Hall Of Fame Debate: Dale Murphy VS Andre Dawson VS Jim Rice

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:

  Murphy Dawson Rice
Seasons 18 21 16
Games Played 2180 2627 2089
Hits 2111 2774 2452
Average 0.265 0.279 0.298
On-Base 0.346 0.323 0.352
Slugging 0.469 0.482 0.502
Doubles 350 503 373
Triples 39 98 79
Home Runs 398 438 382
30-HR Seasons 5 3 4
40-HR Seasons 1 1 1
Runs Scored 1197 1373 1249
RBI 1266 1591 1451
100-RBI Seasons 5 4 8
30HR/100RBI Seasons 5 3 4
Stolen Bases 161 314 58
All-Star 7 8 8
Silver Slugger 4 4 2
Gold Glove 5 8 0
MVP 2 1 1
Post-Seasons 1 2 2
World Series 0 0 0


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!!

Dale Murphy photo


14 responses to “Hall Of Fame Debate: Dale Murphy VS Andre Dawson VS Jim Rice

  1. I would actually rate Dawson clearly (maybe even significantly) ahead of the two guys. I would take Dawson at his peak over either Rice or Murphy at their peak, and Dawson clearly wins the longevity factor.

    Rice and Murphy is a really good comparison. I’d take Rice’s monster 1978 season over any individual Murphy season. But if I looked at their best seasons (plural), I’d give Murphy 4 out of the top 6, and 6 out of the top 10. I also don’t know if Rice was ever considered in the argument as the best player in the game. Murphy was at least in the discussion (just behind Mike Schmidt) for the first half of the 80’s.

    Rice has him a little bit “longevity” numbers-wise, but not by as much as I’d guessed. Murphy has won a bunch of gold gloves – but he’s also a guy people point to as overrated in the outfield.

    Looking at it – I’d probably rank Murphy slightly ahead, which surprised me. I’d put both in the Hall – both have some intangibles that I like, and I try to consider that kind of “Beyond the #’s” stuff at least a little.

    • Chuckneo- very well said; it would be hard to argue any if your points.

      Another way that I look at it would be, when thinking of 80’s baseball, who do you think of first when a team name is mentioned: Dawson = Expos, Murphy = Braves, but Red Sox is probably Boggs and Clemens before Rice.

  2. I’m more taken aback by Alan Trammell’s lack of support than Murphy. I get the argument against Murphy (just as I do for an argument against Rice. Trammell should be in. If I tiered the Hall into 4 categories, I’d put Rice and Murphy in the 4th tier, and Trammel would be right next to Dawson in tier 3 “definitely should be in”.

    For the record, tier 2 would be guys like Mel Ott, Juan Marichal, George Brett, Gary Carter – there’s no question they’re in and if you don’t vote for them you should lose your vote, but they aren’t in the same tier as Cobb, Ruth, Wagner, Mays, Aaron, Schmidt, Seaver, Walter Johnson etc…

  3. Yeah – and Murphy goes with the Braves even more so than Dawson with the Expos. Tim Raines, plus the fact that Dawson’s most famous season was 1987 with the Cubs.

  4. Ugh. I agree that Murphy should have gotten more love from the voters. That said, as much as I try, I just can’t see these things in a vacuum.

    There IS a strong case for Murphy, especially when compared to Dawson/Rice. But what about compared to a guy like Tony Oliva, who bests Murphy in almost EVERY offensive category, from AVG to OPS to OPS+, WRC+ and WAR?

    I’m not dumping on Murphy, and this is a great question. My point is that there are other guys out there who are no less deserving if not more so that no one talks about any more.

    Personally, I hope Tony O and Murph get in!

    • Carlcrawfordcards, you make an interesting point with Oliva, another hero of the sport that never gets the credit he deserves.

      Maybe there needs to be a ‘Cast Your Vote’ debate between Murphy and Oliva…

  5. 1- Dawson
    2- Rice
    3- Murphy

    To me Murphy is a borderline HOFer. He was a great player from 1980-1987, but I’m not sure if that’s enough to get into the HOF. His batting average works against him too, now if he had over 500 HR’s it’d be a different story (ie Harmon Killebrew). Rice was a great player from 1975 – 1986 and if you are a great player for over a decade you deserve to be in the HOF. Both Rice and Dawson were great players for over a decade and they’re both in. If Dawson played all of his gameson natural grass instead of turf his numbers would be even more amazing like 500 – 500 AMAZING!!!

  6. Dawson deserved to be in the HOF sooner. His career was longer & more impressive than Rice & Murph. The played great defense & offense plus he could steel bases. Lets admit it there’s only one Hawk!

    I think Rice got in at the right time… Rice had a phenomenal 15 + year career & was very very consistent. He had a cannon of an arm & was able to play the ‘Green Monster’ fabulously in LF. His fielding percentage was higher than the great Ted Williams. I’m not sure I compare Murphy to Dawson or Rice, but I tell you this, I think he should be in the HOF! All three of these guys had Integrity & Sportsmanship. The kind of Sportsmanship, Stan The Man Musial would appreciate.

    Murphy achieved the amount of awards one needs to become a Hall Of Famer. 7 A.S. game appearances should stand out a little brighter. 4 Silver Slugger awards probably don’t count as much as they should. 5 G.G. awards should not go un-noticed & to be an MVP you almost have to be an M.V.P. Something Murphy was twice! He also won the Clemente & Gehrig award + Atlanta retired his jersey #3. Pretty impressive stuff if you ask me! The guy deserved more than 18% It’s in the hands of the Veterans Committee now. As a fan of baseball & Dale Murphy, he has my support for the Cooperstown!

  7. Murphy fans should take a different approach as to why he is a HOF. Don’t compare him to dawson and rice, but his four year span as the game’s best or near best outfielder from’82-’85 is a similar situation to HOF sandy koufax. No one argues koufax as a HOF, but if you just purely look at career numbers, 165 wins, 2300 ks…than he would pale in comparsion. But if look at 3 cy youngs in four year span and third in other than obviously he was game’s best for that span.

    Murphy won back to back mvps than two top ten finishes the next two years, not as impressive as koufax, but he can make claim as game’s best for his four years.

    His downfall was not retiring early like koufax. Murphy only had one more really hof caliber year before injuries got the best of him. Before injuries he was almost playing every 162 game season and batting between. 280 -. 300.

    Maybe the hall should be separated by great careers and great best in the game for a span of time. Children and aspiring players need to know the importance of players like murphy and koufax. Understand that greatness can be taken from you at any moment, just as perseverance of dawson should be appreciated.

    Same argument could be applied for mattingly.

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