The Baseball Hall of Fame can finally welcome one of the best third basemen of all time: Ron Santo. Many words have been rightfully written about Santo's exceptional career; I would now like to take a look at some revealing numbers.
Of all third basemen with more than 6000 plate appearances - approximately ten years worth of plate appearances - in the history of baseball, Santo ranks 8th with 79.3 WAR, beating out current Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew, Paul Molitor, and Tony Perez. Of the third basemen who played the majority of their careers at third base, Santo ranks 10th with a 125 wRC+. Offensively, Santo was 25% better than league average over his entire career - only nine other third basemen can say they were better than that.
For four consecutive years, between 1964 and 1967, Ron Santo's wRC+ was above 150, and his WAR was above 8.5. Over the course of these four years, Santo accumulated 36.9 WAR, the best of any player during that time period; Santo was better than Willie Mays, (36.4 WAR), Hank Aaron, (31.3 WAR), and Roberto Clemente (29.7 WAR). To put this into perspective for the younger generation, in his four best years of baseball, Albert Pujols has accumulated 36.7 WAR. Now by no means am I suggesting that Ron Santo was better than Pujols currently is, but when Santo was in his prime, he was one of the best players of his time.
So congratulations, Ron. While you shouldn't have had to wait this long, you deserve your place in the Hall. Not only were you one of the most courageous people to have ever played the game, you were also one of the best third basemen in the history of baseball.