However, I would like to revisit Santo, because while reading an older book, I came across a knock on Santo from a rather credible source that appears unfounded. I have no idea whether this information affected Santo's Hall of Fame candidacy, but if it did it's a shame.
The 1997 Stats Baseball Scoreboard (p. 128) begins an article on Go-Ahead RBI with the following two paragraphs:
"In his autobiography, Nice Guys Finish Last, Leo Durocher offered a peculiar estimation of Ron Santo's clutch-hitting abilities. Durocher said that when he took over as manager of the Cub's in '66, other baseball men told him he'd never win a pennant with Santo at third. "Sooner or later," they said, "Santo is going to come up with the game on the [line] and 9 times out of 10 he's going to [fail]." Later, Durocher agreed, "They were right."
Ron Santo-a bad clutch hitter? He must have piled up a ton of RBI in blowouts because he drove in more than 90 runs in each of Durocher's first five seasons with Chicago. It's impossible to say how many of Santo's RBI put the Cubs ahead, but thankfully, we do have this information for today's players..."This struck me as interesting because in 2011 we do have the ability to determine how many of Santo's RBI put the Cubs ahead, as well as how he did with his teams on the line.
The PI event finder has all but one of Santo's career RBI. The database has Santo with 1026 plate appearances with an RBI, 445 (43%) of which put his team into the lead, tied the game or both. This is very similar to the career numbers for Brooks Robinson (42%: 440/1068), Orlando Cepeda (40%: 415/1027) and Roberto Clemente (43%: 428/993) all of whom played around the same time as Santo and finished with a similar number of career RBI's. Clearly there is no problem with Santo's numbers in this area.
Durocher's claim that Santo disappeared with the game on the line also seems to be empty. The PI event finder has all but 32 of Santo's plate appearances. In the games for which there is data, Santo came to the plate trailing with 2 outs in the ninth inning or later 130 times. Not only did he not fail "nine out of ten times", his numbers are quite good.
Even if you limit these PAs to games that were within 3 runs Santo was still very productive.
I'm not quite sure what the scouts and Durocher were seeing, but Ron Santo was a fine player, whether the game was on the line or not.