Despite being only man who appears twice on MLB.com’s list of the best second baseman for each franchise, Bobby Grich is and remains underrated.
With no games being played, baseball outlets have to find content. MLB.com is no different, as they’re starting to unveil lists of the best players at each position for each franchise. Wednesday’s list was second baseman, and there is one man who got selected for two teams–Bobby Grich.
Grich started his career with the Baltimore Orioles in 1970, but he didn’t stick until 1972. He earned an All-Star selection that year, and he would win four straight Gold Gloves from 1973-1976 with two more All-Star selections in that span. His double play partner, Mark Belanger, also won four straight Gold Gloves from 1973-76.
Grich was above average offensively during his time in Baltimore (.405 slugging percentage, .777 OPS, OPS+ of 127), and his 36.0 bWAR is the highest for a second baseman in franchise history.
Grich, a native of Long Beach, California, signed with the California Angels after the 1976 season. He earned three more All-Star nods in his 10 seasons there, along with a Silver Slugger in 1981 when he led the AL in home runs (22) and slugging percentage (.543).
Grich posted at least 3.5 bWAR in six straight seasons with the Angels (1978-1983), and his 35.1 bWAR is fifth-best in club history. Over those 10 seasons, he posted an .806 OPS with an OPS+ of 124. Remove his final season in 1986, and those numbers edge up to .809 and 125.
In 1988, Grich was the first inductee into the Angels’ Hall of Fame.
Grich appeared on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot in 1992, and got just 2.6 percent of the vote. Among all second baseman, he ranks seventh in JAWS, “a means to measure a player’s Hall of Fame worthiness by comparing him to the players at his position who are already enshrined.” The other eight in the top-10 that are eligible (Robinson Cano is No. 8) are Hall of Famers. Grich also comes in higher than the average of 20 Hall of Fame second baseman in bWAR (71; 69.5 is average) and WAR7, which narrows down to and totals a player’s seven best seasons.
For what it’s worth, Bill James’ Similarity Score metric is not kind to Grich as a Hall of Fame candidate. Toby Harrah, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bell are his top-three comps.
Grich has a case to be in the Hall of Fame, and as players from his era get considered away from the writer’s ballot it’s clear that modern advanced metrics shine a good light on him. But he does not quickly come to mind when thinking about the best second baseman of all-time, and even if he eventually gains induction into Cooperstown he’ll remain underrated.