There was not much difference in any category between Dawson and Bobby Abreu. It is basically a coin flip and in basically every category I figured. Dawson is slightly better in Baseball Reference WAR and Abreu in Win Shares. However, the key phrase here is slightly better. Very slightly in any category.
I mentioned in the Ryne Sandberg write up how I saw him, and Andre Dawson take batting practice up close in spring training. One thing I didn’t mention was how both looked so big and magnificent up close in the batting cage. I was used to seeing these guys in real life. When I went to games, I didn’t get to set to close to the field. In real life these guys were big. Dawson was 6-3 and Sandburg was 6-1 but each looked bigger than that. I can’t remember the year, but I know it was after Dawson’s MVP year in 1987.
Speaking of his MVP year I want to get a different opinion on that. In 1987 the owners had colluded not to sigh any free agent to try to break down the players. Many players weren’t signed until later. Dawson was going to turn 32 during the 1987 season had bad knees and didn’t figure his knees could take the pounding of artificial turf any more. He could see the owners weren’t signing anybody. Andre and his agent decided his best fit was the Cubs. So, Andre had his agent take a contract to the Cubs leaving the salary blank. The agent said no joke, put whatever number you want in there for salary. Now the Cubs couldn’t refuse this deal as everyone would know about the collusion. There was already talk. So, they signed Dawson for only $700,000. Not bad but well over $300,000 less than he made the year before.
Dawson proceeded to lead the league in homers and RBIs winning the MVP award despite the Cubs finishing last. However, Dawson only walked 32 times and had an on base percentage of only .328 or about the league average. He had a WAR of 4.0, which isn’t bad, but is not great. Everyone on the ballot from 2nd place to 11th place had a higher WAR. However, the Cubs didn’t have to pay Dawson much. They had a solid productive hitter at the top of their lineup. Despite his knees he was an average player in right field, which was the most they could expect of him. He wasn’t in their original plans for spring training. He was a gift that fell into their lap. How can you be more valuable than that? Apparently, that is how the 11 writers who voted for Andre thought about it. It’s not a bad way to think. Personally, I would have voted for Ozzie Smith. However, to me, Andre Dawson is an easy Hall of Famer.