Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Vizquel gains more support in bid for Hall

@MandyBell02
January 21, 2020

CLEVELAND – They say slow and steady wins the race, and longtime Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel’s Hall of Fame hopes are trending in the right direction. Vizquel received 209 of 397 votes cast (52.6 percent) by tenured members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, as announced Tuesday on MLB

CLEVELAND – They say slow and steady wins the race, and longtime Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel’s Hall of Fame hopes are trending in the right direction.

Vizquel received 209 of 397 votes cast (52.6 percent) by tenured members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, as announced Tuesday on MLB Network. In his first year on the ballot in 2018, he earned 36.9 percent of the vote before jumping to 42.8 percent last year. The progression continues to be an optimistic sign for Vizquel, who has as many as seven more years to reach the 75 percent mark that’s required for induction.

Derek Jeter and Larry Walker were the only two players elected on Tuesday.

While Vizquel's quest for induction continues, former Indians Jason Giambi and Cliff Lee failed to appear on at least 5 percent of the ballots, which means they will not be listed on future ballots. Other former Tribe members Jeff Kent (27.5 percent) and Manny Ramirez (28.2 percent) jumped 9.4 percent and 5.4 percent from last year’s votes, respectively. Kent has three years left to get inducted, while Ramirez has six.

Vizquel is often remembered for his dazzling defensive plays at shortstop over his 24-year career, and he has the hardware to back it up. He won a Gold Glove Award each season from 1993 through 2001 and picked up two more in 2005 and 2006 with the Giants, giving him a total of 11 in his career. He sits atop the leaderboard in career fielding percentage as a shortstop with .985 and he turned the most double plays at shortstop in MLB history with 1,734. Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is second with 1,590 over a 19-year span.

When it comes to the debate of whether Vizquel belongs in the Hall, his defense is not what’s in question. It’s his offensive production that cause some voters to hesitate to check off his name. In over 2,900 career games, Vizquel batted .272/.336/.352 with 2,877 hits, 951 RBIs and 404 stolen bases with three All-Star selections. In 11 seasons (1994-2004) with the Tribe, he hit .283 with 1,616 hits, 906 runs scored, 60 homers and 584 RBIs. He had a standout offensive year in 1999, slashing .333/.397/.436 with 42 stolen bases and a career-high 112 runs scored to earn his second All-Star selection.

Vizquel’s offensive numbers are similar to Smith’s. The defensive wizard who played for 19 years and was a first-ballot inductee hit .262/.337/.328 in his career. However, Smith’s 87 OPS+ just tops Vizquel’s 82 OPS+, which would be tied for the lowest of Hall of Fame shortstops with Luis Aparicio and Rabbit Maranville. Smith also bested Vizquel in stolen bases (by 176) and walks (by 34) and flashed the most leather of all shortstops currently in the Hall of Fame with a 44.2 defensive WAR. If Vizquel would be elected, he’d currently sit sixth in defensive WAR (29.5) of all at his position.

Vizquel began his career in Seattle, making his debut on April 3, 1989, at 21 years old. After five seasons with the Mariners, he was traded to the Indians in exchange for Felix Fermin, Reggie Jefferson and cash considerations. Vizquel called Cleveland home for the next 11 seasons -- and was later enshrined into the Indians' Hall of Fame in 2014 -- before spending four years with the Giants. He made a quick stop in Texas in 2009, played two seasons with the White Sox in 2010 and '11 and closed out more than two decades in the Majors in Toronto in 2012 at age 45.

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.