Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 13: Fred Lynn

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

Fred Lynn had one of the greatest rookie seasons ever. In 1975, he won both the Rookie of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player, becoming the first ever player to do that. That year, he hit .331/.401/.566/.967, leading the league in runs, doubles, slugging percentage, and also won a Gold Glove deservedly for his fantastic play in center field. Lynn also hit 21 home runs, with 105 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases. If he had continued to play at that level for the rest of his career, he would have been a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.

Lynn however had some injury problems the next couple of years, common for a player that plays as hard as Lynn did. He was however, a very good player for the remaining time in a Red Sox uniform and even turned in his career year for the Red Sox in 1979 when he won the batting title, hitting .333/.423/.637/1.059 with 39 home runs and 122 RBIs, while again winning the Gold Glove. The next year he was again injured and slumping and was traded to the Angels in a deal that brought over Joe Rudi and Frank Tanana, not a very good trade for the Red Sox.

Lynn continued to put up nice numbers for several more years for the Angels, Orioles, and Tigers, but never reached his height of 1975 or 1979 again. He regularly hit between 20 and 25 home runs and drove in 65 to 85 runs. Lynn finished his career with the San Diego Padres in 1990.

His career line was .283/.360/.484/.845 with 306 home runs and 1,111 RBIs. His career WAR was 47.3, which is actually six wins higher than Hall of Fame teammate Jim Rice in only one more season.

Unfortunately, Lynn is hampered by the fact that he was never a league leader in any category after leaving the Red Sox. His best years were already basically over after his first five seasons. He was a very good player for nearly ten years after that, but never again a great player.

I do not think Lynn deserves to be a Hall of Famer, but if he had a few more great seasons, he might be closer. He was a better all-around player than Jim Rice, but Rice's eye-popping power definitely got Hall of Fame voters' attention moreso.

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