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Reviewing Fred McGriff's Hall of Fame Credentials

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The case for Fred McGriff's Hall of Fame candidacy has been made before, but with The Crime Dog on the ballot for the first time in 2010, it's time to re-open the case. Honestly, nobody is expecting McGriff to be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but like many others who are on the outside looking in, I fear McGriff's 19 year career will be forgotten.

Based on pure statistics alone, McGriff would seem to be a sure shot hall of famer. If he was inducted right now, here is how some of his stats would rank among Hall of Fame members.

 

McGriff

HOF Rank

H

2490

53

HR

493

T-16

RBI

1550

26

Runs

1349

44

2B

441

45

SLG

0.509

T-27

McGriff is arguably a top 50 all time hitter among hall of famers and would fall within the top 30 of sluggers. I could go on and on about how he has more homers than Dave Winfield or 100+ more than the "feared" Jim Rice, but it's easy to cherry pick numbers, and very hard to compare players who played over multiple eras in baseball.

More likely than not, McGriff will get tagged as a "hall of very good" player and while it's true, he was a very good player, most people don't realize just how good. Quite often I hear, "Well, McGriff has hall of fame numbers, but he just doesn't scream hall of fame." Honestly, I have no answer to that because I think hall of fame numbers should ultimately get you that...entry to the Hall of Fame.

I'll admit McGriff was never a sexy player. He never won an MVP award, and was not the dominant player of his time. Nonetheless, he did finish in the top 10 six times, led the league in home runs twice, won three silver sluggers, and was named to five all star games (earning one all star game MVP) at a position that was stacked during his time of play. Let's also consider who some of his highly regarded peers were: Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero and Jason Giambi, all of whom are, um...suspicious.

He was never considered a superstar, but is that his fault? If McGriff was a shameless self promoter who gained notoriety by screaming "Hey, Look at me. Look at me," does that make him more Hall worthy? If he was more charismatic and did more Tom Emanski videos would that enhance his already worthy numbers? And would any of those things really make him more suited for induction?

McGriff was/is known as a great guy in baseball. His smile % would make Carlos Pena look like B.J. Upton. Even years after retiring he remains involved with the game both directly with the Rays and in the local community. However, being a good guy doesn't seem to be good enough. Maybe some people would prefer he danced a bit more after home runs or maybe beat up a water cooler every once in a while to show some fire!

What should matter is for 15 of his 19 years, McGriff played at least 144 games and averaged 31 home runs and 97 RBI per season. His career slash line is .284/.377/.509 which is pretty damn good over 10,000 plate appearances. Among first basemen in the Hall of Fame, he would easily fall within the top 10 offensively. Defensively, his fielding percentage would be the second best at his position among Hall of Famers.

I have a feeling that like our pal, Jonah Keri, and his quest for Tim Raines induction, our quest for Fred McGriff will be just as exhausting. Maybe McGriff's numbers will magically get better over time like Jim Rice's did. Or maybe the veteran's committee will recognize his accomplishments by the time everybody else has forgotten who the crime dog was. But for today, let's not forget that the man with Hall of Fame worthy numbers should also be worthy of Hall of Fame membership.