Hall of Fame standards: 69.3 Career WAR / 44.5 Peak WAR / 56.9 JAWS
Grich: 71.0 Career WAR / 46.3 Peak WAR / 58.6 JAWS
For stat-minded fans of a certain age, Grich’s absence from Cooperstown ranks among the great injustices of the universe, making him the keystone equivalent of long-neglected, belatedly enshrined third baseman Ron Santo. From 1970 through '86, Grich combined good power with excellent plate discipline and outstanding defense (+71 runs) while playing on five division-winning teams in Baltimore and Anaheim. He earned All-Star honors six times, won four Gold Gloves and led the AL in homers and slugging percentage during the strike-shortened 1981 season.
Unfortunately, injuries—including a herniated disc caused by carrying an air conditioner up a stairway—cost him about a season’s worth of playing time and forced him into retirement after his age-37 season. Between that and his 13% walk rate (en route to a .371 on-base percentage), he finished his career with just 1,833 hits, a total that appears to be an impediment to his election, given that no player from the post-1960 expansion era with fewer than 2,000 hits has been elected. Even so, he ranks seventh at the position in JAWS, above the standard on all three fronts.
The injustice took place in 1992, when Grich debuted on the BBWAA ballot and received just 2.6% of the vote, less than the 5.0% needed to stick around. Since then, he has yet to appear on a Veterans Committee ballot, and he was bypassed for the 2014 Expansion Era ballot. So was another lamentably one-and-done second base contemporary, Lou Whitaker (74.8/37.8/56.3), who had a longer career but a considerably lower peak than did Grich