Year Inducted: 1991 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 401/443)
There are some players who can just work wonders with a bat in their hands. There are players that can just, like clockwork, be penciled in to hit .300 at the start of a season or consistently get 200 hits a year or will always hit 30 homers. What made a player like Hank Aaron or Eddie Murray so great was that they could consistently perform at a high level. And, like was mentioned in the George Sisler post, a player that can consistently put up a high average and beat the trends is indeed a great player. One of the best at it, a true magician with the bat, was Rod Carew.
Carew worked wonders with the stick, hitting .328/.393/.429 with a wRC+ of 132 in his 19-year career. He stroked 3053 hits in his career with 92 homers, 112 triples and 445 doubles. Carew was one of the greatest leadoff hitters of all-time, drawing over 1000 walks, scoring over 1400 runs and even driving in over 1000 runs. And, despite being a very slightly negative baserunner, he was able to steal over 350 bases in his career. Carew was one of the few (Sisler, Tony Gwynn, Ichiro, etc.) pure hitters to really and truly excel in the Major Leagues.
There really is only one negative thing on Carew’s record. It isn’t his lack of power (even though second basemen in the Hall of Fame exhibit more power than people realize), or even his low baserunning score. The true problem is Carew’s position change. Carew was a decent fielder at second base for most of his career, but injuries (especially having his leg crushed by someone breaking up a double play) forced him to first base in an attempt to prolong his career. While his bat was historic at second base, it became merely “very good” at first base, a traditional power position. That, coupled with his horrendous leg injury, saw a small decline in Carew’s numbers over the last seven or so years of his illustrious career.
Upon his retirement, Carew ranked 7th in fWAR (72.3), 6th in wRC+ and 4th in average. Carew was easily one of the top-10 second basemen of all-time when he retired, and remains as such today.
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