Monday, January 28, 2008

Nomar's Bitter?

Nomar Garciaparra toiled honestly for most of nine seasons for the Red Sox. He won batting titles and the hearts of many Sox fans, but ironically the Red Sox didn't win a world series until his departure, in favor of more defense and pitching.

Nomar seemed like a sure fire Hall of Famer, hitting both line drives and shots over the Monster, and making that cross-body play from the hole. But a career is the sum of the body of work, and where are we now?

Garciaparra finished in the top ten in the MVP voting five times, and even in 2006, having departed for the Dodgers, he finished 13th in the MVP voting. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1997 and his career batting average of .315 is just one point higher than his postseason average of .314. Among the "Hall of Fame Monitor" he has accumulated a score of 114, with a likely Hall of Famer at 100. Pretty impressive overall.

Conversely, we tend to think of Derek Jeter first as a winner (four WS titles) and second as a statistical phenom. His career average of .317 exceed's Nomar's slightly, while he compiles a .309 average in an amazing 25 postseason series. Jeter's .850 OPS isn't as impressive as Garciaparra's .890, but Jeter has over 2000 more career at-bats a testimony to Jeter's durability.

Jeter's Hall of Fame Standards and Hall of Fame Monitor mark him as a definite first ballot Hall-0f-Famer, regardless of his New York candidacy boost. Jeter's range factor isn't as high as Nomar's but his fielding percentage is slightly higher. My sense is that his more accurate arm compensates for less reliable hands.

When all the ballots are counted, Jeter's in and at least for now, I'd wager that Nomar's borderline. Nomar turned down a king's ransom (so they say, 60 million for four years from the Sox) and hasn't exactly lived in poverty since then, but certainly forfeited a lot of dollars with his (and his representation's) choices.

So we ask, in the twilight of Nomar's career, is Nomar bitter, since even the most diehard Sox fan must acknowledge the career superiority of Jeter? Oh to be a fly on that wall.

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