The headline may look it but I'm not accusing Donnie Baseball of taking steroids. However with the Hall of Fame voting coming up, does a player like Mattingly's stock go up in an era full of steroid users? Would Donnie have gotten into the Hall had he used roids? And if he did would he have put up "Mark McGwire type" stats?
Don Mattingly was a great ballplayer and a great New York Yankee. Mattingly was probably the best player in the sport during the 1980's and if there were a handful of guys you'd want your kid to be like or play like, Donnie Baseball would be that guy. Is he a Hall of Fame caliber player? Yes. A Hall of Famer? Probably not.
Yet I'm curious about one thing, if some writers and purists contend that the DH has had the effect of "tainting" the record books by pro-longing the careers of players who otherwise would've been retired long ago, then wouldn't that go the same for players who've used steroids to stick around and heighten their stats? And does that then increase the chances for a guy like Mattingly to make a case for a spot in the Hall?
One such player I will compare Mattingly with is McGwire. Taking their first six years into account, from ages 23-28, before Mattingly had back problems and McGwire knee problems.
Mattingly's averages come out to: Runs 97, hits 203, doubles 43, HR's 27, RBI 114. McGwire's averages come out to: Runs 82, hits 127, doubles 21, HR's 36, RBI 100. Mattingly beats McGwire every year in batting average during this period and in on-base-percentage every year except for when they were both 28. Mattingly wins in slugging % four out of the six years (every year but the first and last of the six). McGwire walks more, Mattingly strikes out less.
Each was an All-Star six times during that span. McGwire won rookie of the year. Mattingly won an MVP and a batting title, probably should've won another MVP in 1986 if they didn't give it to a pitcher named Roger Clemens. During that six year age span, Mattingly won five gold gloves, while McGwire won one. Mattingly won three silver sluggers, McGwire one. Mattingly finished in the top ten in batting five times while McGwire finished in the top ten in slugging four times during this six year age period.
What does all of this prove? Well perhaps if nothing else, that furthers the notion that McGwire may not have been in the Hall on his own (which he is still not) if not aided by steroids. It certainly makes one wonder what Mattingly's career numbers would've looked like if he like McGwire at the same cross-roads would have chosen to go the steroid route to resurrect his once Hall of Fame bound career. This is proven out especially when one considers that when Mattingly retired at the age of 34, at that same age McGwire hit career highs of 70 HR's and 147 RBI.
As it all turns out, neither player may end up making it to the Hall. But because of the steroid era, unlike Big Mac, people still want Donnie Baseball in the Hall.