Mark Grace is easily my all-time favorite baseball player. I loved him as a player -- I grew up rooting for fellow left-handers -- and I loved his off-field personality. He's just a really likable guy. Still, his baseball career, while a very nice one, is hardly Hall of Fame worthy.
Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune disagrees, otherwise he just felt like tossing Grace a vote. Either way, Mark Grace has garnered a vote for the prestigious Hall in Cooperstown. One of Rogers' thoughts was that he doesn't like to be "a curmudgeon with a ridiculously high standard" when filling out his ballot. I agree with that stance, but you still have to maintain high standards for the Hall of Fame.
Rogers discusses Grace's postseason -- albeit a small sample -- prowess, when he threw up insane stats in the 1989 NLCS and kick-started the series-winning rally off Mariano Rivera in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. He brings up the fact that Grace lead the majors in hits for the '90s. Rogers also points out Grace's outstanding defense and leadership in the clubhouse.
Again, I love Grace, but what he did just wasn't enough. We're looking at career similars (via baseball-reference) of Keith Hernandez, John Olerud, and Wally Joyner, among others. Grace won four gold gloves and played in three All-Star Games in 16 seasons. He never finished in the top 10 in MVP voting, and he only hit 173 career home runs.
I can get on board with the stellar .383 career on-base percentage, and -- with 511 -- he is 39th in career doubles. Having the most hits in a decade is a feat, for sure, because every other decade leader is in the Hall of Fame. Still, he ended with a bit less than 2,500 hits, and that's not an automatic qualifier.
All things considered, Mark Grace was a very good player for a decent stretch in the majors. He was probably the best of all-time at faking a check swing and convincing the umpire he didn't go around. He is also one hell of a great guy. A Hall of Famer, however, he is not. I believe even he would agree with that.
Is Mark Grace a Hall of Famer? He's Already Received One Vote originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Sun, 04 Jan 2009 14:55:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.