Across a 13-year MLB career, J.J. Hardy suited up 1,561 times for three teams. He played 1,544 games at shortstop, the 59th most in MLB history. He helped all three teams make the playoffs, and he was a consistent power threat at a position that traditionally does not provide power. Few shortstops in MLB history matched Hardy’s combination of power and defense.
J.J. Hardy’s Voting History for the MLB Hall of Fame
Hardy is entering his first year on the ballot after retiring after the 2017 season. Hardy will need to secure 5.0% of the vote to stay on the ballot for 2024. If he gets 75.0% of the vote, he will be elected to the Hall of Fame.
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MLB Hall of Fame Case: Career Peak
Hardy has two seasons that could be considered his best. In 2008, he slugged 24 home runs and 31 doubles for a playoff-bound Brewers squad. He slashed .283/.343/.478 with a 115 OPS+ and 4.8 WAR. He did not win the Gold Glove, but he posted +13 defensive runs saved, so he had a solid case. In the playoffs, Hardy went 6-for-14 with a double, two walks, and two RBI in an NLDS loss to the Phillies.
In 2011, Hardy had his best season from a power standpoint. He launched 30 home runs and 27 doubles for a career-best 57 extra-base hits. He slashed .269/.310/.491 for an OPS+ of 114. He had a solid, not elite, defensive season, so he ended with 4.1 WAR. The Orioles did not make the playoffs in 2011. Hardy was second on the team in WAR to Matt Wieters.
MLB Hall of Fame Case: J.J. Hardy in His Prime
For eight seasons, Hardy was one of the better shortstops in baseball. From 2007 to 2014, Hardy accumulated 23.7 WAR. He had two seasons over 4.0 WAR and six seasons over 3.0 WAR. He had +59 defensive runs saved. In the time frame, he was one of three shortstops to post 150 home runs and 200 doubles, joining Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez.
Hardy made the NL All-Star team in 2007, and he was the starting shortstop for the 2013 AL All-Star team. He won the Gold Glove in 2012, 2013, and 2014. In 2013, he won the Silver Slugger after hitting 25 home runs and 27 doubles. All told, Hardy had five seasons with at least 27 doubles and 22 home runs.
MLB Hall of Fame Case: J.J. Hardy’s Legacy
Hardy did two generally mutually exclusive baseball things at a high level. He was one of the best defensive shortstops of his era. He was sixth in DRS among shortstops during his career, and unlike the top four players, he could hit as well. Since 1953, Hardy is tied for 11th in shortstop total zone runs. For those who love fielding percentage, Hardy is fifth all-time among shortstops with a .983%.
Among primary shortstops, Hardy is 18th in home runs and 44th in dWAR. These stats might not seem all that inspiring, but the only player to exceed Hardy’s tally in both stats is Cal Ripken Jr., a fellow Orioles shortstop. When Hardy last hit 20 home runs, only eight other shortstops had hit 20 in a season five times.
Hardy helped to usher in an era of offensive forces at the shortstop position. Along with Tulowitzki and Ramirez, Hardy brought more power to the position. In the five seasons since Hardy retired, five primary shortstops have hit 100 home runs. In the last five seasons Hardy played, no primary shortstop hit 100 home runs.
2023 MLB Hall of Fame Likelihood
Hardy could receive a handful of Hall of Fame votes, but he seems to be a likely one-and-done candidate. Hardy was a solid shortstop for the better part of a decade, and he was a good defender, but he never ascended to the elite level that some of his contemporaries did. He shares this ballot with Jhonny Peralta (better hitter), Omar Vizquel (more Gold Gloves), and Jimmy Rollins (MVP), so if voters want to vote for a shortstop, there are better options than Hardy.
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