- Don Mattingly (1B) - .307 BA, 2153 hits, 222 HRs, 1099 RBIs, 6 All Star games, 9 Gold Gloves, 1 MVP win (1985), 3 other top 10 finishes. Donnie Baseball was the one standout for the Yankees in the dark period between World Series Championships. He had a cup of coffee with the 1982 Yankees, a team that had lost to the Dodgers in the 1981 World Series, and expected to get back there soon. Fourteen years later they were still waiting when they were upset by the Seattle Mariners in the divisional playoffs. Mattingly retired after that season, his body broken down by years of carrying a so-so team loaded with Ed Whitsons and Roberto Kellys. The following year, some guy named Joe Torre led them to another World Series, ushering in a era of dominance not seen since Casey Stengel's Yankees. Matthingly's career is a little weird to understand. If one were to look at it without seeing the name or age, they would assume they got a cup of coffee with the Yankees at age 24, finally breaking in as a regular at age 26, winning an MVP at age 27 (the normal peak year), and suffering injuring and declining ability until retiring at age 37. For whatever reason, Mattingly peaked three early, and left the game at age 34, but an old 34. Maybe he's the exact opposite of Edgar Martinez...
His MVP finishes, Gold Glove wins and batting average suggest the possibility of the Hall. His cumulative stats say otherwise. What the voters will do: Mattingly's support will continue to dwindle, but I think he will stay on the ballot for one more year with about 8% of the vote. What the voters should do: Put Donnie Baseball back into his Midwestern Pasture. Unfortunately, his luck with the Hall is the same as his luck with the Yankees.
- Fred McGriff (1B/DH) - .284 BA, 2490 hits, 493 HRs, 1550 RBIs, 5 All Star games, 6 Top 10 finishes MVP voting (best - 4th in 1993). The Crime Dog...one of the best nicknames in baseball during the 90s, and McGriff was one of the best players during that time as well. He also holds the distinction of being the last player in BOTH leagues to lead the league in HRs under 40. There a couple of factors that keep McGriff from joining the ranks of those in Cooperstown. I'll start with those that have nothing to do with stats.
- He played for six different teams, and few fans identify him with "their" club. It was no fault of his own; drafted by the Yankees, he was traded to the Blue Jays, then the Padres, and finally he left the Padres during their cost-cutting moves of 1993 and joined Atlanta. After signing with Atlanta as a free agent, he was purchased by Tampa Bay when he played unnoticed for a few years, before returning to the National League...but by then the Crime Dog was toothless.
- Someday compare Jeff Bagwell to Fred McGriff. Career-wise, the Crime Dog beats Bagwell almost in every category, but Bagwell played his entire career in Houston, and had two or three years where he peaked higher than McGriff. McGriff was a steady player, but at no time did anyone consider him one of the top hitters in the league. For this reason, I'll think Bagwell will get in his first year of eligibility, while the "carpetbagger" McGriff won't.
- As the offensive statistics when up in the mid-90s, his stayed level and decreased slightly. If his career started five years later, he would have about 520 HRs, and 500 HRs is still considered a HOF standard.
So where do I stand? In my opinion, McGriff was never THE first baseman. He was never THE man on a good team - with the Atlanta teams, it was always the pitching, and the team was led by Pendleton and then Chipper Jones. In order to get in, he needed to get to 500 home runs...and even then, I'd be hard pressed to say yes. What the voters will do: Around 15%. What the voters should do: I think that's appropriate, but as the bigger numbers and names come on the ballot over the next few years, he'll lose support.
- Mark McGwire (1B) - .263 BA, 1626 hits, 583 HRs, 1414 RBIs, Rookie of the Year (1987), 12 All Star games, 1 Gold Glove, 5 Top 10 MVP finishes (top 2nd in 1998). McGwire has been discussed, dragged through the mud and analyzed because of what he said (or didn't say) before Congress. Therefore, I don't need to go through that stats, though I will say this: if he doesn't take steroids, what type of career does he have? Am I wrong in suggesting the following career line? .259 BA, 1474 hits, 443 HRs, 1274 RBIs, Rookie of the Year (1987), 8 All Star games, 1 Gold Glove, 3 Top 10 MVP finishes (?) Does he get elected then? What the voters will do: 21.9%, give or take .005%. What the voters should do: 2010 will be a very interesting year. LaRussa has always shown great admiration for McGwire, and I believe LaRussa offered him the hitting coach's job as a way to begin a rehabilitation of McGwire's image. The next step is McGwire's: if he avoids discussing it, like he avoided the topic in front of Congress, his support for the Hall will not increase. If he makes amends, he'll be elected within 5 years.
- Jack Morris (P) - (254-186), 3.90 ERA, 2478 K's, 5 All Star games, 5 Top 5 Cy Young finishes (3rd twice). Why are all the tough ones in the middle of the alphabet? As far as I'm concerned, Morris doesn't belong in the Hall. He was a workhorse of a pitcher, a pitcher who was about eight years too late. Mind you, if he pitched eight years earlier, he would have already fallen off the ballot. His ERA would be the highest in the Hall, bar none...and he avoided the offensive explosion that happened after the 1994 strike, as Commissioner, owners and union looked away from the "enhancers" that encouraged fans to come back to the game. So why is Morris still getting almost half of all voters to say yes?
- While his workhorse style was about eight years too late, his win totals look better and better, standing out against the background of average career pitchers in a period between the Carltons, Ryan and Seavers of the 70s and early 80s, and the emergence/milestone achieving Maddux, Glavine, Clemens and Johnsons of the late 90s/ Double 00s.
- His 10 inning shutout masterpiece against John Smoltz and the Braves to win Game 7 for the Twins. It is one of the best postseason performances in baseball history, equal to Mazeroski's HR to win the 1960 World Series. Then again, that HR got Maz into the Hall...
- Career wise in the postseason though? 7-4, 3.80 ERA. Good, but again not comparable to some of the greats. Curt Schilling by comparison was 11-2, 2.23.
- Only 5 All Star games. Schilling was in 6. David Cone was in 5.
What the voters will do: Slight increase for Morris, as 251 looks better and better. What the voters should do: Look past the 1991 World Series and look at his 1987 masterpiece against the Twins: 8 IP, 6 ER. Or his entire 1992 postseason of 23 IP, 19 ER.