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Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Sandberg Should've Been a Lock Last Year, but Eck... 

I defy anyone to name ten better all-around second basemen. It can't be done. Only a handful of those crazy little guys have had the kind of offensive impact he did over a whole decade. And this was a decade when Daryl Strawberry was a superstar for hitting .260 with 39 home runs, as a right fielder. And Wade Boggs was the second coming of Ted Williams despite never getting past second base without help.

If he had played, and sucked, for four more years, he would have made it on the first ballot.

There's no point arguing about Molitor, though something about his being such a sure thing bothers me. Maybe I'm just dreading his speech.

As for Dennis Eckersley, I think I'll take the contrarian position. I'm not so sure he's a hall of famer at all.

There's no doubt that he posted two or three of the best seasons by a closer in the 80's, and he racked up a lot of saves--a novel stat at the time. But if that's enough to get him in the hall of fame, then we're going to have an avalanche of hall-of-fame closers in about ten years. Billy Wagner, Rob Nen, Mariano Rivera, Kieth Foulke, Kas Sasaki, Eric Gagne, John Smoltz, and Trevor Hoffman have all put up numbers just as good as Eck's in much more difficult times. Even lesser guys like Jose Mesa and Ugueth Urbina compare pretty well.

As for argument #2 (He even had four very good seasons as a starter.), that's just silly. If he was such a good starter, why did he make the switch? Was it because somebody saw in him the makings of the perfect closer? No. It was because he lost it. He sucked for five years before being relegated to the pen and turning it around.

All that said, I'm willing to admit that maybe he is a hall of famer. I mean, he was really awesome for about four years there. But then (and I'm sorry to use this name again Chris), Jose Mesa has had four great seasons too.

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