Hall Of Fame Debate: Judging The Career Of Albert Belle
You may recall that when I debuted ‘Hall Of Fame Debate’ a few months ago that my first post in the series was titled ‘Gimme Five’.
Essentially, what I asked for was for the readers of this blog to give me the names of five players that were eligible for Hall of Fame induction that had yet to be enshrined but were worthy. Well, I took all of the names received and made a giant list to use as inspiration for the series.
The list is lengthy, and while this series has been running for a few months now, I have yet to really make a dent in it. So, hopefully you are liking the series and enjoying spending some time with ’30-YOC’ on Thursday nights.
This week, we are going to discuss the career of Albert Belle. His major league career may have lasted just 12 seasons, but the numbers are impossible to ignore.
Belle finished his career with a .295 batting average. He collected 1,726 hits in 12 seasons, including 389 doubles, triples, and 381 home runs. He scored 974 runs during his playing days, and was responsible for 1,239 RBI.
Belle was a 5-time All-Star and 5-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He finished in the Top 8 for the MVP award five times, including a runner-up finish in 1995.
Belle made it to the postseason twice in his career, 1995 and 1996. In ’95, he played in the World Series but his Indians team lost to the Braves in six games.
Belle’s run production was unreal. Not only was he able to consistently deliver the long-ball, but he also drove in runs at an accelerated pace.
In 12 seasons, Belle hit between 30-39 home runs five times, 40-49 homers twice, and hit 50 home runs (league leader) in 1995. Belle drove in 100 or more runs in nine straight seasons, from 1992-2000, including a career high of 148 RBI in 1996. Belle led the American League in RBI at the end of the 1993, 1995, and 1996 seasons. In total, Belle had eight 30/100 seasons.
And now for some Hall of Fame comparisons….
Dave Winfield’s single-season high in home runs was 37 – Albert Belle tied or topped that five times.
Jim Rice had three 30/100 seasons – Albert Belle did it eight times.
Mike Schmidt retired with a .267 batting average, with just one season of .300 or better – Belle left the game with a .295 batting average and four seasons of .300 or better.
Cal Ripken Jr collected 100 or more RBI in 4 of his 21 major league seasons. Belle did that in nine of his twelve big league campaigns.
Andre Dawson amassed 4,787 total bases in 21 big league seasons – good for a 227.9 per season average. Belle collected 3,330 in 12 seasons, good for an average of 277.5.
Now, I am not saying that Albert Belle is better than any of these players; I am simply trying to compare what he did to some other notable Hall of Fame outfielders from a similar era. He left the game after the 2000 baseball season when he was just 33-years old.
Belle’s numbers stack up well, and there is no telling what his career numbers would have looked like had he played closer to the age of 40 than 30.
Is he Hall of Fame worthy? I don’t believe so. And I would not give him my vote. But, what he accomplished on the baseball diamond cannot be ignored. In a compact span of years, Belle accomplished feats similar to those of Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert Pujols – just the company alone has to make you think a bit about his place in baseball history, doesn’t it?
What do you think? Would you cast a vote for Albert Belle?