I always think of him as a little under Ron Santo. Both were good all-around players with 3 letter first names and 5 letter last names. Both were good all around. I think Bando was faster, but Sando was a better hitter, even considering ball park affects. I don’t think there is a super amount between them, but every system I used agrees that Santo is somewhat better.
Sal Bando is close in my system to being an automatic hall of famer. However, he is enough below, I’m comfortable he didn’t make it. But he has good arguments outside statistics. He was the team captain for a team that won three World Series in a row, the 1972 to 1974 Oakland A’s. In that time period he also won 5 division titles in a row. In those 5 years he was in the top 5 in the MVP voting for 3 of those years. He was a well-respected player at that time.
What hurts his hall of fame chances is after he left Oakland to Milwaukee his hitting dropped off a lot. He was 33 when he went there and in 4 of his 5 years he was average to below average hitters. He had a decent offensive season his second year there, but not like his years in Oakland. He then retired at age 37.
Another thing that hurt him was that it was forgotten how good he was. While one of the most vocal, people better remember Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, and Vida Blue. When they think of the 1974 series the remember Dick Green’s fielding. Another player who they remember better is Joe Rudi and that was due to one play. Rudi, who was a solid left fielder, made a nice play in the World Series. The announcers went crazy and said Rudi was the most underrated player in baseball. I don’t think anyone ever had that title before.
Well, they probably did, but I never paid that much attention to it. How do you determine how much a player is underrated, because we don’t know how they are officially rated. Since then, this discussion is still held on how much Joe Rudi was underrated. I don’t see anything similar for Bando. His name is bandied around a lot less than Rudi’s, who is barely in my top 1,000, and that is too bad.
The first game I went to was in 1968 in Oakland Coliseum between Oakland and Baltimore. I always remember that Bando got a key hit in the 9th, but I couldn’t remember when. They had 2 singles and a walk with 2 outs to win the game 3-2. Sal Bando drove in the winning run. The game was on June 17th, 1968. The two teams would win the next 6 pennants and a few other division titles. They were the two dominant AL teams in the early years of division play. So, I got to see a lot of good players. For Baltimore, Boog Powell (number 33 first base), Dave Johnson (number 64 second baseman) played shortstop (that definitely happened less under Weaver), Brooks Robinson (number 6 third base), Don Buford (number 67 left field) played second (also happened less under Weaver) and Frank Robinson (number 3 Right Field). Unfortunately for me, Baltimore who had a few good starters in those days started Gene Brabender that night. I don’t even remember his name. He had a career negative WAR, so I won’t rank him.
For Oakland besides Bando, there was Dave Duncan at catcher (not a good player, but a great pitching coach for Tony La Russa), Burt Campaneris (number 24 shortstop), Joe Rudi (number 92 left field), Rick Monday (number 52 center field), Reggie Jackson (number 7 Right Field) and Blue Moon Odom (number 487 pitcher). The only reason I rated Odom at pitcher was I saw him pitch in my first game. I only rated 493 pitchers, and I’m sure there are others ahead of him. I doubt he is one of the top 500 pitchers. I doubt I will see two better right fielders in the same game with Reggie Jackson and Frank Robinson in the game. Robinson started in left and moved to right field.