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posted: 7/22/2012 10:17 PM

Kasper: Many arguments support Santo's spot in Hall

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  • This April 5, 2002, file photo shows former Cubs third baseman and now Hall of Famer Ron Santo throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the home opener at Wrigley Field.

      This April 5, 2002, file photo shows former Cubs third baseman and now Hall of Famer Ron Santo throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the home opener at Wrigley Field.
    Associated Press

 
 

Q. The sentiment among all Cubs fans and many baseball observers seems to be that Ron Santo's Hall of Fame induction should have happened a long time ago. Why did it take so long for him to get in?

A. That's a question we have all pondered for years.

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As I checked the front page of Baseball-Reference.com the other day, Ron's career was encapsulated nicely: a nine-time all-star and five-time Gold Glover, he hit 342 home runs (many of which came during a pitcher-tilted era), played in the eighth-most games among all third basemen and put up 67 Wins Above Replacement, good for 93rd all time.

Those accolades have sat there unchanged for decades, yet it took until 2012 for a committee of voters to deem him Hall-of-Fame worthy. Of all the theories on why he couldn't get in for so long, I probably would point to the fact that the Cubs from that era already had three Hall of Famers on a club that never went to the World Series.

I don't agree that that should have hurt Ron's credentials at all, but it may have played into certain voters' reluctance to put him in.

Also, for some reason, it has been difficult for third basemen to get in. According to Baseball-Almanac.com, only 13 third basemen have gotten in, by far the fewest among all positions (aside from DH).

The bottom line is that he finally joined a group he had long deserved to be a part of.

Of course, we all wish he had been here to enjoy it, but deep down I believe Ron knew he was a Hall of Famer because everybody around him told him he was many, many times.

Q. Last week the Miami Marlins made their only visit to Wrigley Field this season, which marked the return of Carlos Zambrano, Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle. How would you assess the Cubs/White Sox legacy of the three?

A. Starting with Zambrano, it had to be bittersweet for him to return to the only big-league home he had known before his off-season trade to Miami.

There was a lot of good for him here and definitely some bad, which he admitted this week was all on him.

I think his heart was always in the right place, but he just couldn't eliminate his occasional anger issues, leading to his exit from the Cubs.

At his best, he was one of the most durable and effective starting pitchers this franchise has known. But he will be remembered by many as the guy whose potential was never fully realized because of the lack of control of his emotions.

On Guillen and Buehrle, both hold huge places in White Sox history because of their contributions to the 2005 World Series championship.

Ozzie's often controversial gift of gab overshadows his great career here as a player and manager, while Buehrle's quiet professionalism maybe makes it easy to somewhat overlook how steady and spectacular he was here for 12 seasons.

Q. The Cubs head to Pittsburgh to play the contending Pirates, who are in just about the same situation as last July before falling apart over the final two months. Can they win the division or at least finish over .500?

A. I do think they will finish over .500 this season. Whether they can make the playoffs is much more iffy.

Their pitching carried them early. Their offense got off to a horrible start but has really picked up lately.

They have the best player in baseball right now in Andrew McCutchen, and maybe their experience last year ultimately will help them in that it was the first time they had to deal with pressure and external expectations.

They should be better equipped to handle those things this year.

• Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter @lenandbobwww.wgntv.com/lenandbob;http://www.wgntv.com/blogs/lenandbob/[URL]. Subscriber Total Access members can email him [/URL]questions;mailto:cubsquestions%40dailyherald.com?subject=Reader%20question[URL] each week via our online link.[/URL]

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