How Can Fred McGriff Not Be Elected to the Hall of Fame?

Harold FriendChief Writer INovember 28, 2009

MIAMI - JULY 4:  Fred McGriff #29 of the Florida Marlins stands at bat during the game  against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on July 4, 2004 at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Marlins won 4-3. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

When compared to Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, George Sisler, Hank Greenberg, and Bill Terry, Fred McGriff is not a Hall of Famer. But when compared to Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda, Eddie Murray, and Harmon Killebrew, Fred McGriff is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Fred McGriff Compared to the Greatest First Basemen

Fred McGriff's offensive production pales in comparison to the first group's offensive production, but it holds its own against that of the second group.

Batting Average

With respect to the batting average for the first group (McGriff .284, Bill Terry .341, Lou Gehrig and George Sisler .340, Jimmy Foxx .325, and Hank Greenberg .315), Fred McGriff is overwhelmed.

When compared to Tony Perez (.279), Orlando Cepeda (.297), Eddie Murray (.287), and Harmon Killebrew (.256), McGriff holds his own.

But statisticians have discovered that batting average is a highly overrated yardstick of achievement. On base average is a more reliable measurement.

On Base Average

Fred McGriff's on base average was .377, compared to Gehrig's incredible .477, Foxx's .428, Sisler's .379, Greenberg's .412, and Terry's .393. McGriff comes close only to Sisler and Terry, neither of whom walked much.

Compared to the second group, (Perez .341, Cepeda .350, Murray .359, and Killebrew .376), Fred McGriff tops them all.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Typical Season

Fred McGriff averaged 32 home runs, 102 RBIs, and a .509 slugging average over a 162 game season. This compares favorably with Tony Perez (22, 96, .463), Orlando Cepeda (29, 104, .499), Eddie Murray (27, 103, .476), and Harmon Killebrew (38, 105, .509).

More Than Numbers

There is more to player evaluation than just numbers.

McGriff was a positive presence in the clubhouse, who got along well with other players and the media. He was constantly attempting to improve his game and took the game seriously.

He was the MVP in the 1994 All-Star game, and led the American League in home runs in 1989 while with Toronto, and led the senior circuit in home runs in 1992 while with the Padres.

The New York Yankees drafted Fred McGriff out of high school and while he was in the minors, they traded him to Toronto for relief pitcher Dale Murray. It was a trade that ranks right up there with Jim Brosnan for Lou Brock.

An Atlanta Brave World Champion

Although he played first for Toronto and then San Diego, Fred McGriff will be remembered as an Atlanta Brave. He helped them win four division titles and their only World Championship in Atlanta.

Fred McGriff doesn't rank among the elite Hall of Fame first basemen, but neither do Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda, Eddie Murray, or Harmon Killebrew. The last four are in the Hall of Fame.

Based upon the above, the question is not "Does Fred McGriff belong in the Hall of Fame?"

The question is, "How can Fred McGriff not be elected to the Hall of Fame?"


Fred McGriff at Baseball Library


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.