He Did Have a Hammer

After reading this, you might wonder if I have dipped into the eggnog a little early.

You may ask if I need a straight jacket.

So here it goes:  Hank Aaron  is the most underrated player in baseball history.

WHAT?

I’ll say it again:  Hank Aaron is the most underrated player in baseball history.

Before I get escorted off to the “happy” place, allow me to explain. 

I wrote an entry not too long ago regarding underappreciated players.  There is a difference between underappreciated and underrated.  The underappreciated players I wrote about had great careers but are often overlooked.  I view Hank Aaron as being very much appreciated particularly when Barry Bonds was chasing the all-time Home Run record.  However, at least in my opinion, there are times that when people start listing all-time greats, Hank Aaron’s name is somewhat forgotten.  Living in New York all my life, Hammerin’ Hank seems to pale in comparison to Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mays and Mantle.  Each of these players possesses a characteristic for lack of a better term, that Aaron may not have.  Gehrig and DiMaggio have famous streaks, Mays is maybe the most exciting player ever and Mantle was a switch hitter whose tape-measure home runs are legendary.

Outside of New York, you have Ted “Teddy Ballgame” Williams and Stan “The Man” Musial.  If you want to go back decades, names like Cobb, Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner and Rogers Hornsby are almost mythical, kind of like from another world.  More recently you have Griffey and Bonds, two of the best players in any generation.  You have Pete Rose who, while not even close to the player Aaron was, is probably more well-known because of the hits records and his banishment for gambling.  All of these names seem to come to the more casual fan’s mind more quickly than Hank Aaron.

This is preposterous.  Simply put, Hank Aaron is the 2nd best player in baseball history behind Babe Ruth.  He is number one in career RBI’s, number two in career home runs and number three career in hits. Plus he had a lifetime .305 average and made the All-Star team 21 times.  He was a league MVP , finished in the top five seven other times and earned three Gold Gloves. To top it all off, he was a World Series Champion who hit .362 in two World Series and one League Championship Series.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is the epitome of dominance.  It sure seems as though Hank is being penalized for playing his entire career in Milwaukee and Atlanta.  How unfair.  Also, we know Roger Maris went through hell in his pursuit of Ruth’s single season Home Run record.   I would submit Maris had it easy compared to Aaron’s pursuit of Ruth’s career Home Run record.  Look at some of the vile quotes directed at Hank here.  You try going to work every day knowing this is what people are saying about you.  Yet, somehow Aaron did it and did it with class and tremendous poise.

Re-think your position people.  The baseball sun does not rise and set in New York.  Hank Aaron is baseball royalty,  the greatest player not named Babe Ruth.  Let me know what you think.  Is Hank Aaron underrated?  Or are these just the ramblings of a crazy person?   Now if you will excuse me, the eggnog needs just a “dash” more of rum.

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