Aug 29, 2009

Don't Judge Andre on His OBP%, that Wasn't His Job

Whenever Andre is mention in an article on who should or shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame I receive a Google alert. Majority of the time I'm pleased with the outcome of the article, probably 75% of those writing these articles, I would estimate say The Hawk should be in. Of the remaining 25% it often comes down to Andre's career On-Base Percentage (OBP) of .323. They feel that is too low to be in the Hall of Fame.

OBP hasn't really been a statistic that has had Hall of Fame merit until recent years. Since it has, I think that OBP is a stat that should be weighed more heavily on lead-off or two-hole type hitters, not players batting in the clean-up position. A large part of the formula that makes up OBP is the number of times a player walked.

If you were managing a baseball club and you had a runner in scoring position and down two runs, would you want Andre to swing for the fences or take a walk?

Andre didn't bat clean-up for the Cubs to get on base, he batted in that position to knock Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace in. (If the Cubs ever had a consistent lead-off hitter in the late 80s and early 90s, I would have mention him too!)

If Andre didn't knock them in more than likely no one would behind him. The Cubs didn't exactly support Andre with quality hitters in the 5 slot. Let's look at some of those players during his time with the Cubs: Dwight Smith, Luis Salazar, Lloyd McClellan, Hector Villanueva, etc. *

As a manager or a fan I want to see the big hitters trying to get a hit or sacrifice a fly to score runs. Yes, Andre didn't walk much in his career, but what the authors of these articles failed to mention is that Andre ranks 10th ALL-TIME in sacrifice flies with 118! **

So 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame voters, I ask you when considering Hall of Fame induction regarding OBP, leave it to Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin. For Andre, look at how many runs he knocked in over the years (34th ALL-TIME by the way with 1591). **


Aug 23, 2009

Andre Dawson - Best Cubs' Free-Agent Signing

I had the fortune to attend the Cubs-Dodgers game yesterday, the game was great, but the Cubs' lack-luster offensive performance was not. Not a whole lot of highlights here for the Cubs expect for the great pick-off of Juan Pierre by Ted Lilly and Sam Fuld ramming his head into the outfield fence to make a beautiful catch.

Between Milton Bradley striking out and waiting in line at the consession stand, I had plenty of time to think about how the free-agent signings of Bradley and Alfonso Soriano have not worked out the way they were supposed to and how Andre Dawson has been the best Cubs free-agent signing.

They have gotten some great players through trades over the past couple of decades including: Ryne Sandberg, Sammy Sosa, Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. But none of their free-agent investments have came close to the production that Andre brought to the Cubs in 1987. Those investments have included: George Bell, Eric Karros, Henry Rodriguez, Todd Hundley, Juan Pierre, Moises Alou, Kosuke Fukudome, Soriano and Bradley.

How great of a signing was Andre? The Hawk played six seasons for the Cubs, let's take three similar players from the list above and compare their seven seasons together versus Andre's six.

Andre Dawson, 1987-1992 (6 seasons)
HR - 174 RBI - 587 AVG. - .285 SB - 57 Hits - 929 Runs - 431*

HenryRodriguez, 1998-1999
HR - 57 RBI - 172 AVG. - .278 SB - 3 Hits - 240 Runs - 128

Moises Alou, 2002-2004
HR - 76 RBI - 258 AVG. - .283 SB - 14 Hits - 467 Runs - 239

Alfonso Soriano, 2007-2008
HR - 62 RBI - 145 AVG. - .291 SB - 38 Hits - 300 Runs - 173

Totals: HR -195 RBI - 575 AVG. - .284 SB - 55 Hits - 1007 Runs - 540*

Pretty impressive, isn’t it? Dawson had 12 more RBIs in his six seasons than their seven combined. I guess the Cubs are like today's economy, some investments just don't pan out like they used to.

Kind of ironic, Andre was the one investment the Cubs didn't want to make. Dallas Green, the Cubs general manager in 1987, resisted signing Andre due to the condition of his knees, but then Andre presented him the “blank contract,”…and the rest was history.

Did I leave an unsuccessful Cub free-agent signing off my list? Leave a comment.


Aug 14, 2009

Un-measurable HOF Credentials, Dawson's "Three D's"

A few days ago published an article on a youth program called Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI). Ten teams are in Florida this week to compete in RBI's World Series. Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, and Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, spoke to the teams' players at the opening banquet.*

Andre spoke to the kids about playing the game by his "Three D's" -- Dedication, Determination, and Discipline. The Hawk knows the "Three D's" quite well; after all, he displayed them for the world to see over his 21-year career.

Dedication: Andre was dedicated to the game of baseball. He played for well under what he was worth in 1987 to join the Cubs. Of course, I'm referring to the blank contract. In today's sports era, there are draft picks who refuse to sign with teams because they feel they weren't offered contracts for what their worth. They haven’t even stepped onto a pro-level field yet, but feel entitled to a certain amount of money. Andre was an established star in the league and yet he took a pay cut to play the game.

Further in point, he had an MVP season for a last place team that year. He didn't quit on the team, he continued to perform at a high level even when there was no hope to make the playoffs. Isn't that a credential of a Hall of Fame caliber player? Just ask Ernie Banks.

Determination: It is common knowledge that Andre's knees were pretty much non-existent by the time he finished his career. He was determined to not let bad knees affect his glove work out in right field. If he could reach a ball by diving for it, he did it. That's why he was an 8-time Gold Glover.

Discipline: Andre approached every game and at bat with discipline. He gave everything he had running the base paths and with every swing of his bat. As Ryne Sandberg said in his Hall of Fame induction speech, "No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. He's the best I've ever seen."**

The reason I'm blogging on these aspects of Andre's character is that I feel people, Hall of Fame voters to be specific, get so caught up in numbers that they sometimes overlook Hall of Fame qualities that aren't measurable.

Here's my "Three D's" for Andre: Deserves to be in the Hall, Defines a Hall of Famer, and Demonstrated a Hall of Fame player on and off the field.


Aug 7, 2009

The Hawk is Confident, You Should Be Too!

Recently, Andre did an interview for The Oklahoman (Published: July 26, 2009) while in Oklahoma City to make the first pitch of a Red Hawks minor league game. In the interview, he shared his feelings on the probability of being the next Hall of Fame inductee.

"The Hall of Fame has been a journey. Nine years. Now thankfully there’s nobody ahead of me that I have to hurdle. Next year perhaps will be a window for me. I think the one advantage I have is when you get up to 65 percent you usually get in. So I’m right about 66 right now and there’s nobody ahead of me so next year might be the year."*

I checked the Hall of Fame's website to see how accurate Andre's theory is. Since 1990, only two players who got at least 65% in votes didn't get inducted the following year, Tony Perez (67.9 in 1998) and Orlando Cepeda (73.5 in 1994). **

Perez only got 60.8% in the following year, but the good news for him was that he received 77.2% in 2000, enough for induction. In all fairness, he didn't stand a chance in 1999 because that was the year Nolan Ryan, George Brett, and Robin Yount were first-time inductees. He also received at least 65% in 1996 and 1997. You know what they say, the third....make that fifth time is a charm.

Unfortunately Cepeda wasn't so lucky, 1994 was the first year he received at least 65% in votes, but also his last year of eligibility. Steve Carlton was the lone induction that year.

All in all, I would have to agree with Andre, I think he should plan on being in Cooperstown next summer.

Interesting side note: I knew why Andre was nicknamed "The Hawk," but never knew who gave him the nickname. Andre also shared this in the article.

"The uncle who introduced me to the sport (baseball) bought me my first fielder’s glove. I took a liking to the game and growing up, it was the only thing I wanted to do. An uncle gave me my nickname. When he would throw me batting practice, he said I had a glare about me. I stayed on the ball unlike anything he had seen out of a youngster. He gave me the nickname and it stuck."

If you would like to read the article in its entirety, click here.