It probably reeks of hypocrisy that my signature here says, "I'm not a fanboy," but that goes by the wayside when it comes to Fred McGriff as he is one of my all-time favorite baseball players and someone I'd go to the carpet for to get into the Hall of Fame. When I grew up in Houston, my only options on television were the Astros, Braves, and Cubs so my exposure to the American League was limited to watching post-season baseball and highlights on ESPN. I frankly did not get interested in American League baseball until the 1986 All-Star game that was played in Houston.
I got to see more of Lloyd Moseby, Tony Fernandez, and Jesse Barfield along with Kirby Puckett so I began following the Blue Jays and Twins through the box scores and the television highlights. In 1987, I purchased Earl Weaver Baseball for my computer and started simulating baseball games and used the Blue Jays who had Fred McGriff as a hot rookie slugger at first base that season. McGriff hit 20 home runs that season, the first of eight consecutive seasons of him hitting at least 20 home runs and the only season from 1987-1994 that he hit less than 31 home runs and was a vital part of the success the Blue Jays had in those days.
McGriff was eventually traded to the Padres along with Tony Fernandez and then later again to the Braves to help them in their playoff run in the 90's before the Rays were able to select the hometown slugger in the initial expansion draft. His first season looked like a typical aging slugger as he had a .357 wOBA in 1998 with a career-low 19 home runs but exploded with 32 home runs and a .407 wOBA in 1999. His 2000 season was closer to 1998 than it was 1999, but the 99 season and the first half of the 2000 season made him the Devil Rays lone selection to the mid-summer classic. That first half included a .282/.366/.491 slash line with 30 extra base hits and 62 RBI as part of the dreaded Hit Show era when ownership tried to buy wins with bats and hope they would drive in more runs than the extremely suspect pitching staff would give up.
His power dropped noticeably in the second half of the season and the 2000 selection to the All-Star game would be the Crime Dog's last of five career selections. Just over a year later, McGriff would be traded to the Chicago Cubs for Manny Aybar and Jason Smith (awesome job there, Chuck) where McGriff went on to hit 42 home runs and drive in 144 runs in 195 games for the Cubs. These days, we still see McGriff in the area at games and doing features on BHSN television and maybe one day, we'll see him in Cooperstown.