Hello. My name is Elizabeth Kipps, and today I’m going to tell you why legendary Cubs’ third baseman Ron Santo belongs in baseball’s Hall of Fame. The timing for such a post may not make sense, but it is my blog and I can write what/when I please. I’m going to try not to rant and ramble. Meandering arguments shouldn’t be necessary in such simple cases. It’s a travesty that it is an argument at all. Ron Santo is very plainly deserving. I have yet to hear a solid case ag’in him.
Some folks, I suppose, fancy that the Hall of Fame is reserved only for the greatest greats; Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Cy Young and the like (this point is addressed in Bill James’ New Historical Baseball Abstract, which I’ll reference again later.) Pardon my saying so, but this stance is a very silly, ignorant one. It is preposterous to suggest that Ron Santo is not worthy of the Hall of Fame when men like Rabbit Marranville, Dave Bancroft and numerous other questionables have already been enshrined.
Let’s break out some numbers! In his 15 year career, Ronny collected 2,254 hits, including 342 home runs and 365 doubles. He drove in 1,331 runs and scored 1,138. I’m partial to a stat called ‘runs created.’ Ron had 1,379 RC. He had a lifetime batting average of .277 and an OBP of .362. But how do these numbers compare with other third basemen who are in the Hall of Fame? Well, Freddie Lindstrom, with his 779 RBI and 895 runs scored, is enshrined in Cooperstown. That’s 552 less RBI and 243 less runs scored than Ron Santo. If that isn’t puzzling enough, consider this: Mr. Lindstrom played in the 20’s and 30’s, an era of notorious heavy hitting. Ronny played in the pitching-dominant 1960’s, commonly known as “The Deadball Era.”
Speaking of which, I have another stat for you. In 1963-1967, five of Ron’s peak seasons, the major league average in batting was .246. Ron’s average during those years was 55 points north of that, .301.
Tony Lazzeri (another Hall of Fame third baseman) played at the same time as Freddie Lindstrom. In one less year than Ron, he had 414 less hits and 268 less runs created. In his “Abstract,” Bill James compares the careers of Ron and George Kell, determining that Ron “created more runs per year, he did it for more years, and he did it at a time when each run was more valuable.” Mr. James (who in my opinion is basically the Batman of the baseball world) has also said that, “Putting guys like George Kell, Freddie Lindstrom, and Tony Lazzeri in the Hall of Fame while you leave out Ron Santo is like putting dalmatians, palominos, and siamese in the zoo while you let lions roam the streets.” If you won’t listen to me, you should listen to Bill James. He knows. His “Abstract,” last published in 2000, includes a list of the 100 greatest players of all time, as well as the top 100 players at each position. Ron is listed at #87 on the all-time list (you think Lazzeri’s on that one? Nuh-uh) and #6 on the third base list.
I haven’t brought up defense yet. Maybe you are thinking this was Ronny’s downfall. Nope. He won five gold-gloves. He may not have been Brooks Robinson, but his glove was not a liability, and certainly no reason to exclude him from Cooperstown.
Oh, yes! There is something else I ought to mention. Ron suffers from diabetes, a fact which he concealed from everyone for most of his career, and which just makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable.
Finally, for what it’s worth, Ron Santo was and is a beloved figure in Chicago and is an integral part of a storied major league franchise. As a color commentator for game broadcasts on WGN radio, Ron brings his passion for the Cubs to the fans every single day. Several years ago in ESPN The Magazine, Kerry Wood (who knows a little something about playing in Chicago) made an appeal of Ron’s behalf. It’s a nice little piece, and worth looking at if you are so inclined. A quick quote: “He’s the epitome of Chicago baseball. He’s still part of this team. He lives and dies with it. In fact, I think we’ve put him in the hospital a few times. He should get in just for that.”
What more can one say? Anyone in their right mind can see that Ron Santo is an unequivocal Hall of Fame caliber baseball player. If anybody would like to do the world a favor, I recommend hunting down select members of the Hall’s veterans committee and giving them a good smack. They should be ashamed of themselves.