Hall Of Fame Debate: Dale Murphy VS Andre Dawson VS Jim Rice
I am truly saddened to see how little support the BWAA gave Dale Murphy as he entered and exited his 15th and final season on the Hall of Fame ballot.
As a kid growing up in South Florida in the 1980’s, I was taught the game of baseball by watching the Atlanta Braves on WTBS. And it was Dale Murphy who led the way with his supreme display of baseball’s five tools.
There was nothing that Murphy could not do – he could hit, deliver runs, steal bases, and play the outfield with grace.
It was right around 1982-83 that I really started enjoying watching baseball on TV and there was no better player to watch during that time than Murphy.
His numbers compare very well to those that starred during the same era. He played on some horrible teams (finishing in last place in 7 of his 15 seasons with the Braves). But, based on what you saw him bring to the game each and every time he went into the outfield or approached home plate, there is no denying that Murphy played to win.
For this week’s ‘Hall Of Fame’ debate, I thought it would be fun to compare him to two other players that starred in the same era, Andre Dawson and Jim Rice. Both of these Hall Of Famers were elected late in the election process, but unlike Murphy they were able to gain support from the BWAA as their number of years remaining on the ballot neared an end.
During their prime seasons, Murphy, Dawson, and Rice were all at one time or another considered as elite players. And while that status may not have lasted as long as other more notable Hall Of Fame outfielders, these guys were superstars and beloved members of their ‘home’ teams.
Since the only chance Murphy has of gaining HOF entry now lies in the hands of the Veterans Committee, I thought we would take a different approach to this week’s topic.
Instead of voting a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for a player, let’s rank them – 1,2,3.
But, before we do that, let me present you with some stats:
Very solid careers from all three of these guys. Any GM from the 70s, 80s, and today would love to have this kind of production out of an outfielder on their squad.
For me, these are the numbers that stand out the most:
- Dawson’s games played (many while injured)
- Dawson’s career hits
- Rice’s batting average
- Dawson’s doubles
- Murphy’s 30-HR seasons
- Rice’s 100-RBI seasons
- Murphy’s 30HR/100RBI seasons
- Dawson’s stolen bases
- Dawson’s gold gloves
It is very hard to separate my emotions out of the equation on this – anyone that reads this blog knows that Andre Dawson is my favorite player of all-time.
But, I will say that while Dawson was/is my favorite player, I did get to see Murphy play a lot more games on television than Dawson until I moved to Chicago in 1989. And as for Jim Rice, I hardly got to see him play at all (with the exception being the 1986 WS).
Taking all of my memories of these guys into consideration, and reviewing their career numbers, I would rank these three players in this order:
(1) Andre Dawson (2) Dale Murphy (3) Jim Rice
Overall, I think that both Andre Dawson and Dale Murphy personified what a ‘5-Tool Player’ is supposed to offer. And while Jim Rice might have hit for a much higher career batting average and been a more accomplished run producer, he did not offer the same threat as Dawson and Murphy did while on the base paths or in the outfield.
What do you think? How would you rank these players? Did I get this right, or am I off track?? Let me know what you think.
Oh, and for the record, I do believe that all three of these players belong in the Hall of Fame.
If I had a vote, Dale Murphy would be sitting alongside both Andre Dawson and Jim Rice in Cooperstown!!