While I don’t get an official say in Hall of Fame selections, I do get to vote with the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. The BBA puts out a press release with the results of their voting, and they try to do so ahead of the actuAl Hall of Fame voting. As I pored over the list of players on the ballot, I had some thoughts on one of our own, Phil Nevin.
Nevin, the Padres free swinging, power-hitting first baseman from 1999-2005, is on the ballot for the first time. I am under no delusions that Nevin has a chance, but I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at his career numbers. Nevin managed a very respectable .270/.343/.472 career line. Surprisingly enough, most of his pop and numbers came while as a member of our beloved San Diego Padres. During his seven years in San Diego, Nevin posted a .288/.359/.508 triple-slash, mashed 156 home runs, and had an OPS+ of 129.
As I look at these numbers, I’m slightly taken aback. My memories of Nevin are not fond. Perhaps it was the losing ball clubs that colored my opinion of him, but I always thought he struck out too much and didn’t do enough to help the Padres win. However, he struck out just 22.8% of the time and provided the club 17.8 WAR. Maybe Nevin doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Maybe the sad years from 1999-2004 have blinded me. Maybe I didn’t appreciate exactly what Nevin brought to the table.
He was a below-average first baseman, but an above-average offensive slugger. In a year where Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs, Sammy Sosa hit 64, and Luis Gonzalez hit 57, Nevin still ranked 7th in the National League in home runs. He ranked 11th in slugging percentage and 21st in batting average. His 41 home runs were the most by a Padre since Greg Vaughn in 1998. No Padre has hit that many since.
And let’s not forget how awesome he looked in the camouflage uniforms and his wrap around shades:
In all seriousness, Phil Nevin was a solid offensive player, one the Padres relied on for a number of years. Yet, interestingly enough, Nevin posted a -0.8 WAR the year the Padres “broke through” with 82 wins and took the division. He was nearing the end of his productive years by 2005, but the Padres squeezed out everything they could from him.
As much as Nevin helped the Padres, I return to his highly improbable candidacy. To give you a measure of just how unlikely it will be for Nevin to crack the Hall, Baseball Reference’s Hall of Fame monitor rates Nevin a 23. An average Hall of Famer gets a 100 rating. So did I vote for Phil Nevin? Come on, I’m a Padres fan, but I’m not crazy.