Fred McGriff, Does the Hall Await?
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012
The 2013 Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) Hall of Fame ballot was announced on November 28th. Frederick ‘Crime Dog’ McGriff’, will again accompany the ballot for what will now be his Fourth Year.
Results are expected to be announced on January 9, 2013 and a player must receive 75-Percent of the votes to be elected.
This year however, will invite a new crop of players to the ballot, most of which have been linked to PED’s and certain to take away votes from the Crime Dog.
McGriff’s career ranged from 1986 – 2004. He made his Major League debut the same year as Mark McGwire, and over his 19-Year Career, McGriff amassed 493 Home Runs (tied with Lou Gehrig), 2,490 hits and 1,550 RBI’s with a .284 Life-time Batting Average. He also collected 2494 Hits and featured a 3 slash line of .284/.377/.866. McGriff also walked 1305 times and clubbed 958 Total Extra Base Hits.
He was a Five-Time All-Star, Three-Time Silver Slugger Award winner, a World Series Champion and the 1994 Major League Baseball All-Star Game MVP.
McGriff was the first player  since the dead-ball era, to lead both the American and National League in Home Runs.
So what is keeping McGriff from a clear path to the the Hall of Fame? The era in which he played.
He began his career in what some might consider pre-PED, and played right through the heart of what is now known as the Steroid era, certain to have an effect on the voting outcome. Let’s delve into his career playing stints with 6 different teams before assessing a final verdict.
Toronto Blue Jays Days:
1986-1990 1B .278 125 HRs 305 RBI and .530 SLG: McGriff was a dominant power hitter in his 5 Year Career with the Jays. He led the American League in in HRs and OPS during the 1989 season-with 36 HRs and an OPS of .924. The ‘Crime Dog’ is 3rd on their ALL-Time franchise list for Slugging Pctg. McGriff was a Silver Slugger in 1989 and had 2 straight top 10 AL MVP voting finishes in 1989 and 1990.
San Diego Padres Days:
1991-1993 1B .281 84 HRs 256 RBI and .519 SLG: In his 2 of his 3 Years as a Padres player, he won 2 Silver Slugger Awards and finished 4th, 6th and 19th in NL MVP Voting in that time frame. He made the ALL-Star Team in 1992. In these 3 years, he posted 3 straight 30+ HRs and drove in 100+ RBI. It should be noted that McGriff split time in 1993 between San Diego and Atlanta.
Atlanta Braves Days:
1993-1997 1B .293 130 HRs 446 RBI and .516 SLG: McGriff made three straight ALL-Star Games with Atlanta from 1994-1996. The lanky 1st Baseman also hit .323 (54-167 AB) in 4 different playoff runs with the Braves from 1993-1997, bashing 10 HRs and 34 RBI. McGriff added 2 HRs and 3 RBI – to help Atlanta win the 1995 World Series in 6 games over the Cleveland Indians.
Tampa Bay Rays Days:
1998-2001, 2004 1B/DH .291 99 HRs, 359 RBI .864 OPS: McGriff was a one time ALL-Star with the Rays and provided them with the necessary pop out of the 1st Baseman position. He is 6th on their ALL-Time Franchise list for HRs and 2nd in OPS to Evan Longoria. He had 2 30+ HR and 100 RBI+ years for the Rays and was an early fan favorite. He attempted to make a comeback to the Rays for his 500th HR in 2004, but he fell 7 HRs short.
Chicago Cubs Days:
2001-2002 1B .278 42 HRs 144 RBI .879 OPS in 693 AB: McGriff only played in 46 games during the 2001 year which limited him to 12 HRs, however he hit 32 HRs and added 103 RBI in 146 Games during the 2002 year, his last full year in the MLB.
Los Angeles Dodgers Days:
2003 1B .249 13 HRs 40 RBI in 297 AB: McGriff battled injuries with the Los Angeles club and managed to play about half a season.
Although never linked to PED’s, McGriff gets lost in the explosion of the power numbers (see charts below) during that era, especially among First Basemen Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. Some voters might even say it’s difficult to identify McGriff with any given team, having played for six different over his tenure.
McGriff’s Home Run Totals vs Peers
McGriff’s AB per HR vs Peers
McGriff did put up some impressive numbers though, such as 10 seasons of 30-plus Home Runs (tying him with Lou Gehrig). Reaching base 3834 times, just behind Jimmie Foxx, but ahead of Hall of Famer’ players Tony Perez and Willie McCovey. He drove in 100 Runs 8 different times and finished in the top 10 for the MVP voting six-times.
What hurts his case, is that he played most of his career evenly between 4 teams: TOR/SD/ATL and TB. Evidence to this point is that he is the only player in MLB History that has hit 80+ HRs with 4 different baseball franchises. Not spending enough time in one city, makes it tough for him to form an identity as a top-tier player amongst the BBWAA voters.
But at the end of the day, McGriff remains on the border, not because he doesn’t deserve to be elected, but because the voters will lose him within the era he played.
References: Baseball-reference, Tubbs Baseball
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
***A Big thank-you goes out to our Cooperstown Correspondent, Patrick Languzzi for his great work towards this feature column. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Patrick on Twitter: Follow @patricklanguzzi Also, please feel free to check out Patrick’s grass roots campaign in support of Dwight “Dewey” Evans for the Hall of Fame at: Call to the Hall***
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Posted on December 25, 2012, in Cooperstown, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged @patricklanguzxzi on twitter, Atlanta Braves, BBHOF, BBWAA, chicago cubs, cleveland indians, evan longoria, fred mcGriff, los angeles dodgers, lou gehrig, rafael palmeiro, san diego padres, Silver Slugger Award, tony perez, toronto blue jays, willie mccovey. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.