Fred McGriff, also known as “The Crime Dog,” was one of the most consistent power hitters in all of baseball for nearly a decade. A first baseman who played for six different teams, McGriff had an extremely successful career that spanned 19 seasons. While there is no doubt he had an illustrious career, it remains to be seen if Hall of Fame voters will indeed grant McGriff entrance into Cooperstown.
Making the Case: Fred McGriff and the 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot
Frederick Stanley McGriff was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the ninth round of the 1981 MLB Draft. He would not debut until 1986 with the Toronto Blue Jays and only appeared in three games that season. However, beginning in 1987, McGriff began a run of consistency that few power hitters have ever accomplished.
In his second season in the majors, McGriff would go on to hit 20 HRs with a slash line of .247/.376/.505. He would proceed to hit at least 20 HRs for 11 straight seasons and in 15 out of the 19 seasons that he played. McGriff would also hit 30 or more HRs 11 total times, drive in 90 or more runs 12 times, and score 80 or more runs nine times.
McGriff’s best stretch of consistency came from 1988 to 1996 when he slashed .288/.384/.532 with per 162 game averages of 36 HR, 105 RBI, 99 runs, 91 walks, and 31 doubles over that time span.
McGriff finished his career career with a .284/.377/509 slash line, 134 OPS+, 493 HRs, 1,550 RBI, 1,349 runs, and 441 doubles. He was a five-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger, and was a part of the 1995 World Series team with the Atlanta Braves. He never won an MVP award but did record six top-ten finishes.
McGriff is mostly recognized for his strong play in Atlanta when he crushed 130 HRs and drove in 446 runs over parts of five seasons with the Braves.
How he stacks up
McGriff has more HRs than Stan Musial and the same number of HRs as Lou Gehrig, both of which are HOF players. However, he falls short of those two players in other key categories. Musial finished his career with a .418 OBP and .559 slugging percentage while Gehrig finished with a .447 OBP and .632 slugging percentage. He has more hits than Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey, but both of those players are members of the 500 HR club. These four players also combined to win seven MVP awards while McGriff never won the award.
The best HOF comparison for McGriff is likely Orlando Cepeda. Cepeda slashed .297/.350/.499 with 379 HRs and 1,365 RBI. McGriff also surpasses Cepeda in WAR (52.4 for McGriff to 50.3 for Cepeda). The difference between the two is that Cepeda was an 11-time All-Star and captured an MVP award in 1967.
The sad reality is that McGriff may have fallen seven HRs short of induction into Cooperstown. Every member of the 500 HR club who is eligible has been inducted, with the exception of those players who have been connected to steroids.
While some of McGriff’s numbers do compare favorably to certain hall of famers, his entire body of work appears to fall just short of induction. Reaching 500 HRs, or finishing off the 1996 World Series with Atlanta, would have likely cemented McGriff’s HOF case. As it stands, McGriff received 21.7% of votes on the ballot last season and looks to be a long shot to reach the HOF.
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