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Friday, December 20, 2013

Breaking down Fred McGriff’s Hall of Fame case

This is somewhat trivial but it is kinda neat: McGriff ranks second all-time in games (1,826) and plate appearances (7,777) as a cleanup hitter. Only Eddie Murray (2,041 and 8,775, respectively) is ahead of him.

Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 20, 2013 at 06:51 PM | 59 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: atlanta, braves, crime dog, cubs, dog, rays

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   1. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: December 20, 2013 at 07:40 PM (#4621953)
Four of the top ten in most cleanup games were on the 1995 Indians.
   2. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: December 20, 2013 at 07:44 PM (#4621954)
The idea is simple: we'll attempt to paint an argument as each player being a Hall of Famer and then create an argument as to why the player is not a Hall of Famer. Some will be easier than others -- the case against Greg Maddux might be a sentence or two long, for example
The guy couldn't hit for ####.
   3. Canker Soriano Posted: December 20, 2013 at 08:11 PM (#4621959)
The guy couldn't hit for ####.

Also, for a while he had a really weenie mustache (I'm remembering his 1987 Donruss card as particularly offensive in that respect). I'm not sure I really want a mustache like that in the Hall of Fame while Keith Hernandez is still on the outside looking in.
   4. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 20, 2013 at 09:17 PM (#4621968)
Four of the top ten in most cleanup games were on the 1995 Indians.

that has to be one of the more bizzarre factioids in MLB history
   5. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: December 20, 2013 at 09:42 PM (#4621978)
Four of the top ten in most cleanup games were on the 1995 Indians.


Wow, and Thome isn't one of them.
   6. sinicalypse Posted: December 20, 2013 at 09:43 PM (#4621979)
much like kane from kung fu, i like to believe that somewhere, somehow, fred mcgriff is always out there on the never-ending road to 500.

the other thing that comes to mind when i think of fred mcgriff is the full-page ad that the cubs ran in chicago sports sections to advertise tickets going on sale for the 2002 season. it showed the backs of three jerseys hanging there: ALOU, SOSA, MCGRIFF, and it boldly asked you in big letters "ARE YOU IN OR OUT?" ...to which i'd always reply "grounded out into a double play"

in retrospect, i'm pretty sure people must have thought i was nuts when i would up and say that spontaneously on public transportation =D
   7. BDC Posted: December 20, 2013 at 09:54 PM (#4621985)

The most similar hitters to McGriff, by PA and OPS+:

Player             Rfield    PA OPSWAR/pos  SB      Pos
Roberto Clemente      204 10211  130    94.4  83 
*9/H8745
Wade Boggs            104 10740  131    91.0  24 
*5DH/317
Fred Clarke            91  9838  133    67.8 509  
*7/6985
Sammy Sosa             85  9896  128    58.3 234  
*98D/H7
Al Simmons             67  9518  133    68.6  88  
*78/H93
Zack Wheat             54  9996  129    59.9 205   
*7/H89
Goose Goslin           50  9829  128    66.2 176 
*79/H835
Paul Waner             23 10766  134    72.8 104  
*9H/378
Rod Carew              16 10550  131    81.0 353 34H
/D657
Tony Gwynn              5 10232  132    68.9 319  
*98H/7D
Bobby Abreu             2  9926  129    60.5 399  
*9D7H/8
Fred McGriff          
-35 10174  134    52.5  72    *3D/H
Billy Williams        
-39 10519  133    63.9  90 *79D/3H8 


A swath of HOFers, for sure, but McGriff has significantly the lowest WAR of the group because he was a first baseman and not exactly Wes Parker with the glove, either.

In fact he's the only 1B on his own list, given that Carew is in the Hall more as a 2B. To limit the search to 1B, you have to expand the parameters quite a bit:

Player            Rfield    PA OPSWAR/pos  SB        Pos
Keith Hernandez      117  8553  128    60.1  98     
*3/H79
John Olerud          102  9063  129    58.1  11       
*3DH
Todd Helton           74  9453  133    61.2  37    
*3/H7D9
Ed Konetchy           50  8664  123    46.1 255   
*3/8H179
Rafael Palmeiro       49 12046  132    71.8  97   
*3D7/H98
Tony Perez            14 10861  122    54.1  49    
*35H/D4
George Sisler          6  9013  125    54.6 375 
*3/1H97845
Will Clark             0  8283  137    56.4  67      
*3/HD
Orlando Cepeda        
-9  8698  133    50.2 142   *37D/H95
Fred McGriff         
-35 10174  134    52.5  72      *3D/H
Carlos Delgado       
-65  8657  138    44.4  14    *3D/7H2
Jim Bottomley        
-73  8354  125    35.5  58      *3H/4
Willie McCovey       
-78  9692  147    64.4  26    *3H7/9D
Jason Giambi         
-83  8838  140    51.2  20   *3DH7/59 


And that illuminates why there's a McGriff HOF thread. If that isn't the grey area between the HOF and the HOVG, your personal Hall is either huge or tiny.
   8. AROM Posted: December 20, 2013 at 10:22 PM (#4621992)
McGriff is a borderline candidate that I coul d be convinced on, if I had about 25 spots on my ballot.

Edit: better than that, looking at the ballot Mcgriff is top 20
   9. Walt Davis Posted: December 20, 2013 at 10:43 PM (#4621998)
It is interesting that McGriff got so little love in his early years on the ballot. He never seemed to benefit from any anti-roid backlash -- as has been pointed out it's as if they alleged roiders can't get in because they only hit 500 HR due to roids but the guy with the clean rep who's just short of 500 HR can't get in because everybody right after him hit 500 HR. That is, it doesn't make a lot of sense that neither Mac nor McGriff could top 25% in those years.

Anyway, the obvious McGriff HoF comps, by my book, are:

FM: 284/377/509, 134 OPS+, 493 HR, 1550 RBI
BW: 290/361/492, 133 OPS+, 426 HR, 1475 RBI
TP: 279/341/463, 122 OPS+, 379 HR, 1652 RBI
HK: 256/376/509, 143 OPS+, 573 HR, 1584 RBI
WS: 282/360/529, 147 OPS+, 475 HR, 1540 RBI (1000 fewer PA)
DW: 283/353/475, 130 OPS+, 465 HR, 1833 RBI (2200 more PA)

That's Williams, Perez, Killer, Stargell and Winfield.

You do enough digging and he looks not quite at these guys' level mainly due to context but he's not out of place in this bunch -- basically tied for best OBP and 2nd best SLG, 2nd most HR. Winfield really is ahead of him just on playing time -- through 38, Winfield had 10000 PA, 378 HR, 1516 RBI and a 134 OPS+. I've never thought about it in detail but I'd probably put him ahead of Perez.
   10. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: December 21, 2013 at 02:07 AM (#4622048)
No MVPs, only one top five. Never one of the greats of his time, even for a single season. No thanks.
   11. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: December 21, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4622082)
The guy couldn't hit for ####.


2.1 career oWAR!
   12. BDC Posted: December 21, 2013 at 10:45 AM (#4622094)
Pointing out the obvious, Walt, but again, McGriff never played an inning anywhere but 1B. None of those comps in #9 was a defensive genius save perhaps Winfield in his youth, but they all added value by being able to play 3B or the outfield, however nominally. (Even Stargell, who also threw LH.)

McGriff's 72 career stolen bases are interesting. He played forever, so that's not a high rate, but he wasn't immobile (even if some of the SB were of the "start the runner" variety). He stayed in good shape. During his thirties, he went 34-for-52 in SB attempts.
   13. John Northey Posted: December 21, 2013 at 11:36 AM (#4622103)
McGriff would've been a lock if the PED era never happened I suspect. 493 HR, just shy of 2500 hits. I see him as Eddie Murray lite. Always very good, but never having that 'wow' year. Was fun to watch play - was at Exhibition Stadium for his first ML home run (barely cleared the LF fence) - just checked B-R to make sure my memory wasn't off and it matched up...phew.
   14. EddieA Posted: December 21, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4622122)
The 1994 strike/1995 lockout cost McGriff 500 HR, maybe 515. He was at his absolute best in 1994, playing every game. I think he would have had good support had he reached it, regardless of WAR and certainly would have gotten anti-roid backlash credit as in there wouldn't be any era adjustment to his numbers. Also, obtaining him in 1993 was the tipping point that caused the Braves to win the division (51-17 with him).
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: December 21, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4622124)
McGriff would've been a lock if the PED era never happened I suspect. 493 HR, just shy of 2500 hits. I see him as Eddie Murray lite. Always very good, but never having that 'wow' year. Was fun to watch play - was at Exhibition Stadium for his first ML home run (barely cleared the LF fence) - just checked B-R to make sure my memory wasn't off and it matched up...phew.


THe 1994 strike/1995 lockout cost McGriff 500 HR, maybe 515. He was at his absolute best in 1994, playing every game. I think he would have had good support had he reached it, regardless of WAR and certainly would have gotten anti-roid backlash credit as in there wouldn't be any era adjustment to his numbers. Also, obtaining him in 1993 was the tipping point that caused the Braves to win the division (51-17 with him).

If Fred hits 500-plus in a strike-free world AND there's no offensive explosion behind him (PED-fueled or not), he would have had a decent chance. Five hundred has never been an automatic ticket, and the support he received on a rather light ballot in 2012 (24 percent) suggests to me it would have been a tough road for him. Just giving him seven extra dingers would not have been enough, in my opinion, and certainly not with the slew of more-qualified candidates coming up behind him.
   16. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2013 at 12:37 PM (#4622131)
Implicit in all the objections is this question: who is not in the HOF who is better than this guy? And why aren't I caterwauling about their non-selection? McGriff is pretty far down the list--no disrespect, because he was a very valuable player overall. But that's not the criteria. It's who's the best, not who will complete an ensemble that will look nice in the parade.
   17. bobm Posted: December 21, 2013 at 12:56 PM (#4622138)
who is not in the HOF who is better than this guy?

Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2013, not a Hall Of Fame Member (as mlb players), Played 50% of games at 1B, sorted by greatest WAR Position Players

                                                                                  
Rk            Player WAR/pos Rfield From   To   Age    G    PA  HR  RBI        Pos
1      Albert Pujols    92.9    133 2001 2013 21-33 1958  8546 492 1498 *37D5/9H64
2       Jeff Bagwell    79.6     55 1991 2005 23-37 2150  9431 449 1529     *3/HD9
3    Rafael Palmeiro    71.8     49 1986 2005 21-40 2831 12046 569 1835   *3D7/H98
4       Mark McGwire    62.0    -29 1986 2001 22-37 1874  7660 583 1414    *3/HD59
5        Todd Helton    61.2     74 1997 2013 23-39 2247  9453 369 1406    *3/H79D
6    Keith Hernandez    60.1    117 1974 1990 20-36 2088  8553 162 1071     *3/H79
7        John Olerud    58.1    102 1989 2005 20-36 2234  9063 255 1230       *3DH
8         Will Clark    56.4      0 1986 2000 22-36 1976  8283 284 1205      *3/HD
9       Fred McGriff    52.5    -35 1986 2004 22-40 2460 10174 493 1550      *3D/H
10         Norm Cash    51.9     39 1958 1974 23-39 2089  7914 377 1103    *3H/97D


   18. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4622150)
And no one is promoting some of those guys nearly as much. What if you don't sort strictly by 1B position?
   19. salvomania Posted: December 21, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4622160)
In a spring training game in 1988, I was sitting in Al Lang Field on a blazingly hot day and a man behind me said proudly "That's my boy!" when Fred McGriff came up, and sure enough it was his dad. I chatted with him briefly, and he was excited about his son getting the opportunity to open the season as the Jays' regular 1b. I imagine he was pretty thrilled about how things worked out for him.
   20. salvomania Posted: December 21, 2013 at 02:27 PM (#4622191)
Check out Pujols' position listing in that chart in #17: 1B, LF, 3B, RF, SS, 2B
   21. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 21, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4622219)
In addition to bob's list you can add guys like Giambi, Delgado and Mattingly (peak?). Then you have guys who are still adding value like Tex, Howard, Votto and Adrian Gonzalez.
Does Crime Dog really distinguish himself from any of a dozen 1b who played in ~ the same era? I'm not sure if he does or doesn't but I'm leaning toward doesn't.
He just strikes me as Eddie Murray lite, who himself is probably a little overrated by the average fan albeit a deserving HOF.
I'd put McGriff in the nickname HOF and the nice guy HOF, but for me, he comes up a little short for the one in upstate NY.




edit: I owe JN a coke
   22. Baldrick Posted: December 21, 2013 at 05:22 PM (#4622256)
This attempt to make a compelling case for McGriff has pretty much convinced me that he's not deserving. If this is the best argument available...

I put him on my BBTF HOF ballot a couple years ago because he seemed right on the borderline and I had the space, but the more I look into it the more he feels like a star of the HOVG.
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 21, 2013 at 06:12 PM (#4622269)
I support McGriff and think people seriously underrate him but he's not one of the top 10 on the ballot.
   24. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: December 21, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4622270)
McGriff doesn't hit 500 home runs in a strike-free, offensive-explosion-free world, because the explosion is what got him close in the first place.

He was the third-best hitter in baseball over the course of his prime, 1988-94. In '94 he was the same guy relative to the league, but the changed environment had him on pace for 48 homers instead of his usual 35. After that, he became a markedly worse hitter -- 155 OPS+ to 120 overnight -- yet kept cranking out 27 to 32 home runs. His decline phase, transported to '88-92 conditions, would've cost him 50 home runs, easily.
   25. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 21, 2013 at 09:11 PM (#4622308)
That's a good point. His triple crown numbers remained for the most part constant, but the value of those numbers were markedly less from 1995 on.
   26. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 21, 2013 at 09:21 PM (#4622312)
Basically the same career as Rafael Palmeiro only three years shorter, no?
   27. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2013 at 10:34 PM (#4622330)
No, Palmeiro has more gray ink. But, then, he would be a questionable selection.

The leader board should tell you something about McGriff's lack.
   28. bobm Posted: December 21, 2013 at 10:53 PM (#4622339)
What if you don't sort strictly by 1B position?

Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2013, not a Hall Of Fame Member (as mlb players), (sorted by greatest WAR Position Players

                                                                                    
Rk                 Player WAR/pos Rfield From   To    G    PA  HR  RBI           Pos
1            Barry Bonds+   162.6    175 1986 2007 2986 12606 762 1996       *78H/D9
2          Alex Rodriguez   116.0     26 1994 2013 2568 11344 654 1969         65D/H
3           Albert Pujols    92.9    133 2001 2013 1958  8546 492 1498    *37D5/9H64
4           Chipper Jones    85.2    -23 1993 2012 2499 10614 468 1623      *57/H6D9
5             Ken Griffey    83.6      2 1989 2010 2671 11304 630 1836      *89DH/73
6               Pete Rose    79.8    -55 1963 1986 3562 15890 160 1314      37549H/8
7            Jeff Bagwell    79.6     55 1991 2005 2150  9431 449 1529        *3/HD9
8            Lou Whitaker    74.8     75 1977 1995 2390  9967 244 1084         *4H/D
9            Frank Thomas    73.6    -67 1990 2008 2322 10075 521 1704         *D3/H
10              Jim Thome    72.9    -45 1991 2012 2543 10313 612 1699          3D5H
11           Larry Walker    72.4     95 1989 2005 1988  8030 383 1311    *9H/387D45
12        Rafael Palmeiro    71.8     49 1986 2005 2831 12046 569 1835      *3D7/H98
13            Derek Jeter    71.5   -236 1995 2013 2602 11968 256 1261         *6/DH
14            Bobby Grich    71.0     81 1970 1986 2008  8220 224  864      *46/3H5D
15          Adrian Beltre    70.7    182 1998 2013 2276  9387 376 1307       *5/DH64
16          Alan Trammell    70.3     75 1977 1996 2293  9376 185 1003     *6/HD5478
17            Scott Rolen    69.9    175 1996 2012 2038  8518 316 1287          *5/H
18          Manny Ramirez    69.1   -129 1993 2011 2302  9774 555 1831         79D/H
19             Tim Raines    68.8     -7 1979 2002 2502 10359 170  980      *7H8D/49
20         Ivan Rodriguez    68.3    146 1991 2011 2543 10270 311 1332       *2H/D34
21         Edgar Martinez    68.1     17 1987 2004 2055  8674 309 1261        *D5/H3
22           Kenny Lofton    67.9    104 1991 2007 2103  9235 130  781       *8/H7D9
23          Graig Nettles    67.9    141 1967 1988 2700 10228 390 1314    *5H/739D68
24         Carlos Beltran    67.6     63 1998 2013 2064  8949 358 1327       *89/HD7
25           Dwight Evans    66.9     65 1972 1991 2606 10569 385 1384      *9D3H/78
Rk                 Player WAR/pos Rfield From   To    G    PA  HR  RBI           Pos
26             Buddy Bell    66.0    174 1972 1989 2405 10009 201 1106   *5/98H6D374
27        Willie Randolph    65.6    114 1975 1992 2202  9461  54  687        *4/HD5
28           Craig Biggio    64.8   -100 1988 2007 2850 12504 291 1175     *4287/HD9
29           Reggie Smith    64.3     79 1966 1982 1987  8051 314 1092     983H/5D47
30              Ken Boyer    62.9     74 1955 1969 2034  8272 282 1141       *58H/36
31           Andruw Jones    62.6    236 1996 2012 2196  8664 434 1289      *89H7D/3
32   Shoeless Joe Jackson    62.6     11 1908 1920 1332  5693  54  785        978/3H
33           Mark McGwire    62.0    -29 1986 2001 1874  7660 583 1414       *3/HD59
34              Sal Bando    61.5     37 1966 1981 2019  8287 242 1039    *5/DH36471
35            Todd Helton    61.2     74 1997 2013 2247  9453 369 1406       *3/H79D
36           Willie Davis    60.8    104 1960 1979 2429  9822 182 1053       *8H/97D
37            Bobby Abreu    60.5      2 1996 2012 2347  9926 287 1349       *9D7H/8
38         Gary Sheffield    60.4   -196 1988 2009 2576 10947 509 1676      975D/6H3
39            Jim Edmonds    60.2     37 1993 2010 2011  7980 393 1199      *8H/739D
40        Keith Hernandez    60.1    117 1974 1990 2088  8553 162 1071        *3/H79
41      Vladimir Guerrero    59.7      7 1996 2011 2147  9059 449 1496       *9D/H87
42            Mike Piazza    59.2    -63 1992 2007 1912  7745 427 1335        *2DH/3
43           Sherry Magee    59.1     25 1904 1919 2087  8544  83 1176    *7839/64H5
44             Dick Allen    58.6   -108 1963 1977 1749  7315 351 1119     357/H64D8
45          Ichiro Suzuki    58.5    105 2001 2013 2061  9278 111  695       *98/7DH
46          Darrell Evans    58.5     37 1969 1989 2687 10737 414 1354      *53DH/76
47             Sammy Sosa    58.3     85 1989 2007 2354  9896 609 1667       *98D/H7
48            Chase Utley    58.1    141 2003 2013 1323  5671 217  808        *4/H3D
49            John Olerud    58.1    102 1989 2005 2234  9063 255 1230          *3DH
50            Bobby Bonds    57.7     48 1968 1981 1849  8090 332 1024       *98/D7H
Rk                 Player WAR/pos Rfield From   To    G    PA  HR  RBI           Pos
51              Joe Torre    57.3    -28 1960 1977 2209  8802 252 1185        235H/7
52            Bob Johnson    57.2     18 1933 1945 1863  8050 288 1283     *78/3495H
53           Johnny Damon    56.4      1 1995 2012 2490 10917 235 1139      *87D9H/3
54             Will Clark    56.4      0 1986 2000 1976  8283 284 1205         *3/HD
55          Robin Ventura    56.1    156 1989 2004 2079  8271 294 1182     *53H/D641
56               Jim Wynn    55.7    -27 1963 1977 1920  8011 291  964     *897/HD65
57             Chet Lemon    55.2     94 1975 1990 1988  7874 215  884     *89/HD574
58              Jeff Kent    55.1    -43 1992 2008 2298  9537 377 1518      *453/HD6
59         Miguel Cabrera    54.7    -79 2003 2013 1660  7126 365 1260       5379/DH
60              Jose Cruz    54.3     81 1970 1988 2353  8931 165 1077      *798H/D3
61            Vada Pinson    54.2     -8 1958 1975 2470 10402 256 1170      *897H/3D
62                Ron Cey    53.2     19 1971 1987 2073  8344 316 1139        *5/HD3
63        Bert Campaneris    53.2     61 1964 1983 2328  9625  79  646 *6/H574D83921
64             Jack Clark    52.9    -21 1975 1992 1994  8230 340 1180     *93DH/875
65           Cesar Cedeno    52.6    -14 1970 1986 2006  8133 199  976      *8397H/5
66              Stan Hack    52.5      2 1932 1947 1938  8508  57  642         *5/H3
67           Fred McGriff    52.5    -35 1986 2004 2460 10174 493 1550         *3D/H
68          Lance Berkman    52.0    -18 1999 2013 1879  7814 366 1234       3798D/H
69              Norm Cash    51.9     39 1958 1974 2089  7914 377 1103       *3H/97D
70            Toby Harrah    51.4    -96 1969 1986 2155  8767 195  918      *564/HD9
71          Brian Downing    51.3    -16 1973 1992 2344  9309 275 1073       D72H/95
72          Luis Gonzalez    51.3     88 1990 2008 2591 10531 354 1439     *7H/D9835
73           Jason Giambi    51.2    -83 1995 2013 2234  8838 438 1436      *3DH7/59
74            Brian Giles    50.8    -29 1995 2009 1847  7836 287 1078        978/HD
75          Tony Phillips    50.8     39 1982 1999 2161  9110 160  819    47569D/8H3


+ Bonds 99.6 WAR through 1998
   29. Ardo Posted: December 21, 2013 at 11:44 PM (#4622354)
Zeth is correct in #26 - Raffy is McGriff plus one great season and two mediocre (replacement level for 1B/DH) seasons. The Hall of Merit has drawn its "in/out" line smack dab between the two, which I think is correct.
   30. John Northey Posted: December 21, 2013 at 11:46 PM (#4622357)
I think it depends on how one views the offensive explosion in the 90's. Was it PED fueled? If so then McGriff's numbers wouldn't change in a PED free world, in fact might be better if he was 'clean' while pitchers and other hitters juiced up. So if you are a PED purist then using WAR or any other context based measurement might be the wrong way to go about it. If he produced those same numbers a decade earlier (thus avoided the PED era) might he have been viewed as Willie Stargell or something like that? 1000 more PA but in numbers the voters look at... 493 HR vs 475, 2490 hits vs 2232, 284/377/509 vs 282/360/529 (886 OPS vs 889 OPS). But OPS+ puts McGriff at 134 vs Stargell at 147 due in large part to Stargell also playing in the worst environment for hitters since the 1800's (the late 60's) vs McGriff's 1990's.

Huh. Hadn't put their raw numbers together before and it is surprising how close their Avg/OBP/Slg are. If he made the ballot just a few years earlier I bet he'd have got in.
   31. Tubbs Posted: December 22, 2013 at 12:10 AM (#4622368)
Good comments by John Northey

Here is McGriff compared to some of his peers who also debuted in '86:
McGriff's HR totals vs. peers
                        86-94              95-on              Career total               
McGriff            262                 231 (95-04)           493                         
Bonds             259                 503 (95-07)           762                
McGwire         238                 345 (95-01)           583                
Palmeiro        155                  414 (95-05)           569                    

McGriff’s AB per HR vs. his peers
                        86-94              95-on              Career total
McGriff            15.2                20.7 (95-04)            17.8
Bonds             17.4                10.6 (95-07)            12.9
McGwire         14.0                  8.2 (95-01)            10.6
Palmeiro         27.8                14.9 (95-05)            18.4

Unlike the others, McGriff saw a natural decline and occasional rebound in his HR totals
   32. Tubbs Posted: December 22, 2013 at 12:19 AM (#4622371)
With such as stacked ballot, its hard to include McGriff unless you penalize PED users.
The PED era made mockery of 500 HRs but most of the guys ahead of McGriff in career homers who played in or around the same era are tied to PEDs in one way or another: Bonds, ARod, Sosa, McGwire, Palmeiro, Manny, Sheffield. The "non-PED" guys ahead of McGriff are Griffey, Thome, and Thomas

I know it isnt all about HRs but I would only 100% say that regardless of PEDs that of seven HR hitters ahead of McGriff that Bonds--PED free is out of his league
   33. Walt Davis Posted: December 22, 2013 at 02:02 AM (#4622398)
On this ballot, of course nobody should vote McGriff -- but it's better than voting Morris or Smith ... and possibly better than voting Kent.

1 Albert Pujols 92.9 133 2001 2013 21-33 1958 8546 492 1498 *37D5/9H64
2 Jeff Bagwell 79.6 55 1991 2005 23-37 2150 9431 449 1529 *3/HD9
3 Rafael Palmeiro 71.8 49 1986 2005 21-40 2831 12046 569 1835 *3D7/H98
4 Mark McGwire 62.0 -29 1986 2001 22-37 1874 7660 583 1414 *3/HD59
5 Todd Helton 61.2 74 1997 2013 23-39 2247 9453 369 1406 *3/H79D
6 Keith Hernandez 60.1 117 1974 1990 20-36 2088 8553 162 1071 *3/H79
7 John Olerud 58.1 102 1989 2005 20-36 2234 9063 255 1230 *3DH
8 Will Clark 56.4 0 1986 2000 22-36 1976 8283 284 1205 *3/HD
9 Fred McGriff 52.5 -35 1986 2004 22-40 2460 10174 493 1550 *3D/H
10 Norm Cash 51.9 39 1958 1974 23-39 2089 7914 377 1103 *3H/97D


Of course Bags, Palmeiro and Mac had HoF numbers by a pretty fair margin (depending on how you like your peak/career). Helton's not yet eligible. Hernandez and Olerud have such high WAR totals because of their gloves -- just 46 and 48 oWAR. No actual HoF voter has ever raised 1B defense in an HoF case (possibly hyperbole).

McGriff is at least sitting there with 56 oWAR. In oWAR he is ahead of Dawson, Puckett, Perez, Cepeda, Sosa, Brock, Rice (by 10). He's 15 oWAR ahead of guys like Parker and Mattingly -- which doesn't make him an HoFer but does suggest he "should" have gotten a lot more love than those guys rather than a little.

Now he is substantial oWAR behind Stargell, Williams, etc. that I comped him to earlier -- as I said, once you dig, he's clearly a step behind those guys, despite the roughly equivalent PA and OPS+.

#31 gives the "PED-based" argument and highlights McGriff's main problem -- he had a perfectly ordinary decline phase. His 16 WAR from 31-38 is basically smack-dab in the post-expansion middle for those with 2500+ PA. But that puts him in with guys like Singleton and Galarraga and clearly McGriff's pre-31 career is not enough to push him over the line. And really he took a step down starting at 29 -- he had 27 WAR from 24-28 which is right in line with guys like Reggie, Williams, Murray, Winfield, Manny, Palmeiro, Rice. Some of those repeated those numbers from 29-33, others put up about 18-19 WAR (even Rice) while McGriff managed only 12.

So, sure, McGriff is yet another guy who played like a lower-tier HoFer for a while but couldn't maintain in his 30s. He's the anti-Kent:

McGriff: 37 WAR through age 30, 15 after 30
Kent: 19 WAR through age 30, 36 WAR after age 30

and Rice: 37/10, Perez 31/23, Dawson 46/18, Puckett 31/19 (not his fault), Cepeda 41/9. That's a thin line. That's fine, the in/out line is always going to be a thin line. But let's not pretend it's not thin. McGriff may be no more than one more big season or a normal age 29-33 away from the HoF.
   34. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 22, 2013 at 04:26 AM (#4622411)
Rk            Player WAR/1000 games
1      Albert Pujols    47.4
2       Jeff Bagwell    37.0
3       Mark McGwire    33.0
4    Keith Hernandez    28.8
5         Will Clark    28.5
6        Todd Helton    27.2
7        John Olerud    25.9
8    Rafael Palmeiro    25.4
9         Norm Cash     24.8
10       Fred McGriff    21.3 


I don't dock a man much for getting hurt, or being brought up late, or losing his job early to a better player.

I rate em by how dominant they were when they played.

McGriff was a fine player and role model, but no where near HOF material.

Here is McGriff compared to some of his peers who also debuted in '86:
McGriff's HR totals vs. peers
86-94 95-on Career total
McGriff 262 231 (95-04) 493
Bonds 259 503 (95-07) 762
McGwire 238 345 (95-01) 583
Palmeiro 155 414 (95-05) 569

McGriff’s AB per HR vs. his peers
86-94 95-on Career total
McGriff 15.2 20.7 (95-04) 17.8
Bonds 17.4 10.6 (95-07) 12.9
McGwire 14.0 8.2 (95-01) 10.6
Palmeiro 27.8 14.9 (95-05) 18.4

Unlike the others, McGriff saw a natural decline and occasional rebound in his HR totals


Bonds never dedicated himself to strength training until his 30s. He's going to increase his HR rate substantially just doing that regardless of whether he uses the clear or not.

McGwire was never healthy after his rookie season (the pre-steroid Big Mac hit 49 in 557 ABs that year, an 11.5 HR/AB rate). He had awful heel problems that sapped his power during his prime years forcing multiple surgeries on his plantar fascia until it was finally removed, and a horrid season in 91 (22 HR in 483 ABs, a 22 HR/AB ratio) where he admitted he wasn't prepared to play due to the stress of his divorce and having to share custody of his young son.

And Palmeiro never used steroids. Didn't you read his lips?
   35. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 22, 2013 at 09:57 AM (#4622423)

I don't dock a man much for getting hurt, or being brought up late, or losing his job early to a better player.


Well then lets open the doors for Pete Rieser, Herb Score, Smokey Joe Wood, and Jose Rijo. They played like HOF when they were healthy.
   36. Tubbs Posted: December 22, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4622424)
I don't dock a man much for getting hurt, or being brought up late, or losing his job early to a better player.

Two things about McGriff's career that are underrated are his consistency & durability. He was not Keith Hernandez with the glove by any means but he still took pride in being written in the line up each day at 1B as opposed to DH. He didn't land on the DL until 2003 when old age finally caught up with him. Prior to that McGriff could be counted on to stay in the line up & not spend 15 days on the DL here and there and force a team to use a AAAA level player in his absence or lose half a season to some injury
   37. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM (#4622441)
Well then lets open the doors for Pete Rieser, Herb Score, Smokey Joe Wood, and Jose Rijo. They played like HOF when they were healthy.


Jose Rijo had four 4 WAR seasons (9.3, 5.7, 5.5, 5.5), five if you include a 3.8 in 1988 as close enough.

Pete Reiser had two (7.4, 4.2). And a 3.8.

Smokey Joe had three (10.4, 5.4, 5.2).

Herb Score had two (7.3, 5.6).

McGwire had eight (7.5, 6.5, 6.4, 5.6, 5.5, 5.3, 5.1, 4.2).

Helton had seven (8.9, 8.3, 7.8, 6.2, 6.2, 4.6, 4.4).

Two of these aren't like the others. I think you do need to establish dominance over more than a couple of years.

Rijo is one who is close as well. Clearly he was HOF material in Cincinnati. If he had just been good instead of terrible with the Yankees/As in his first 4 years (402 IP at 83 ERA+) i could make his case even stronger.

Eerie similaritie?

Rijo's first 7 years in Cincy, a 147 ERA+ over 1,315 IP.

Brandon Webbs first 6 years in the MLB, a 143 ERA+ over 1,315 IP.

   38. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 22, 2013 at 02:16 PM (#4622522)


I don't dock a man much for getting hurt, or being brought up late, or losing his job early to a better player.

I rate em by how dominant they were when they played.



Your words. Maybe you could accuse me of playing fast and loose with what you actually meant, but you should probably choose your words more carefully.
And yes, Rijo and Webb were remarkably similar. In fact, although I was aware of how good Rijo was (I'm a Yankee fan), I never realized Webb was building a HOF resume.
   39. TDF, situational idiot Posted: December 22, 2013 at 03:38 PM (#4622539)
Five hundred has never been an automatic ticket
25 hitters have 500+ HRs in MLB history. Of the 20 who are/were HOF eligible, 4 are connected to PEDs (Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Palmiero). Of the remaining 16, only 4 (Matthews, Ott, Foxx, Killbrew) weren't 1st ballot electees, but none of them waited more than 5 years.

Before the PED era 500 HRs was, in fact, an automatic ticket into the HOF.
   40. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 22, 2013 at 04:02 PM (#4622546)
It looks likely as not that Adam Dunn's going to get to 500, and he won't last more than two or three ballots before dropping off. Even setting aside the PED nuisance I think it's fair to say 500 isn't an automatic ticket anymore.
   41. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 22, 2013 at 04:09 PM (#4622549)
Of the remaining 16, only 4 (Matthews, Ott, Foxx, Killbrew) weren't 1st ballot electees, but none of them waited more than 5 years.


Before the PED era 500 HRs was, in fact, an automatic ticket into the HOF.



If clearly deserving Hall of Famers such as Killebrew or Mathews (we'll ignore the other two, since voting was so scattershot then) have to wait through three or four elections to get in, then reaching 500 home runs was not seen as something that automatically punched your ticket to Cooperstown.

Looked at another way, at the time of his retirement, every player with 400 home runs was in the Hall of Fame. He received three votes. If he had managed to live out Chris Dial's alternate reality wet dream and bang out another 58 homers, he still wasn't getting anywhere near Cooperstown.

There are no automatic numbers, the kind that can turn any schlub into a Hall of Famer merely by reaching one.* It's merely shorthand to describe the idea that certain milestones (300, 3,000 and 500) have historically been reached only by Hall of Fame caliber talents. There's no evidence that the voters feel compelled to automatically pencil in a guy simply because he reaches a threshold, while the ballot slogs of Mathews, Killebrew, Wynn and Sutton demonstrate the opposite (that a healthy percentage of the electorate still needs to be convinced of a guy's Hall bona fides despite the big old round number).

* There may be a handful of brain-dead voters who think that way, but it's not nearly enough to get close to election.
   42. BDC Posted: December 22, 2013 at 04:13 PM (#4622551)
IIRC, Dave Kingman was the first guy to get to 400 HR and not be elected to the HOF: granted that for quite a few years there were very few players who ended up with totals between 400 and 500 (Gehrig, Musial, Snider, then Billy Wiliams). Not that there was a perceived "400 HR club" or anything, but that it used to be a very impressive accomplishment. Some less-than-immortals have since gotten there, but it's still impressive.
   43. Walt Davis Posted: December 22, 2013 at 07:30 PM (#4622636)
while the ballot slogs of Mathews, Killebrew, Wynn and Sutton demonstrate the opposite (that a healthy percentage of the electorate still needs to be convinced of a guy's Hall bona fides despite the big old round number).

Well, yes and no. How were those voters convinced? I don't think Sutton ever makes it without 300 wins and without the fact that all previous 300-win guys had made it. It doesn't strike me as coincidence that Eddie Mathews took a big jump when Banks hit the ballot and then made it the next year -- it was, hey if we're gonna elect Banks how can we keep Mathews out?

Anyway, it's undeniable at this point that big career HR totals ain't what they used to be as 400 has become fairly commonplace, PEDs or no PEDs. Maybe we'll see a "clean" 500 HR guy not get in sometime -- somebody always has to be the first. And I'm still surprised Biggio didn't make it last year.

But there's equally little doubt that the milestones have played a major factor in the election of otherwise borderline players.
   44. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 22, 2013 at 07:43 PM (#4622642)
But there's equally little doubt that the milestones have played a major factor in the election of otherwise borderline players.


Milestones help grease the skids for the deserving (or even push one borderliner in/keep one out). They can't push the otherwise undeserving into election. If they were truly "automatic tickets" as so many claim, then they'd have the power to do the latter.

If Edgar Renteria had been able to hang around to get 3,000 hits, or had Kong reached his 500 homers, it wouldn't have gotten them elected to the Hall.*

It's undeniable that attaining these milestones help (and that coming up short may hurt). They're just not magic.

I don't think Sutton ever makes it without 300 wins


I'd say there's a decent chance Sutton doesn't make it if he earliwinned it to 300, rather than getting 1/4 of the way to 400.


And I'm still surprised Biggio didn't make it last year.


I told you it was possible, but you wouldn't listen. (-:

* Of course, there's a reason those numbers have historically been linked to the Hall. It's been extremely difficult to reach them without putting together a Hall of Fame type career.
   45. bobm Posted: December 22, 2013 at 09:46 PM (#4622674)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2013, not a Hall Of Fame Member (as mlb players), (requiring HR>=400), sorted by smallest Final Season

                                    
Rk              Player  HR From   To
1         Dave Kingman 442 1971 1986
2        Darrell Evans 414 1969 1989
3         Jose Canseco 462 1985 2001
4         Mark McGwire 583 1986 2001
5         Fred McGriff 493 1986 2004
6         Jeff Bagwell 449 1991 2005
7        Juan Gonzalez 434 1989 2005
8      Rafael Palmeiro 569 1986 2005
9          Barry Bonds 762 1986 2007
10         Mike Piazza 427 1992 2007
11          Sammy Sosa 609 1989 2007
12        Frank Thomas 521 1990 2008
13      Carlos Delgado 473 1993 2009
14      Gary Sheffield 509 1988 2009
15         Ken Griffey 630 1989 2010
16   Vladimir Guerrero 449 1996 2011
17       Manny Ramirez 555 1993 2011
18        Andruw Jones 434 1996 2012
19       Chipper Jones 468 1993 2012
20           Jim Thome 612 1991 2012
21           Adam Dunn 440 2001 2013
22        Jason Giambi 438 1995 2013
23        Paul Konerko 434 1997 2013
24         David Ortiz 431 1997 2013
25       Albert Pujols 492 2001 2013
Rk              Player  HR From   To
26      Alex Rodriguez 654 1994 2013
27     Alfonso Soriano 406 1999 2013


   46. bobm Posted: December 22, 2013 at 09:50 PM (#4622675)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2013, not a Hall Of Fame Member (as mlb players), (requiring W>=250), sorted by smallest Final Season

                                
Rk          Player   W From   To
1         Jim Kaat 283 1959 1983
2       Tommy John 288 1963 1989
3      Jack Morris 254 1977 1994
4    Roger Clemens 354 1984 2007
5      Tom Glavine 305 1987 2008
6      Greg Maddux 355 1986 2008
7     Mike Mussina 270 1991 2008
8    Randy Johnson 303 1988 2009
9      Jamie Moyer 269 1986 2012
10   Andy Pettitte 256 1995 2013


   47. Squash Posted: December 23, 2013 at 02:28 AM (#4622758)
If Edgar Renteria had been able to hang around to get 3,000 hits, or had Kong reached his 500 homers, it wouldn't have gotten them elected to the Hall.*

In fairness, those are extreme examples - guys who would have barely limped across their thresholds had they managed to hold on. Either way, both those guys fell significantly short (Kingman's short 58 homers equals 13% of his career total, Renteria's short 673 hits a whopping 29% of his career total). If they had reached those numbers it would have been because they were better players both at the end but also in their primes, and therefore theoretically more Hall-worthy.

Kingman is a singular example - he somewhat stands alone in the history of baseball. After him everyone until Darrell Evans at 414 was in as well - it's not until you get into the 390s that the pre-roid close-but-no-cigar guys start. Plus Kingman was singularly loathed by the press, which certainly didn't help when voting came around.

Getting 500 back in the day wasn't an automatic number in terms of getting in on your first ballot or three, but it was automatic in the sense you were going to get in eventually.
   48. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 23, 2013 at 02:38 AM (#4622759)
Your words. Maybe you could accuse me of playing fast and loose with what you actually meant, but you should probably choose your words more carefully.


You should practice word lawyering on another site, cause I'll choose my words as recklessly as I want and irregardless of how anyone "interprets" them.

I don't dock a man much for getting hurt, or being brought up late, or losing his job early to a better player.

I rate em by how dominant they were when they played./quote]

I didn't provide my definition of dominant or how I rated anyone. In general all anyone can and should take from my statement is I'm biased towards peak greatness over career value. I'm surprised you didn't post players who had great single games and claim that I think they are HOF worthy based on an afternoon of dominance. It's the type of silly word lawyering that word lawyers use to avoid substantive discussions.

I think Fred McGriff was a fantastic player for his value and career length and as a person, but I think his peak value is a bit shy of the HOF for me. If he's somehow elected, I'll still be happy for him, the HOF and baseball.

   49. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 23, 2013 at 02:57 AM (#4622760)
In fairness, those are extreme examples


If it's truly automatic, there are no extreme examples.


Getting 500 back in the day wasn't an automatic number in terms of getting in on your first ballot or three, but it was automatic in the sense you were going to get in eventually.


No. It was only automatic in the sense that only Hall of Fame caliber ballplayers reached the milestone, not the other way around. Until Kong, everyone with 400 homers was inducted into the Hall of Fame, maybe not right away, but eventually. Under the proof of "automatic" people are using, then Kong should have gotten in. He got three votes. Why? Because the vast majority of voters recognized that the singular achievement of 400 homers does not a Hall of Famer make. When Eddie Mathews and Harmon Killebrew got to 500, they weren't ushered in immediately, but about 50 percent of the voters had to be convinced of their worthiness over the course of several elections. And they were obviously worthy.

Fred McGriff, with seven more homers, is a slightly better candidate than the one who retired with 493 long balls (of course, he's also a slightly better player). But he still would have had a very tough road to induction (particularly in the same world where so many better players were coming up behind him).

   50. Squash Posted: December 23, 2013 at 03:28 AM (#4622762)
If it's truly automatic, there are no extreme examples.

Well, of course there are no actual extreme examples, because neither guy hit their milestone. Pre-roids, everybody over 500 HRs or even remotely close made it into the HOF. That's a pretty extreme example.

Until Kong, everyone with 400 homers was inducted into the Hall of Fame, maybe not right away, but eventually. Under the proof of "automatic" people are using, then Kong should have gotten in. He got three votes.

Nobody ever said 400 HRs was an automatic induction. You could be HOF-worthy having 400 HRs, and indeed many players were, but 400 was never considered an auto-induction. Colloquially 500 was the magic number. Because it's very very hard. Kingman, who is probably the single example back then of a player who could hit 500 HRs and not get in (only one outstanding skill, literally terrible at everything else, and loathed by the voting press like no other) didn't make it there regardless. I would call him the exception that proves the rule (yes I am aware that is a bastardized phrase). He's maybe the one player in history who could hit 500 HRs and not make it. Yet the vast majority (i.e. all) of 500 HR hitters are not like Kingman. Pre-roids there is only one Kingman. Who didn't hit 500 HRs anyway.

I'm not saying McGriff would have waltzed in. But there's pretty much no no-roids world where he hits 500 and doesn't get in. He gets in. And he doesn't wait particularly long - 5-6 years tops. Perhaps it's a semantics difference - I don't see that as a particularly tough road to induction. Maybe others do.


The threshold in terms of magic numbers we perhaps should be banging on in 3,000 hits or 300 wins. Whereas everybody within sniffing distance of 500 HRs made the Hall, we have a large handful of players who finished just shy of 3,000 hits or 300 wins who received no serious consideration. By similar percentage deficit everybody who was that close to 500 HRs made it into the Hall.
   51. Tubbs Posted: December 23, 2013 at 09:49 AM (#4622786)
McGriff comes closest of any HOF candidate to almost hitting an automatic milestone. If it wasn't for the Steroid Era, the combination of his hit & HR totals would get him in (within 5-7 ballots). On the 3,000 hits side of things you had Doc Cramer dubiously leading the category for most hits for a non-HOFer for several years w/2,705. Later on he was joined by the likes of Parker, Vinson, Buckner, Staub, and Oliver. Oliver probably looked the most like a lock for 3,000 hits after 184 in '83 until he conked out. Recently Johnny Damon fell apart just as he looked like he might 3,000 hits. Baines had 2,866 but being a DH and playing the later part of his career in a hitter's era hurt his chances.
   52. Bitter Mouse Posted: December 23, 2013 at 10:23 AM (#4622801)
I support his HOF admission mostly because I love his nickname. Crime Dog is awesome. As a player though he is really HOVG. And that is no shame at all.
   53. Morty Causa Posted: December 23, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4622809)
I believe that the argument for McGriff seems to amount to: a) McGriff didn't do PEDs, and b) he only seems not HOF in comparison to players who did PEDs and in a context where PEDs were prevalent. Is that about it?
   54. BDC Posted: December 23, 2013 at 10:58 AM (#4622828)
Interesting discussion. It will be interesting to see how the HOF voters treat Jim Thome. >600 HR, no steroids rumors unless I've been asleep and missed them, universally regarded as a good guy. A no-brainer HOMer: but will HOF voters look at the context and think "yeah, well, 600 Home Runs is the new 390"? I think Thome will be elected, but it may take several ballots.
   55. Morty Causa Posted: December 23, 2013 at 11:07 AM (#4622838)
Home runs are to the steroids era, it looks like, what stolen bases were for the deadball era. Both are devalued in their respective times because there were so many.
   56. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 23, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4622840)
Well, of course there are no actual extreme examples, because neither guy hit their milestone. Pre-roids, everybody over 500 HRs or even remotely close made it into the HOF. That's a pretty extreme example.


Again, everyone who's done it has deserved it. That's the reason.

A 500-homer Crime Dog would have been a better candidate (in part by being a better player), but he still would have had a much more difficult road. He played in an era chockfull of great first baseman, and he wasn't considered their better. He offered little in the way of defense or baserunning or anything else to goose his candidacy, other than his stellar dramatic work in the infomercial arts.

Fred McGriff hit 493 homers, an impressive total that matched a pretty good first baseman who had no trouble getting in without that milestone's boosting powers. Fred's path was going to be considerably different. He might have made it with 500, in part because he's a borderline candidate with or without the seven dingers. But it was not guaranteed.

Take roids out of the question entirely. If a 500-homer Fred was still on the ballot when Bonds, Clemens, Biggio, etc. joined (as his superiors Killer and Eddie were after a similar number of tries), do you think his vote total would start going up right about now? Just as he is in this postPED world we inhabit, he'd be looking much weaker.

Now, a 500-homer Fred McGriff who debuts on the ballot the same year as Jim Rice sails in easily. Of course, that Fred McGriff, in all likelihood, was a much better candidate.

Colloquially 500 was the magic number.


And as I will continue to insist, it's merely shorthand. It reflects the idea that people who reach certain milestones have put together Hall of Fame careers. Not that the voters are required to vote anyone in who reaches one of the numbers.

Have you ever seen a single voter express the idea that he would automatically vote for a player simply because he reached a number? Just one? And if you haven't, as I haven't, why would you assume that 75 percent would act that way?
   57. Tubbs Posted: December 23, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4622857)
I believe that the argument for McGriff seems to amount to: a) McGriff didn't do PEDs, and b) he only seems not HOF in comparison to players who did PEDs and in a context where PEDs were prevalent. Is that about it?


That's a large part of it but also how strong a candidate one views McGriff can be based on how much you devalue the numbers the exposed PED users put up in comparison to McGriff. Also, McGriff was one of the best hitters prior to the mid-90s power surge but a consistent and durable (though not great) player after that.
   58. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 23, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4622879)
Fred McGriff is a gall of fame quality player.
   59. Morty Causa Posted: December 23, 2013 at 12:24 PM (#4622883)
Homer no function beer well without.

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