For most of the past two decades, Jim Edmonds was not only the best centerfielder in baseball, but the finest defensive player in the game. Period. No argument.
Combine that with his power and overall hitting prowess, and above all, his selfless, fearless play, ever-willing to risk injury on every play, and he was one of the great stars of his generation.
He lost a lot of time due to his fearless play and the injuries he was never afraid of suffering. A severely injured Achilles injured last September has now resulted in his retirement today at the age of 40.
As stated in the following video, his highlight reel is never-ending. Featured at the end, is his catch from 1997 in Kansas City, that is quite likely the greatest catch ever made on a major league diamond. At least in the TV era.
Edmonds played center for the Angels for six seasons, for six amazing season. His March, 2000 trade to St. Louis, where he enjoyed his greatest successes, was a dark day in Angel history, as coming off an injury-riddled 1999 season, he was virtually given away, for a scrappy Adam Kennedy and one-year wonder, Kent Bottenfield, whose one year happened in St. Louis, not Anaheim.
It is fitting that Darren Erstad comments on the 1997 catch in the video, as he played left field next to Edmonds for a couple of seasons, and then replaced him in center beginning in the 2000 season, and always playing with the same reckless abandon as Edmonds, he too suffered numerous injuries in the course of his career. Playing daredevil in the field, Erstad came as close to the magic of Edmonds as any other outfielder in the first decade of the 21st century, but injuries ended Erstad’s career at age 35.
Jim Edmonds was one high-priced ballplayer actually worth the price of admission.