Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Fred McGriff. McGriff was drafted by the Yankees in the ninth round of the 1981 draft. A year and a half later he was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Dave Collins and Mike Morgan for Tom Dodd and Dale Murray. In 1987 he started getting regular playing time with the Jays and in 2,322 plate appearances he hit .278/.389/.530 (153 OPS+) and twice finished in the top ten in the MVP voting. In the 1990 offseason he and Tony Fernandez were traded to the San Diego Padres for Robbie Alomar and Joe Carter. The trade was a rare one in that both teams benefitted from the trade. In the early 1990’s the Padres were having a fire sale and McGriff was one of the players sold for 15 cents on the dollar. On July 18, 1993 he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Vince Moore, Donnie Elliott, and Melvin Nieves. While the three combined for 489 games in the majors McGriff was worth it for just the 68 games he played for Atlanta in 1993. In 291 plate appearances the Crime Dog hit .310/.392/.610 and the Braves completely dominated the National League. After 94 games the Giants had a nine game lead on Atlanta:
The Giants played great, going 41-27 (.603) the rest of the way. But the Braves all but forgot how to lose:
The Braves won the division on the last day of the season and McGriff finished fourth in the MVP voting. In the NLCS McGriff hit .435/.519/.696 in the six games but the Braves lost the series to the Phillies 4-2. The next season McGriff made his second All-Star team. In that game in Pittsburgh McGriff came on as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning with the National League trailing 7-5 and facing Lee Smith. McGriff homered off of the Orioles’ closer to tie the game and force extra innings. The National League would end up winning the game in the tenth but the season was cut short with the players’ strike and the entire postseason was cancelled. In 1995 the Braves would win the World Series, the first major professional sports championship in Atlanta. McGriff hit .333/.415/.649 in 14 postseason games for the Braves’ championship run.
Ten times he hit 30 homers, between the ages of 24 and 38. And I think this is where McGriff falls of for people. His numbers were good, many times even great. But when the higher powered numbers of the mid-to-late 90’s started skyrocketing, McGriff just stayed steady. He never cleared 40 homers, he never racked up 110 RBI, only twice he scored 100 runs, and only three times did he hit .300. Twice he led the league in homeruns, but none after 1992. And that seems to be reflected in the Hall of fame voting (he’s never cleared 25%), and his HOFR of 53.55 falls short as well. He was a nice player for a long time, but the all is about greatness, not niceness.