Monday, December 10, 2012

Good Idea Bad Idea: a Hall-Mac Card

You can always count on me to drum up an awful pun.

I'm a McGwire fan.  No amount of steroids or self righteous angst from the writers can make me forget the joy that he brought me in 98 when he hit 70 HR, nor should it.  But, I'm not here to debate whether or not steroids should preclude someone from induction.  I'm here to determine if someone is statistically viable for the HoF.

Good Idea: The man almost single handedly brought people back to baseball and the sport to prominence.  Ripken's streak started it, but I believe that brought back long time fans.  Mac brought people that were new fans to baseball.  The sight of his swing resulting in HR after HR and hitting over 500 ft is incredible to me.
Statistically, people point to his low batting average.  While it's true that he only hit about 260, most of his career that was above league average.  More importantly, since batting average is a terrible stat, he OBP'd 394 for his career, and had an OPS+ of 163.  Think about that for a minute.  For his entire 15 year career, he was roughly better than 63% of the league according to this one decent but crude calculation.  He also had a wOBA of 415 and a wRC+ of 157.  That wRC+ is 11th all time, and 4th best for a right handed hitter, behind Hornsby, Pujols, and Foxx.  He's probably the best pure power right handed hitter of all time, as evidenced by his 325 ISO which trails only Babe Ruth on the all time list.  Put him in.

Bad Idea: We all know that Mac used steroids.  We know that his numbers may be slightly tainted.  I do question how much effect roids have on a player's stats, but also recognize that they may help you play through minor injuries more than you would have been able to without juicing.  It's a tough call and if the writers say they aren't equipped enough to answer those questions then I don't have much of a problem with him not being in the Hall.  Statistically, he was a poor defender at the easiest spot on the diamond, and was never a good baserunner.  Also, the low BA does suggest that he was almost an all or nothing hitter, as his BABIP in his career was 255 (well below league average).  He struck out 20% of the time and only had about 7600 PA.  His career wasn't that long due to injuries (which possibly could be tied to steroids), and there are just too many questions surrounding his numbers to put him in.

Verdict: I'm too biased, so I'm going to let my friend Foment come up with a verdict.  However, I will say that he scores at roughly the same level as a Johnny Mize type player on my list, who was inducted by the VC and should have been in by the writers.  I believe that without roids he'd be in, and I honestly believe he had the talent and smarts to play well.

1 comment:

  1. I'm having a hard time trying to reconcile the fact that Mac is one of few to come relatively clean about steroids with Hall of Fame level statistics/achievements, and that his achievements were pretty special.

    That said, according to some WAR related stats, he's a bit below the average current HOF player at 1st. He was an impressive player, but steroids or no I am currently siding with the BBWAA and leaving Big Mac out of the hall.