1B: Fred McGriff
The Numbers: 52.4 WAR, 44.1 JAWS, .284/.377/.509, 493 HR, 1,550 RBI, Five ASG, Three Silver Sluggers, Two-time NL HR Champ
Here’s a guy who probably wishes he could somehow have stuck around a little bit longer during the 2004 season to hit seven more home runs. Instead, McGriff, who was really struggling with the Tampa Bay Rays during his age-40 season, retired in mid-July just short of the mythical 500 home run barrier. McGriff compares quite favorably to other players in the Hall of Fame like Willy McCovey, Willie Stargell, Frank Thomas, and Billy Williams. He’s also very close to eventual-HOF’ers like Jeff Bagwell and David Ortiz.
None of that really seems to be adding up to a great Hall chance for The Crime Dog. McGriff scored only 20.9% of the vote this year, his seventh on the ballot. He was very, very good for 19 seasons, and anchored the dynastic Atlanta Braves lineups of the 1990s. Unfortunately, he was never really the best player in the league. In any other era, when hitting over 490 home runs meant a lot, McGriff would easily have reached Cooperstown. Falling seven short of 500 just won’t cut it in the Steroid Era. Unlike Bagwell, McGriff was never truly transcendent. It’s hard to see his vote total rallying much in the coming years.