1. Don Mattingly
Don Mattingly was so close to being a Hall of Famer.
Don Mattingly is riiiiiiight on the borderline of being a justifiable Hall of Fame case regardless of his bodily breakdown, but since I don’t have the requisite nostalgia, I can’t quite endorse it.
That being said, if there had been just a bit more to the body of work, he’d be a shoo-in. Was there any bigger “sure thing” than Mattingly’s Cooperstown pass back in 1989?
After that season, his age-28 campaign, Donnie Baseball had racked up 1,300 hits, 164 homers, 272 doubles, six All-Star appearances and an MVP in just six full seasons. From then on, he’d only play six more seasons, winning four more Gold Gloves and rebounding in ’92 and ’93 (.288/14/86 and .291/17/86), but never again making an All-Star team.
Even with ALL things considered, the Yankees icon racked up 2,153 hits in a 14-year career that ended at the age of 34, when his back demanded it.
He made just one singular postseason appearance in 1995, and exited the field watching Ken Griffey Jr. round third on a mad dash for a walk-off victory. The Captain deserved better, by any metric. So close.