From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.
Plenty has been written regarding Mark McGwire’s Hall of Fame credentials, but all of them pretty much begin and end with the speculation around whether or not he was guilty of using performance enhancers.
To me, it doesn’t matter.
Even without the steroids discussion, McGwire’s stats don’t warrant the poaitive lip service that everyone is given him.
Sure…“Big Mac” has a heap of home runs. With 583 under his belt, he has more than everyone but seven. As we all know, he was the guy who, in 1998, toppled Roger Maris and his legendary 61 home runs.
And while I’ve heard all the OPS+ arguments, you can take away his tremendous home run total and all you’ve got is a guy who played in a ton (if you consider 12 “a ton”) of All-Star games and had precious little to show for it.
Now, I’m not one of those guys who thinks that McGwire was basically a clone of Dave Kingman…I tend to give him a little more credit than that. When healthy (and McGwire only played in 140 or more games eight times), he was one of the best out there.
The problem I have is that he wasn’t durable, wasn’t consistent and, frankly…was the baseball world’s equivalent to a Long Drive contest participant.
I mean, the fact that McGwire hit a home run once in every ten at bats (and yes, he is first all-time) is impressive. What isn’t is the .263 career batting average, 1626 hits and almost as many (1596) strikeouts.
McGwire was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1987, but not once did he take home an MVP Award. And while you could argue he should have won the hardware in 1998 (and he probably should have), he only managed three Silver Slugger awards.
I realize that many scoff at the hardware argument, but let’s face it…it is all part of the overall package. It’s either the icing on the cake (ask Bert Blyleven) or the entire cake itself (ask Ozzie Smith).
For me, it is the icing and for McGwire…a handful of huge years needed those trophies to go along with them.