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.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.

Athletics call up top prospect Franklin Barreto

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The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.

Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.

While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.