Welcome to this week’s edition of “The Cooperstown case”!
This week, we’ll be looking into the career of one of the most underrated players of the 1990’s and early 2000’s… that being Ray Lankford. During the ’90’s, Lankford was one of the best players on the Cardinals, but was frequently overshadowed by Mark McGwire (especially during the home run chase of 1998).
So, is there a good case for Lankford in Cooperstown?
Let’s take a look.
Lankford began his career in 1990 in St. Louis. Twice in his career he stole over 40 bases, and six times in his career he had stolen 20 bases. He also had a modest career batting average of .272, which is nothing flashy but still very consistent. He hit 338 home runs while a member of the Cardinals, which is fourth in team history.
In 1997, Lankford hit 31 home runs, stole 21 bags and posted an impressive .996 OPS. That is some serious production. 1998, Lankford was almost as good, hitting 31 HRs again, swiping 26 bags, but his OPS dropped to .932. As I stated a few months ago, he was in the shadow of McGwire during the late 1990’s. In fact, in 1998, his 31 homers and 105 RBI in 1998 were nothing in comparison to McGwire’s then-record 70 home runs and 147 RBI’s.
He was an impressive athlete, that’s for sure, but more importantly, like Larry Walker (who we talked about last week), Lankford was a “clean athlete”. In an era where steroids were on the rise throughout Major League Baseball, he strayed away from them.
However, despite his impressive career, it still does not match up too well on par with many of the other Hall of Famers. He didn’t hit over 400 home runs, didn’t have over 2,000 hits, and had a high strikeout rate. So there’s a good case for him, while still plenty of detractors for him.
Does Lankford have a good case for Cooperstown?
Only time will tell.
Feel free to discuss, and tune in next week for another edition of “The Cooperstown case”!