To many people, Eric Davis was the best player that they ever saw. Davis was, in many ways, the second coming of Willie Mays. He could do it all. He averaged 28 HR and 35 SB for every 162 games played. He had a career OPS+ of 125. He was one of the best defensive players at the second-toughest position. He had so-called â€œyoung playerâ€ skills that would age gracefully. At his peak he averaged 30 HR and 40 SB a season.
Yet, his career is one of the great disappointments in baseball history. Injuries and disease ruined a career that looked to be Hall-worthy.
In 1986 he hit more than 27 HR and garnered 80 SB, a feat only duplicated by Rickey Henderson. The next year, in 1987, he hit 37 HR with 50 SB, a feat only matched later, in 1990, by Barry Bonds.
This was one of the best players of his time, a true superstar who could rob you of a home run, do anything on a baseball field and was a joy to watch.
In Game 4 of the World Series in 1990, when his Reds shocked the juggernaut Oakland Aâ€™s and the Bash Brothers with a four-game sweep, Davis lacerated his kidney on a diving play. This ended a five-year string where he received strong MVP support, and ended the 30 HR 40 SB peak we mentioned above.
He was never the same player.
In 1991 he hit a meager 11 HR, following that up with a 5 HR season in 1992, playing only 165 games over the two seasons. He would never again put up a .900 OPS, a routine occurrence in his hey day.
Davis retired in 1994 because of a herniated disc. He missed the entire 1995 season, but made a comeback in 1996. In 1997 the cancer bug struck him, effectively finishing his career. He came back, and actually played with an ileo-anal pouch. But he was finished.
The Alternate Universe Baseball Hall of Fame purports to recognize players who, in another universe, are Hall of Famers, but are not in our universe because of out-of-the-ordinary circumstances beyond their control.
Davis was frequently injured, never playing in more than 135 games. And frequent injuries, or the inability to stay healthy is not a sufficient excuse to get into the Alternate Universe Hall of Fame.
However, the view here is that despite being generally injury-plagued, a lacerated kidney on a diving play is one of those rare, out-of-the ordinary injuries that does not happen in very many universes. The idea is that common issues will arise in quite a few alternate universes; but uncommon ones will not. It is Davisâ€™ bad luck that his uncommon injury occurred in our universe, but we feel confident that there are many universes (if there are more than one) where Davis is an actual Hall of Famer.
If you want to argue that he is not; well, that is what this project is all about. It is a subjective endeavor, open to opinion, conjecture and speculation. And the opinion here is that Davisâ€™ qualifies for the Alternate Universe Baseball Hall of Fame.
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