Looking back at Fred McGriff’s Hall of Fame career and the epic trade that he was a part of

After collecting just 169 votes back in 2019 (coming in at 39.8% and well below the 75% threshold), former Blue Jays first baseman Fred McGriff’s chances at making the National Baseball Hall of Fame would have to wait. After ten years on the ballot, McGriff’s opportunity to make it into Cooperstown would have come via Era committee voting.

That chance came rather quickly, as the Florida product would be named to the Contemporary Era ballot this offseason and yesterday, he was the only member on the ballot elected into the Hall of Fame, receiving votes from every person on the 16-member panel for an unanimous decision.

Known as “Crime Dog”, McGriff was drafted by the New York Yankees back in 1981 and had a 19-year career that he spent with the Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays (x2), the Chicago Cubs, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Through 2460 games, McGriff earned a .284/.377/.509 slash line with a .886 OPS and a 52.6 bWAR. His 493 home runs have him tied at 29th in MLB history with Lou Gehrig, with his 1550 RBI placing him at 47th, flirting with current Hall of Fame members’ tallies. Defensively, McGriff spent most of his time at first base, amassing a .992 fielding percentage through 19402.0 innings.

Fred McGriff is elected to Cooperstown just a day before the anniversary of his trade from the Blue Jays to the San Diego Padres

By the time he retired, McGriff had won a World Series with the Atlanta Braves (1995) while also collecting three Silver Slugger Awards and five All-Star appearances.

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Even though he was drafted by the Yankees, McGriff would be traded alongside Dave Collins and Mike Morgan to the Blue Jays in exchange for veteran reliever Dale Murphy and Tom Dodd. The trade is now seen as one of the most lopsided deals in Jay’s history.

Making his MLB Debut in 1986, McGriff spent five seasons with the Jays, authoring a .919 OPS and smashing 125 home runs, earning his first Silver Slugger Award in 1989 where he led the AL in home runs (36), OPS (.924 ), and OPS+ (165). He led the 1988, 1989, and 1990 Jays squads in home runs as well.

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A day after his induction into the Hall of Fame falls on the same day he was traded to the Padres alongside fan favorite and Jays legend Tony Fernández back in 1990, with Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar being sent to Toronto in the deal.

That trade orchestrated by general manager Pat Gillick 32 years ago set the stage for the Blue Jays World Series run, as the club would win back-to-back championships in 1992 and 1993, with Alomar and Carter contributing to the WAMCO lineup that helped the Jay’s break history as the first team to win outside of the United States. As we all might remember, Carter also entered Blue Jays history with his walk-off home run, followed by Tom Cheek’s iconic “touch em’ all Joe” remark that shaped Jays fans for years to come.

Carter spent seven years with the Jays, adding the iconic home run and 203 more during the regular season to go with 736 RBI and an 8.5 bWAR. Overall, he earned a .781 OPS through 1039 games and earned five All-Star appearances as well as two Silver Slugger Awards. Alomar spent five years with the organization and was elected into Cooperstown back in 2011 and is the only player to don the Jays cap on their plaque. Hey what banned by the MLB and the Blue Jays following sexual misconduct allegations last year, with the Jays removing his name from the Level of Excellence as well.

For McGriff, the Padres traded him midway through the 1993 campaign to the Braves, where the lefty-batter would add a World Series ring to his trophy case to go along with three All-Star appearances. He would later finish out his career by playing for his hometown Tampa Bay Rays squad as well as short stints in Chicago and Los Angeles before finishing out the 2004 season with one last hurrah with the Rays. He officially retired in early 2005.

Fred McGriff
tom G PA AWAY R H 2 B 3B MR RBI SB CS bb SO B.A OBP SLG OPS OPS+
TBD 577 2399 2074 277 603 102 1 99 359 11 3 305 433 .291 .380 .484 .864 122
ATL 636 2705 2388 383 700 132 5 130 446 23 12 285 454 .293 .369 .516 .885 128
GATE 578 2322 1944 348 540 99 8th 125 305 21 10 352 495 .278 .389 .530 .919 153
SDP 388 1623 1361 215 382 60 6 84 256 16 10 243 298 .281 .388 .519 .906 149
CHC 195 796 693 94 191 34 4 42 144 1 3 89 136 .276 .361 .518 .879 130
LAD 86 329 297 32 74 14 0 13 40 0 0 31 66 .249 .322 .428 .750 99

Although it took a few extra years, Fred McGriff finally earned his spot in Cooperstown. while hey doesn’t get to pick the cap on his HOF plaque, there is a chance he could be doing the Blue Jays, although the Braves could be an option as well.

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