Examining the Hall of Fame case for New York Yankees legend Willie Randolph

At first glance, you may not think that former New York Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph may not have the numbers to be a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, especially when you look at the traditional numbers that baseball writers used 20, 25 years ago for voting in players.

He spent parts of 18 seasons in the majors and he spent 13 of them with the Yankees. In his career, he hit .276 with an average of three homers and 38 RBI per season in his career. He was a six-time All-Star and was with the Yankees when they were successful in the late 1970s and early 80s.

But when you dive further into the modern numbers, you will see that Willie Randolph has a much stronger case for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

New York Yankees legend Willie Randolph has a great case for the Baseball Hall of Fame

Willie Randolph’s case for the Baseball Hall of Fame is one that is pretty strong, despite the New York Yankees legend only getting 1.1 percent of the vote on the 1998 HOF ballot.

First of all, when you look at his offensive numbers, you see that while his average was not phenomenal, it was still decent at .276. However, Randolph walked a ton. He walked nearly twice as much as he struck out in his career. That made his career on-base percentage a phenomenal .373.

He had eight seasons where it was above .373 and 16 seasons with an OBP of .336 or better.

His best season came in 1980 when, in 138 games, Randolph hit .294/.427/.407 with seven homers, 46 RBI, and a staggering 119 walks compared to just 45 strikeouts. He was an All-Star, won a Silver Slugger award, came in 15th in AL MVP voting, and 6.6 rWAR season.

Defensively, Randolph was also elite. Despite never winning a Gold Glove, he had 114 Total Zone Runs in his career (that’s the predecessor to the modern Defensive Runs Saved). That’s an average of 6.33 per season.

He had 115 TZ at second base (-1 at third base so that’s why it’s 114 for his career) and that is 3rd all-time among second basemen.

For comparison, Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg had 57 TZ in his career at second and 60 TZ total. He won nine Gold Glove Awards and Randolph didn’t win a single one, despite Randolph having double the Total Zone Runs that Sandberg did at second base.

Sandberg was a better hitter than Randolph but not by as much as you’d think. Sandberg had a career 114 OPS+ and Randolph’s career OPS+ is 104. Overall, Randolph had a career 65.9 WAR and Sandberg has a career 67.9 WAR.

Randolph’s WAR is 13th all-time among primary second basemen higher than Hall of Famer Craig Biggio‘s 65.4 WAR (and Biggio played two more seasons) as well nine other Hall of Famers in as players.

When you look at JAWS (which combines WAR and the WAR in a player’s best seven seasons), Randolph’s JAWS is just behind Biggio (53.6 to 51.1). Hall of Famers Joe Gordon and Billy Herman are right behind Randolph in JAWS.

Willie Randolph has a lot stronger case for the Baseball Hall of Fame than you’d initially think and, hopefully, he will receive more consideration with the Era Committees in the near future.