The Case For Cooperstown ’14: Don Mattingly

The 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot has been released, and it is one of the most loaded ballots the game has ever seen.

Greg Kaplan and Vinny Ginardi break down the big names on the ballot this year, and give their opinions on who should be in, who should be out and why. 

Previous Analysis: Jeff Bagwell / Edgar Martinez / Greg Maddux / Craig Biggio / Barry Bonds / Roger Clemens / Curt Schilling / Frank Thomas / Jeff Kent / Mike Mussina / Tom Glavine / Larry Walker /Jack Morris / Mike Piazza / Fred McGriff / Alan Trammell / Tim Raines

ny_50yankess_11Don Mattingly

Year(s) on ballot - 14 – received 13.2% of vote last year

The Numbers: 14 seasons (all with New York Yankees), 1,785 games, .307/.358/.471, 222HR 1,009RBI, 2,153 hits, 1,007 runs, 442 doubles, 127 OPS+, 124 wRC+, 42.2 bWAR, 40.7 fWAR – 6-time All-Star, 9-time Gold Glove winner, 3-time Silver Slugger, 1985 American League MVP, 1984 American League batting champion, 1985 American league RBI leader, three times finished in top 10 of MVP voting without winning (runner-up in 1986 to Roger Clemens)

GK: The only thing that angers me about Don Mattingly is that he’s been on the ballot this long, while the player he’s most commonly compared to directly, Keith Hernandez, fell off the ballot a long time ago. Both played in New York during the 1980′s, and it was actually Hernandez who was on the more successful teams (I know it’s weird, but the Mets owned New York in the 80′s, and it wasn’t even close).

Think about this, both Hernandez won MVPs in their careers and won a batting title, but it’s Hernandez who has the higher WAR (60.1 bWAR v. 42.2 bWAR), Hernandez has more Gold Gloves (the most of anybody to ever play first base since the award was created), more career RBI, more hits and more runs scored. What Hernandez doesn’t have is the traditional power you would expect from a first baseman, though Mattingly didn’t necessarily had it either. What Mattingly had that Hernandez didn’t was a short porch in right field. What Hernandez has that Mattingly doesn’t is a pair of World Series rings.

But, again, it’s Mattingly – for some reason – still on the ballot and Keith Hernandez not. Makes no sense, and this isn’t coming from a place of pro-Mets bias. It’s coming from a place of Hall of Fame voters really fucking suck at their one god damn job bias. Those are two completely different places.

While we’re here, I’ll mention that JAWS has Mattingly as the 35th-best first baseman to ever play the game, directly behind Carlos Delgado and a solid eight spots behind Fred McGriff, who we already determined isn’t a Hall of Famer, either.

Keith Hernandez ranks 18th. I’m not trying to say Hernandez is a Hall of Famer, but he certainly has a much better argument than Don Mattingly.

Mattingly was a perfectly fine New York Yankees legend. He rightfully has his own Yankeeography and has his number retired by the team. That’s all he needs.

He’s not a Hall of Famer, and shouldn’t have been on the ballot this long. The votes he receives this year are much better used on just about any other player on this ballot not named Armando Benitez.

Verdict: Out

VG: Greg spent a lot more time on Mattingly that I anticipated.

To me, this one is pretty obvious. Don Mattingly was an above-average player, who had a couple of very good seasons, but isn’t quite Hall worthy. He finished with a career wRC+ of 124, which of course is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s not good enough to consider Hall of Fame consideration for a first baseman. He completed his career with a WAR of a respectable 40.7, but 24.7 of those wins came in a four year stretch. So outside of those four years, Mattingly only accumulated a WAR of 16. And he only played in 10 seasons with more than 102 games.

He needed to be better for longer. I agree with Greg. He should have fallen off the ballot a long time ago.

Verdict: Out