How Andre Dawson's Statistics Compare To Baseball's Hall Of Fame Outfielders

On Sunday in Cooperstown, Andre Dawson will -- think about this -- become the eighth outfielder of the 1980s to join the Baseball Hall of Fame. The voters hemmed and hawed over Dawson's Hall of Fame case for years until finally voting him in the ninth time around, and the debate started before he even finished playing.

Let's take a look at how Dawson stacks up against other Hall of Fame outfielders of his era from a purely statistical basis.

Andre Dawson (1976-96)

Year PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
21 Seasons 10769 9927 1373 2774 503 98 438 1591 314 109 589 1509 .279 .323 .482 .806 119
162 Game Avg. 664 612 85 171 31 6 27 98 19 7 36 93 .279 .323 .482 .806 119
PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/24/2010.

 

Vs. Reggie Jackson (1967-87)

Year PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
21 Seasons 11416 9864 1551 2584 463 49 563 1702 228 115 1375 *2597* .262 .356 .490 .846 139
162 Game Avg. 656 567 89 148 27 3 32 98 13 7 79 149 .262 .356 .490 .846 139
PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/24/2010.

 

Reggie Jackson struck out more times than anyone in the history of the universe, but as is typical of many strikeout-prone power hitters, Jackson also walked a lot -- more than twice as often as Dawson, in fact. As a consequence, his on-base percentage is better.

Defensively, Dawson was overwhelmingly better: based on total zone data, he was 70 runs above average in the field, whereas Jackson was 23 runs below average. Defense is probably only accountable for around 10% of an outfielder's total value, however, and all things considered, Jackson is statistically better.

Vs. Dave Winfield (1973-1995)

Year PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
22 Seasons 12358 11003 1669 3110 540 88 465 1833 223 96 1216 1686 .283 .353 .475 .827 130
162 Game Avg. 673 600 91 169 29 5 25 100 12 5 66 92 .283 .353 .475 .827 130
PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/24/2010.

 

Winfield struck out only slightly more than Dawson did, but drew twice as many walks. Apart from this, the two were remarkably similar in terms of plate production.

But Dawson, despite knee problems that hampered him on the basepaths, stole more bags than Winfield, and while Winfield did win several Gold Gloves, his 91 defensive runs below average suggest that his range was light-years away from Dawson's. If one of these men is statistically superior, he isn't by much.

Vs. Robin Yount (1974-1993)

Year PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
20 Seasons 12249 11008 1632 3142 583 126 251 1406 271 105 966 1350 .285 .342 .430 .772 115
162 Game Avg. 695 624 93 178 33 7 14 80 15 6 55 77 .285 .342 .430 .772 115
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/24/2010.

 

Yount didn't play outfield until his career was half over, and like most outfielders, he was no Andre Dawson. Yount was helped by his status as a one-team player and member of the 3,000-hit club. Offensively, Dawson's OPS+ is actually a little higher than Yount's 115, and it's worth noting that while Dawson had to wait for his phone call for nearly a Decade, Yount was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Vs. Rickey Henderson (1979-2003)

Year PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
25 Seasons 13346 10961 *2295* 3055 510 66 297 1115 *1406* *335* 2190 1694 .279 .401 .419 .820 127
162 Game Avg. 702 576 121 161 27 3 16 59 74 18 115 89 .279 .401 .419 .820 127
PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/24/2010.

 

Henderson is one of the only players on this list whose outfield ability approaches Dawson's. His career OPS+ of 127 would have been five points higher if he had hung up his cleats after 21 season like a mere mortal would have, and he dominated the stolen base category in more profound fashion than any other baseball player has ever dominated any statistical category. Very few players have put up numbers as valuable as Henderson's, and Dawson wasn't one of them.

Vs. Jim Rice (1974-1989)

Year PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
16 Seasons 9058 8225 1249 2452 373 79 382 1451 58 34 670 1423 .298 .352 .502 .854 128
162 Game Avg. 702 638 97 190 29 6 30 113 4 3 52 110 .298 .352 .502 .854 128
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/24/2010.

 

Rice brings up an interesting question. Injuries prevented him from playing more than 16 seasons, and it seems as though four or five extra seasons would have put his plate numbers right up with Dawson's. Longevity is a virtue, though, and thankfully, the BBWAA didn't make Dawson wait as long as it did Rice.

Vs. Tony Gwynn (1982-2001)

Year PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
20 Seasons 10232 9288 1383 3141 543 85 135 1138 319 125 790 434 .338 .388 .459 .847 132
162 Game Avg. 679 617 92 209 36 6 9 76 21 8 52 29 .338 .388 .459 .847 132
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/24/2010.

 

Gwynn, like Henderson, was a one-of-a-kind talent, and despite having hit more than three times as many home runs, Dawson can't really touch him.

Vs. Kirby Puckett (1984-1995)

Year PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
12 Seasons 7831 7244 1071 2304 414 57 207 1085 134 76 450 965 .318 .360 .477 .837 124
162 Game Avg. 712 658 97 209 38 5 19 99 12 7 41 88 .318 .360 .477 .837 124
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/24/2010.

 

Since Puckett's career was cut short by glaucoma, a comparison of his cumulative statistics wouldn't be very relevant, but I'm posting them here anyway for completion's sake.

As long as there is a Hall of Fame, it will inevitably include some players who are less deserving than others. Dawson was not quite as good as many of the above players, but does his induction lower the statistical bar? Given his outstanding defense, I don't think so.

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