A nine time All-Star and five time Gold Glove winner, Ron Santo is viewed by many folks as the finest ballplayer still left without a plaque in Cooperstown – and not all the folk reside in Chicago either. Santo was a gritty third baseman who finished in the top ten four times in MVP voting and was an on-base stud, drawing lots of walks while also hitting for a lofty batting average.
Santo made his debut in 1960 with the Cubs as a 20 year-old. He had the misfortune of sharing a position with Kenny Boyer – his decade peer who also has drawn plenty of interest from analysts trying to get him in the Hall of Fame. Ron finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting but then had a breakout season in his sophomore campaign. Santo hit .284 with 23 homeruns and 83 RBI and led all NL third basemen with 32 doubles. After a mightily disappointing season in ’62, Santo rebounded nicely by leading all third basemen with 25 homeruns and his .297 batting average topped all NL hot corner men. He made the first of his nine All-Star appearances in ’63.
His name found the top of the leader board in 1964, pacing the NL with 13 triples and 86 walks. His on-base percentage of .398 bested all NL men as well. Ron out-slugged his peers, posting a slugging percentage of .564. Santo followed up his solid ’64 season with another great campaign in ’65. Ron paced all third basemen with 33 homeruns and 88 walks and then he again paced the NL in walks and on-base percentage in 1966. He led the National League three years running in the bases-on-balls department, posting 95 in ’66 and 96 walks in both the 1967 and ’68 campaigns.
Although Ron was an exceptional on-base machine, he was better at driving in runs than other on-base studs like Stan Hack and Roy Thomas. Santo had eight seasons of 25 or more homeruns and eight seasons with 90+ RBI. Ron finished second in the NL with 123 RBI in 1969. In 1970, he posted more doubles than any other NL third baseman. With his career winding down, Ron nevertheless led all third basemen with a .302 batting average in 1972 – two years before his trade to the crosstown White Sox.
Ron Santo’s career stats: G 2,243/R 1,138/H 2,254/2B 365/HR 342/RBI 1,331/BB 1,108/SO 1,343/BA .277/SA .464