A short hop to Cooperstown

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Several future Hall of Famers will likely take the field in tonight’s Game 3 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.

But ironically, it’s another Cooperstown candidate – one who’s not a part of this postseason – who had everybody talking on Sunday.

10-18-10-Muder_Vizquel.jpgElvis Andrus’ stellar play in the first two games of the ALCS has both managers raving about the 22-year-old Venezuelan shortstop. Andrus’ accomplishments have drawn comparisons to another Venezuelan star – Omar Vizquel – who made the postseason his own personal showcase.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi left no doubt that he believes Vizquel – who spent the 2010 season with the White Sox and is just 201 hits short of 3,000 for his career – is worthy of a bronze Hall of Fame plaque.

“Omar Vizquel, I believe, is a future Hall of Famer,” Girardi said at Sunday’s Workout Day press conference at Yankee Stadium. “Now we have another young Venezuelan shortstop in Elvis Andrus who’s doing something similar.

“He may not be hitting the ball out of the ballpark, but – just like Omar – when he gets on base it creates issues.”

10-18-10-Muder_Aparicio.jpgAndrus is batting .355 in seven postseason games this year with five runs scored and five stolen bases. Much of the maturity shown by the second-year Rangers’ star can be traced to Vizquel, who played with the Rangers in 2009 when Andrus was a rookie.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that Omar helped Elvis during his first season,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington. “We were fortunate to have someone like Omar on this team.”

Vizquel, who will be 44 next April, has played 22 big league seasons but shows no signs of nearing retirement. But if he does not play in another big league game, he would be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration in 2016.

Andrus, meanwhile, appears on his way to extending the tradition of great Venezuelan shortstops – a tradition that includes Luis Aparicio, Davey Concepcion and Vizquel.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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