Posted: Aug 18, 2007 9:33 pm
I wouldn't be surprised if Vizquel gets elected to the Hall of Fame, he just doesn't deserve to be. And Ozzie Smith was on another level than Vizquel. I've been doing some research on Baseball-Reference.com and I'm about to totally baseball nerd out on you...
Ozzie Smith won 13 Gold Gloves to Vizquel's 11. The Gold Glove Award is probably the only award in baseball where the writers don't really bother to compare statistics. Guys win on reputation and perceived defensive prowess. Rafael Palmeiro winning the Gold Glove at 1B after only playing 40 games at that position is the most obvious example that comes to mind. That being said, Ozzie's 1990 & 1992 Gold Glove Awards are the only ones I don't think he really deserved. It could be argued that he did deserve the award in 1978 and 1979 so it all evens out in the end.
For most of the '80s Ozzie Smith was head and shoulders above the competition when you compare defensive stats. In the early to mid 80s, he didn't have any competition, he was that amazing. He led all National League shortstops in Assists, which is the best way to judge a shortstops range & prowess, eight times in his career, many times by a large margin. His career high is 621 assists in 1980 which is an insane number! He also led National League shortstops in Range Factor 6-times in his career, his career high 5.86 in 1982.
I think there were more worthy Gold Glove candidates than Vizquel in '94 - '97, '99, '00, '05, and '06. He probably deserved the '92 Gold Glove.
Vizquel led all American League shortstops in fielding percentage 3-times and National League shortstops 2-times in his career, three of those times doing so with a lower than league average Range Factor. He never led the league in Assists by a shortstop.
Ozzie Smith's career Range Factor is 5.03 compared to a 4.10 league Range Factor. Omar Vizquel's career Range Factor is 4.40 compared to a 4.11 league Range Factor. Ozzie Smith has 8375 career Assists in 2511 games compared to Omar Vizquel's 7264 career Assists in 2535 career games, a difference of over 1000 Assists in roughly the same amount of games! Vizquel has a career .984 fielding percentage compared to Smith's .978 career fielding percentage. I think Ozzie's 1000 Assists makes up for the 100 or so career error difference between Vizquel and then some!
My point is, Omar Vizquel is a very good defensive shortstop with above average range who was never undeniably THE best defensive shortstop in baseball while Ozzie Smith redefined the position and played the position at a much higher level than his nearest competition. If Ozzie is the gatekeeper for defensive wiz shortstops who weren't really Hall of Fame caliber hitters but deserve to be in the Hall, Vizquel doesn't stack up.
Did I really just post this on the Goner Records board?!? Anyway, for further referrence, check out