I am a believer that it is time they place former Chicago Cubs and White Sox third baseman Ron Santo where he belongs--in Cooperstown. Unfortunately, on Friday I am not only alone in this belief, but in mourning the reality that Santo will never see the day that he takes his rightful place among baseball's all-time elite.
Let me begin this argument by saying that I am not a Cubs loyalist that thinks anyone who once wore the North Side red, white, and blue deserves to be in the Hall. I think Santo's post-career fame and adoration from Cubs fans has been largely the thing of legend, and many of his supporters don't even listen when their parents tell them stories about him while he played.
This is also not a sympathy vote because of Santo's complications from his diabetes and ultimate passing after battling cancer. His work on behalf of diabetes research was, however, at least inspiring, if not remarkable.
This is an argument based on his production as a baseball player. And, based on his numbers, Ron Santo deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Santo was part of one of the better infields in baseball in the 1960s. Beside converted shortstop Ernie Banks at first, Don Kessinger, and Glen Beckert in the middle infield, Santo was at third.
Billy Williams, also in the Hall, played in a very good outfield as well. Santo would win five Gold Gloves at third base during his time with the Cubs, establishing himself as the elite third baseman in the National League during the decade.
At the plate, Santo was All-Star caliber as well. Santo still ranks in the top 10 in most offensive categories for the Cubs franchise. Santo ranks fourth in home runs and fifth in runs batted in all time for one of the oldest franchises in major league baseball.
He is ahead of Hall of Fame players like Ryne Sandberg in many offensive categories.
So, Santo was one of the greatest Cubs ever. He deserves to have his number retired on the North Side, no question. But the Hall of Fame?
Let's compare Santo's numbers to a no doubt, first ballot Hall of Fame player not many fans question.
Santo hit 342 career home runs; this Hall of Famer hit 268.
Santo had 1,331 runs batted in, only 26 fewer than the Hall of Famer's 1,357.
Santo has a higher career batting average (.277-.267), on-base percentage (.362-.322), and slugging percentage (.464-.401). His OPS is .103 points higher than the Hall of Fame player (.826-.723).
This Hall of Famer won 10 Gold Gloves in the same era Santo won his five.
Who's the mystery player who's already enshrined in Cooperstown?
Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles. And what's more remarkable about Santo's numbers when comparing them to Robinson's is that Santo accomplished these numbers in more than 2,500 fewer career at-bats (because, in large part, to the diabetes cutting his career short).
So I ask you, the public: Is Ron Santo a Hall of Famer? Based on the evidence above, I have to say he's long over due.
Rest in Peace, #10. You were the best!