March 9, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves coach Fred McGriff during the game against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIREThe 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot has been released to the Baseball Writers of America Association, and as expected, it has created an ample amount of debate among those voting and those not. That was not difficult to imagine as this is the first true test of voter fortitude in regards to steroid era players, with the ballot featuring the likes of first time nominees Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mike Piazza.
But outside of the debate regarding the eligibility of those players, the ballot is also significant for Toronto Blue Jays fans, as there are four former Jays that are appearing on the ballot this year. In this series, I will examine the case that each of these players have for their induction into the Hall of Fame and then make a determination if they truly belong enshrined in Cooperstown.
Fred McGriff – First Baseman
Years on Ballot: 4
Years with Blue Jays: 5 (1986-1990)
Fred McGriff was a very one-dimensional player, but he was very good at the one dimension. From 1987 to 2002, there were very few players that were more consistent than the “Crime Dog”. McGriff spent just five seasons with the Blue Jays, but it could be argued that he was one of the biggest contributors to their two championships, being packaged with Tony Fernandez in the trade with San Diego that brought Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar to the Blue Jays. He saw 23.9% of the vote in 2012, his third season on the ballot.
Case for election:
.284 Career Batting Average
493 Career Home Runs
1550 Career RBI
.886 Career OPS
134 Career OPS+
61.0 Cumulative fWAR
Offensively, McGriff is actually superior to Dale Murphy, one of the most debated names on the ballot for the past two decades. McGriff has a higher career batting average, higher fWAR, more home runs, and more RBI. For a player often remembered for being moved in favor of Joe Carter, McGriff actually carried himself well in the playoffs, with a career .917 OPS, 10 home runs, and 37 RBI in 50 career games.
Case Against Election:
1882 Career Strike-outs
1 Top-5 MVP Finish
The biggest knocks against McGriff are the fact that he played 19 seasons yet failed to reach either 500 career home runs or 3000 hits. Those two plateaus are often viewed as the hurdles for Hall of Fame hitters to surpass, yet McGriff never made the leap. McGriff also failed to register a single 40-home run campaign, despite the home run being his calling card.
The “Crime Dog” is another great example of a Hall of Very Good player, but the case could be made for his election in the current environment. During an era ruled by muscle-bound meat-heads, McGriff quietly went about his business and was one of the class acts of his generation. However, he was ultimately over-shadowed year-in and year-out. Those same shadows will appear on the ballot with him this season and going forward.
McGriff may see an uptick in his vote total, but he will ultimately have to wait another few years to see how this ballot shakes out for years to come.