Chicago Cubs: Will Mark Grace ever be in the Hall of Fame?

Mark Grace, Chicago Cubs
Mark Grace, Chicago Cubs /

Former Chicago Cubs first baseman Mark Grace had an outstanding career, but is that enough to get him into the Hall of Fame.

As the Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant, wears the number 17 jersey today. Bryant already has made a name for himself, winning the 2015 Rookie of the Year Award. He also helped the Chicago Cubs to the World Series in his 2016 National League MVP campaign. But as history would tell, Bryant wasn’t the first to wear number 17. Cubs legend and probably the famous first baseman in Cubs history was Mark Grace, who spent nearly all of his career in the Windy City.

On June 3, 1985, Grace was drafted by the Cubs in the 24th round of the 1985 amateur draft. He would later go on and play 13 seasons as a Cub. In his first season with the Cubs, the 24-year-old finished his rookie season batting a .296 average in the 134 games he played. Grace would finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting to Chris Sabo in 1988.

A year later, Grace finished 14th in the MVP race as he smashed a stat line of .314 /405 /.457. Later that year, the Grace and the Cubs took on the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series. In the five-game series against the Giants, Grace slashed .647/.682/1.118 with 1 HR and 8 RBI.

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By the end of the 1990s, Grace while batting a .314 average during this span, which he led the major leagues in hits (1,754) and doubles (364).

After spending 13 years (1988-2000)  in Chicago, Grace finished his career playing in 1,910 games, batting a Cubs career stat line of .308/.386/.445. Although Grace wasn’t a big home run hitter, most of his 2,201 career hits turned into doubles (456).

The Arizona Diamondbacks pick up Grace during the 2000 offseason. While he only spent three years in a diamondback uniform, he did, however, win a World Series title with Arizona after they beat the New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series. Grace played a total of 335 games during the three seasons, batting a .268 average. Out of his 909 at-bats, Grace had 244 hits, in which 55 of them were doubles.

Grace eventually retired in 2003 at the age of 39. After spending 16 total years in the majors, Grace finished his professional career smashing a stat line of .303/.383/.442 with an OPS of .825. The three-time All-Star (1993, 1995, 1997), had won four Gold Glove awards (1992, 1993, 1995, 1996) during his career.

The first time Grace became eligible for Hall of Fame induction was in 2009. In that year, he received 4.1% of the vote, which led him being eliminated him from future ballots, as you have to get at least 5% to stay on the ballet. 4.1%  seemed kind of low for the person who led the league in hits in the 1990s.

Of course, not everyone is going to make the Hall of Fame in their first year. Only 57 players in the history of the game have made it their first-year eligible. Most notable was earlier this year when the longtime New York Yankee Derek Jeter was a first-ballot Hall of Famer with 99.7% of votes.

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As the quest continues to become a Hall of Famer, Grace has become one of the top position players in Cubs history. According to baseball-reference Grace ranks in the top 10 on the franchise leaderboard in games played (9th), at-bats (7th), runs scored (9th), hits (5th), singles (6th), doubles (2nd), total bases (7th), RBI (8th).

The current manager of the Cubs, David Ross, and Mark Grace had quite the first meeting. As a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ross’ first major-league home run was off Grace, who appeared in relief for the Diamondbacks during a blowout game against the Dodgers in 2002.