Our next Pinch Hitter is Colin Twing, who says he’s been a Yankees fan ever since seeing Mickey Mantle hit a game-winning home run several decades ago. He maintains his Yankees ties despite living in Western Massachusetts with an MFA in writing from Emerson College.
For his guest post, Colin took on a familiar topic: Who belongs in the Hall of Fame, specifically the candidacy of one Yankee Stadium’s most iconic figures.
Every year winter, the debates begin. Who is worthy of the Hall? This year it was Barry Larkin.
I’d like to talk a bit about a player who I believe should be in the Hall. Let me start by listing the following stats (1st 7 based on 162 game average followed by MVP, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers, Player of the Year, Hall Of Fame Monitor):
For the uninitiated, Hall of Fame Monitor is a statistic invented by Bill James which takes into account a variety of stats from a player’s career assessing how likely it is for that player to be inducted into the HoF. A score of 100 means the player has a good chance while a score of 130 means he’s a virtual lock.
Of the five players above only one is not in the HoF. The first 3 played the same position; he is one of these. The fourth player was an exact contemporary and the last is Barry Larkin.
The players are, in order: Eddie Murray, Tony Perez, Don Mattingly, Kirby Puckett and Larkin.
Based on these statistics, it’s a crime that Donnie Baseball is not in the HoF. Donnie is the only one with a Player of the Year trophy. Donnie and Barry are the only one’s with MVP’s. Donnie is well ahead with 9 Golden Gloves to Kirby’s 6. Donnie is third on the HR list, second on the RBI list, and second on the Runs list.
So what’s missing? Only one possibility: lifetime stats!
Games played: Murray 3026, Perez 2777, Larkin 2180. Kirby and Donnie were virtually tied at 1783 and 1785. Murray played for 21 seasons! He wound up with over 500 home runs and 3000 hits. He was a good, solid player; often very good. Tony Perez played for 23 seasons! He was a good, solid player who hit 40 home runs one year. Larkin played for 19 seasons! He was a good, solid player who won the National League MVP in 1995. Puckett played for 12 seasons. He was a good player, often very good and for several seasons great. Mattingly played for 14 seasons. He was a good player, often very good and for several seasons great.
Donnie had 4 seasons where he was great. From 1984-1987 he dominated his position and was considered the best player in the game. This cannot be said for the other four. After 1987 a bad back sapped some of the magic out of Donnie’s bat, but he still put up good numbers and his defense was unaffected.
The public is enamored of big offensive stats; 500 home runs, 3,000 hits, 300 wins, 400 saves. Why is defense overlooked? Donnie dominated his position during his career. He was a human vacuum cleaner with reflexes like a cat. He should be voted in solely based on his defense!
But the public loves their big stats, their long careers. If I haven’t made my case yet, I’ll leave you with one more comparative player: Dizzy Dean. Ol’ Diz played 12 seasons winning 150 and losing 83 and had a HoF monitor of 112. He was great for 4 seasons, good for 2, and an afterthought for the rest after being hit on the foot by a line drive. Yes, he won 30 games in 1934! Somewhat comparable to Donnie’s 1985 when he had a slash line of 35/145/.328. I would argue that Donnie is worthier of the HoF than Ol’ Diz!!
Associated Press photo