Fred McGriff falls off HOF ballot, but Braves great may now have greater chance at election

Fred McGriff received 39.8 percent of the vote in this, his 10th and final year, on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.

While Fred McGriff’s time on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot came to an end with Monday’s announcement of the Class of 2019, there may now be an even better chance for the former Brave to reach Cooperstown.

Meanwhile, the other ex-Atlanta players on the ballot — Andruw Jones, Billy Wagner and Gary Sheffield — remained well away from the threshold to gain election.

The BBWAA did elect Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera, with the latter becoming the first player to appear on every ballot. But McGriff, in his 10th and final year of eligibility via the BBWAA vote, didn’t reach the 75-percent threshold for a spot in Cooperstown.

He did, however, earn his highest vote total at 39.8 percent, a figure that had been on the rise since he fell to 11.7 in 2014. But McGriff’s chances may improve as he now falls into the jurisdiction of the Today’s Game Committee, which weighs the resumes of those whose impacts came from 1988-present.

That same group raised eyebrows at December’s Winter Meetings when it elected Harold Baines, whose numbers pale in comparison to that of McGriff.

The former Braves first baseman had more home runs (493) to Baines’ 384, had a better career on-base percentage (.377 to .356), a higher slugging (.509 to .465), OPS+ (134 to 121) and bWAR (52.6 to 38.7) despite Baines’ playing three more seasons than McGriff (22 to 19).

McGriff was also a five-time All-Star, finished in the top 10 in MVP voting six times and claimed three Silver Sluggers; Baines was also a six-time All-Star, he had two top-10 finishes in MVP balloting and one Silver Slugger.

So, with precedent set, there remains a strong possibility that McGriff will gain election via the Today’s Era Committee is scheduled to consider candidates again in 2021 for the Class of 2022 and in 2023 for the Class of 2024.

The same can be said for another former Braves great, two-time MVP Dale Murphy, who fell off the ballot in 2013. He’s eligible via the Today’s Era and the Modern Era Committee, which meets this December to elect its members of the Class of 2020.

For Jones, who set the standard for outfielders during his 12 years manning center for the Braves, his improvement in balloting was only incremental.

He stayed on at 7.0 percent in last year, his first on the ballot, but has a long way to go despite a resume that includes 10 consecutive Gold Gloves and 434 home runs, five All-Star nods, a Silver Slugger and a runner-up to in the 2005 National League MVP voting.

Wagner, who is in his fourth year on the ballot, is sitting at 16.7 percent, while Sheffield — in his fifth year — is at 13.6.

Two other Braves, Freddy Garcia and Derek Lowe, also appeared on the ballot, though neither relied a single vote.

Atlanta has been on a run of trips to Cooperstown, with Chipper Jones — in his first time of eligibility — gaining entry last year to join teammates Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, their manager Bobby Cox and general manager John Schuerholtz.

While the writers’ vote couldn’t expand the Braves’ contingent in the HOF this time around, there’s a strong chance that number swells as early as next year.

Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His books, ‘Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,’ and ‘The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners.’ are now available.