Keith Hernandez Far Better Than Don Mattingly

The Baseball Hall of Fame announced the “Contemporary Baseball Era Committee” ballot. In the common vernacular, it’s time for the Veteran’s Committee to vote on what is a highly controversial ballot likely to induce controversial results.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling are some of the most controversial players to ever appear on the ballot. Their respective controversies led to them landing on this ballot.

After that, there are a number of players with interesting cases. That is all except Don Mattingly. For his part, Mattingly has no business being on this ballot.

This is the romanticism of his career. He was a New York Yankee for his entire career. He was the only true great Yankee never to win a World Series. In fact, he’d only play in one postseason.

When you strip it all down, back injury or not, he was not close to the Hall.

Mattingly had a 42.4 WAR/35.8 WAR7/39.1 JAWS. That puts him in the same boat as Adrian González, who retired with similar numbers and had similar back injuries.

Keep in mind, no one is going to give González real Hall of Fame consideration. That’s even with him having a better WAR than Mattingly and having some postseason success.

Put Mattingly aside. The Hall of Fame was founded in 1936. In the ensuing 86 years, 25 first baseman have been inducted. They’ve averaged a 65.5 WAR/42.1 WAR7/53.8 JAWS.

Mattingly comes nowhere close to measuring up. Putting him on this ballot is a farce. It’s outright criminal when a vastly superior player in Keith Hernandez wasn’t placed on that ballot.

The Hall of Fame case for Hernandez has been detailed on this site previously. To sum it up, Hernandez fares very favorable to contemporary first baseman recently inducted like Eddie Murray.

Aside from Bonds, he’s the only player at his position to have the most Gold Gloves at his position and not be inducted into the Hall of Fame. With respect to Bonds, that may well change, but it can’t now with Hernandez.

Hernandez was the 1979 NL MVP. He’s won 11 Gold Gloves. He was the New York Mets first captain. He’s won two World Series. In sum, this should all lead to his Hall of Fame induction.

However, whoever decided to create this ballot omitted Hernandez (and other worthy candidates like Lou Whitaker) for Mattingly. It’s a farce because Hernandez was far superior.

Hernandez had a 60.3 WAR/41.3 WAR7/50.8 JAWS. His WAR was 17.9 higher than Mattingly. His WAR7 was 5.5 higher, and his JAWS was 11.7 higher.

What’s fascinating there is the argument for Mattingly is his prime. However, as viewed by the prism of WAR7 and JAWS, Hernandez had the better prime.

While the claim is Mattingly was the better hitter, again, the numbers don’t bear that out. Mattingly had a 127 OPS+ and 124 wRC+. Hernandez had a 128 OPS+ and a 131 wRC+.

We all know Hernandez was also the superior fielder. That means Hernandez was a better hitter, fielder, and leader.

Put another way, Mattingly doesn’t belong in the same conversation as Hernandez. As noted, he’s in a conversation with Adrian González.

The Hall of Fame flat out got it wrong. Omitting Hernandez in favor of Mattingly was an inexcusable error in judgment. The only hope is the next time Hernandez is eligible, this error is not repeated, and Hernandez is rightfully and finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.