Andre Dawson: Should he be a Cooperstowner?

After being around Andre Dawson for a couple of days during his 2004 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction festivities, I came away with the sense that he was a quiet, intense man – definitely not the type to campaign for his own Cooperstown enshrinement. And while he complied with any autograph requests in St. Marys that weekend, he wasn’t a man that made small talk or waxed nostalgic about his playing days.

I loved watching Dawson as a player, so I was thrilled (albeit intimidated) to be around him. A case could be made that he’s the greatest Expos player ever (My vote would go to Vladimir Guerrero or Tim Raines). Before more than a dozen knee surgeries, Dawson could hit with power, steal bases and regularly nail runners at the plate. There’s no question he’s a worthy of his Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction.

But does he belong in Cooperstown? At first blush, it’s hard to argue with his stats. In the pre-steroid era, Dawson belted 438 homers, knocked in 1,591 runs, stole 314 bases, accumulated 2,774 hits and batted .279. And you can’t overlook his eight Gold Gloves, eight all-star selections and 1987 MVP Award. The stat I can’t get past, however, is his ugly .323 career on-base percentage (OBP). I know Dawson played before Money Ball, but this is lower than the average on-base percentage for players from his era and 20 points lower than the OBP of any other outfielder in Cooperstown. Baseball Reference indicates that an average season for Dawson featured a .279 batting average, 27 home runs and 98 RBIs – nice numbers, but not jaw-dropping. In fact, statistically Dave Parker, Harold Baines (yes, I know he was primarily a DH) and Dwight Evans had careers that were arguably as good as The Hawk’s but have received little Hall of Fame consideration.

If I’m being objective (and this is difficult because I grew up worshipping The Hawk), I wouldn’t have included Dawson on my Cooperstown ballot. Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer? Yes. Cooperstowner? Regrettably no.

Published by cooperstownersincanada

Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.

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