Ryan Howard. Nomar Garciaparra. David Justice. David Wright. Adam Dunn. Troy Tulowitzki. Kirby Puckett. Kevin Youkilis. Dante Bichette. Buster Posey. Don Mattingly. Justin Morneau. Jermaine Dye. Bobby Bonds. Bobby Doerr. Mike Lowell. Dustin Pedroia. Jose Vidro. Dom DiMaggio. Bill Mueller. Hunter Pence. Bret Boone. A handful of MVPs and batting titles and Hall of Famers among those names. But what do they all have in common? Tim Salmon has a higher career OPS (.884) in as many or more seasons played as all of them.
A lifer in the California/Anaheim Angels organization spanning 14 seasons, right fielder Tim Salmon was a part of several winning seasons for the club. While he was arguably never the best player or biggest name on the team at any given time, Salmon’s performance wasn’t just among the all-time greats, but it was also remarkably consistent.
Tim Salmon’s career .884 OPS puts him in elite company. What were the more specific numbers behind his production?
What makes Tim Salmon so special in the category of OPS is how balanced he was between OBP and SLG. While most lean towards more on power or plate discipline to have their OPS look good, Salmon’s career .385 OBP and .498 SLG would be good enough for most Cooperstown in each category. Salmon has them both.
Perhaps Salmon’s best talent was his phenomenal plate discipline. His sharp eye at the plate generated seven seasons of 80 walks or more, including four straight seasons of 90+ from ’95 to ’98 and a whopping 104 walks in 2000. All in all, he posted a 162-game average of 94 walks.
Walks weren’t all that fueled the OBP. Hitting a lifetime .282 average shines light on how good of a hitter Salmon was. On base more than the average player, his aforementioned lifetime SLG on top of his lifetime batting average amplifies how well-rounded of a hitter he was as well. To perfectly define Salmon’s consistency, his hits over a 162-game average? 162.
The roots of his solid slugging percentage were 339 career doubles and one home run shy from 300 lifetime. He also posted eight seasons of 20+ home runs and three consecutive 30-plus seasons from ’95 to ’97.
It wasn’t a slow start out of the gate either for Salmon as he would win the Rookie of the Year in 1993 hitting .283 with 31 home runs and 95 RBI. That would ultimately add up to a .918 OPS as a 24-year-old.
Salmon shockingly would only win one Silver Slugger in his career despite all the stats mentioned. That came in the only season in which he produced an OPS over 1.000 (1.024 in 1995).
Not only does Salmon have a higher OPS than all of the names mentioned in the first paragraph of this piece, and therefore, technically more productive … but he also has the ring.
And he earned it. In what was his only postseason campaign, he would again define consistency with an OPS of .908 over 16 important October games.
It can probably be said that Tim Salmon will never get an invitation to Cooperstown. He, however, might be proof that you don’t need Cooperstown’s blessing to be considered an all-time great. All Salmon has to do is point at his resume.