The other day, in applauding Mark McGwire’s first-ballot exclusion from the Hall of Fame, I opined that McGwire did have a Hall of Fame caliber career. “Cardinalpark” at the Tiger Hawk blog disagrees. He notes McGwire’s so-so career batting average (.263) and the “utterly atrocious” seasons McGwire had in the early 1990s.
But Tiger Hawk is too focused on batting average. The more important statistics are on-base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage. McGwire’s career OBP is .394 and his career slugging percentage is .588. Over a career of nearly 2,000 games, these look like Hall of Fame numbers (I’d have to adjust the numbers for the era in which he played to be sure).
Moreover, McGwire had fewer atrocious years than Tiger Hawk may believe. In 1990, he batted only .235 but hit 38 home runs and his RBI and walk totals both exceeded 100. His OBP was .370 and his slugging percentage .489. This was actually quite a good year. In 1989, he batted only .231, but his other, more important numbers show this to be a decent year (and he helped lead his team to the World Series in both years). In 1991, McGwire truly did have an atrocious year, but one such year shouldn’t keep him out of the Hall of Fame.
UPDATE: Reader and Cards fan Scott Smith had the following (among things) to say about McGwire’s career:
-His .588 career slugging pct is #10 all-time and his career OPS [on-base percentage plus slugging percentage] of .982 ranks #13
-In a career plagued by serious foot and knee injuries, his average production per 162 games was 50 HR, 122 RBI, 101 runs, 114 BB
-Career runs created/27 outs of 8.16
-In career at-bats per HR, he is numero uno. Some dude named Ruth is #2