Photograph By Rich Pilling/Getty Images
Barry J. Stanton: A case for Don Mattingly, in two words: Kirby Puckett.
Their numbers are similar. Mattingly played 14 years (1,785 games), hit .307 with 222 home runs and 1,099 RBIs; Puckettt played 12 years (1,783 games), hit .318 with 207 homers and 1,085 RBIs.
Puckett, elected in 2001, won two championships with the Twins, including some iconic moments in the '91 World Series. Mattingly is simply the greatest Yankee who never won it all, but he did have some moments, including home runs in eight straight games and six grand slams in a single season.
Puckett's career was more even from start to finish. Mattingly burned hot for half a dozen seasons, then faded for six.
His star time wasn't nearly as bright as, say, Sandy Koufax's, but there was a time when, if a manager could pick one hitter to put up with two outs in the ninth and the tying run on second, he'd have chosen Mattingly.
That may not be enough to get him elected, but it still gets my vote.