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updated: 5/24/2014 5:14 PM

Will the Hall of Fame call for Soriano?

Former Cub, current Yankee has put up numbers similar to Dawson

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  • New York Yankees' Alfonso Soriano, who played much of his career with the Cubs, has put up offensive stats similar to Hall of Famer Andre Dawson.

      New York Yankees' Alfonso Soriano, who played much of his career with the Cubs, has put up offensive stats similar to Hall of Famer Andre Dawson.
    Associated Press

  • Andre Dawson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.

      Andre Dawson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.
    Associated Press

 
 

The Cubs outfielder played in pain. Oftentimes before and after games, he'd have his knees and other body parts wrapped in ice packs.

He was highly respected by teammates, managers and the media and was seen as an example to younger players.

In the end, he put up numbers that included more than 400 home runs, about 300 stolen bases and well more than 1,000 RBI.

Those numbers and the personal attributes earned him a ticket to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

That outfielder was Andre Dawson. But those numbers and those attributes also apply to Alfonso Soriano, the former Cub and sometimes lightning rod who has been in town for much of last week with the New York Yankees.

With the 2014 Hall of Fame induction ceremonies just a couple of months away and two players with strong Chicago ties going in -- pitcher Greg Maddux and first baseman/DH Frank Thomas -- we thought it would be fun to ask who would be the next player with significant time in Chicago to receive Cooperstown consideration.

Maddux is going in without a team designation while Thomas will go in as a White Sox. Dawson went in as a player for the Montreal Expos.

So who's next?

Mark Buehrle, best known as a White Sox pitcher even though he has toiled for Toronto and Miami, certainly will get serious looks.

But how about Soriano, who spent almost seven seasons with the Cubs and helped them get to the playoffs twice?

We'll say upfront that it will probably be difficult for Soriano, who may find himself viewed the way players such as Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell, Fred McGriff and others have been viewed by Hall voters, at least thus far: very good but not Cooperstown worthy.

On the surface, Soriano's raw numbers match up well with Dawson's.

Dawson played in 2,627 games and had a hitting line of .279/.323/.482 with 438 home runs, 1,591 RBI and 314 stolen bases. Know that it took him nine tries to get into the Hall of Fame, finally garnering enough votes in 2010.

Through Friday's action, Soriano's line was .271/.320/.502 with 412 home runs, 1,153 RBI and 288 stolen bases. He also has at least 1,000 hits in each of the American and National leagues.

Dawson's knees were ravaged by the artificial turf at Montreal's Olympic Stadium and at the other cookie-cutter parks in the National League during his day. Soriano also has played with knee and leg pain even though he never wanted a day off.

There are significant differences with these two, though.

While Dawson was an accomplished and elegant defender in the outfield, Soriano has been a man without a position over the years, whether it be second base or any of the outfield spots. Soriano worked hard to improve his play in left field during his final two years with the Cubs under the tutelage of coach Dave McKay.

Although the raw offensive numbers look similar, Dawson has a big edge in wins above replacement (WAR), turning in a career mark of 64.5 while Soriano is at 28.0.

The website Baseball Reference (baseball-reference.com) also provides "similarity scores" for each player to other players throughout history. Dawson fares better here, too, with five Hall of Famers in the top 10 most similar: Billy Williams, Tony Perez, Al Kaline, Ernie Banks and Dave Winfield.

Soriano has no HOF matches in his similarity scores, as he compares with candidates who fell short, such as Dale Murphy, Matt Williams and Joe Carter. Through age 37, Soriano has one HOF match in Willie Stargell.

As for intangibles, both Dawson and Soriano are seen as example-setters and hard workers by their peers. Current Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has said Soriano is like a father to him. Although his viewed is biased, Castro didn't hesitate when asked if his mentor is a Hall of Famer.

"Yeah, easy," Castro said. "No question he's a Hall of Famer."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, a hard-nosed player in his day, also lauds Soriano.

"Very professional," Girardi said. "Loved in the clubhouse. He wants to play every day. He gives you everything he's got. I've never met a person who has said a bad thing about Alfonso Soriano."

Those testimonials are nice, but they don't get you into the Hall of Fame.

Dawson and Soriano are perceived differently when it comes to baseball's big-money game. When major-league owners were trying to hold down salaries in the late 1980s (and were found guilty of collusion), Dawson couldn't find a deal he liked, so he signed a blank contract with the Cubs, who filled in a base amount of $500,000 plus bonuses for the 1987 season. Dawson promptly went out and won the MVP award as fans in the Wrigley Field bleachers bowed to him time and again.

Soriano signed a gigantic eight-year, $136 million with the Cubs before the 2007 season. He helped carry them to the division title that year, hitting 14 homers in September. But because of the contract and his defensive shortcomings, Soriano was booed at times.

He never let the criticism get to him -- he also never belittled or lashed out at media members -- and he always had a smile for the fans.

During Soriano's visit last week to Wrigley Field, I asked him how he should be remembered and whether his stats are Hall of Fame numbers.

"I'm just happy about my career for myself, for my family, my kids," he said. "I'm happy because I'm working so hard to do what I do and stay for 14-15 years in the big leagues. I'm working so hard to be a better player every day. I'm happy with what I have and what I've done.

"For me, the Hall of Fame is just being in the big leagues for so long. I don't know if my numbers can be in the Hall of Fame, but for me and my family, I'm a Hall of Famer already because it's not easy to play this game for so long, and I've made for 14, almost 15 years, and I'm happy with that."

• Follow Bruce on Twitter@BruceMiles2112.

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