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After hearing the news that Bernie Williams will be throwing out the first pitch for the Yankee home opener, I thought it would be interesting to take a brief look back at his career. The uncomfortable way that his time with the Yankees ended partially obscured the fact that Bernie put together a fantastic career that will likely keep him on the Hall of Fame ballot for a while, although I doubt he gets in. His prime was simply spectacular, as he had an 8 year period in middle of his career during which he was a superstar. Here are his numbers from 1995-2002, and keep in mind that these are from a CF:

Year Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
1995 26 144 648 563 93 173 29 9 18 82 8 6 75 98 .307 .392 .487 .878 129 274
1996 27 143 641 551 108 168 26 7 29 102 17 4 82 72 .305 .391 .535 .926 131 295
1997 28 129 591 509 107 167 35 6 21 100 15 8 73 80 .328 .408 .544 .952 147 277
1998 29 128 578 499 101 169 30 5 26 97 15 9 74 81 .339 .422 .575 .997 160 287
1999 30 158 697 591 116 202 28 6 25 115 9 10 100 95 .342 .435 .536 .971 149 317
2000 31 141 616 537 108 165 37 6 30 121 13 5 71 84 .307 .391 .566 .957 140 304
2001 32 146 633 540 102 166 38 0 26 94 11 5 78 67 .307 .395 .522 .917 138 282
2002 33 154 699 612 102 204 37 2 19 102 8 4 83 97 .333 .415 .493 .908 141 302
16 Seasons 2076 9053 7869 1366 2336 449 55 287 1257 147 87 1069 1212 .297 .381 .477 .858 125 3756
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/9/2010.

Over that span, he hit .321/.406/.531, with an OPS+ of 141, and was one of the best players in baseball each year. Now, Bernie likely does not have the counting stats to make the HOF, as his career hitting a wall at 34 likely cost him any chance that he might have had. He finished with 47.1 total WAR, in the same ballpark as players such as Fred Lynn and Mike Cameron. Furthermore, his defense was fairly shaky at times, and Total Zone had him at -8 or worse 7 times in his career (of course, he won Gold Gloves in 3 of those years). He often made mistakes on the basepaths, and was simply not a very instinctive player. However, it is important to remember that for an 8 year period, Bernie was the best player on a great Yankee team, and was among the best players in baseball. Considering the Yankee centerfielders since he left, he has been missed.

2 Responses to “A Quick Look Back at Bernie Williams”

  1. Fond memories of Bernie coming alive in May and carrying the team for 6 or 8 weeks, and then doing the same from mid-August for another 2 or 3 weeks, every year during his golden period.  (Quote)

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