I'm really enjoying the Fox Sports Midwest series featuring former St. Louis Cardinals greats Ozzie Smith and Jim Edmonds.
It's a great glimpse into what happened behind the scenes with some of the greatest Redbirds teams in history. It's also a very interesting look into how those excellent Cardinals prepared themselves and played the game.
We've heard a lot of Ozzie's stories before because when he was here he was the undisputed star of the Redbirds. Still, if you asked Ozzie to tell you a little bit about baseball, he could talk all day -- and all night -- and it would be fascinating the whole time.
But Jim Edmonds played in the shadow of Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols when he was in St. Louis. So I believe he is undervalued as a player both on and off the field.
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Edmonds is a ballplayer's ballplayer. With apologies to Curt flood -- who I never saw play -- and Willie McGee -- who was an excellent outfielder in his own right, I don't think I ever saw a better outfield defender. Edmonds was fearless in the outfield. He covered so much ground it was ridiculous, always knew where he was going with the ball and had an incredible knack for throwing out runners at the plate.
It's neat to hear Edmonds talk about how he watched the catcher call for the pitch type and location and applied that information to his studying of hitters' tendencies and the way they swung the bat on a particular pitch to be moving even before the batter made contact. His attention to the details made a good player great and separated him from the guys you see standing in the outfield like they're waiting for the bus more than they're waiting for a pitch.
I believe, just as firmly as others have opposed the suggestion, that Edmonds deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he played at the same time as Ken Griffey Jr. and Junior was a flashy player who got a lot of attention from the national sports press. Griffey hit 630 homers, which made him stand out, nevermind that so many of them came in the cozy Seattle Kingdome.
But Edmonds put up offensive statistics similar to Hall of Fame outfielder Duke Snider with a .284 career average, 393 homers and 1,199 runs batted in. If you're talking about a corner outfielder, those numbers might not do it. But that kind of offense is very rare from an elite defensive centerfielder.
Edmonds is the author of two of my top 10 favorite plays by Cardinals. One an offensive play when he hit the winning home run in Game 6 of the 2004 National League Championship Series. The other was the defensive play he made the next game to rob the Houston Astros of a big inning in Game 7 when he laid out to catch Brad Ausmus' line drive into left center. The play, in my opinion, saved the game and sent the Redbirds to the World Series for the first time since 1987.
Another asset Edmonds offered was his incredible eye for the game. He had a knack for noticing when pitchers tipped off their deliveries -- both Cardinals pitchers and hurlers for opposing teams.
I'm not sure if he'd be interested in such a thing. But Edmonds would make a heckuva major league coach. And if he desires to do so, I sure hope it's for the Cardinals.