Before I was a teenager, my uncle tried to convince me that Ken Caminiti was the greatest baseball player he ever saw. This of course is a far cry from most people's expectations when watching Cammy play. My uncle was in his late 20s/early 30s when he met Caminiti at a bar out drinking everyone and later saw him in spring training picking grounders with the slickest of fielding.
To this day, my uncle swears that the two best players he saw play were Pete Rose when he was growing up and Ken Caminiti in his prime.
The Caminiti selection seems like a "homer" pick. He still makes arguments about what ifs and how were it not for a late career start, injuries, and some substance problems he thinks Caminiti could have been one of the all time greats at the hot corner with his switch hitting ability and gold glove caliber and under rated defense.
I have similar conversations when it comes to my favorite player who I met when I was in my late 20s.
Cutch started his career as a 22 year old and suffered a serious knee injury in his age 32 season. He fortunately hasn't dealt with substance problems, but has had a season shortened by a global pandemic in a year that followed a season ending injury.
In Cutch's first seven years in the league, he seemed like a sure fire Hall of Fame path. He won 4 silver sluggers, MVP, Baseball America Rookie of Year, 2xPlayers Selection MVP, 5xAll-Star, and won a Gold Glove. He was also the 2015 Roberto Clemente which showed that he was a leading example of the good character clause.
Last year there was an article written about the 10 players that could be hurt most at a Hall of Fame career if the 2020 season were cancelled. Of course, there was a baseball season and Cutch performed pretty good coming off such a huge injury. He managed to hit 10HRs in the shortened season and joins Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion, and Robinson Cano as the only player since 2009 to have 10 or more homeruns each season since 2009. You can visit the article here.
Baseball has always been a numbers game and if you look at some numbers of Cutch's career to other recent Hall of Fame outfielders, you can see that Cutch still has a pretty good shot at eventually making the Hall of Fame.
Although Ichiro hasn't officially made it to the Hall of Fame, he will likely be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Through his age 33 season, Ichiro collected 1,592 hits.
Cutch currently has 1,719 career Hits.
Cutch also has Ichiro beat in career HR and RBI even if he doesn't collect another over his career. He is also outpacing Ichiro for career Runs scored through age 33 season. Ichiro had 782 and Cutch has 974.
Edgar's post age 33 season he was able to put up 1,216 Hits, 192 HR, 777 RBI, and 615 Runs.
If Cutch were to match those numbers by Edgar Martinez he will have finished his career with 435 HR, over 200 stolen bases, 2935 Hits, 1589 Runs scored, and 1630 RBI. I don't think anyone would deny those numbers as Hall of Fame worthy.
Baines career through age 33 mirrors McCutchen almost identically.
Baines had 1 less homerun, but more (almost 200) hits. Cutch has him beat substantially on runs scored, stolen bases, but is trailing by a bit on RBI.
Baines put up an additional 940 hits, 142 HR, and roughly 500 each runs/RBI after his age 33 season.
If Cutch does that he will have over 2,600 Hits, almost 400 HR, over 1300 RBI, and nearly 1500 Runs scored.
Again, pretty consistent with Hall of Fame outfielders, especially one that played the majority of his career in centerfield in a pitcher's ballpark.
Walker was a five tool outfielder that could hit for power and average while being above average on the base paths and had a cannon for an arm in the outfield.
He finished his career with 2,160 Hits, 383 HR, 1353 Runs scored, and 1311 RBI while swiping 230 bags.
His post age 33 season yielded 632 hits, 112HR, 405 RBI, and 405 Runs scored.
If Cutch duplicates a Larry Walker career post age 33 he will have numbers that are frightengly similar to Hall of Famer, Larry Walker
Walker V Cutch
2160 hits V 2351 hits
1311 RBI V 1258 RBI
1353 R V 1379 R
383 HR V 355 HR
230 SB V 226 SB
Oddly enough, Larry Walker is often considered a great defensive outfielder, but in more career chances, Walker made less put outs than McCutchen and has a lower fielding percentage than Cutch.
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I'm not sure if Cutch has 8 more seasons in him like Edgar or Ichiro or if he will retire before he hits age 40 like Larry Walker, but Cutch is certainly still on a Hall of Fame path, especially if writers decide to put as much emphasis on the good side of the character clause as they do the bad side for players like Bonds, Schilling, and Clemens.
Cutch has had a slow start to the season thus far, but that's nothing new for the former MVP.