Eddie Mathews • 3B • HOF

2nd in JAWS (96.4 Career/54.4 Peak/75.4 JAWS)

Teams: Braves 1952–66 • Astros 1967 • Tigers 1967–68
Stats: .271/.376/.509 • 143 OPS+ • 2,315 H • 512 HR • 68 SB
Rankings: 9x All-Star • 9x top 5 HR • 8x top 5 WAR • 8x top 10 SLG • 7x top 5 OBP
All-time: T-22nd HR
Voting: BBWAA 1978 (5th, 79.4%)

Though he was sixth on the all-time home run list when he retired, Mathews was the first modern member of the 500 Home Run club not to get elected on the first ballot (Jimmie Foxx and Mel Ott hailed from a time before the five-year waiting period was in place). He needed five years of eligibility to get elected and even then required one of the biggest gains in modern history in order to go over the top. Revising a table from my 2016 article on big jumps:

Player

Year 1

%

Year 2

%

Gain (%)

Barry Larkin

2011

62.1

2012

86.4

24.3

Yogi Berra

1971

67.2

1972

85.6

18.4

Luis Aparicio

1983

67.4

1984

84.6

17.2

Eddie Mathews

1977

62.4

1978

79.4

17.0

Ralph Kiner

1974

58.9

1975

75.4

16.5

Tony Perez

1999

60.8

2000

77.2

16.4

Roberto Alomar

2010

73.7

2011

90.0

16.3

Tim Raines

2016

69.8

2017

86.0

16.2

Rollie Fingers

1991

65.7

1992

81.2

15.5

Duke Snider

1979

71.3

1980

86.5

15.2

Ryne Sandberg

2004

61.1

2005

76.2

15.1

Mathews was the cover subject on Sports Illustrated’s debut issue, dated August 16, 1954. Though he received only a passing mention in the pages within, the famous photograph of the slugger was used again for the magazine’s 40th anniversary in 1994 and — via a mosaic made up of thousands of tiny photos submitted by readers — the 60th anniversary in 2014.

MathewsSI

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