Monday, December 05, 2011

Justice After All

Ron Santo
Santo leads the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in 2008

Sometimes the wrongs are made right.

A year too late for him to enjoy it, 30 years past the day he should’ve been selected, the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans’ Committee has finally elected the most deserving candidate not in Cooperstown, Ron Santo.

For those who doubt, here is my statistical analysis of the five leading playing candidates:

The simplest tool for judging a player against his contemporaries is, I think, the most overlooked one – exact comparisons, from a guy’s debut season through his final year.

Awards are useful, especially as an indicator of greatness – in Ron Santo’s case, the five straight NL Gold Gloves 1964-68 pretty much confirm his defensive prowess – consider the one from 1964, when Cardinals’ third baseman and defensive hero Ken Boyer was MVP, but Santo still won the Glove.

The hardware is nice. But statistics are better.

In short, in his era, from when he came up with the Cubs in 1960 through his last year with the White Sox in 1964, Ron Santo was one of the top ten hitters in all of baseball.

Santo was fifth in RBI in his era.

Santo was ninth in Runs in his era.

Santo was tenth in Homers in his era.

Santo was tenth in Hits in his era.

There are 17 players besides Santo on these four lists of the top ten offensive producers of the 1960’s. Only four men on all four lists: Aaron, Frank Robinson, Billy Williams – and Santo. Even the three men who are only on three lists, compared to Santo’s four, are all in Cooperstown already.

Keith Olbermann has more on the stats, but check out the Wiki for the full story of Ron's life and career. It was quite remarkable. I'm too young to remember Ron as a player, but I sure loved him as an announcer - and I miss him dearly.

Maybe there is some justice in this world after all...

More: Al Yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue has a nice write-up on this story, and ends with this:

Congratulations, Ron, for an honor long deserved, and better received now, than not at all. Don't be sad on this day because he's not here. He wouldn't have wanted that; last year, in eulogizing him, Pat Hughes reminded all of us to remember Ron with a smile. Do that on this happy day, and also, let's turn this into the biggest celebration the Hall of Fame has ever seen.