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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Doyel: Santo will make Hall one day, but call will be too late

Saints alive! Doy-El takes on El Santo!

Voters from 1980, you were idiots. And you people didn’t get a lot smarter. Over time Santo received more support, but never enough to get into the Hall. Never close to enough. Needing 75 percent of the BBWAA votes to get in, he topped out at 43.1 percent in 1998, his offensive numbers from the pitching-dominated 1960s obscured by the cartoonish steroid era that was in full bloom in the late 1990s—and his defensive contributions simply ignored, I guess.

Look, there are thousands of words I could write on Santo’s worthiness for Cooperstown, and theories why he hasn’t gotten in. His nine All-Star seasons. His offensive numbers being diluted over time by steroids and the forgotten fact that Santo played during a pitcher’s era, a period marked by a higher mound and bigger strike zone. His signature 1964 season when he led the league in walks, triples and on-base percentage, in addition to hitting .313 (seventh) with 30 home runs (sixth) and 114 RBI (second). He was second in slugging at .564. Oh, and he won the Gold Glove that year. For all of that, this wonderful two-way player finished eighth in the 1964 MVP voting.

...But get this straight: Santo didn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame because he was dying. He didn’t deserve it because he was a popular Cubs broadcaster for nearly two decades. He didn’t deserve it because he kept his diabetes a secret, playing all those years while monitoring his condition by feel. If he felt weak, he ate a candy bar. Then he played every day, averaging 159 games (with 26 home runs and 100 RBI) from 1961-71.

Santo didn’t deserve the Hall for any of those reasons. He deserved it—he deserves it still—because he retired as one of the best two or three third basemen of all time. Dead or alive, Ron Santo should be in the Hall of Fame. How appalling that death made its final call before Hall voters made theirs.

Repoz Posted: July 23, 2011 at 02:07 PM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, hall of fame, history, sabermetrics, white sox

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   1. JRVJ Posted: July 23, 2011 at 02:39 PM (#3883807)
Santo deserved it, but he was not one of 2 or 3 greatest 3B ever.

Perspective, please.
   2. Tim McCarver's Orange Marmalade Posted: July 23, 2011 at 02:44 PM (#3883809)
"Santo deserved it, but he was not one of 2 or 3 greatest 3B ever."

At the time of his retirement he was. That's what the article said, "... he retired as one of the best two or three third basemen of all time." Bill James for instance had him 3rd at the time of his retirement.
   3. bjhanke Posted: July 23, 2011 at 06:12 PM (#3883877)
I looked at BB-Ref's WAR, and the statement is correct, although there are some close calls. When Santo retired, he had to bend the knee to Eddie Mathews, but no one else who was retired. Brooks Robsinson had not retired. If you make only the most necessary adjustments for the short schedules in early Ball, it's clear that Home Run Baker has him beat. Then you've got to argue whether Stan Hack's short schedules also adjust him to ahead of Santo (the comparison might be fun, as the players are of two different types). Then it's Ken Boyer, who is Ron's contemporary, but who is not Ron unless you give massive adjustments for versatility. The final candidate is Jimmy Collins, who is from Home Run Baker's time, but not as good as Baker. I don't know if he was ahead of Santo, given the short schedule problem. I do know that Santo has to beat this guy with his bat, as Jimmy's glove was probably the most golden ever at the hot corner. If you treat the very early Deacon White as a third baseman, which I do, he has a chance, schedule-adjusted. But if you say it's Mathews, Baker and Santo, you can defend that against almost any argument without disgracing yourself. If you say that a player ranks 3rd to 7th all time at third base, you have no excuse for not voting him into the Hall unless you play the character card. - Brock Hanke
   4. Mike Emeigh Posted: July 23, 2011 at 06:56 PM (#3883896)
Santo's problem is this (not that it's a good argument, mind you, but it's one I've heard quite a bit):

You already have Fergie Jenkins, Ernie Banks, and Billy Williams as Hall of Famers from the 60s Cubs. If you add in Santo, you now have four HoFers from a team that won nothing, and participated in one of the best-documented late-season fades of all time in 1969, with Santo treated as the leader of the faders (on August 5 he was hitting .317/.413/.549, then he hit .224/.317/.339 the rest of the way).

Of course, neither Banks nor Jenkins is in the HoF for what they did in the 60s. Banks was at the end of his career, Jenkins at the beginning. And it's not fair to single out Santo as the leader of the collapse when it was truly a team effort. But that's the baggage he carries to a large extent.

-- MWE
   5. Walt Davis Posted: July 23, 2011 at 07:27 PM (#3883907)
While it doesn't help, the problem with that theory Mike is that Santo was on the ballot two years before Williams and 9 years before Jenkins. And Williams was hardly a no-doubter. (Jenkins really was a no-doubter, he just had crowded ballots, debuting with Bench & Yaz (and Perry also on the ballot), followed by Morgan and Palmer in his 2nd year.)
   6. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2011 at 07:41 PM (#3883912)
I would have given the nod to Santo well before I gave the nod to Williams.
   7. AROM Posted: July 23, 2011 at 10:24 PM (#3883950)
Santo's run of greatness was from 1963 to 1972. Jenkins had 6 20 win seasons in that time, and Williams (born 2 years before Santo) was a direct contemporary. Banks though, earned his HOF spot for what he did as a shortstop before moving to first in 1962. As a first baseman, he was never more than an average player. To exclude Santo because he couldn't win despite having Banks is no different than excluding Piazza since he couldn't win as a Dodger with Eric Karros.

True that Santo, Williams, and Jenkins couldn't win together. Give them late 1950's Ernie Banks and it would have been a different story. Still hardly a valid reason for keeping Santo out, as he was better than Williams to anyone who acknowledges the defensive spectrum.
   8. Bob Tufts Posted: July 23, 2011 at 10:40 PM (#3883956)
You already have Fergie Jenkins, Ernie Banks, and Billy Williams as Hall of Famers from the 60s Cubs. If you add in Santo, you now have four HoFers from a team that won nothing


The solution - add Santo via the veteran's committee and remove the Cubs' obviously overrated manager, Hall of Famer Leo Durocher, for not winning with 4 HOF'ers!
   9. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: July 24, 2011 at 01:31 AM (#3884063)
FWIW, I feel pretty confident that Santo will get in this year. Mainly because with the latest version of the Veteran's Committee, they're much more likely to elect somebody. Both because it's back to a small committee meeting and talking each other into a choice, and there may be worries that the writers won't elect anyone this year*. And for the era they're covering, there really isn't a manager/GM option that sticks out. And it's sad to say, but the outcry after his passing won't hurt either.

It's never a sure thing, of course. But if I was going to put money on it, I'd bet on Santo getting in.

(*I know based on history, Larkin will almost certainly jump up enough in the voting to get in. But not everyone pays attention to history, and it's a big enough gap that we'll see some doubters.)

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