Looking at the Hall-of-Fame Ballot: Former Yankees Pt. 4 – Jason Giambi
Does Jason Giambi belong in the Hall-of-Fame?
Let’s take a look…
The Low Bar (or the Harold Baines Test):
Regular readers will know that my first test for any player to be included in the Hall-of-Fame is what I call the “Harold Baines Test.” In short, a player must have a lifetime WAR (Baseball-Reference) above that of Harold Baines. If the player’s lifetime WAR is below that of Baines, it is my opinion that he does not belong in the Hall-of-Fame. Ranked by WAR, Harold Baines comes in as the 552nd best player of all-time with a WAR of 38.7. This is the low bar. There are literally hundreds of players better than Baines who are not in the Hall-of-Fame. We have no business electing players who rank lower than Baines.
This test provides good news for Jason Giambi. He passed the Harold Baines test. Giambi’s lifetime WAR is 50.5, good enough for 292nd all-time.
Just because a player has a lifetime WAR higher than Harold Baines, does not mean that he immediately is Hall worthy. In my book, beating Baines just just the first step.
This second step now hurts Giambi.
It is a tough case to state that the 292nd best player of all-time belongs in the Hall-of-Fame. Being 292nd does not scream out, “I was one of the greatest ever.”
Or does it?
I took a quick look at the players who ranked near Giambi on the list. This list includes some players who have had Hall-of-Fame arguments, some who don’t, and at least one gut I never heard of. Here they are, the five players (non pitchers) above Giambi, the two tied with him, and the five below:
286. Bobby Doerr (Hall-of-Famer)
287. Brian Giles (no) and Kirby Puckett (Hall-of-Famer) (and Carl Mays – pitcher)
290. Tony Phillips (No)
291. Joe Kelley (Hall-of-Famer… he played a long time ago)
292. Giambi, Theodore Breitenstein (Who?…he played when Joe Kelley played) and Minnie Minoso (some say he belongs in the Hall)
295. Bob Elliot (No), Silver King (Who?…he played before Joe Kelley), and David Wright (No) – along with pitchers Jim Kaat and Kenny Rogers
300. Ted Simmons (some feel he’s Hall worthy)
301. Orlando Cepeda (Hall-of-Famer) and Fred Lynn (No)
What a mixed bag. What this does is keep Giambi’s hopes alive. He resides in some good company – among Hall-of-Famers.
Awards, Honors, and the Like:
It seems logical to assume that a Hall-of-Fame player would have received a good deal of honors and awards during his playing days.
Jason Giambi earned an MVP.
He was a five-time All-Star.
He won two Silver Slugger Awards.
Jason Giambi won six Gold Gloves.
(No he didn’t. Giambi was never known for his fielding. I’m just making sure you’re still reading.)
Jason Giambi hit over 30 homeruns eight times.
He led the league in the following categories: doubles (once), walks (four times), On-Base Percentage (three times), and slugging (once).
Does that scream Hall-of-Famer? Not really, but it all does say that he had a heck of a career…
Jason Giambi hit 440 homers. Passing the 400 homer mark is a good sign.
Giambi had 1,441 runs batted in, falling short of 1,500.
He had 2,010 hits…but that’s not 2,500 and is a far cry from 3,000.
His lifetime slash line was .277/.399/.516.
Good number, very good numbers… not necessarily great numbers.
JAWS By Position:
By JAWS, Jason Giambi ranks as the 25th greatest first baseman of all-time. That’s really really good. I don’t think it’s Hall-of-Fame worthy.
Just going up the list, one sees John Olerud (22nd) the Keith Hernandez (19th) above him. This doesn’t scream that Giambi is the best player being left out at his position. There are eight players, all first basemen, who rank ahead of Jason GIambi on the JAWS chart who are not in the Hall-of-Fame.
Most Similar Players:
Baseball Reference lists the ten most similar players to each MLB player for their career.
Again, it’s a mixed bag: Carlos Delgado, Paul Konerko, Mark Teixeira, Jose Canseco, Andres Galarraga, Fred McGriff, and Andruw Jones are not Hall-of-Famers (and probably never will be).
On the other hand, Willie Stargell, Willie McCovey, and Jeff Bagwell are Hall-of-Famers.
For his career, Jason Giambi was, at times a great player.
Giambi was a Yankee from 2002 to 2008. He played in 897 games for the Yanks putting up the following numbers: .260/209/604. The man could hit.
Jason GIambi was a very good player, but he was not a Hall-of-Famer.