Hall of Fame Debate – Mark McGwire

Oct 29, 2008

Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor and I have decided to team up and debate Mark McGwire’s Hall of Fame worthiness.

Played 1986-2001 (16 Seasons)
1874 Games
6187 At Bats
.263 Batting Average
.394 On-base % (77th All-time)
.588 Slugging % (9th All-time)
1167 Runs
1626 Hits
252 Doubles
6 Triples
583 Home Runs – (8th All-time)
1414 RBI – (65th All-time)
1317 Walks – (35th All-time)
12 Stolen Bases
3639 Total Bases

One .300+ Season
Three 100+ Run Seasons
Eleven 30+ HR Seasons
 Six 40+ HR Seasons
  Four 50+ HR Seasons
   Two 60+ HR Seasons
    One 70 HR Season
Seven 100+ RBI Seasons (Two with 147)

Playoffs:  1 Ring, 28 of 129 (.217), 13 Runs, 2 Double, 5 HRs, 14 RBI, 18 Walks

1997 Rookie of the Year
12 All-Star Games
1990 Gold Glove
3 Silver Sluggers (1992, 1996, 1998)
10 Seasons with MVP Votes (3 Top 5 MVP finishes)

Top Ten Finishes
On-Base % – 4 Times (Led league in 1996 & 1998)
Slugging % – 8 Times (Led league in 1987, 1992, 1996 & 1998)
OPS – 7 Times (Led league in 1996 & 1998)
Runs – Twice
Home Runs – 10 Times (Led league in 1987, 1996, 1998 & 1999)
RBI – 6 Times – (Led league in 1999)
Total Bases – 3 Times
Extra-Base Hits – 6 Times (Led league in 1998)
Walks - 8 Times (Led league in 1990 & 1998)
Intentional Walks – 6 Times (Led league in 1999)
Hit by Pitch – Twice

Hall of Fame Yardsticks
Black Ink: Batting – 36 (41) (Average HOFer ≈ 27)
Gray Ink: Batting – 110 (190) (Average HOFer ≈ 144)
HOF Standards: Batting – 42.1 (123) (Average HOFer ≈ 50)
HOF Monitor: Batting – 169.5 (62) (Likely HOFer > 100)

Lester’s Take
Mark McGwire hit a ton of Home Runs with a ton of RBI and Walks.  With his HR total, this should be a slam dunk case.  If you look at the Hall of Fame yardsticks, you can easily see it’s not a slam dunk case.  Half of them suggest he belongs.  The other half suggests he doesn’t.  That’s where I am at with Big Mac myself.  You have to appreciate the power numbers he put up.  However, you’d be lying to yourself if you if you think those numbers don’t come with baggage.  For starters, there was the whole Andro thing.  Granted it wasn’t against the rules at the time, but it’s pretty naive to think that Big Mac stopped there.  Surely, his appearance before Congress didn’t help his cause.  I think you have to eventually let the cheaters in otherwise you are condemning a whole era.  I’m certain there will be guys who make the HOF from the era that somehow dodge steroid speculation based on their personality.  Evenutally the steroid guys will be addressed, but I’m just not sure the numbers are there for Mac.  There isn’t a Hall of Famer position player with 6000 At Bats that has fewer than McGwire’s 1626 Hits.  Without the power surge at the end of his career he likely wouldn’t have reach the 500 HR mark.  His first six seasons he averaged 36 HRs per year.  His last six he averaged 51 HRs per year.  Usually you don’t have your best production in the last six years of your career.  Even if he averaged the same production as he did during his first six years, you’d have to shave 90 HRs (six years at 15 HRs per year) off his total.  That would put in him at 493 HRs and on the outside looking in.  McGwire never had 30 Doubles in a year.   He didn’t score 100 Runs in a year until 1996, a decade into his career.  People credit him and Sammy Sosa with saving baseball in 1998, but come on.  It’s baseball.  We would have come back.  All they did was speed up the process.  Sorry, Big Mac.  You’d never get my vote.

Rotoprofessor’s Take
I know the perception around Mark McGwire; a steroid user, a cheater. We all saw his appearance in front of Congress, which left little doubt. The truth of the matter is, however, at that time it was not illegal in baseball to do what he did. If you are going to hold what he did against him, you are going to have to hold it against an entire generation, because no one knows for a fact who was clean and who wasn’t. Steroids were running rampant throughout the sport, and while I’d agree that the standards for being considered a Hall of Fame player have to be adjusted, you can’t disqualify him solely on that reason. Steroids or not, he still had to hit the ball. There are some players who I feel like you have to look beyond the numbers, especially during this era, not only the “Steroids Era”, but the era of the compiler. I know you can look at the number of hits he had or the number of runs he drove in and say that outside of his HR’s he just doesn’t stack up with the other players already enshrined. Maybe that’s true, but McGwire’s presence transcends the numbers. He was the dominant force in the game from 1996-1999, putting together a stretch like no other, hitting 245 HR and driving in 530 RBI. The rest of the league was so scared to face him that he walked 512 times. He completely dominated the game. No matter what the numbers were for his entire career, which were very good anyways, for those four years he was the elite. The one player opposing pitchers feared. Since McGwire, there have been other players who put up over 500 HR, take Jim Thome for instance. As of right now he has 541 career HR, but he was never truly the dominant force at the plate. To me, he’s not a Hall of Famer, but that’s a discussion for another time. Just because you reach 500 HR doesn’t make you a Hall of Fame player anymore. Dominating the game like McGwire did, that earns you my vote. He deserves to be there, along with the other greats, and he’d get my vote every year his name appeared on the ballot.

There you have it folks.  Feel free to weigh in and take a side.

. .

31 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. LEV
    October 29th, 2008 at 10:19 am #

    Both are compelling arguments. I have to say, I think he deserves to be in. I think with some time the line will be blurred even more and this will be known as the “Steroid Era”. McGwire was a dominant force at the plate. A much feared hitter. Not only do I think he belongs, but I think both Bonds and Clemens are ins as well. Theres no way to know the full depth of the steroid use. You cannot throw out a whole era of numbers, and unless you are striking them from the record, they have to be acknowledged… therefore he deserves to be in (even as unpopular as that might be).

  2. LestersLegends
    October 29th, 2008 at 10:27 am #

    I agree the steroid guys should and will get in eventually. I just don’t think Big Mac was that special save for that four-year stretch.

    Bonds, Clemens, and Slammin’ Sammy are diff’t stories

  3. Awesome
    October 29th, 2008 at 10:48 am #

    you should start a running column on Hall of Fame Debates — all sports. It could go forever, current players, all that. I’d be up for that. I know a few other people that would be too.

  4. LestersLegends
    October 29th, 2008 at 10:52 am #

    Yeah, we’re planning on making this a regular thing. If you wanted to jump in the mix, that would be cool.

  5. crazy canton cuts
    October 29th, 2008 at 11:42 am #

    you know my take = an EASY soloution

    build a seperate wing : The Cheaters Wing

    that way they get in, the Roid Rangers ect.

    Give them the ceremony, but have them sit in general public seating with the fans in future ceremonies

    Gaylord Perry can get in honerary too :)

    I know I blogged about it, but Eric should see this to see how unworthy Mac is….his numbers are comparable to guys never getting in :

    Cecil Fielder: 13 seasons, 1470 games, 1313 hits, 1008 RBI’s, .255 BA
    Dave Kingman: 16 seasons, 1941 games, 1575 hits, 901 runs, 1210 RBI’s, .236 BA
    Don Baylor: 19 seasons, 2292 games, 2135 hits, 1236 runs, 1276 RBI’s, .260 BA
    Darrel Evans: 21 seasons, 2687 games, 2223 hits, 1344 runs, 1354 RBI’s, .248 BA
    Joe Carter: 16 seasons, 2189 games, 2184 hits, 1170 runs, 1445 RBI’s, .259 BA

  6. LestersLegends
    October 29th, 2008 at 11:56 am #

    We differ on Joe Carter, but I hear you on the rest.

  7. David Funk
    October 29th, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    Both arguments are very compelling. I’m glad I’m not a voter. His power and on-base numbers say he belongs in, but most of the others do not. He’s one of the most intriguing cases there is.

  8. LestersLegends
    October 29th, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    It is a tough call. If pressed to pick, I wonder which side you’d lean David?

  9. David Funk
    October 29th, 2008 at 1:34 pm #

    If forced to pick, I would probably vote him in. He was so dominant like Eric talked about. But I also agree that if he gets in, so should those that have comparable or better numbers that linked to the Steroid Era. I say that because some were better in other areas of the game than he was, so it’s only right to be completely fair with everyone if he gets in, too.

  10. LestersLegends
    October 29th, 2008 at 1:35 pm #

    Thanks David, although you can’t let everything in. McGwire’s persona has to count for something, which is a point in Eric’s favor.

  11. Eric Stashin
    October 29th, 2008 at 2:44 pm #

    I really have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and this certainly is a debate that is going to rage on for the next few months and years, most likely.

    Crazy Canton, I understand your point, but I’m not looking at his career numbers as justification for his induction. He was the most dominant hitter for a 4 year span, a series of years that none of the guys you mentioned even comes close to. Yes, I’m sure people will say it was steroids, but the fact is there were numerous other players during those years who did the same thing, yet their numbers don’t come close.

  12. LestersLegends
    October 29th, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    Valid point Eric.

  13. Larry Novak
    October 29th, 2008 at 6:15 pm #

    100% agree with you on McGuire, all points.
    But I do not think any of the steroid boys will ever get in unless the Veterans committe changes the way they look at these guys,
    And Yes I love this debate format..keep it going.

  14. LestersLegends
    October 29th, 2008 at 6:20 pm #

    when the vc is made up of his peers he could get in

  15. Larry Novak
    October 29th, 2008 at 7:00 pm #

    Maybe, But they may be tougher than the writers or todays Vets

  16. LestersLegends
    October 29th, 2008 at 7:06 pm #

    if they were from that era and did it too or played with guys who did it, they may let him in. hard to say

  17. Larry Novak
    October 29th, 2008 at 7:15 pm #

    That is when we find out How widespread the use of Steroids was. If they vote them in we can assume almost all players were using. If the say no they either did not use or they do not want to be accused of using. It should be interesting 20 years from now.

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  20. ARod
    July 17th, 2009 at 2:59 am #

    Big Macs home run to at bat ratio was one every 10.61 at bats thats incredible Babe Ruth was every 11.76 also incredible. How does that not get you in to the hall? I am not saying Mac didnt take roids I know I did not give them to him and I have yet to see his name on a positive test result like Mr. AROD and Sosa. We keep him out because he was a big guy who hit massive shots and people say he used roids. what about the pitchers who are said to have taken roids that Mac faced? I’m not saying he is not guilty but I am not saying he is either and NO I’m not saying he is better than Ruth and yes Ruth did not take roids but neither did any of the pitchers he faced.

  21. LestersLegends
    July 17th, 2009 at 8:14 am #

    I suppose once they let the more complete juicers like Bonds, Palmeiro, and Sosa in, Mac should go.

  22. Larry
    July 19th, 2009 at 1:41 am #

    I will still contend and believe stonger than ever that none of the Juicers will get in or even come close to getting enough votes,
    The oldtime players will make sure of it, I have heard from Guys like Tim Kurchen, Buster Olney, and Ken Rosthenthal all report that the old uard will walk out if even one of these guys gets in,
    BTW..That includes Pete Rose.

  23. LestersLegends
    July 19th, 2009 at 8:13 am #

    maybe eventually get in via VC. any of them that popped greenies don’t really have any footing in the moral high ground in my opinion.

  24. ARod
    July 20th, 2009 at 11:21 pm #

    How do we put anyone in then? Ricky Henderson played on the A’s and he’s getting in. Possible roids you bet. Proof none to date maybe Jose can point a finger? Its just BS with no hard proof to keep so many people from those days and todays current players roids are hardly out of the game.

  25. LestersLegends
    July 21st, 2009 at 5:24 am #

    Very fair point.

  26. erik
    July 26th, 2009 at 11:15 am #

    this is the easiest to answer. Mcgwire is a juiced up bum. didnt even have 2000 career hits. I would put cecil fielder ahead of him because i know he wasnt juiced. in another note ozzie smith shouldn’t be in. this guy is the most over rated ever. weak hitting , weak armed bum is what he is. Alan Trammel is way better than ozzie smith. look at the stats. trammel was almost as good defensively and actually good throw to 1st without out the ball skipping in the dirt 3 times. lets debate alan trammel. why isnt he in? screw ozzie smith. this guy isnt a hall of famer. it is a disgrace that trammel has been over looked. stop smoking crack and debate alan trammel. and lets get rid of that bum ozzie smith. someone make a case for that worthless bum. trammel is so much better.

  27. LestersLegends
    July 26th, 2009 at 11:33 am #

    With comments like that your credibility is shot. I agree that Trammell should be in as I posted about earlier(http://lesterslegends.com/?p=325). However, to say Ozzie Smith was a bum is ridiculous. I agree he wasn’t a great offensive player, and not a HOFer if you just went on his offensive production. What he did with his glove though with incredible range, that is HOF for sure.

  28. erik
    July 26th, 2009 at 6:21 pm #

    okay he isnt a bum. but would you trade ozzie smith for alan trammel in their primes? no you wouldnt because trammel is a way better all around player. i believe that lou whitaker and trammel should get inducted at the same time as a duo. they hold every defensive record as a SS-2B combo. the most games played, double plays turned, assists, put outs, and too many more too list. when whitaker retired there were only three second basemen with 2000 games played 2000 hits, 200 homeruns, 1000 RBIS, 1000 runs, and 100 SB. Whitaker was one and Ryne Sandberg and Joe Morgan were the others. Now Biggio and Jeff Kent are on there but i have reason to believe they were both juiced, especially Biggio. i would be shocked if he wasnt a juicer. Whitaker and trammel also played their positions for thier entire career. they didnt become DH’s and First base men.

  29. Larry
    July 26th, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    erik..I agree with you on Trammell and Whitaker.

  30. LestersLegends
    July 26th, 2009 at 9:42 pm #

    Totally agree those two should go in together and that they were one of the best double-play combos ever. I think Kent is more likely to have juiced personally.

  31. erik
    August 4th, 2009 at 12:38 am #

    just imagine trammel and whitaker on the juice. since jeff kent played in steroid era i dont think he should get in. biggio had alonger career. but kent no.

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