You heard baseball superstar Fred McGriff. He gave his full endorsement! I hope McGriff fired his agent after that commercial aired. I hope he fired his acting coach too, assuming he had an acting coach. Who knows? Maybe Fred McGriff made a killing off royalties each time that commercial played. Was that really the best endorsement opportunity an All-Star first baseman could get during the 1990s? If so, that should be some sort of crime!
You know what else WAS a crime? It was a crime that Fred McGriff had not yet been enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame! As of a couple weeks ago, that was no longer the case. McGriff is a Hall-of-Famer and deserves to get in. Some disagree saying he didn’t have the numbers. About that…
What if the players’ strike that prematurely ended the 1994 Major League Baseball season never happened?
There were records that were on pace to be shattered and other statistical accomplishments we never got to see play out – such as Tony Gwynn (.394) trying to be the first player since Ted Williams in 1941 to hit .400 for a season. The Montreal Expos arguably had their best chance at winning a World Series. They never got the chance and never competed again before moving to Washington D.C. as the Nationals in 2005.
It turns out that the ’94 strike affected the fates of ballclubs AND many players. Speaking of a player’s fate, a reader just recently made the point that Fred McGriff would already be in Cooperstown if weren’t for the ’94 strike. The strike didn’t only affect the remainder of the ’94 season though. The 1995 MLB season started in late-April.
That’s a GREAT point! Think about it…
They say that hitting 500 or more home runs in a career automatically gets baseball players into Cooperstown. That’s basically true – if you don’t count the guys who are suspected of using performance enhancing drugs. Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera both have 500+ homers but are still active players in 2022. They are both locks for Cooperstown in five years. How many career home runs did Fred McGriff have? 493- seven short of the “magical” 500 home run mark. That’s also the exact same number of career home runs as Lou Gehrig! Let’s look at McGriff’s ’94 and ’95 season stats, his age 30 and 31 seasons:
1994 Season: 113 games played: 34 home runs in 424 at-bats (.318 average, 1.012 OPS)
– One home run every 12.5 at-bats – 3.75 at-bats per game
1995 Season: 144 games played: 27 home runs in 528 at-bats (.280 average, .850 OPS)
– One home run every 19.6 at-bats – 3.67 at-bats per game
Every team played 144 games in the ’95 season, 18 less than the regular 162-game season. McGriff’s Atlanta Braves had played 114 games during the 1994 season before the strike, 48 games less than a normal regular MLB season. That’s 66 total games over a two-year span that Fred McGriff could have been available to play in, but could not do so due to the strike. He would have had 66 more games in his prime, as an All-Star power-hitting first baseman, to hit SEVEN home runs. Hell, at the pace he was raking in 1994 he would have only needed 24 more games to hit seven more homers. He probably would have had another 2-3 dingers in ’95. McGriff would have been well over 500 home runs! Forget the steroid guys – Fred McGriff is arguably the baseball player that was affected by the strike the most!
HOWEVER…the ’94 strike happened and it affected the start of the ’95 season, so here we are.
Ok fine. Let’s compare McGriff’s career with other players who have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame since 2010. Here are some of Fred McGriff’s stats and accomplishments:
493 Home Runs
1,550 Runs Batted In
.284 Batting Average
.886 OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging)
5-time MLB All-Star
3-time MLB Silver Slugger
2-time League Home Run Leader
1994 All-Star Game MVP
Won a World Series with Atlanta Braves in 1995
Not bad Fred, not bad. From a statistical perspective McGriff’s career totals are better than Andre Dawson, Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar, Ron Santo, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Pudge Rodriguez, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Vladimir Guerrero, Alan Trammell, Harold Baines, Edgar Martinez (minus the batting average), Derek Jeter, Ted Simmons, and Larry Walker (minus the batting average). All those guys I just listed have been enshrined in Cooperstown since 2010, the first year that Fred McGriff’s name was on the ballot. I’m not saying that those other guys are not deserving of being in Cooperstown. They certainly are. I’m just saying that the entire body of work on the back of Fred McGriff’s baseball card looks better than those guys. I’ll admit that this last comparison isn’t the best argument for Fred McGriff. Those other guys played other positions, I get that. It’s still an argument though! Jeff Bagwell was also on that list. The Houston Astros great played in the same era as McGriff. He was a first baseman too. Let’s compare the careers of McGriff and Bagwell:
– .297 Batting Average, 2,314 Hits, 449 Home Runs, 1,529 RBI, .948 OPS, 4-time All-Star, 0 rings, 1 MVP
– .284 Batting Average, 2,490 Hits, 493 Home Runs, 1,550 RBI, .886 OPS, 5-time All-Star, 1 ring, 0 MVP
Jeff Bagwell is in the Hall (and deservingly so) but Fred McGriff wasn’t. Bagwell was a much more feared hitter. He was a better hitter than the "Crime Dog." McGriff was more consistent for a longer period of time. Plus, he has him beat in most statistical categories in terms of total career numbers. My point here isn’t to invalidate the career of Jeff Bagwell or anyone else on that list. It’s to further validate the argument that Fred McGriff should be able to sign autographs followed by “HOF” too.
Bagwell isn’t the only HOF-first baseman that McGriff has bested in most statistical categories…
Tony Perez has more hits (2,732) that McGriff, but less homers (379) and RBI (1,272) in addition to a lower batting average (.279) and OPS (.804). Perez does beat “The Crime Dog” in rings 2-1.
Orlando Cepeda has a higher batting average (.297) and matches McGriff with the one ring. Other than that, he has less hits (2,351), homers (379), RBI (1,365), and a lower OPS (.849)
Gil Hodges played in a different era, but doesn’t top McGriff in any statistical category. He does have one more ring though. The exact same can be said for Hank Greenberg, sans the batting average.
McGriff’s 162-game average of 32 home runs and 102 runs batted is right there with those of Perez, Cepeda, Eddie Murray, and even Harmon Killebrew!
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) and the Veteran’s committee are responsible for electing people into the Hall of Fame. I’m sure some of those writers hold grudges against players who were less than kind to them, the media. I don’t think Fred McGriff gave anyone in the BBWAA a reason to hold a grudge. That can’t be why he hasn’t been voted in yet. The writers and veterans committee have also been reluctant to vote in players suspected of using PEDs. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard anyone accuse Fred McGriff of using PEDs. IF he used them – well he definitely used them wrong.
So why didn’t the BBWAA not vote him during his 10 years on the ballot? Members of the BBWAA who vote on the Hall of Fame are only allowed to submit ten names for consideration per year. It’s also entirely possible that McGriff has simply had some amazingly bad luck. McGriff never got close to appearing on 75% of the writers’ ballots from 2010-2019. The closest he came was 39.8% in 2019. Sheesh. There were many guys over that same period who have been first ballot shoo-ins. Mariano Rivera was a unanimous pick. Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Chipper Jones, and Ken Griffey, Jr. appeared on more the 95% of voters’ ballots during 2010-2019. Vladimir
Guerrero, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, and Roberto Alomar were on 90% of ballots during that same timeframe.
The reality is that only so many guys get in to Cooperstown.
There were only 268 baseball players that have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown as of the time of this article. Of those 268, only 25 players were primarily first basemen. Major League Baseball have been played since 1871. In 151 years only 268 players have been enshrined in Cooperstown. That doesn’t add up to me.
I’m sure there’s room for Fred McGriff, among others.
In summary, Fred McGriff deserves to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame because…
The 1994 strike cost him 66 games preventing him from hitting 500 career homers.
McGriff was never accused of using PEDs.
He had better career stats that most of the guys enshrined in Cooperstown since 2010
Fred McGriff was not a “Richard” to teammates nor the media.
His accomplishments and career stats are better than several first basemen already in the Hall of Fame.
McGriff was even better in the Postseason and was a key player on a World Series-winning team. I almost forgot – his batting average and OPS when up in the Postseason. He also had 10 homers and 37 RBI in 50 career postseason games.
He endorsed the Tom Emanski instructional baseball video commercial.
Ok, I’m kidding about the last point but dead serious on the others. I know I’m not the only one who believes that Fred McGriff deserves to be enshrined in Cooperstown. The hall finally got it right in October, elected McGriff unanimously through the The Contemporary Baseball Era Committee.
To the members of said Contemporary Baseball Era Committee – thank you! You did the right thing for a guy that deserves to be part of an exclusive club!
Congratulations, Crime Dog!
Photo Credit: Twitter