December 22, 2010
Cooperstown 2011: Mark McGwire
Fifth Year on Ballot (2010 - 23.7%)
PLAYING CAREER: Oakland Athletics (1986–1997) and St. Louis Cardinals (1997–2001)
ACHIEVEMENTS: Career batting average of .263, 583 home runs and 1414 RBI. Ranks tenth all-time in home runs, eighth in slugging percentage (.588) and tenth in on-base plus slugging (.982). Led league in home runs four times (1987, 1996, 1998 and 1999), including a then-Major League record 70 home runs in 1998. 1987 American League Rookie of the Year. 1989 World Series Champion. 1990 Gold Glove Award winner. 12-time All-Star selection (1987-1992 and 1995-2000).
HOVG THOUGHTS: Even without the steroids discussion, McGwire’s stats don’t warrant the positive lip service that everyone has given him. Sure…“Big Mac” has a heap of home runs. With 583 under his belt, he is sitting tenth all-time. 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 played in 140 or more games in only eight seasons), 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.