8. Andre Dawson
Andre Dawson, 1987, National League
No question, the Hawk got screwed in free agency.
In the heart of baseball’s collusion years, Dawson was determined to leave Montreal for a knee-friendly grass surface; when no one made him an offer, he made the Cubs one they couldn’t refuse, signing a blank contract and allowing them to fill in a figure. For their $700,000, Dawson gave them league-leading figures in home runs (49) and RBIs (137). But he did so for a last-place team, while making 463 outs, ranking sixth in slugging and ninth in runs created with a .328 on-base average that matched the league as a whole.
Jack Clark, playing first base for a Cardinals team that battled all season to win its division, led the league in on-base (.459) and slugging (.597), and was the only power hitter on a team in a more difficult hitter’s park. If the voters held the thirty games Clark missed against him (he still hit 35 homers with 106 RBIs), they could have chosen Ozzie Smith for his 104 runs, .393 on-base, and his usual otherworldly defense. And, of course, there’s the ultimate “value” question: The Cubs finished last with Dawson on the team; if they’d have finished in the same place without him, how valuable can he be?