During the course of the Hall of Fame voting process, the hordes of baseball fans on Twitter can be fairly merciless to those brave enough to reveal their ballots. Voters who didn't check off Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, and others were lambasted and publicly shamed for possibly denying entry to some of the game's greatest players.
While there were undoubtedly some truly odd ballots this year, the voting process is something that we as fans don't really get to experience. At Beyond the Box Score, we had our own ballots, one restricted to the arcane 10-player limit and one that allowed us to vote for as many players as we saw deserving of enshrinement.
We didn't have as much time to consider our choices as those tasked with filling out the actual ballots, but nonetheless I had ample time to make my decisions; however, I can't help but feel as though I shortchanged Fred McGriff. I withheld my vote for him, as I considered him a "Hall of Very Good" player, which I expressed on this podcast. Since then, it's become clear that McGriff deserves far more support than he's received thus far.
This most recent election process was McGriff's 7th appearance on the ballot, and he received just 20.9 percent of the vote. With only three years left for him to reach the 75 percent threshold, the chances of him making Cooperstown are essentially zero, but it's not because he isn't worthy. By the classic stats (slash lines, runs, RBI totals, and HRs), as well as the new advanced metrics (wOBA, wRC+, wRAA), McGriff is comparable to players already in the Hall of Fame and someone whom many expect to be voted in likely in the next couple years.
Beyond the Box Score is "a Saber-Slanted Baseball Community", but it's nearly impossible to talk about the Hall of Fame without referencing the old-school stats that many have moved past. The table below shows four players, one of whom is McGriff, two of whom are already in the Hall of Fame, and one player who will show up on next year's ballot and by Bill James' HoF monitor is nearly guaranteed to be elected.
Based on this very basic list of statistics, all players are seemingly comparable. Player A has the best slash line of the group, while Player B was just .002 points behind in OBP and led these four players in HRs and RBI. Player C is a close second in HRs and RBI, while Player D takes the crown for runs scored. Not one of these players stands out as clearly being the best.
While the basic stats should help sell McGriff to the old-school crowd, with the ever-increasing importance and acceptance toward advanced metrics, it would be disingenuous and irresponsible to overlook them when discussing McGriff's Hall of Fame worthiness.
|wOBA||wRC+||wRC||wRAA||ISO||fWAR||7-year fWAR peak|
Just as before, there isn't much separation in this group. Player A has the best wOBA and ISO, but Player B is just .007 points behind in wOBA and is the leader in wRC. Player C has the best wRC+ and is tied for the best wRAA with Player D.
Their respective 7-year peak fWARs are comparable, and while Player C comes out ahead in terms of career fWAR, it's not by much. There are slight deviations across the board, but not enough to separate any one player.
Now that the stats have been laid out, it's time to put some identities to the numbers. Player A, the one who by James' account should be a lock for the Hall, is Vladimir Guerrero. Player B is the under-supported McGriff. Players C and D, the two already inducted into Cooperstown, are Willie Stargell and Billy Williams, respectively.
McGriff doesn't stand out as one of the top-10 players of all time, but thankfully that's not what the Hall of Fame is about. It's meant to highlight the best players of their respective eras and help us remember which players were consistently great; McGriff undoubtedly fits that description. From 1988 to 1994, he was one of the best players in baseball and remained an above average player for nearly his entire career. He might not evoke the imagery that Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Sandy Koufax do, but McGriff was an elite player who deserves to be immortalized in Cooperstown.