Don Mattingly outperformed most Hall of Famers of his era

29 10 2012

Twenty hitters who played with Don Mattingly have made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was better than most of them. It’s past time for the baseball writers to recognize that Mattingly belongs in the Hall of Fame.

When I’m making the case for Yankees who belong in the Hall of Fame, I don’t compare them to marginal Hall of Famers. Wherever you draw the line for who belongs in the Hall of Fame, some players who belong in will be very close to the line, as will some who don’t belong in. The differences between the players on opposite sides of the line will be small. And reasonable people can disagree over who belongs on which side of the line. So when you start comparing someone who’s not in the Hall with the people close to the line, you have a losing argument. You have to compare your overlooked candidate to the clear Hall of Famers who are nowhere near he line.

A few years ago, I noted that Mattingly’s career statistics and achievements were nearly identical to Kirby Puckett’s. That’s a pretty compelling argument, since Puckett was a first-ballot Hall of Famer whose achievements are universally regarded as worthy of Cooperstown.

But maybe you would argue that the Puckett comparison is an oddity, a coincidence that somehow doesn’t capture Kirby’s greatness. So I compared Mattingly to all his contemporaries in the Hall of Fame. And he still holds up well. By every measure except longevity, he’s better than most of them. And even with a shorter career than most, his career statistics are comparable to several Hall of Famers from his era. Read the rest of this entry »