Saturday, 23 June 2012
You don't get a nickname like Donny Baseball especially in a city like New York with all the great baseball players they've had. Unless you are something special and thats exactly what you have in former Yankee 1B Don Mattingly, when you think of Marcus, you think of the Raider RB Don Marcus Allen. When you think of Earvin, you think of the Lakers Point Guard Earvin Magic Johnson. When you think of Wayne, you think of the great Edmonton Oilers Center Wayne Gretsky and you can go down the line. When you think of Donny you thing of Don Mattingly who brought everything that a baseball player can bring to the game and the New York Yankees. But happened to play in an era, when the Yankees were still contending for Division Championships, just not winning any after 1981 in the 1980s. Donny breaks in with Yankees in 1982, so a lot of this was timing. Had MLB had the Wild Card back then, the Yankees would've made the playoffs at least a couple of times past 1981 and we would've gotten to see what Donny could've done in the AL Playoffs in his prime. Instead of in 1995, the Yankees only Playoff Appearance in the Donny Baseball era, where Donny was still dealing with his back injury. That limited his ability to hit for power and be the Gold Glove 1B that he was.
This is why I believe Don Mattingly should be in the Hall of Fame without even mentioning that. Before the back injury in 1989 or 1990 and the Yankees were already going downhill at this point. No longer a serious contender in the AL East but before the back injury, you could count on Don Mattingly hitting 330-340, 25-30 Home Runs, around 100 RBI's, more or less and around 100 Runs scored. As well as being a Gold Glove 1B, you are talking about the best all around 1B of the 1980s, the only other 1B I would consider would be Orioles 1B Eddie Murray, who other then in 1986, didn't have any major injuries in his career. With all the other 1B that Donny played against, Eddie Murray with the Orioles in the same division, Keith Hernandez with the Cardinals and Mets, later on Mark McGwire with the Athletics, Frank Thomas with the White Sox and others. For Don Mattingly to not only be the best 1B amongst this group and for a whole decade. He belongs in the Hall of Fame, and without the back injury, he's a no doubter.
Numbers alone other then the career Batting Average of over 300 and the multiple Gold Gloves that Don Mattingly won, doesn't get him in the Hall of Fame. But numbers aren't the only picture, there are guys with average stats that are in the Hall of Fame like Orioles 3B Brooks Robinson. Who's not in the Hall of Fame as a hitter, even though he was a solid hitter, especially in the clutch. The reason why Brooks is in the Hall of Fame, is because he's the best Defensive 3B of all time, its that simple. The reason why Donny isn't a clear cut Hall of Famer, is because of his numbers, his back injury limited his production for the rest of his career. Otherwise you are probably talking about a guy with a 330 or Batting Average, 400-500 Home Runs, 1800 RBI, somewhere in that neighborhood, it would've depended on how long he would've played. But had he stayed healthy he could've played 16-20 years.
The reasons why Don Mattingly should be in the Hall of Fame, best 1B of his era and in an era of great 1B. Best 1B of an entire decade the 1980s and in a decade of great 1B, without the back injury, a locked in First Ballot Hall of Famer. And there are guys who are in the Hall of Fame, that should be in the Hall of Fame but weren't as good as players and who played in the same era like Red Sox 3B Wade Boggs. Who was mostly a slap and doubles hitter, who didn't drive in a lot of runs, especially for a 3B with as high of a Bating Average that he had. Part of that was playing at Fenway Park for as long as he did but Mattingly was a better all around hitter. So was Red Sox OF Jim Rice who just recently went in to the Hall of Fame.