Donnie Baseball and the Hall of Fame

Saturday morning musings: Important Yankees
The man behind the contracts

For all the talk about the current face of the Yankees, whether it be A-Rod, Derek Jeter or someone else, Don Mattingly was the clear symbol of the team during the 1980s and early 1990s. Many of us grew up watching and idolizing Donnie Baseball, and no topic generates more discussion than whether or not Don Mattingly belongs in the Hall of Fame.

For the most part, Yankee fans agree that Don Mattingly was very good. He was a bright spot on a franchise that made the playoffs once during his tenure and generally wasn’t good. In fact, the team finished first just once during his career, and that just happened to be in a year with no postseason. But Mattingly, these fans, argue just wasn’t a Hall of Famer. He never reached those benchmark Hall of Fame levels, and while he certainly deserves to see his 23 hung up, a spot in Cooperstown would not be warranted.

Sometimes, though, we lose sight of just how good Don Mattingly was. For those of us who grew up watching him, we didn’t really start to appreciate baseball until Mattingly’s quick and rapid collapse. For five years, Don Mattingly was one of the best players in baseball.

Between 1984-1989, Mattingly’s peak and among players with at least 1000 plate appearances, he was one of the top offensive players around. His OPS+ of 147 was seventh best in the Majors, and his 160 home runs were sixth best. His overall line was .327/.372/.530. As 1989 was his age 28 season and he was just entering his peak, anyone watching would be right in expecting a future plaque on the wall in the Hall of Fame.

But Mattingly’s career didn’t follow that typical path. From 1990 until he retired following the 1995 season, Mattingly’s numbers weren’t as impressive. His OPS+ over that period ranked him just 147th out of those with 1000 plate appearances, and he hit just 58 home runs. He hit a pedestrian .286/.345/.405. Injuries derailed his career and sapped his power. He was out of baseball before his 35th birthday.

So Mattingly was very good, but he wasn’t the best. He had a five-year peak that ranks up their in the 1980s, but at a time when he should have gotten better, at a time when most sluggers enter their peak, he declined. It was a fast and painful decline.

Had Mattingly sustained his early production over a long career, he would have been a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, but he didn’t. He’ll always be remembered as a very good player, an icon of the Yankees and one who declined quickly and painfully. Cooperstown will forever miss him, but that’s just the way it should be.

Saturday morning musings: Important Yankees
The man behind the contracts
  • Conan the Barack O’Brian

    Wow. The stove won’t light itself, right? Nothing will start a post-November, pre-December Yankee baseball thread quite like the well-played analysis of Donnie Baseball’s career.

    Can you cook with fireworks?

    • Ben K.

      Not everything has to be another “he said, he said” rumor.

      • Eric

        Well, I heard from someone who knows someone who knows someone I once knew that CC Sabathia hates the Yankees so much that he’s willing to sign with them just so he can burn down the new Stadium then demand a trade to the Angels.

    • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

      Reasons Donnie should be in the Hall of Fame.
      Without me digging up tons of stats (you can do that yourself if you feel the need)
      I will state things I recall (possibly some will not be 100 percent correct,
      and if you need to fact check them please do)

      Donnie had the best fielding percentage of any player ever at first base when he
      retired. I beleive he still does, but I will let the Pie Chart Posse look that one up.
      He also won 9 gold gloves and I believe 3 silver sluggers.

      Donnie won the MVP award in 1985 (after coming in 5th for the award in 84),
      and Donnie should have won the award in 1986 (a pitcher by the name of Roidger Clemens
      won instead). He was Sporting News Player of the Year for 1985 (only given
      to one player in all of baseball per year). I believe that Mattingly
      was voted by his peers the best player in baseball in 85 and 86.
      Donnie was in 6 all star games in a row. Donnie won a batting crown. Donnie also played his career
      in the steriod era and after the dust has settled was the only top first basemen
      of his time period there have been no wispers of using. Maybe if Donnie
      used he would have been able to play at a higher level for longer and his
      peak years would have been as eye popping as roiders like Bonds and McGwire.

      Donnie had his number retired by the New York Yankees. Yankees Captin.

      Donnie was a leader in the clubhouse as well as the official title of Captin, and
      players from Derek Jeter, Paul Oniel to the ever popular Bernie Williams
      credit him with teaching them many things, none more important than how one
      is suppose to think and hustle at all times. Yes the ever popular GRIT.

      Donnie had a better mustache than anybody in baseball (this is what some on this board
      say, I am joking here) And being white made him loved (again another dummie thing
      said on this board)

      Ok now that I threw some numbers and award type BS at you, here is the real reason
      Donnie deserves to be in the Hall. Donnie was the best player of his time period.
      Donnie was a better baseball player than Wade Boggs, Kirby Puckett, Mark McGwire, Raffie,
      etc. The four players I named Boggs (was aided by that wall in boston more than
      anything, also was terrible with a glove untill late in his career, when
      surpise surpise Donnie helped him with some things he also cheaply won a
      batting title that should have been Donnies by sitting out at the end of the
      season one year). Puckett had a career cut short because of an eye condition, and
      his career numbers are similar yet he did not have the steep decline which
      means his overall number might not have been so great. Puckett played in
      a park that in my belief was the easiest to get hits in, in all of the AL if not
      baseball. Kirby (was a really big fan of Kirby personally), got a lot of credit
      for being on two WS championship teams, as he should, but this should not be held
      against Donnie. The last two guys I mentioned were proved Roiders as were
      many of Donnies time.

      I know this does not count here but Donnie almost never made a mistake. He threw
      to the correct base, he was one of the best base runners I have ever seen (not in
      speed but in knowing what to do when on the baseses, I know there is no stat for this
      but it is important)
      Donnie had pitchers changed every time he came up late in games. If there is a place
      to looks for this stat please tell me. Donnie played on a couple of good teams
      and some real crap teams so he will never get the benifit that guys like Bernie
      got of playing with almost only good teams, of Jeter of being on ONLY good to great teams.

      In the end I have no vote for the Hall of Fame, but I really laugh ever time
      I see some mook sports writer vote for guys who could not carry Donnie jock strap.
      I cringe when I see young guys who may not understand the type of player Donnie
      was say horrible untruths about people being a better baseball player than he was.

      Donnie Baseball belong in the Hall. If you think otherwise, you better have a good reason.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

        In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m not going to pick this apart word by word and expose all of the flawed logic in it (and yes, there’s a shitload), instead I’m going to let it slide and deal with the bigger part of your argument:

        No, I don’t think Donnie Baseball belongs in the Hall of Fame, because while at his peak, he just might have been the best player in baseball (a determination that’s very subjective and one probably tinged with both of our pro-Yankee biases), that peak simply did not last long enough for him to truly be one of the best ever. That’s your “good reason”. If we start putting guys in the Hall simply because they were really, really good for 2 or 3 years, and ignore the rest of their careers, we’re going to have to start putting guys like Albert Belle, Wally Joyner, Don Baylor, and Mike Hampton into the Hall.

        Even though I love the guy, he doesn’t make it. Injuries are not an exemption from production.

        • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

          In the spirt of Thanksgiving my ass. Whenever you step in a thread I SMELL ***** (Full Force tone).

          I was fairly objective here but at the same time where I may not have been I think I let it be known what was my opinion.

          You are a sniveling little Pie Chart Princess who think the world gives a damn about what you have to say. I being just a guy who watches, plays and enjoys baseball, figure most people could give a crap about what I feel about baseball. I promise you most people in the world do not care about your daily musings on things you were not around to witness.

          You nor I have a vote on the Hall of Fame, but if you did I am sure a lot of compilers who were not great baseball players would see themselves in bronze. Just like the baby shoes you wore when Donnie was playing.

          • Ben K.

            How old are you anyway? I know that TSJC was not a baby during the vast majority of Mattingly’s career. Anyway, there is no comparable player in the Hall of Fame. Being great for four years doesn’t get you into Cooperstown. He got injured, and that counts. It’s just the way it goes.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

            Again, dude, I’m trying to be nice to you. But every time somebody presents an opinion you disagree with, you start calling people names.

            I’m 31 years old. You constantly claim to be older than me. But you constantly act like a little baby whenever anyone says anything you disagree with or calls you out for saying bullshit, illogical statements. For an older, wiser Yankee fan, you act and speak like a child frequently.

            Out of respect for Mike, Ben, and Joe, and the great work they do, I’m avoiding starting some silly war of words with you. But you constantly disrespect me and others by your foolish grandstanding, and that’s why I constantly harp on your posts, because they’re needlessly demeaning and insulting. You claim to have a monopoly on baseball insight, and that’s pigheaded and wrong. You should come to grips with the fact that you might not know as much as you think you do.

            • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

              “In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m not going to pick this apart word by word and expose all of the flawed logic in it (and yes, there’s a shitload), instead I’m going to let it slide and deal with the bigger part of your argument:”

              That is trying to be nice? If you read what I wrote on my initial post and you come up with that as the first thing you say it is a little bit silly.

              I think in my post I said there are valid reasons for somebody to either vote for or against Donnie to be in the Hall. I put up some info on why some people would or would not vote for him. The only person constantly being demeaning and insulting is you. Also please show me where I claimed to have a monopoly on baseball insight. I would like to see said post.

              You try to personally attack everything I saw on this board and usually with some sort of profanity and also once with saying I was racist. So if you do not like somebody saying something back to you keep your mouth shut in the first place.

              As for your man friend Ben Kay, it is obvious you are either the same person or best buddies. Buddie I get you own and or write for this site, I get that. But that alone does not mean you know anything and are correct when you say something. If one could not gleam that I was kidding when I said the bronzed baby shoe thing that it was a joke or play on words. I either did not do a good job of hinting at humor or somebody catches feelings rather easily after throwing around a lot of shots and zingers of their own.

              Again I will leave this thread as my initial and only feelings about this issue were written out in my first post, the rest is just a look at me attempt by the guy with the really long name that I do not remember but know it when I see it.

      • Steve H

        When Boggs hit .350 on the road in 1988, how did the wall help that? Or when he hit .356 in 86? Or .322 in 85? Just like the people that claim Babe Ruth hit so many homeruns due to the short porch in the stadium ignore that Ruth hit more homeruns on the road, you lose me in your argument when you throw a statement out that Boggs was aided by the wall. Maybe he was, but does that take away from him? Don’t most hitters hit better at home, save extreme pitchers parks. Didn’t the short porch aid Mattingly’s career? I’ll save you the research, he hit 131 hr’s at home and 91 on the road. So certainly Mattingly, like Boggs may have been aided by their home park. Yet while you take away from Boggs because of it, you ignore it in Mattingly’s case? And giving Mattingly credit for Boggs’ improved defense is beyone ridiculous. Boggs worked on his defense like a maniac, year after year and continued to get better. Ask Johnny Pesky about all of the extra grounders Boggs force him to hit to him. You might as well give the Yankee Stadium infield dirt and grass credit. Just shortsighted.

  • Eric

    I love Donnie Baseball. I was 8 when he retired and I cried.

    But, I don’t think he should make the HOF. I see him like I see Craig Biggio–really great for a small period of time, but no sustained greatness. Sadly, the latter will make the HOF undeserving-ly.

    BLYLEVEN IN 09!!!!!

    • Aaron

      Biggio played much longer than Mattingly, at multiple positions, and got to that magical 3,000 hit mark. In time, Biggio makes the HOF.

      I see where you were trying to go with the comparison but it’s a bit of a stretch in this case, in my opinion. I love Mattingly, but he won’t make the HOF. He should have his number retired though.

    • Steve

      I’m guessing you never saw Blyleven pitch. I did, and I never once watched him and saw a HOF pitcher. I know that’s a crappy standard, but his numbers back it up. His win total is high (287) but so are the losses (250). The strikeouts are HOF material (3701-5th all time) but the SO/9 IP aren’t (6.70/9IP 110th all time). His ERA is mediocre (ERA+ 118 134th all time) His H/9IP is below mediocre (8.38/9IP 258th all time). He’s just a compiler, never was a great pitcher.

      Bert was an above average pitcher with a nasty curveball who pitched forever and stayed surprisingly healthy (avg 34 starts per year/22 seasons). That’s not HOF material to me.

    • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

      Being 8 when he retired you have no real credible stance on the Donnie issue in my eyes. Biggio is a very underrated player as well. Guy did everything his team needed and was fun to watch at every position he played. I am not here to argue Biggios point for the Hall, but as a player he was somebody special.

  • Steve H

    I don’t think he belongs, but when Kirby Puckett is a first ballot HOF in one of the highest votes ever, and Mattingly doesn’t get a sniff, something is wrong. What about that New York bias? They were very similar players. Mattingly’s peak was better. They were both great fielders, though at different positions. By all accounts, at the time of their retirement they were great guys too, though Kirby clearly wasn’t. Oh, and what about Puckett juicing? In his 1st 2 years in the majors, he hit 0 hr’s in 557 ab’s, and 4 in 691!! Then he got jacked and managed to hit 31 the next year, a little odd. Both had their careers shortened by injury, yet the counting stats that are held against Mattingly aren’t held against Puckett. I don’t know how that’s justified.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      “In his 1st 2 years in the majors, he hit 0 hr’s in 557 ab’s, and 4 in 691!! Then he got jacked and managed to hit 31 the next year, a little odd.”

      He learned to keep his eye on the ball. Zing!

      I’ll be here all week.

      • Mike Pop

        Haha dude

  • jane

    It must be a Frigid Stove Season if we’re talking about Donnie’s HOF chances and about Pete Abe’s list too. Maybe I’ll do a post today about the favorite foods of our favorite Yankees.:) I love Don Mattingly as much as the next person. He was our one shining light during a dark time. But does that put him in the Hall? Not so much.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      “He was our one shining light during a dark time.”

      Dave Winfield just spit out his cereal.

      • jane

        Oops. Didn’t mean to diss Dave.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    I grew up rooting for the Yankees in the 80’s. Despite them not winning, they were still fun to root for. Mattingly, Winfield and Henderson were awesome to watch. I remember seeing clips of Mattingly play 3rd base against the Mariners on ESPN. I remember Donnie hitting homers in 8 straight games. And I remember him hurting his back, and never being the same player again.
    Ben, I totally agree with you. He should have his number retired, as should all Yankee Captains (Willie Randolph next please), but as for Cooperstown, it just wasn’t in the cards.

  • Peter Lacock

    How about a lineup including:
    Rickey Henderson
    Willie Randolph
    Don Mattingly
    Dave Winfield
    Don Baylor
    Ken Griffey
    Mike Pagliarulo
    and yet the Yanks won nothing?
    That’s why Gardner in CF and Swisher at 1B is good. Forget Teixeira and all the CF rumors. Forget guys like Manny and especially Dunn that can’t use a glove. The everyday lineup is good. Plenty of runs will be scored.
    Think about starting pitching.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      Do you mean a rotation of Ron Guidry, Phil Neikro, Joe Cowley, Ed Whitson and Dennis Rasmussen isn’t good?

      • Peter Lacock

        The first two were great. Love Gator. Not a great pitching coach though, at least not yet.
        Tommy John was good too.
        After that they were all Ponson & Rasner, and the bullpen was the worst in history until you got to Righetti.
        Not enough pitching. Same as last year and most of this century.

    • Eric

      Dunn was actually about average w/the glove this year, according to both Baseball Prospectus’ system and PMR.

      I wish people would actually do some research and not just go on what they hear on ESPN.

      • Peter Lacock

        From what I’ve seen Giambi is a better at 1B than Dunn. Give Dunn a slight edge in range (both are small) but Giambi catches the ball better. Dunn is worse in the OF.
        Face it, if he didn’t hit HR’s he wouldn’t even be a minor leaguer let alone a major leaguer.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

          Face it, if he didn’t hit HR’s he wouldn’t even be a minor leaguer let alone a major leaguer.

          That’s true.

          In a similar vein, if a tree wasn’t made of wood, it wouldn’t be a tree.

          Saying that “If Dunn didn’t hit homers, he’d suck” is a pointless statement, because he does hit homers. Frequently.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      Can you think about starting pitching AND a big bat? Why does it have to be either, or?

      • Peter Lacock

        Sure, as long as the ‘big bat’ has a ‘big glove’. No point in sacrificing D for O. It should be the other way around. Hence, no Manny, no Dunn.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

          No point in sacrificing D for O. It should be the other way around.

          So, you’re anti-Dunn but pro Melky Cabrera? He sacrifices offense for defense.

          I’ll take defensively-challenged Adam Dunn over offensively challenged Melky Cabrera. We both recognize the value of good defense, but we still have to score runs. Having a lineup full of 8 defensive butchers is a bad idea. Having one or two isn’t a problem. Go through the list of playoff teams and WS titlists and you’ll see that every good team has at least one big bat, defensive shortcomings be damned.

  • John Cerra

    I think we have gotten somewhat closed minded about what gets in the Hall. There should be no one specific test, it should be a mosiac of a players career.

    I think Don Mattingly belongs in the HOF. He was, arguably, for 4 seasons, the best offensive player in MLB. He was, arguably, the best defensive first baseman from 1984-1995. There are many players in the HOF that were never, even for one season, the best player in baseball, or even the best at their position.

    Not to be picking on Kirby Puckett, but he was never the best. Further his career statistics are similar to those of Mattingly. I find it hard to swallow that a lack of a ring is the difference. It further galls me, if that is a reason, that Bud Selig presided over the fiasco of the 1994 season, because that might have been Donny’s post season to pass this test.

    Yes, I still blame Bud Selig for that season.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      So is David Ortiz a Hall of Famer?

      • ceciguante

        i’m skeptical that any major leaguer who doesn’t own a glove should ever be a HOFer.

    • Eric

      Lot’s of dudes were the best at their pos. for four years. That doesn’t make the HOFers. Why should a brief period of dominance be rewarded when the rest of Donnie’s career really wasn’t all that spectacular?

      The HOF is about sustained dominance, not brief periods thereof.

      • ceciguante

        the analogous argument in the NFL is probably gale sayers, who is in the pro football hall of fame.

        any HOF discussion comes down to a question of what the standard for admission is. the standard that the writers use isn’t actually “sustained dominance,” as you said. it’s being very good for a very long time, or being great for a decently long stretch.

        make no mistake about it: donnie baseball was a great baseball player — not just very good. and ben’s cited stats are interesting, but i think they understate the injury issue. donnie was probably the best player in baseball for about 4 years (OPS+ of 156, 156, 161, 146). ben showed splits of 5 years (maybe for convenience), but if memory serves, donnie hurt his back in mid-july of 1988, suppressing his 1988 numbers. the splits from before/after are profound. donnie was simply unbelievable in his prime, a cut above — he should have won 2 consecutive MVPs, but the writers foolishly gave the 1986 award to clemens.

        while donnie’s greatness was unsurpassed for his era, he simply didn’t do it long enough to satisfy the writers’ test of being great for a long time. frankly, i think that standard is ridiculous when you have a guy whose star was as bright as donnie’s, and you have his sterling character to match.

        -donnie baseball for HOF-

    • Ben K.

      I don’t think that four — or in Mattingly’s case, six — seasons of sustained excellence is really enough to get into the Hall. It’s tough to point to other Hall of Famers who were voted in on similarly short resumes. For the most part, those that did make it in with similar career paths as Mattingly did so because of their other accomplishments. The Scooter comes to mind.

      • Eric

        What’s sad is that Biggio is going to be rewarded for sticking around long enough to grab 3K hits despite, like Mattingly, being great for a short period of time.

        • ceciguante

          biggio doesn’t belong in the same sentence as mattingly.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        I think that Mattingly had 3 ridiculous years, 3 very good years and 6 average years. Still he would have been a sure fire HOFer if not for the back.
        Ironically, Winfield had a similar injury, had back surgery, sat out an entire year and came back to have 3 or 4 great years.
        I wonder if Don could have had surgery to repair his back?

  • Manimal

    So, Burress shot himself in the leg….

    • LiveFromNewYork

      Trainwreck continues. Film at 11.

  • Kevin G.

    I wonder what DonnieBaseballHallofFame has to say about this.

    • Ben K.

      I’m pretty sure I already know what he has to say about this.

      • Mike Pop

        I wonder why he was not the first comment

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      He and TSJC are hanging out enjoying college football.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

        I know I was.

  • John Cerra

    “Lot’s of dudes were the best at their pos. for four years. That doesn’t make the HOFers. Why should a brief period of dominance be rewarded when the rest of Donnie’s career really wasn’t all that spectacular?”

    That is not what I said. For 4 years, he was, arguably, the BEST player in baseball.
    Go ahead, name “lots of dudes” who where the best player in baseball and aren’t in the Hall. Betcha none of them finished the 10 year minimum (they got injured and stopped playing) and had the very respectable 162 game averages and 2000 hits.

    • Eric

      Jim Rice
      Jose Canseco
      Juan Gonzalez, probably won’t make the HOF
      Dick Allen
      George Foster

      Being the best for a small period of time doesn’t mean you deserve the HOF. You’ve got to have extended greatness and Donnie didn’t have that. Donnie had extended very good-ness and that doesn’t get you into the HOF…unless you’re like Craig Biggio and stick around to get to 3,000 hits and the moronic voters will take one look at that stat and vote you in because it’s a “magic” number.

      Sidebar: how long before 3K hits and 500 HRs stop being locks for the HOF?

  • mos

    I think Mattingly will be forever remembered as the greatest Yankee to have never participated in a World Series. Out of all the players I’ll ever see in person, he’ll always be my favorite. I grew up watching him, always hoping that he’d be able to pull the Yankees out of the cellar and into the playoffs. Man, the 80s were a rough time to be a Yankee fan.

    • Scott of 3 Kids Tickets

      He will always be my favorite too. He had the sweetest, most perfect swing of any Yankee I ever saw before & after him. He was also as good defensively as any other 1st basemen. It makes me think of guys like Giambi at 1st and CRINGE. He was as unselfish and he taught Jeter the meaning of TEAM 1st. Jeter has said so in many an interview.
      It was not his fault his production was cut short due to injury. If you saw how hard he worked to come back from it and how much pain he was in daily, you wouldn’t be having this discussion.
      Mattingly is a HOF’er. We’ll see how many years it takes the various committees to realize it.


      • Ben K.

        You don’t get HOF votes by trying to come back from an injury. That’s just not the way baseball has ever worked, and there won’t be exceptions for someone whose career totals are as comparatively paltry as Mattingly’s.

        No offense to him. I’ve always loved the guy. But Cooperstown just isn’t in the cards and never will be.

  • John Cerra

    Jim Rice
    Jose Canseco
    Juan Gonzalez, probably won’t make the HOF
    Dick Allen
    George Foster

    Jim Rice the best in his era? Don’t tell Reggie that. Don’t tell Frank Robinson that. Don’t tell Don Baylor that.

    Jose Canseco? Let’s start with the steriods taint…and that takes him out.

    Juan Gonzalez — Offensively he did have some tremendous seasons, and he was two time MVP. No one golden glove in 17 years though.

    Dick Allen — I don’t think Dick Allen was ever the best player in baseball, but I do think he belongs in the Hall, and might be there this Dec 8 by the Veterans Committee.

    George Foster? A terror with the bat for a couple of years, really extended the lineip of the Rig Red Machine. 162 Game Average is a .274 BA, 29 homers and no golder gloves.

    Anyone else?

    By the way, on the Veteran Committee list at baseball-prospectus are both Joe Torre and Tony Oliva. Both have career numbers in line with Mattingly, but the defensive skills awards aren’t there.

    • Whitey14

      Jim Rice and Frank Robinson’s eras only crossed over by a few seasons so that isn’t a very good comparison.

      Don Baylor’s ability to steal some bases and his ability to get hit by some pitches were better than Rice’s. Other than that, he doesn’t even come close overall to Jim Rice. I repeat, not…even…close.

      Reggie Jackson absolutely had some great seasons in his career, and most certainly rose to the occasion when October rolled around, but some of his stats are due to longevity more so than overall greatness. I’m not saying he wasn’t great or deserving of Cooperstown, but this is a guy who batted .262 and struck out in 26% of his at-bats.

      Jim Rice is fairly well regarded as one of, if not the best, all around hitters in the American League from 1975-1986. If my memory is correct, his best statistical comparison in that time frame is actually Mike Schmidt. Jim Rice certainly has his downside. He struck out in 17% of his at-bats, grounded into a lot of double plays and was only an average defender. However, arguing that defensive awards are needed for enshrinement, when we all know the defensive awards are suspect at best, probably doesn’t help disprove his candidacy.

      My opinion is that Jim Rice compares very well with Reggie Jackson. If he had hit 18 more homers, 2 points higher and was a little more media friendly (which should have absolutely no bearing) he would have been in the HOF years ago. Justice will be served for Jim Ed in January.

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  • Bart

    Does anyonw remember a story that had EdWhitson and Don Mattingly in a fight or wrestling in the Club house and that is when Mattingly hurt his back — maybe it was not Whitson; LaRoche?? maybe

    Not throwing rocks at either guy —

  • Paco

    The best player in baseball during that time? Some of the other guys who played during that period: George Brett, Mike Schmidt, Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Dale Murphy, Ryne Sandberg, Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, Dave WInfield, Robin Yount, Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith, Will Clark, Jack Clark, Fred McGriff . . . . There’s not a GM alive (except Steve Phillips, maybe) who would have traded any of these guys straight up for Donnie.

    In Donnie’s four best seasons his average OPS+ was 154.75. This is lower than the four best seasons of Jack Clark (168.00), Fred McGriff (161.50), Will Clark (160.25), and Pedro Guerrero (160.25). None of them is going to Cooperstown. Will Clark was also a Gold Glove first baseman and his career OPS+ over 15 seasons is 137. compared to Mattingly’s 127 in 14 seasons. For comparison, Albert Belle’s four best years averaged 174.75 — and he didn’t even get enough votes to stay on the HOF ballot.

    Sure, Mattingly played good defense. He won 9 Gold Gloves. Keith Hernandez won 11, and his career OPS+ is 128 — higher than Donnie’s. And he was on two World Series winners.

    Really, if Mr. Baseball had played for the Texas Rangers or Toronto Blue Jays, not a soul on this board would thing he was HOF-worthy.

    • Steve H

      Wow. Will Clark. Take a look at his stats and career, and he’s better than Mattingly. Had a simliar 4 year peak of awesomeness, and was a much better than average player for the rest of his career.. Tremendous fielder. Put up more counting stats than Mattingly and had almost identical averages and ops+ #’s, but better obp and slugging #’s. Does anyone who supports Mattingly think Will the Thrill is a Hall of Famer??

  • Paco

    Re: Jim Rice v. Reggie Jackson. I never liked Reggie, but he’s unquestionably better than Rice:

    Jm Rice,
    Career OPS+ is 128 (177th all-time)
    382 hr (55th)
    22.50 ab/hr (158th)
    1451 rbi (58th)
    77 intentional walks (179th)

    Reggie Jackson
    OPS+ is 139 (83rd)
    563 hr (11th)
    17.50 ab/hr (58th)
    1702 rbi (22nd)
    164 intentional walks (31st )

    Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans were both better than Rice; comparable offensive stats and much better defense.

  • craig

    I grew up watching this guy; he’s the reason I love baseball. He may not make it into the hall but he should. He was the best from 84-89 and the best defensive first baseman ever. But honestly he should be inducted because he gets the loudest applause at Yankee Stadium and I know some cynic asshole just laughed at that because there is no stat to go along with that, but you can’t measure everything. The Hall will never mean anything to me without Mattingly.

  • Sam Wilkinson

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