HOF ’09: Matt Williams

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When Matt Williams was coming up through the San Francisco Giants system there were comparisons to Mike Schmidt & Cal Ripken. Matty started out as a shortstop, a big man like Cal, but Williams would move over to the hot corner almost immediately upon his arrival in the majors. Like Schmidt, it took Matt a little while to find his way above the Mendoza-line (.200 batting average), hitting .188, .205, & .202 in limited play in his first three seasons.

In 1990 at the age of 24, Williams claimed the Giants thirdbase job. Making the All Star team, Matt did it with the bat, hitting .277, with 33 homers, and 122 RBIs (a career high of 138 strikeouts), and with the glove, shifting over from SS, 3B presented him with no problems in the field. He also earned his first Silver Slugger Award. He would be named an All Star four more years (1994-96, 99), be a four time Gold Glove winner (1991-94, 97) and earn the Silver Slugger three more times (1993-94, 97).

1994 was his best year with the Giants, but it was also the year of the strike, in only 115 games, Williams hit 43 (career best) home runs (on a pace to break Roger Maris’ single season mark, calculated over a full year), driving in 96. Then the next year he broke a bone in his right foot, causing him to play in only 76 games, he batted .336 with 23 long balls & 65 RBIs.

Matt Williams had arguably his best overall season with the Diamondbacks in 1999, a .303 batting average, 35 HRs, and 142 RBIs, leading Arizona to a first place finish. Over his 17 year career, Matt hit 378 home runs, drove in 1,218, while hitting .268.

I loved this guy like a brother. A foul ball off his bat at Wrigley Field went straight up the elevator shaft and came down to the left of homeplate, two feet away from my left foot. He played most of his APBA days for my Chicago Champions of the Illowa APBA League, where he hit 62 homers, with 168 RBIs, using his strike card, incredibly his IAL stats are very similar to his real life totals (387 HRs, 1,137 RBIs, .258). BTW, he’s not in the IAL HOF.

Interestingly Vinny Castilla’s career is most similar to Matt Williams according to the Baseball Reference, others mentioned include Ron Cey & Robin Ventura. Would I be way off base if I were to mention comparing Ron Santo’s numbers to Matt Williams? That said, What is this guy doing on the ballot?

  Hall of Fame
 

Hall of Very Good

Why is he even on the Ballot?

 

While we wait for January 12 ballot results, The Baseball Zealot will be profiling those players who are on the 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.  Read the rest the of the profiles.  

One Response to “HOF ’09: Matt Williams”

  1. no, you wouldn’t be off base. the only difference is the type of pitching they faced.

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