Quin likens McGriff’s number to those of two first basemen who were elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot – Eddie Murray and Willie McCovey. McGriff has comparable numbers to both Murray and McCovey despite playing fewer games.
Although McGriff’s big league career began nearly a decade after Murray won the 1977 AL Rookie of the Year there is overlap between the two and were frequent opponents when the Baltimore Orioles played the Toronto Blue Jays in the late 1980s and early 1990s especially when the O’s and Jays fought to the wire for the AL East in 1989.
However, comparing McGriff and McCovey isn’t so cut and dry. McGriff was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1981. This was a year after McCovey played his final big league game. It must be remembered that McCovey’s peak offensive years took place during the mid to late 1960s when offensive numbers were at their lowest ebb. In 1968, in the Year of the Pitcher, McCovey led the NL in HR (36), RBI (105), SLG (.545), OPS (.923) and OPS + (174). McCovey finished third in NL MVP voting behind Pete Rose and Bob Gibson. In 1969, McCovey would win the NL MVP.
Of course, 1968 was the year when Gibson set a MLB record by posting a 1.12 ERA. For good measure, McCovey’s teammate Juan Marichal won 26 games. In 1968, NL hitters posted a league batting average of .243 with an OBP and SLG of .300 and .341 respectively. Compare this with the strike shortened season of 1994 when NL hitters posted batting average, OBP and SLG figures of .267, .333 and .415. Simply put, McCovey’s offensive numbers in the mid to late ‘60s are more significant than McGriff’s offensive output in mid to late ‘90s.
Nevertheless, McGriff’s career warrants far more than 11.7% of the vote from the BBWAA. This represents a 9% drop from 2013. At this rate, McGriff is in danger of receiving less than 5% of the vote and falling off the Hall of Fame ballot altogether. If that were to happen then Quin is absolutely right to say such an ejection would be “almost criminal” to the Crime Dog.