11/28/12 12:05 PM ET
Mattingly's bid for Hall of Fame reaches 13th year
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Mattingly may spend his days wearing Dodger blue now, but for 14 seasons, he was the face of the New York Yankees.
Even as Mattingly heads into his third season as a manager in Los Angeles, his pinstriped exploits are never far from the discussion. One of the most popular players in franchise history, he'll certainly hear loud ovations in June, when he brings his Dodgers club to Yankee Stadium for an Interleague series.
While Mattingly has already been enshrined in Monument Park, with his No. 23 retired by the Yankees, the nine-time Gold Glove Award winner is not holding out hope for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mattingly's best showing was 28 percent in 2001, his first year on the ballot. Last year, Mattingly appeared on 17.8 percent of ballots cast, a slight uptick from his 13.6 percent showing in 2010.
"I don't think I'm a Hall of Famer," Mattingly has said. "I don't think I have the numbers. Part of it is longevity, and I wasn't able to do that and do the things that I did early in my career."
A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from Baseball Writers' Association of America members to gain election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Shortstop Barry Larkin (86.4 percent) earned his ticket to Cooperstown on the 2012 ballot. Starting pitcher Jack Morris (66.7 percent) and first baseman Jeff Bagwell (56 percent) are the top returning vote-getters from last year's ballot. Results of the 2013 election will be announced on Jan. 9.
Over a six-year run that started in 1984, Mattingly averaged 26 home runs, 114 RBIs and a .327 average, representing the Yankees on the American League All-Star team in each of those seasons.
No player during that stretch had more RBIs than Mattingly's 684, while only Wade Boggs (1,269) -- already a Hall of Famer -- had more hits than Mattingly's 1,219.
"Donnie Baseball" also accomplished an incredible feat in 1987, setting or tying five Major League records:
He hit six grand slams to set a new single-season mark (one that was tied by Travis Hafner in 2006), despite having never hit one prior to that season.
From July 8-18, Mattingly went deep in eight consecutive games, tying Dale Long's 1956 record (an achievement later matched by Ken Griffey Jr. in 1993).
Mattingly's 10 homers during that streak are a big league record for most in an eight-game stretch.
Mattingly recorded extra-base hits in 10 consecutive games, breaking Babe Ruth's 1921 record.
On July 20, the night Mattingly's extra-base-hit streak ended, he tied the Major League record by recording 22 putouts at first base.
Many believed that Mattingly was on the fast track to the Hall of Fame, but he was slowed by back injuries over the next six years.
"Mattingly was a great player, there is no question about that," one Hall of Fame voter has said. "But when you stack his career up against those guys in the Hall, he just doesn't make the grade."
Mattingly won the AL MVP Award in 1985, batting .324 with 35 homers and 145 RBIs, and he also finished in the top five in the MVP Award voting in '84 and '86. Mattingly, who edged teammate Dave Winfield in a memorable race for the the AL batting title in 1984 (.343), also won nine Gold Glove Awards at first base over a 10-year span.
But from 1990-95, Mattingly averaged fewer than 10 home runs and 64 RBIs per season, topping the .300 mark just once, in the strike-shortened 1994 season.
"After the first half of Mattingly's career, I would have said he was a lock for Cooperstown," said another voter. "It's too bad he had as many physical problems as he did, because he could have been one of the all-time greats."
While voters may not feel that Mattingly's career matches up against those who have been inducted into the Hall, his supporters raise the comparison to the Twins' Kirby Puckett, a first-ballot inductee in 2001.
Mattingly's career totals are similar to those of Puckett, whose career was cut short after the 1995 season due to irreversible retina damage in his right eye. Mattingly retired with 2,153 hits to Puckett's 2,304, 442 doubles to Puckett's 414, 222 homers to Puckett's 207 and 1,099 RBIs to Puckett's 1,085.
Mattingly posted three more 100-RBI seasons than Puckett and two more 30-homer seasons, while winning one more MVP Award and the same number of batting titles.
Puckett's apparent advantage comes in team hardware, as he played an integral part in the Twins' two World Series titles in 1987 and '91. Mattingly, on the other hand, appeared in the postseason just once, losing in the AL Division Series in his final season, 1995.
Mattingly's No. 23 was retired by the Yankees in 1997, and a plaque was posted in Monument Park to honor his career.
"A humble man of grace and dignity," reads the plaque. "A captain who led by example. Proud of the pinstripes tradition and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. A Yankee forever."