Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Frank Robinson: A Living Legend
Just a short time ago Bobby Bonds passed away and with that event, one half of the greatest father-son duo is left living. Shortly after hearing the news of Bonds' passing, I got a call from my dad, it's pretty much a weekly thing during which we run the gambit on sports from the previous week.

We began talking about best living player in baseball. Despite my dislike for him, it's hard to deny Bonds' son, Barry, of that honor. My dad's choice was very interesting, though and got me thinking. He said for his money, it'd be Frank Robnison, manager of the Montreal Expos. Robinson played for 5 teams over his career and did many great things, including hit 500 home runs (586, to be exact), but he simply doesn't get the ink that guys like Bonds, Willie Mays, and Ted Williams just before his death did. Just considering the awards Robinson raked in during his 21 seasons have to put him in the conversation:

1956-CIN-Rookie Of The Year
1958-CIN-Gold Glove
1961-CIN-Most Valuable Player
1966-BAL-Most Valuable Player
1966-BAL-Triple Crown
1966-BAL-World Series MVP
1971-BAL-All Star MVP

Most players would love to win just one ROY or MVP award. Meanwhile, Robinson did it in both leagues and both the Mid-Summer and Fall Classics. He also won arugably the toughest award to get anymore, the Triple Crown. Only two of his full seasons saw him hit less than 21 home runs (1968, 15 & 1972, 19). He stole 10+ bases each year between 1957 and 1965. He ended his career with a .294 average and 1.704 AOPS.

How do these numbers stack up with some of the other greats still with us? Well as many may already know given the recent climb of Bonds and Mark McGwire up the home run chart, his 586 dingers rank 5th overall. How he hit the 5th most home runs ever and doesn't get nearly the attention of his peers is beyond me. A look at some others: (through 2002)

BBonds .295 1.879 613
WMays .302 1.709 660
MMcGwire .263 1.770 583
HKillebrew .256 1.637 573

Those are the four closest living members to him on the home run list and I think when you include everything, Bonds and his 5 MVPs sit atop the list, but then Robinson comes in 2nd. He was just a fantastic player for several years.

While it doesn't figure into this equation for best player, Robinson is also a very solid manager and currently has the Expos playing some of the most competitive baseball in the entire league. Truth be told, Robinson is just a downright great baseball person. He knows the game, he loves the game, he excelled at the game.