Chicago Cubs: Ron Santo’s career took a while to appreciate

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
1 of 3
Chicago Cubs
Ron Santo, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

It took Chicago Cubs legend, Ron Santo, a long time to gain election to the Hall of Fame. His career took a while for us to appreciate.

You don’t have to convince most Chicago Cubs fans that Ron Santo is a baseball legend. For years, fans were campaigning for him to gain election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The former star third baseman didn’t do much to hide the fact that it would have meant a lot to him during his retirement days. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to see it happen, as he passed away in 2010 before it finally happened in 2012.

During that time, Cubs fans cited what he meant to the team throughout the 1960s and into the early 1970s. However, many baseball fans didn’t feel that Santo deserved induction. Indeed, when we take a quick look at the traditional stats, the numbers aren’t quite there: 2,254 hits, .277 batting average, 342 home runs, and 1,331 RBIs. Especially for a player who plays at a position valued for its offense, that didn’t seem like enough.

However, as time has passed and more advanced statistics have gained in popularity, we’ve come to see Ron Santo in a new light. Many people feel that Santo unduly won election on the strength of his fight with diabetes and his broadcast work after retirement. Yet if we can put all that aside, the statistics make a strong case for Santo’s induction.

Many fans would be surprised to learn that Santo holds a higher career WAR than Ernie Banks does (70.5 vs. 67.8). Yet Banks was a slam-dunk Hall of Fame choice because he has the traditional stats, including 512 home runs and 1,636 RBIs. Santo, however, didn’t get in until nearly four decades after his playing career ended. Here, we look at two reasons why Santo has become more highly valued over the years.