Year Inducted: 2010 (BBWAA, ballot #9, 420/539)
Injuries have certainly played a role in either derailing potential Hall of Fame careers (Tony Conigliero most famously) or in some cases strengthening cases for some players. While Kirby Puckett is a deserving Hall of Famer, he probably doesn’t get elected on first ballot without some voters taking his eye ailment into account. Other players, like those in the lower part of the rankings, sometimes start on track to Hall of Fame careers, get hurt, and play through them at a much lower level than before. And sometimes, players can power through and play very good ball for a long time like Andre Dawson.
Dawson was a powerful hitter in the 1970’s and 1980’s, mostly for the Montreal Expos and Chicago Cubs. During his 21 year career, Dawson hit .279/.323/.482 for a wRC+ of 117. Dawson hit 438 home runs in his career to go along with 503 doubles and 98 triples. Dawson was a feared presence in the middle of the batting order, and used his power to drive in nearly 1600 runs and was also able to tally nearly 1400 runs scored.
Dawson was famed for being a 5 tool player, and it shows. While his career average seems on the low side, in his prime he was consistently flirting with a .300 batting average, while collecting over 1000 extra base hits (he was one of roughly 20 players to have done that by the time he retired). He managed to steal over 300 bases in his career and was worth about 20 runs on the base paths, so he obviously knew how to use his speed. Defensively, again in his prime, he was a top outfielder being both a valuable center fielder early in his career (+78 runs in parts of 9 seasons) and a strong outfielder overall (+69 runs in his career with some really down years toward the end of his career). He also recorded over 150 outfield assists in his career, indicating that he did have a strong arm as well.
Dawson is not without his faults. His knees, of course, sapped a lot of ability out of him, especially defensively. But, beyond that, he was a bit of a free swinger. His .323 OBP is not good, meaning that he expanded his zone and hit into a lot of extra outs instead of just taking his walks. But, it’s hard to fault him a lot for that because the research that is available today wasn’t really out in the mainstream in his career. His last 4 seasons after he left Chicago were pretty bad as well, which makes sense since the man was pushing 40 at the time. Had he retired after his time with the Cubs was over, he would have moved up a few notches on this list.
When healthy, Dawson was one of the top hitters during his tenure. Unfortunately he wasn’t healthy enough for him to be able to rank where his talent truly was (easily could have been in the top 100 if not for his knees). As such, Dawson isn’t a bad pick for the Hall of Fame.
Stay tuned for the next update.
On deck 10/15/16 it’s time to tackle the first reliever on the list. This man closed out the 1982 World Series and saved 300 games over a short career.