to imagine he has much of a case for Cooperstown.
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