Will 'The Hawk' Land in Cooperstown?

Andre Dawson was born the same year I was - 1954. His birthday is the same as my eldest child’s - July 10. But neither of those trivial bits have anything at all to do with his candidacy for election to baseball’s hall of fame.

There’s a strong numerical case to be made on behalf of The Hawk. I’ll leave it to others to keep making it. But once it’s been laid out I’d add a couple of intangible, immeasurable flourishes as finishing touches.

I remember a game that I want to say, but can’t prove, happened during Dawson’s MVP season of 1987 when everything he did seemed spectacular. Whoever was the starting pitcher for the Cubs on this particular day didn’t have it and was getting cuffed around in the top of the 1st. The first two outs of the game were accomplished by Dawson throwing runners out at the plate, prompting an admiring Harry Caray to remark, “Dawson’s pitching a better game than [fill in the blank]!”

A more generic endorsement of his worthiness, in my book, is the trouble he went to on a daily basis just to take the field. Dawson was known for spending a couple of hours both before and after games icing his fragile knees so he could stay in the lineup and off the DL. He not only insisted on playing, he managed to do it at a consistently high level. People always talk about athletes as role models for kids. The hell with that. What about serving as role models for their peers? I always thought Dawson must have been a tremendous example in the clubhouse of how a true professional should approach his craft.

And then on a related note, of course, there’s the quasi-legendary blank contract that Dawson accepted to play for the Cubs in the first place, confident that his production would be fairly compensated after the fact instead of on the come.

Milton Bradley and, his prodigious power numbers notwithstanding, Sammy Sosa may have been highly paid for their time in right field at Wrigley, but you can combine the two at their respective bests and still have nothing more than a cheap imitation of Andre Dawson.

He was truly menacing both in the field and at the plate in ways that only the very best ever are. If you insist on numbers, Dawson compiled those too. But mostly he stacked up exclamations like, “Holy Cow!”

Here’s hoping he gets in this time around and holds the door open for Santo next year

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Comments

Wasn't he the first to wear form fitting around his thighs? They were quite a target for intimidation from the mound to the plate, but that's where his power was.

I wish the world had seen him play in Montreal before his knees were shot. As great as his 1987 season was, I think there is a lot of residual resentment that he won the MVP for a last place team.

I don't think there's resentment over Dawson winning an MVP. He won it because Smith and Clark split their vote for the Cardinals. It happens.

I think if anything is keeping him out it's the spotlight that's been shone recently on OBP. Dawson's is awful.

I'm often interested to know the age of the extreme Dawson lovers. Or lovers of any player from the past for that matter. Many, it seems, were kids or fairly young fans when Hawk was playing for the Cubs and I think a lot of their love is fueled by the nostalgia you feel for that time in your life as a fan. You can never care about a player as much as you do when you're a kid.

Same with me for Williams, Santo and Jenkins. I've heard some good arguments on why Williams shouldn't be in the Hall. But I'm glad he is. And it's probably just my age but Santo not being in is a far bigger injustice than Dawson not being in.

I'm a big Dawson fan, but "Milton Bradley and, his prodigious power numbers notwithstanding, Sammy Sosa may have been highly paid for their time in right field at Wrigley, but you can combine the two at their respective bests and still have nothing more than a cheap imitation of Andre Dawson." doesn't make any sense unless you're talking about some nebulous integrity standard.

There are very few players in the history of baseball who had a five year stretch as good as Sosa's from 1998 to 2002, and they're all HoF'ers or on their way.

doesn't make any sense?! nebulous?! some things are easier to recognize when you see them in the flesh than they are to quantify on the back of a baseball card...

If the best arguments for Andre Dawson being in the hall of fame is that he "looked" like a HoF'er or that he worked hard, he doesn't belong. He's one of those guys, like Rice, who will lower the statistical threshold for other players to get in.

Baseball wise, Sammy and Dawson were very similar players. CF'ers with power and speed who didn't hit for much average or walk often, who eventually moved to right field.

Maybe you should have watched Sosa play in the flesh, and you'd know a little more about him (since you seem to think I haven't seen Dawson play.)

surely you don't mean to imply that SS was one of the best "very few" ballplayers ever...surely you're not even implying that he was AD's equal...

Dawson belongs more than rice.
Rice getting in opens the doors to alot of nearly greats

(from 10,000 feet over Florida)

problem with dawson is no one knew he existed until he became a cub.

looking around the net you'd swear he was a rookie coming to the cubs. hell, even "best of" and highlight shows VERY rarely shows any footage of him in MON.

it didn't help his HOF case that the only time Dawson made it to postseason as an Expo was in 1981, in the strike shortened season. They got into the playoffs by being the 2nd half East division winners. The Expos did beat the Phils (the first half winners) in the NLDS but lost to Fernando and the Dodgers in the NLCS.

81 Expos:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1981_Montreal_Ex...

81 Strike:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1981_Major_Leagu...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

Using the Hall's 75 percent threshold, the Tribune's voters would elect Roberto Alomar, Andre Dawson

The ballots include Sullivan, Rogers, Greenstein, Mitchell, Hersch, Van Dyck and Gonzalez.

I'm old enough to have seen Dawson in his prime and given the choice between Sosa in his prime or Dawson in his, it's Dawson. Dawson had all 5 tools and used them all. Sosa had at least 4 tools and chose to use 1. Better player, better teammate, hands down.

Huh?

Just for kicks, lets look up the "five tools" at their best, and see how they compare:

Hitting for Average: Sosa .328 Dawson .308
Hitting for Power: Sosa 66 HR's Dawson 49
Throwing: Sammy 17 assists Dawson 17
Running: Sammy 36/11 SB/CS. Dawson 39/10
Fielding: CF/RF Rate 97/109 Dawson 110/110

Then there's the "6th tool" - plate discipline:
Sammy 116 BB's Dawson 44

You forgot the 7th tool...steroids

Dawson had more doubles, more triples, more steals, almost as many RBI, and was a much better fielder than Sosa.

Playing well in 1980 was just a little different than playing well in 1998.

You know that Dawson didn't use steroids?

Oh.....my....god....

His impact is felt even by today's generation. Watching him play for the Cubs on WGN, All-Star center fielder Torii Hunter credited Dawson with inspiring him to choose baseball over football as a kid in Pine Bluff, Ark.,

''He's the best I've ever seen,'' said former teammate Ryne Sandberg, using his own Hall of Fame speech in 2005 to lobby for Dawson.

That might be the best test of Dawson's Hall candidacy: the eye test...

As Sandberg said, ''No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson.''
---
http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

RN, I did see Sosa in the flesh, more times than I saw AD, & he brought me to my feet many times...just my feeling that HOF measuring sticks include more than stats &, IMHO, by all the non-stat barometers Sosa pales [pun intended]next to Dawson...I think Dawson's creds exceed Rice's, btw...

Though I agree that the HoF standards include things other than statistics, the only argument that gets Dawson into the HoF is that the standards should include about 50% "intangibles" which to me is ridiculous. The most that should be is maybe 10%.

There were times when Dawson was a HoF player, but for long stretches of his career he was simply a good ballplayer.

But regardless, there's no need to try to tear down Sammy Sosa to try to justify Dawson's inclusion in the HoF. Nor is there any way to reasonably argue that Dawson was a better player at the peaks of their respective careers. When you're clinging to leadership and ice on knees to justify one player being better than another, you've already lost the argument.

When Andre Dawson retired, he was:

22nd in Homeruns
24th in RBI
38th in hits
72nd in runs scored
21st in total bases
And 125th in stolen bases in the entire history of baseball

In addition, Dawson is the only player eligible for the HOF that has at least 2,700 hits and 400 homeruns who isn’t in the Hall.

During his career, Dawson won:

NL Rookie of the Year (1977)
NL MVP (1987)
NL MVP Runner Up (1981, 1983)
8 Gold Glove awards
8 All-Star Team selections
4 Silver Slugger awards

The knocks I have heard on Dawson are that 1) he had a low OBP, and 2) he didn’t deserve the MVP award he received in 1987. Dawson’s career OBP is relatively low at .323. That can’t be argued. But Dawson got tremendous production even while his OBP was low. For instance, in 1978 Dawson’s OBP was only .299 for the year. Yet he managed 154 hits and 269 total bases. His OBP fell below .300 again in 1985 to .295, but he managed 135 hits and 235 total bases. Compare that to Milton Bradley who posted an OBP of .436 in Texas in 2008, but managed just 133 hits and 233 total bases. I don’t mean to suggest that Bradley is a Hall of Famer or the equivalent of Dawson. I simply wanted to show how productive Dawson was even in years when his OBP was quite low.

As for not deserving the 1987 MVP award, I don’t think it really matters. The fact is that he did win it. It’s on his resume and it’s considered part of his legacy. Plus, with or without the award, his 1987 performance was tremendous, especially for a guy playing on a last place team.

Finally, I don’t want to speak for Mike Wellman, but the intangibles I think of with Dawson are not simply “leadership and ice on knees.” In baseball, there are certain guys that garner the respect of their peers and the fans more so than other players. They are more feared at the plate, more closely watched on the base paths, and more respected in the field. Dawson was that kind of player.

Sure Dawson was a leader. Other players say he worked harder than anyone else. It’s true he had terrible knees which had to constantly be iced and which prevented him from being even greater than he was. But there was something else too. I can’t completely quantify it, or even properly name it, but there was a universal respect for Dawson that is extremely rare. That’s not the only reason he should be in the Hall, but it should be considered.

"So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that."

It's sad that you view baseball through the lens of statistics. Mike wrote a nice, personal article on why he likes Dawson and feels he is a hall of famer, focusing specifcially on his intangibles (even going out of his way to bracket the statistics part of the argument at the beginning), and your response is: "There are very few players in the history of baseball who had a five year stretch as good as Sosa's from 1998 to 2002."

Who the fuck cares? It wasn't the point of the piece.

Thanks for sharing Mike (and Cubster with the quotes) those views echo my own on the Hawk.

Happy Holidays.

What's sad, is your inability to read.

"...Sammy Sosa may have been highly paid for their time in right field at Wrigley, but you can combine the two at their respective bests and still have nothing more than a cheap imitation of Andre Dawson."

Maybe the sentence was too long for you to focus on, but when you hit .324 64 160 despite a league leading 37 IBB's, the only person you may be cheap imitation of is Babe Ruth. Dawson is the cheap imitation in that analogy, not Sosa. Sorry, you are wrong again.

your %'s are arbitrary & I'm not clinging to anything; I'm pointing & including...I dare say many would agree that @ their respective peaks Dawson was the better all around ballplayer...anyway, stars may be aligned for AD this year since he's the top returning scorer on the ballot...finally, there's no argument; not a contest between SS & AD for the HOF - I just admire one & not the other...Sosa's time will come, or not, in due course

If you say "all around player" where you cap the contribution of the hitting component to compose an "all around game", then the young Dawson was probably the better all-around player. When you look at who had the best season, if a team swaps out the 2001 Sosa with any team Dawson played on, they win four more games with Sosa.

You may as well try to argue with a homeless guy who is yelling at nobody in particular while walking down the street. You will not come out ahead here Mike.

Loved watching the Hawk play. Loved his intensity, his eyes, his leadership. But I can't see him in the hall. And yes, it's that damn OBP. Joe Posnanski wrote a good article on him a while back, and made mention how OBP isn't just about walks:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers...

3 things struck me from that piece: If elected, Dawson's OBP would be the lowest of any HOF outfielder by 20 points. His average would be the 3rd lowest. And third, this pill: "Dawson got on base less often than the average major leaguer of his time. That's just a very tough thing to overlook."

Tough indeed. Great player, and I won't complain when he's elected (and I think he will be elected). But he wouldn't get my vote.

I agree that the low OBP is tough to swallow. But to allow that to totally discount all the other numbers?

It kills me that Posnanski feels that way because he is a great writer. But even great writers can be wrong.

Pos claims that he could see voting for Dawson if he had a higher batting average; something in the .295 to .300 range. In order to have a .295 batting average, Dawson would have had to have gotten 7.4 hits per year more than he did. That’s just slightly more than one hit per month. Is that really what separates the HOF players from those not worthy to be in the Hall?

I don’t mean to suggest that 7.4 hits per year is insignificant. Over the course of Dawson’s 21 year MLB career, that would have amounted to 155 additional hits. That’s basically an entire season’s worth of hits. But what Pos is saying is that he would vote for Dawson if he had 2,928 hits, but he can’t with Dawson only having 2,774 hits. That’s too fine a line for me, especially considering the other things Dawson achieved in his career.

While he’s a great writer, Pos puts too much emphasis on stats, particularly OBP. He seems to throw out everything else when evaluating a player. That’s not to say that stats are not important. They are and they shouldn’t be ignored, but we’re talking about the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Stats. Things other than stats should and do count.

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