HOF ’09: Mark McGwire


“Any time a guy that big steps up to the plate – they’re very few and far between, thank God – it’s kind of hard not to notice him standing there. The sun just disappears for a while.”

Kevin Brown on Mark McGwire


Oh what to do with Mark McGwire and the Hall of Fame!  He was denied entry the past two years, some say because of allegations of use of performance enhancers, others might just just say because of his one-sided talent.  But just how one-sided was it?  And if so, does it really matter?

markmcgwire Let’s get the big stats out of the way.  Sixteen seasons, 583 homeruns, 1414 rbis, 1167 runs… and six triples. 

His 1596 strikeouts was accompanied by 1317 walks.  Not a bad ratio by any means… he knew how to take a walk or maybe more accurately, the opposing pitchers knew when to pitch around him. 

McGwire played for the Oakland Athletics from 1986-1997 when for most of the time, he was paired up with Jose Canseco to form the famed “Bash Brothers”.  Ironically, if you look at the Similar Batters list in Baseball Reference, Canseco heads the list. 

When firstbasemen get old, they tend to head to the AL.  Not McGwire… he did it in reverse.  In 1997 at the age of 33, he was traded to the St Louis Cardinals for three players.  Now in this era of free agency and with most players heading toward this time in their career, most players are considering this as a career move but I honestly think Mark McGwire loved playing in St Louis. 

At the time, the year of 1998 did much for baseball.  Living in downstate Illinois put me smack dab in the middle of the two men who made it so mcgwiretestimonyexciting, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.  McGwire of course, broke the home record that year with his 70 homeruns but Sosa won the MVP award.

In retrospect, many feel it is tainted because of allegations of use of performance enhancing drugs.  He didn’t help his cause when he avoided the question in 2005 at a congressional hearing. 

Why Mark McGwire will make the Hall of Fame

There’s no question in my mind that if you drop the PED issue, McGwire would make the Hall.  There are people who will tell you differently but I think their judgement is still being clouded.  Look at his qualifications:

  • Four time home run champ
  • 12-time All-Star
  • 8th all-time in homeruns (583)
  • 9th all-time slugging (.588)
  • all-time leader in at-bats per home run (10.6)

McGwire was the best at what he did for his era.  Hitting homeruns. 

Also, the writers have had two years to settle down about the PED thing.  By now, they will have had a chance to look at what he did for baseball.

Why Mark McGwire will NOT make the Hall of Fame

1.  Timing.  Some writers have not forgotten about the andro or the PED allegations.  My honest opinion is that if the Mitchell Report had never come out, McGwire would have a plaque in the Hall right now. 

2.  Some writers do believe that McGwire is a one-talent hitter and/or believe that his one talent (slugging) wasn’t enough to compensate for his weaknesses.  Check out The Hardball Times’ more objective look at McGwire

3.  Demonization.  Ok, that’s a strong word but once a train starts leaving a station, everybody wants to jump onboard. 

When it comes down to it, I would vote for McGwire and I think the writers will eventually.  Maybe not this year or the next. 

But eventually.


Hall of Fame


Hall of Very Good

  Why is he even on the Ballot?


While we wait for January 12 ballot results, The Baseball Zealot will be profiling those players who are on the 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.  Read the rest the of the profiles.

One Response to “HOF ’09: Mark McGwire”

  1. Based on Big Mac’s performance, there is no doubt this guy belongs. The questions are keeping him out. I think Mac is guilty of using, proven, no, but he was a user, no doubt in my mind. I’d vote for Mark McGwire for the Hall of Fame. Sometimes baseball is too sanctimonious for its own good. If Gaylord Perry’s in, then why not Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, & Mark McGwire? It is ironic that the Baseball Zealot, a huge Cub fan, has had both the biggest Cardinal superstars on his APBA team, is there something he’s not sayin? I’m just sayin.

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