Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Put Dave Duncan in the Hall of Fame

I agree with Rick Sutcliffe that St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan belongs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan is a guy who most fans have heard of, but I'm not sure most fans really appreciate how good he has been over the years.

There's no question that Tony La Russa is a great manager and is no doubt ticketed for the Baseball Hall of Fame, but coaches should also earn consideration. Duncan, La Russa's former teammate and longtime pitching coach, most famously in Oakland and then St. Louis, would be the first guy on my ballot. He was never a pitcher himself, but catchers get to know pitchers as well as anyone, and Duncan was a catcher for years in the big leagues. Above all, he is a guy that gets it.

Just look at his results. Pitchers on Duncan's staffs have won four Cy Young awards: LaMarr Hoyt (1983), Bob Welch (1990) Dennis Eckersley (1992) and Chris Carpenter (2005). All his pitchers rave about him and his no-nonsense approach.

His staffs have consistently had among the lowest ERAs in the majors. Where does St. Louis rank in the majors right now? Sure enough, they are first overall with a 3.60 ERA.

Look at what he did with guys like Dave Stewart and Eckersley with the A's and, more recently, with guys like Carpenter and Jeff Suppan with the Cardinals. Before he got to them, they had varying degrees of success, but he helped all those guys -- and many more -- reach their full potential.

It's not just me either. Most people respect La Russa's opinion, and I bet if you asked Tony, he'd say Duncan deserves a spot in the Hall as well. It's time to give baseball coaches their due, and let's get Dave Duncan to Cooperstown.

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