On December 4, the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Veteran's Committee will convene to mull over the Hall of Fame cases for eight modern players who missed the cut in their time on the ballot. This year, however, the Contemporary Era Committee and the ballot are filled head-to-toe with Chicago Cubs connections.
The committee is made up of sixteen members including a mix of current Hall of Famers, executives, and media members. Among them are three former Cubs greats - Greg Maddux, Ryne Sandberg, and Lee Smith - as well as the architect of the 2016 World Series team Theo Epstein, who will help decide the fate of the latest crop of hopefuls. The real headline, though, is that two short-lived Cubs, Fred McGriff and Rafael Palmeiro, will have another shot to go to Cooperstown.
The list of candidates for the committee is an intriguing one overall with Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, and Curt Schilling rounding out the list. Most everyone here has either PEDs (Bonds and Clemens) or character issues (Belle and Schilling) clouding their case. Considering players need 75 percent of the vote much like the regular Hall of Fame ballot, it's hard to see many from this list making it to Cooperstown when all's said and done.
Of the Cubs candidates, it's fair to say Palmeiro doesn't have a realistic shot either. A first-round pick by Chicago, he began his career in Wrigley and played parts of two seasons before getting his first full run with the team in 1988, posting a solid 119 wRC+ in the process. After a trade that would send him and Jamie Moyer to Texas for a package that included Mitch Williams and not much else of worth, he'd blossom becoming a legendary power hitter. Palmeiro closed out his career with 569 career home runs, a wRC+ of 130, and a nice round 70 fWAR, but his legacy is forever tarnished by his connection to PEDs.
Fred McGriff could become to latest former Cub to get the call to the Hall
On the flip side, McGriff has a real shot with this ballot. The Crime Dog was arguably a snub when he fell off the ballot in 2019. His stats are quite impressive with a 134 wRC+ and 56.9 fWAR, plus he was just seven home runs shy of 500 which would've almost certainly landed him in Cooperstown. Consistency was the name of the game with the first baseman too. Of his 16 full seasons, he never once had a below-average offensive season with only three seasons falling below 120 wRC+.
His Cubs tenure was short, but he was great in that stretch. After being traded by the Devil Rays, he'd post a 139 wRC+ with the team in 2001 before following that up with a 125 wRC+ performance in his age-38 season in 2002. It was also the last of his eleven 30+ home run seasons. Considering his stellar career and his generally great reputation around the game, he's got a real shot to make it to the Hall.
McGriff and Palmeiro aren't the only former Cubs getting some Hall of Fame consideration lately either as old friend John Lackey is on the 2023 ballot. By the end of this year though, I think we'll have another Northsider enshrined in Cooperstown. Hopefully, McGriff's career and reputation are enough to earn the blessing of his fellow former Cubs on the committee.