Sadly, I was forced to be away from the computer for the entire day today. That's too bad because if there's someone who needs to be at a keyboard at the time of a Hall of Fame announcement, you know it is this guy. I couldn't let today's announcement pass without documenting it somehow.
Ron Santo is a Hall of Famer. We've known this for a long time. But now, the rest of the world has to acknowledge it with us.
I lobby for a lot of players for the Hall of Fame. Just to clarify, this isn't because I'm a "Big Hall" guy, necessarily. I just happen to think that the guys who deserve it should be in, regardless of whether or not that "bloats" the Hall. You will often see me support the cases of guys like Graig Nettles or Dave Stieb or WIllie Randolph or George Gore or Stan Hack. I will admit—those guys are basically borderline cases. But you know what? In a just world, they would represent the Hall of Fame's borderline.
Ron Santo isn't in that group.
By wWAR, Ron Santo ranks 76th all time. That's just 75 players in the game's history—all eras, all positions (including pitcher)—who have a better case than Santo. Yet somehow, he's just getting in (31 years after his first ballot appearance).
Of those 75 players, 70* are in the Hall of Fame. Two others would be enshrined if they weren't banned (Pete Rose and Joe Jackson). One died in 1911 (Bob Caruthers). Another played his last game as a 41-year old third baseman one hundred years ago (Bill Dahlen). The last has only been turned down once by the BBWAA and still has a good chance of being elected soon (Jeff Bagwell).
And then there was Santo. But not anymore.
*69 of them are in the Hall of Fame as players. Al Spalding is enshrined as pioneer, but I have him rated as the very best player not inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player.
Who is the new Best 20th Century Player Not in the Hall of Fame (But Eligible) Who Has Already Fallen Off the BBWAA Ballot (B2CPNHFBEWHAFOBB)?
- Ted Simmons (102.5 wWAR/norm)
- Joe Torre (100.7 wWAR/norm)
- Bobby Grich (99.9 wWAR/norm)
- Dick Allen (98.1 wWAR/norm)
- Kevin Brown (95.9 wWAR/norm)
- Jeff Bagwell (132.6 wWAR/norm)
- Edgar Martinez (100.5 wWAR/norm)
- Barry Larkin (100.2 wWAR/norm)
- Alan Trammell (99.3 wWAR/norm)
- Larry Walker (98.8 wWAR/norm)
Bert Blyleven is in. Ron Santo is in. Who are you picking next? I'm pretty sure Barry Larkin will get in this year. Jeff Bagwell should get in easily before he drops off. So, right now I'm wondering if our next pet case should be Edgar or Trammell. Given the amount of time Trammell has left on the ballot, I think we need to get behind him right away.
I want to avoid going into how sad it is that Santo gets inducted the year after he retires. I also want to avoid talking about how Minnie Minoso was screwed (and we're running out of time with him). Luis Tiant and Ken Boyer also got no support, which is a problem.
Today was a big day.