Kimball: Ghost of a chance case for the HOF.
Meanwhile, we have Juan Pierre, a 34 year old outfielder currently playing for the Chicago White Sox. Now Pierre is actually a pretty good player (he’s a career .296 hitter so far, and has 560 stolen bases), and any number of teams could find a spot on their roster for him, but I can’t think of anyone who would consider him a Hall of Fame candidate – a slap-and-dash speed merchant, he only has 16 career home runs and 495 runs batter in (as of May 28, 2012). I think it’s a safe bet to say that Pierre will never be confused with Tim Raines, nor will he wind up on anyone’s “best of all-time / top 100″ list.
But here’s the thing. At the age of 34 (he turns 35 in August, 2012), Pierre has 2,073 career hits as I write this. He’s in good health, and has no significant injury history. He’s the kind of player that teams find useful, so there’s a fair chance that if he wants to, he can play into his early 40s – his skill set will probably hold up better than your average power-hitter’s skill set. So let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, that he plays another seven years, with an average of 135 hits per season (last year Pierre racked up 178 hits, and 179 the year before, and he already has 53 so far this season). That would give him a career total of 3,018 hits. For my friend and all of those others who go solely by the numbers, that would make Juan Pierre a sure-fire Hall of Famer, at which point we slip into a bizarro universe where someone like Tim Raines might have to wait years to get enshrined, whereas someone like Juan Pierre would deserve induction with his 3,018 hits almost immediately.
Juan Pierre is not a Hall of Famer. Most casual fans probably don’t even know he has 2,000+ hits already, and they probably don’t give him much thought at all – the very antithesis of “fame”. I’m pretty sure that he’s never struck terror into the hearts of opposing players either.