Time To Elect Don Mattingly Into Cooperstown

Don Mattingly won 3 straight AL Sporting News Player of The Years - and was the best ALL-Around player in the game from 1984-1986 leading 13 Offensive Categories for the 3 years.  His 145 RBI in 1985 was the most for a LHB since Stan Musial in 1949.  He hit .340 with 656 Hits, 145 2B, 88 HRs, 368 RBI and only SO 112 times in 2131 PA's.  He also led the league in Doubles from 1984-1986.  Mattingly’s 388 Total bases in 1986 had been the most in the Majors since Willie Mays back in the 1962 season.  Mattingly won the first of 9 gold gloves in 1985.  Donnie Baseball also won the AL MVP in 1985 and was boldly robbed in 1986 by the writers voting for Roger Clemens. In 1987, Mattingly hit 6 grand slams and also homered in 8 straight games(including 10 total which was higher than Dale Long and Ken Griffey‘s 8 during their consecutive streaks.)  His average year for the 4 year stretch was .337, with 30 HRs, 45 2B and 120 RBI.  He also averaged 110 runs and 210 hits.  Mattingly only struck out 37 times a year for this span.  He was clearly the best ball player in this era.

Don Mattingly won 3 straight AL Sporting News Player of The Years – and was the best ALL-Around player in the game from 1984-1986 leading 13 Offensive Categories for the 3 years. His 145 RBI in 1985 was the most for a LHB since Stan Musial in 1949. He hit .340 with 656 Hits, 145 2B, 88 HRs, 368 RBI and only SO 112 times in 2131 PA’s. He also led the league in Doubles from 1984-1986. Mattingly’s 388 Total bases in 1986 had been the most in the Majors since Willie Mays back in the 1962 season. Mattingly won the first of 9 gold gloves in 1985.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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Okay, it is time for me to make my argument for my favorite player of all time to be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. 

There will be several people that will say that Don Mattingly’s career stats of: H-2154, HR-222, RBI-1099, AVG-.307 and 9 Gold Gloves are not enough in just 14 seasons. 

I am not counting his 7 game-stint in 1982 with this.  As a rookie in 1983, Don only .hit .283 with 4 HRs and 32 RBIs.

Donnie Baseball also won the AL MVP in 1985 and was boldly robbed in 1986 by the writers voting for Roger Clemens. In 1987, Mattingly hit 6 grand slams and also homered in 8 straight games(including 10 total which was higher than Dale Long and Ken Griffey‘s 8 during their consecutive streaks.) His average year for the 4 year stretch was .337, with 30 HRs, 45 2B and 120 RBI. He also averaged 110 runs and 210 hits. Mattingly only struck out 37 times a year for this span. He was clearly the best ball player in this era.

Donnie Baseball also won the AL MVP in 1985 and was boldly robbed in 1986 by the writers voting for Roger Clemens. In 1987, Mattingly hit 6 grand slams and also homered in 8 straight games(including 10 total which was higher than Dale Long and Ken Griffey‘s 8 during their consecutive streaks.) His average year for the 4 year stretch was .337, with 30 HRs, 45 – 2B and 120 RBI. He also averaged 110 runs and 210 hits. Mattingly only struck out 37 times a year for this span. He was clearly the best ball player in that era.

In Donnie’s first year as a full time first baseman, he led the AL with a .343 AVG-with 23 HR’S and 110 RBI’s, also leading the league in hits with 207 and 2B’s with 48.

hey say that if you have a shortened career – (and Mattingly’s back injury in the late eighties certainly robbed him of a definite Hall of Fame Career,) then you better have an incredible stretch as the best player in baseball. 

It is my belief that Don Mattingly was the best all-around player from 1984 – 1989, with apologies to Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn and Dale Murphy.

Mattingly’s incredible consistency during this 6 year stretch included these numbers: A .327 AVG with 160 HRs and a staggering 682 RBIs with 257 doubles and 1219 hits. 

Nobody had more RBIs and extra base hits in that time frame. 

Only Wade Boggs had more hits.  The 6 year AVG breaks down to an AVG of .327 with H-204, 2B-43, HR-27 and RBI-114.  What is most impressive is that Mattingly only averaged 33 strikeouts a season/or about 1/23 Plate appearances in this stretch.

Mattingly was also an All-star for 6 straight seasons – and was a Gold Glover for 5 years straight from 85-89. 

The man from Evansville, Indiana, led the league in doubles three times, (84-86), hits twice, (84-86), total bases twice, (85-86), AVG in ’86, slugging and OBP in 1986. 

Mattingly’s 145 RBIs in 1985 were the most RBIs by a left handed hitter since Stan Musial in 1949.  The same could be said for his 388 total bases in 1986.  

Other dominant stretches included his 1987 power streaks, in which he hit a record-6 grand slams(since equaled by Travis Hafner,) and also is still tied for homering in a record-tying 8 straight games (and should be the official leader because only Mattingly hit 10 HR’S in that stretch of 8 games.)

Mattingly is a silver slugger three times over (84-86), and The Sporting News Player of the Year for the seasons of (84-86).

Don was the AL MVP in 1985, and finished 2nd in 1986 to Roger Clemens, but for hitting he was listed as #1.   His 1984 and 1987 seasons also garnered serious MVP considerations. All impressive for a man who was not considered a power hitting prospect.

Back injuries slowed Mattingly down from 1990-1995, where he lost most of his power, but he was a .290 contact hitter who would still drive in about 80-85 RBIs per year. 

If he could have kept playing healthy, instead of retiring at the age of 34, he would have had nearly 3000 hits, and probably would have hit 600-700 2B, and 300 HR’s-with about 1600 RBI’S. 

He probably would have finished up career with an AVG. that was near .300.  You could probably add 3-5 more Gold Gloves as well.  Instead, he finished with 2154 hits. 

His .307 career average will be one of the higher averages never to be in the Hall of Fame if he is not voted in. 

Don’s average season is still .307 with 20 HRs, 97 RBIs, with close to 200 hits and 40 doubles.

Another fact that gets overlooked was Don’s strikeout ratio to plate appearances.  Mattingly only struck out 444 times in 7721 PA’s, or once every 19 times. 

This stat is unbelievable for a modern age hitter-and 444 Strikeouts is only 2 less doubles than the man hit in his career with 442.  Only Tony Gwynn has had a better ratio for striking out in the last 50 years. 

You add the 9 Gold Gloves-(2nd all-time for a 1B), and this man should be gaining more consideration for the hall.

Other comparisons in numbers for players already in the Hall, would be Jim Rice and Kirby Puckett, Puckett for average and power, while Rice has similar offensive numbers for his 162 game AVG. 

Rice had a few more HRs and RBIs while Mattingly had a better AVG. and had more hits/doubles for an average season.  Both played 14 seasons.

For all of those kids watching Donnie Baseball play live, or on TV, we saw a guy that exemplified a professional hitter.  Amongst fielding 1st baseman that I have seen, no one has ever been better. 

His swing was pure poetry in motion, even when he was older, it must have drove pitchers crazy that they could not strike him out.  I am only sad that Don Mattingly has missed out on all of the Yankees championship seasons.

At least his fans can always recall his last at bat in the 1995 playoffs where he crushed a homer in a 5th game loss to the Mariners in the ALDS.  It was a great career shortened by back injuries. 

If defensive prowess is deemed a lot more lucrative for a Hall of Fame bid, once again they have to consider ‘Donnie Baseball.’

I am not saying that Mattingly belongs in the Hall under the criteria given, however if you let in the door for Jim Rice, that is your fault, and you should let in Mattingly too.

I am not saying that Mattingly belongs in the Hall under the criteria given, however if you let in the door for Jim Rice and Kirby Puckett, that is your fault, and you should let in this man as well.

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Chuck Booth - Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames:   To learn more about my  “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here .

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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker

Posted on November 17, 2013, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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