No, being steroid-free is not keeping Fred McGriff out of the Hall of Fame

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Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times has a column today in which he argues that Fred McGriff is being penalized in the Hall of Fame voting because he didn’t take steroids and thus didn’t have big gonzo cartoon power numbers. 

At the outset, let me note that I think Fred McGriff should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. While he didn’t hit 40 homers or go crazy like so many other players, it’s important to note that his career straddled two eras: the pre-1993 era in which offense was relatively scarce and the post-1993 era where lots of things — including but certainly not limited to steroids — caused offense to explode.  His numbers in the pre-1993 era were beastlike for the time.

And it’s the “for the time” part of that which is really keeping McGriff out, not his failure to take steroids (if in fact he didn’t, which we can’t really know).  If anything, writers in this day and age are more likely to give him a Hall of Fame bump than to dock him for his perceived cleanliness.

What’s really keeping him out is that those same writers are largely ignorant of the differences between the pre-1993 and post-1993 offensive context. They say “well, he never hit 40” even though 40 in 1989 is the equivalent of something near 50 in 1999 and discount him unfairly. The “he’s getting hurt because he was clean” line is a cover for the writers’ ignorance.  He wasn’t prevented from achieving Hall of Fame numbers by evil PED users. He had Hall of Fame numbers, but you guys just aren’t smart enough to recognize it yet.

McGriff is no slam dunk, and sure, there’s a chance I’m giving him too much benefit of the doubt because he was an important part of my favorite team, but I think he’s deserving and I think he’ll eventually make it.  The steroid stuff is just smoke.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

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It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

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The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.