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Friday, July 20, 2012

Ron Santo in the Hall of Fame: Really?

Ron Santo is going into the Hall of Fame. The long time Cubs third baseman and announcer, who lost both legs below the knees to diabetes, has been championed by many for years and is finally going in, selected by the Veteran's Committtee. That's the group that keeps picking marginal players who couldn't get into the Hall through the initial voting.

Sabermetrics, the 'new way' of looking at baseball players, offers a slew of statistics that supposedly are much more useful than the traditional measures, such as batting average, strikeouts, etc. While they have a place, what they are regularly doing is allowing an analyst to pick one or two measure favorable to his subject, then show how much better that player is than people think.

Ron Santo was a good player. His 162 game average (a measure NOBODY talks about), was a .277 batting average, 25 homers and 96 RBIs. And while he won five gold gloves, he doesn't rank in the top 100 fielding third basemen of all time (he wasn't Brooks Robinson). If the Hall of Fame is supposed to be for the greats of the game, then Ron Santo doesn't belong.

I'm not saying some players who don't deserve to be there aren't in the Hall of Fame already. But that doesn't mean we add to their number. Ron Santo was a good player; not a great one. Several years ago, Bill James (father of Sabermetrics) wrote a book called, "Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?" That's still a good question today as the Veteran's Committee (which is actually divided into seperate groups these days) continues to water down the Hall.

BTW, I don't dislike Santo. My first baseball glove as a kid was a Ron Santo model. I just don't agree with the voices ringing out right now that Santo's induction was long overdue. I don't think it was due at all.

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