Like Larry Doyle and Lou Whitaker, but even more so, Bobby Grich deserves to have his plaque hanging in Cooperstown. He ranks in the top ten at his position, and that status is well deserved. He’s 16th all-time in fielding runs as a second baseman, and in the 1970s he was easily the best defensive second baseman in the game. Offensively he was a lot like Jeff Kent, the two even shared the same basic approach at the plate: power at the expense of a high average. Grich had been groomed in the Oriole organization, and he embodied three of the fundamental pillars of that franchise: defense, power, and patience. Grich was amazing around the bag at second, earning four Gold Gloves. He hit a dozen or more homers in a season 12 times (drilling 30 for the Angels once), and he led the league in 1981. At the plate he drew 107, 107, 90, 86, 84, 82, and 81 free passes in his best seasons. He did the things that pioneering sabrmetrician Bill James described as the “hidden parts of the game.” As a result, Grich was overlooked even as he was compiling one of the best careers for a second baseman in the history of the game.
Bobby Doerr wasn’t elected until he was an old man, Joe Gordon was long dead when he was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame. The veterans committee should do some homework and award Bobby Grich for a great career by putting his name where it belongs: among the greatest second basemen in history. Do it while he’s alive, it’ll make for a better speech.