McGriff's career gets even better with age

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040717_mcgriff_vmed_2p.standard[1].jpgFred McGriff will be eligible for the Hall of Fame next year, and the folks in Tampa (his home town, and where he currently works) are already banging the drum for his induction.

His basic numbers are pretty good — 493 homers, 1,550 RBIs, a .284 average. Further research by Rays VP Rick Vaughn makes them look even better, noting that all eligible players with similar triple crown category numbers are in and that McGriff compares very favorably with other first baseman in the Hall, as well as those in his era.

As good as McGriff was — and he was very, very good — the mention of his name has never sparked the imagination of casual baseball fans. As a player, he was quiet and classy. He didn’t court trouble or attention. He didn’t win any MVP awards. He just smashed 30-35 home runs and drove in 100 runs every year for 19 seasons.

Over a 15-year stretch from 1988-2002, McGriff was sixth in home runs, trailing Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Ken Griffey Jr. Over the same stretch, only Bonds and Palmeiro drove in more runs.

And one more thing: Of the players mentioned above, only Griffey and McGriff have never been connected to steroids.

Whatever you think of juicing, it has become quite clear that Hall of Fame voters do care, and are prepared to punish anyone connected to steroids or suspected of using them. Just ask Mark McGwire.

So in contrast, will voters reward McGriff for a resume that is perceived to be clean? The Crime Dog tells the New York Times that he’s not sure it should matter:

“I think even without those guys being accused of this and that, my numbers stack up pretty good against those guys,” McGriff said. “It’s not like they were that much better. If you really start to look at the numbers, I was still right there.”

Well said, Fred.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: