Examining Hall of Fame case for Angels, Baltimore Orioles legend Bobby Grich

BALTIMORE, MD - CIRCA 1977: Bobby Grich #4 of the California Angels in action against the Baltimore Orioles during an Major League Baseball game circa 1977 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Grich played for the Angels from 1977-86. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - CIRCA 1977: Bobby Grich #4 of the California Angels in action against the Baltimore Orioles during an Major League Baseball game circa 1977 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Grich played for the Angels from 1977-86. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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Bobby Grich is one of many players that played in the last third of the 20th century that got overlooked for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Grich played in the majors for 17 seasons from 1970 through 1986 with the Baltimore Orioles and the then-named California Angels (now Los Angeles Angels).

Grich retired after the 1986 season, as he announced his retirement in the post-game comments after the Angels’ Game 7 loss to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.

Grich was eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992. Fellow first-time eligible player Tom Seaver was voted in on his inaugural ballot that year with the then- all-time high for the percentage of votes received in the BBWAA vote: 98.8 percent. Rollie Fingers also got into the Hall on his second ballot with 81.2 percent of the vote.

But Grich, despite only having a WAR that was third-highest among all players on the the ballot (behind Seaver and Pete Rose, who was on the ballot despite being banned from baseball), Grich got 2.6 percent of the vote. Since he didn’t get five percent, he fell off the ballot.

Granted, WAR was a stat that had barely even been heard of, let alone used in average baseball vernacular but Grich deserved more of a look than he got.

Bobby Grich of the Angels and Baltimore Orioles has a great case for the Baseball Hall of Fame

In his career, Bobby Grich was a six-time All-Star for the Baltimore Orioles and California/L.A. Angels. He also won four Gold Glove Awards, a Silver Slugger Award, and received MVP votes in five seasons.

He was a career .266/.371/.424 hitter with an OPS+ of 125. Especially for someone that spent 94 percent of his career at second base or shortstop, those are great offensive numbers.

For comparison, Joe Morgan and Rod Carew’s career OPS+ are 132 and 131. Roberto Alomar’s is 116 and Ryne Sandberg’s is 114. All four all Hall of Famers.

Defensively, the stat that is best for the time is Total Zone (TZ on FanGraphs or Rtot on Baseball-Reference). In his career, he had 82 TZ, or 4.8 TZ per season. When you consider that in his first two seasons, he played in a combined 37 games, it raises that average above 5 TZ per season. He had 78 in his final 15 seasons, for an average of 5.2 TZ per season.

For comparison, Hall of Famer Alan Trammell had 77 TZ in 19 seasons and the aforementioned Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg had 60 TZ in 16 seasons. Those two combined to win 13 Gold Glove Awards.

So on both offense and defense, Grich is superior to Sandberg. Grich is also superior to Sandberg in the WAR and JAWS department.

Grich has a career rWAR of 71.0. Sandberg’s is 67.9. When you look at JAWS (which is the average of a player’s total WAR and their WAR in their best seven seasons), Grich’s JAWS are 8th all-time among primary second basemen at 58.7. Sandberg’s is 57.5. The average among MLB Hall of Famers is 57.1.

Hall of Famer second basemen Craig Biggio, Roberto Alomar, Bobby Doerr, Nellie Fox, and other HOFers have WAR’s and JAWS’ below Grich.

Among all players who have been on a Hall of Fame ballot who made their debut after 1901 (the “Modern Era” of baseball) without a “character” clause (suspected PED users, Curt Schilling, Pete Rose), Grich’s WAR is second-highest behind Lou Whitaker.

Next. Examining the Hall of Fame case for Detroit Tigers legend Lou Whitaker. dark

Bobby Grich deserves to get much more consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame than he did but, like Whitaker, Grich has not even appeared on a Veterans/Era Committee ballot, let alone be close to election.