Last year, if I had a HOF vote, I would have selected Alan Trammell, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell. Given a ballot this year, I would go with the beforementioned, as well as 1st time eligibles Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. I have given my reasons for Trammell and find it completely unfair to implicate Bagwell, Piazza and especially Biggio without any evidence that they used. Give me that evidence and I will put any of them in the same category of those in the first paragraph. There have been interesting candidates like Mike Mussina, Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Curt Schilling. They could all be Hall of Famers, but at this moment would fall a little short of getting my vote. The fact that my vote does not count bodes well for Morris, who is on the last year of his eligibility.
The Baseball Writers Association of America voters can choose up to ten players on a given season. Given the 7 I have already mentioned, if I can put my support behind one player who should eventually gain eligibility, I would go with Fred McGriff. The crime dog has been pretty much forgotten, especially with all the attention given to the others. I think its time to put his numbers out and see if he qualifies. For his career, he hit .284 with a .509 slugging percentage and a .886 OPS. He finished his career with 2490 hits, 441 2Bs, 493 HRs, 1550 RBI and struck out 1882 times. His home run total stands out because it was the same total as the great Lou Gehrig. Unfortunately, that is where that comparison begins and ends. In fact, to compare Gehrig's other stats against that of McGriff would be an insult to the Iron Horse.
Another HOF 1B that is not a fair comparison is Jimmie Foxx. Foxx hit .325 for his career and OPSed 1.038. He also had more hits, 2Bs and HRs. Among players that played a lot of their careers during the same time, Eddie Murray and George Brett stand out as better players of the generation. Rod Carew was a different type of hitter, but was much more of a top MLB player during his time. And though Johnny Mize did not compile numbers close to what McGriff finished with, there is no question that during most of Mize's career, he was one of the best in the game. Brett and Carew also both should get extra credit since they played 3B and 2B, respectively, before finishing their career at 1B.
Orlando Cepeda was a dominant player from most of 1958-1974. His last couple of seasons, though, left something to be desired. He was selected by the Veterans Committee for nomination in 1999. While he hit .297 for his career (higher than McGriff), McGriff had a higher career SLG (.509-.499) and OPS (.886-.849). McGriff also had more hits (2490-2351), 2Bs (441-417), HR (493-379) and RBIs (1550-1365). Cepeda did strike out at a considerably less rate than McGriff, so that has to be noted. But, based on numbers, in my opinion, if Cepeda is a Hall of Famer, McGriff should be as well.
Next is Tony Perez. To me this is an easy one. I think of Tony Perez as a very good player, one who deserves to get his number retired by the Reds, but in my opinion, falls short of qualification for the Hall. Mainly because of the first basemen I mentioned before. He hit .272 for his career, slugged .463, OPSed .804 and hit 379 HRs for his career. McGriff topped all those numbers. Perez did finish with 2732 hits and 505 2B, both higher than McGriff, but is not Hall worthy on those numbers alone. Clearly, if Perez is a Hall of Famer, McGriff should be in as well.
The most interesting comparison is with a player who made the Hall in 1988 with 82.4% of the vote in his first year of eligibility. Willie Stargell is the epitome of a Hall of Fame player. From the balance of his run (1961-1982), he was a top 1B in all of MLB. His .529 SLG and .889 OPS were higher than McGriffs. But in parts of two less seasons, Stargell had less hits (2292), 2Bs (423), HRs (475) and RBI (1540) as well as a slightly lower batting average (.282) than McGriff. If his numbers can come out stronger than Stargell, then Fred McGriff belongs in Baseball's Hall of Fame.
Obviously, the candidates on the ballot have something to do with some's chances. That impacts me with McGriff right now. But he does belong in, if not now, definitely before he runs out of eligibility in 2024.