Hall Of Fame Debate: Judging The Career Of Albert Belle

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.

Albert Belle

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?


15 responses to “Hall Of Fame Debate: Judging The Career Of Albert Belle

  1. This post stirred up a lot of emotion in me. I had the misfortune of meeting this guy twice in spring training in Arizona and he was very rude and hateful to everyone. Then because of his pre-game attitude, the fans in the right field bleachers called out to him saying , “Joey Joey” which was his name and he hated it so he changed to Albert. He was so unprofessional during that game that he made two errors costing his team the win against the Cubs, and made several gestures towards the stands using a certain finger. Not to mention his claim that he was “the greatest hitter ever”, and was certainly “going to break Roger Maris’;s home run record that year.” (1995 I do believe it was.) He also demanded any fan that caught one of his homerun balls that year, to give it back to him, with no trade what so ever for the fan that caught it. In addition, he once allegedly, threatened a bunch of trick or treaters with firecrackers because they allegedly had TP’ed his house.

    Overall, a total disgrace to the game and one that will never ever be remembered for anything other then that, in my eyes. His on field “accomplishments” mean nothing to the history of our beloved sport. Thank you for allowing me to rant about the only player in baseball I have ever truly despised. Think I will go burn any of his cards I have now. LOL

  2. I vote no, maybe a juicer, fell off the face of the earth with his hip injuries, just found his Joey Belle card.

  3. He gets my vote! You have to look at his career like you do at Kirby Puckett’s career that ended way too soon due to injury. People had to project what Puckett would have accomplished and I think Belle would have had at least 600 home runs. He was robbed of the MVP in 95 when the writers gave the award to Mo Vaughn. Belle led the Indians to a 100 win season during a strike shorten season where teams only played 144 games. He hit 50 doubles and 50 home runs that year! The year before that he was in contention for the triple crown! If a player like Ralph Kiner is in the HOF then Belle should be in as well.

    Belle was the type of player that you dropped what you were doing to watch his at bat. You might not like Belle as a person, but he was an amazing ball player who’s career ended way too soon.

    • Matt- it is very hard to argue with his numbers. He did more than a lot of others that played considerably longer than he did.

      I’m just not sure if I can get past the fact that he was the exact opposite of a leader.

      • I understand what you are saying, but there are many players that have been called me first players (or worse) in the HOF like Ted Williams, Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson to name a few.

      • Matt- Very true. Sadly, all sports are full of selfish yet outstanding players.

        But, there is a big difference between ‘me first’ and ‘A-Hole’.

        You cannot deny the respect that Reggie and Rickey and Ted showed the game (most of the time). Belle didn’t do it nearly as much, if at all.

  4. No he should not be in but he was just as good as Earl Averill, Chuck Klein, Chick Hafey who are in the HOF and played about the same number of seasons. But I don’t think the other three guys are HOFers

  5. It’s not the Hall of Nice guys…it’s the Hall of Fame. He gets my vote.

  6. Williams, Henderson and Jackson are probably considered A holes by people as well. Some of the biggest A holes are in the HOF too, like Anson, Cobb and Hornsby.

    I agree with J-Dub.

  7. The guy put up some monster numbers during a dubious time period. I hate to paint with a broad brush, but I just can’t forget how some of the numbers obtained in the late 90’s are tainted.

    1998 was a crazy season here in Chicago, Albert hitting 49 dingers for the Sox and Sammy Sosa hitting 66 for the Cubs. Also that year I remember Belle getting hit by a pitch, but the ump said it hit the bat. Replays clearly showed it hit Albert, but he wanted to stay in the batters box. I think he made an out after that, but the dude just wanted to hit.

    Albert Belle is not a HOF player, but in the context of the time that he did play, he was a Great player.

    Russel http://wrigleyregular.mlblogs.com/

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