FRED McGRIFF, DALE MURPHY
The Modern Baseball Era (formerly Veterans) Committee this year elected Alan Trammell and Jack Morris for the Hall. I now think there’s a good chance McGriff eventually will get in via the same route, and believe Murphy also still could get there via the same committee.
McGriff received 23.2 percent of the vote, which was up slightly from 21.7 percent a year ago. But he has only one year left on the ballot, and logically he’s not going to get to 75 percent next year.
But as time goes on, I think players who did not use performance-enhancing drugs and represented the game the right way will have their careers viewed through a different prism. For that reason, I think McGriff (.284, 493 homers, 1,550 RBIs) eventually will be put in.
Murphy’s candidacy through the writers’ vote ended a while ago, but he also has a shot this route (even though he didn’t get in this year). He won two MVP awards, something I find hard to ignore, despite his late career drop-off. He hit 398 homers with 1,266 RBIs and batted .265. Let’s not forget that Murphy played on much worse teams than McGriff and the player I’m about to discuss next.
The 10-time Gold Glover and five-time All-Star appeared to be a lock for the Hall of Fame 10 to 12 years into his career. Certainly, you can make a nice argument that 10 to 12 seasons should be a sufficient resume. He finished with 434 home runs, 1,289 RBIs and a career batting average of .254.
But the drop-off in Jones’ last five seasons was so pronounced that it’s going to be difficult for a lot of voters to get past that, as evidenced by him getting only 7.3 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot. (Some were concerned he wouldn’t get 5 percent, which would’ve dropped him off future ballots.)
In his last five seasons with four teams, Jones hit .210 and averaged 13 homers and 34 RBIs. For the devotees of the metric WAR (Wins Above Replacement), Jones was as high as 8.2 with the Braves in 2000 and 6.7 as recently as 2005 and 5.6 in 2006.
But in his last five seasons (2008-12), Jones’ WAR dropped to minus-1.6 (L.A. Dodgers), 0.3 (Texas), 1.9 (Chicago White Sox), 1.0 and 0.3 (N.Y. Yankees).
Should a horrible finishing kick blemish a player’s entire career? Obviously, that’s subjective. But it’s worth adding that as great of a player as Jones was -- and anybody who watched him in Atlanta can attest to that -- some came away with the feeling he failed to reach expectations at the plate. That’s probably unfair and stems at least in part from the fact he blasted two home runs in his first two at-bats in the World Series at the age of 19. But fair or unfair, that perception exists.
Made it: Chipper Jones 410 (97.2), Vladimir Guerrero 392 (92.9), Jim Thome 379 (89.8), Trevor Hoffman 337 (79.9).
Missed: Edgar Martinez 297 (70.4), Mike Mussina 268 (63.5), Roger Clemens 242 (57.3), Barry Bonds 238 (56.4), Curt Schilling 216 (51.2), Omar Vizquel 156 (37.0), Larry Walker 144 (34.1), Fred McGriff 98 (23.2), Manny Ramirez 93 (22.0), Jeff Kent 61 (14.5), Gary Sheffield 47 (11.1), Billy Wagner 47 (11.1), Scott Rolen 43 (10.2), Sammy Sosa 33 (7.8), Andruw Jones 31 (7.3).
Off future ballots: Jamie Moyer 10 (2.4), Johann Santana 10 (2.4), Johnny Damon 8 (1.9), Hideki Matsui 4 (0.9), Chris Carpenter 2 (0.5), Kerry Wood 2 (0.5), Livan Hernandez 1 (0.2), Carlos Lee 1 (0.2), Orlando Hudson 0, Aubrey Huff 0, Jason Isringhausen 0, Brad Lidge 0, Kevin Millwood 0, Carlos Zambrano 0.
Listen to the, “We Never Played The Game” podcast. Check out the podcast showpage at AJC,com/sports-we-never-played-the-game. Subscribe on iTunesor listen from the AJC sports podcasts page, the WSB Radio on-demand page or Google play.