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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

2009 Hall of Fame Candidate - Mark Grace


Ok, this one is for all the native Chicago fans out there who are watching this trainwreck unfold. Dear Jesus. I wonder if Rod would take a 1994 Collector's Choice factory set, a Sammy Sosa rookie and an 86-87 Fleer Michael Jordan in trade for a senate seat? A couple cartons of smokes might be more appropriate considering where he's going.

Ok, back to Mark Grace. You'd think I should hate Grace since he's a Cub and the sale of his rookie card cost me a chance at about 50 T206s back in '88, but I don't. I really like Mark Grace. He played the game hard, he played it clean, he was good in the field and he was an all around good guy. He was also pretty funny and quotable as evidenced by his infamous "slumpbuster" interview on Jim Rome. I heard that interview live and damn near wrecked and died from laughing too hard. He even had impeccable timing, leaving the Cubs just in time to win a ring in 2001 with the Diamondbacks? So what's not to like? Let's look at the stats:

Hits: 2445
Runs: 1179
RBIs: 1146
Lifetime Batting Average: .303
Lifetime On Base Percentage: .383
Lifetime OPS: .825
Home Runs: 173

Let's face it, it's that last stat that kills him. He played in the '90s! First basemen are supposed to look like they're drawn by Rob Liefeld and hit 50 dingers on their coffee break! Well, Mark didn't hit homers, he just hit. His best known accomplishment is for having the most hits in the '90s. Unfortunately that's an accomplishment similar to being the shiniest baseball card in the '90s. You may be pretty darn shiny, but here in the 21st century if you don't have an autograph, or a jersey piece or a serial number or all three it doesn't matter how shiny you are because no one cares. That's the problem with Mark Grace, he was too consistent. He didn't have one of the crazy years so common in the '90s and hit 50 homers out of nowhere or bat .390 and win a batting title. He went out and did his job and got on base and was usually in the top 10 in hitting but never led the league. There's no moment for voters to latch onto. There's nothing ridiculous and/or anomalous to catch anyone's eye. The two players most similar to Mark are Keith Hernandez and Mickey Vernon, two other great first baseman who can't seem to get in the Hall either because they didn't have Lou Gehrig's power.

We know one thing, Mark Grace is not getting in this year. If Hernandez isn't in, Mark can forget it. the best case scenario is that Mark gets his 5% and stays on the ballot. The way the voting has gone lately, though, I have no clue if that will happen. Maybe Mark should go have a Slumpbuster before the vote. The drink! I meant the drink!

Prediction: Mark squeaks by with 5% of the vote to live to sweat another ballot.

Card Shown: 1994 Pacific Crown Collection Jewels of the Crown retail insert.
Rookie Card: 1988 Fleer, Donruss, Score Traded, Topps Traded

2 comments:

Brian said...

Great write up. That's all I want for Grace - enough respect and votes to make it to another ballot.

deal said...

Steroids may work in his favor. Some voters may go in thinking "you know what, this guy was probably steroid free, I am going to vote for him and keep in on the ballot". The most hits in a decade thing is interesting. That is one of the stats that got Richie Ashburn in on the Veteran's Ballot. Ashburn and Grace have pretty similar numbers.

Hard to believe Grace finished 2nd to Chris Sabo for ROY. and one last observation, had Grace not gone to college and made it to the pros a couple of years earliar that hits total would be up around 2800. thats pretty darn close to 3000.