Here is my wild-card pick -- one that most people I know disagree with. I get that. Murphy's career numbers fall short. He burned out young -- he was excellent for about eight years and not especially good on either side of those eight years.I just wanted to say thanks. I know Murphy won't ever make it, but he's by far the biggest reason I became a baseball fan. If everybody was like Dale Murphy, the world would be far better off for it.
But, as I mentioned in the Don Mattingly section, I put together a list of the best players in baseball since 1970. And from 1980 through '87 -- that's four five-year periods -- Murphy was smack in the discussion as the best player in baseball. I'm not sure he ever was quite the best -- Mike Schmidt was awfully good -- but you could make a viable argument for him. He was, in his prime, a Gold Glove center fielder who got on base, hit with power, stole bases and willingly was the face of baseball as the (only) star attraction for Ted Turner's Atlanta Braves. The Hall of Fame does ask its voters to consider a player's character... a slippery slope. But Murphy surely must get bonus points.
I will concede that Murphy is an emotional pick -- I was living in the South when Murphy towered as a larger-than-life character who signed every autograph, spoke up for every charity and played brilliant baseball every day for mostly doomed teams. But my new theory this year is that if a player is in the discussion as the best in baseball over a substantial period of time, he deserves serious consideration. Murphy gets my vote.
I know Mr. Posnanski will never see this, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to send him an email from CNNSI's website. Way to suck at something else, CNN.