Don Mattingly’s latest chance of being enshrined in Cooperstown will come Sunday night.
The former Yankees first baseman is on the eight-player ballot which the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee will vote on. The results will be announced at 8 p.m. on Sunday at MLB’s Winter Meetings in San Diego.
The rest of the ballot is comprised of Barry Bonds, Rogers Clemens, Curt Schilling, Albert Belle, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy and Rafael Palmeiro.
Mattingly spent 15 years on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, but never received the requisite 75 percent of the vote; the closest he came was in his first year of eligibility in 2001, when he garnered 28.2 percent. Now, he has another chance. He needs at least 12 of 16 votes from the committee, which is made up of seven Hall of Famers, six team executives and three media members.
“It’s a desire [to be a Hall of Famer],” Mattingly said earlier this week on “The Show with Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman” podcast. “I think every player, it would be something that if you felt like you knew you’ve done enough. Obviously people look at it as being on the borderline, right? There’s people that voted for you, people that didn’t, different committees put you on and things like that. So obviously you’re one of those guys that’s on the borderline.
“I don’t know how else to look at it other than you played your cards, proud of my career to an extent. I know it didn’t end the way I wanted it to as far as production or time. But those are also cards that you’ve been dealt and you do the best you can with it.”
A lingering back injury limited Mattingly’s production late in his 14-year career, but from 1982-1995 he was a six-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glove first baseman and three-time Silver Slugger. He won the 1985 AL MVP Award, recorded three other top-10 MVP finishes and secured a batting title by hitting a career-high .343 in 1984.
The former Yankees captain was a lifetime .307 hitter with 2,153 hits, 222 home runs, 1,099 RBIs and a .830 OPS.
But he was best known for his sterling defense at first base. His nine Gold Gloves are the second-most of any player at the position, trailing only former Mets star Keith Hernandez (11), who has also been left out of Cooperstown to date.
Asked on “The Show” what he thought he fell short on during his playing career, the former Yankees captain was ready with an answer.
“Well that’s not winning,” Mattingly said. “Obviously winning is the key. Not getting to a World Series or getting deeper in the playoffs or even consistently in the playoffs. Being able to make it [to the playoffs] in ’95 was a huge, for me, almost monkey off your back. It’d been a long time. I knew I was ready to retire. … I think what’s missing is winning it all.”
Mattingly recorded a career 42.4 Wins Above Replacement (per Baseball Reference) and was in the top 10 in WAR among all position players every year from 1984-1987.
JAWS — FanGraphs’ Jay Jaffe’s WAR scoring system that measures a player’s Hall of Fame worthiness compared to Hall of Famers at his position — graded Mattingly at 39.1, compared to the average Hall of Fame first baseman’s 53.8. But his seven-year peak WAR of 35.8 was closer to the average Hall of Fame first baseman’s 42.1.
Since retiring as a player, Mattingly has remained in the game on the coaching side, including five seasons as manager of the Dodgers and seven seasons as manager of the Marlins. Earlier this week, he was named the Blue Jays’ new bench coach.