Hall of Fame Debate - Fred McGriff
Pro McGriff HOF (Mc)
Fred McGriff was a picture of consistency during his MLB career. He spent 10 seasons in both the American League and National League while hitting exactly .284 in each league. He had a quiet dominance about him, always helping his team, but not having jump out numbers. Although they played different positions, he reminds me of Dave Winfield with respect to consistency and year after year production. He topped 30 homers in 10 seasons and 100 RBI in 8 seasons (90 RBI in an additional 4 seasons).
Of the hitters to amass 15 seasons of 20 or more homeruns, every single player but one (A-Rod) is in the HOF except McGriff. In fact of all the players with more homers than McGriff, all are in the HOF, are not yet Hall eligible, or are severely stained with a PED stigma. Same is virtually true of McGriff's RBI numbers which total 1550. The only player with more that is Hall eligible or not tainted by PEDs is Harold Baines (who may end up in a debate similar to this one eventually).
Here comes the obligatory argument. McGriff was overshadowed by players that have been subsequently shown to have used PEDs or the case against them is overwhelming. So the question, which can only be answered individually, involves whether or not McGriff's numbers should be given more weight than the likes of those tainted players? I've resigned myself to the fact that the PED boys will eventually get in. If that's the case, I feel McGriff should be put in for his consistent body of work without a shred of implication involving PEDs.
Finally, if nothing else, he should make the Hall for those rockin' Tom Emansky training videos!!
It's hard not to like McGriff. Like any good player, he worked hard and made his teammates better. Plus, as far as nicknames go, it doesn't get much better than the Crime Dog but (and you knew this was coming) the Hall of Fame is reserved for greatness and in my opinion, McGriff doesn't pass the 'eye' test.
Watching Fred McGriff, I would say that he benefited from the talent around him as much as anyone but in the end, he was never really the best player on his own team, in his own league or at his own position. Yes, he was overshadowed by a few of the known PED users later in his career but he was also overshadowed by a lot of clean players in his leagues, at his position and on his own teams. My main argument in support of this statement: he only started in two all-star games in his career and boasts only one top five MVP finish (and he wasn't the highest finisher on his own team in that year).
Early on, McGriff was overshadowed by teammates Kelly Gruber, Joe Carter and George Bell as well as some all-star first basemen like Jack Clark, Will Clark and Eddie Murray. Later, in San Diego, it was teammates Tony Gwynn and Gary Sheffield that were regarded as more important. And finally, during McGriff's tenure in Atlanta, it was the pitching staff and guys like Chipper Jones, Ron Gant, Andruw Jones and David Justice that are largely credited for the success of those great Braves teams.
In the mid to late nineties when steroids became prevalent, McGriff was in his mid thirties and his numbers were already on the decline. I would argue that it wasn't steroids that took the luster away from McGriff in his mid thirties, it was age and the emergence of some great first basemen... guys like Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell and Andres Gallaraga. From 1995 until 2003 (his last relevant season), McGriff averaged 25 HR and a .285 batting average. Those are nice numbers but not Hall worthy. Plus, it's no secret McGriff wasn't a great defensive player- no Gold Gloves and very limited range at first. I think that his defensive ineptness definitely hurts his case. He was regarded by many as a well above average hitter who was limited in the field and I think that's why he ended up a journeyman, considered somewhat expendable. But even the detractors, like me, have to admit that McGriff played well beyond expectations over the course of a consistent career and that's really why it's a good debate. Honestly, I'd like to see McGriff get in, as a man, but as a player, over the course of 19 seasons, he was a beacon of consistently good with very few glimpses of great and I'm not sure that's enough.