Back in January of last year, a Twitter follower of mine, the infamous LonelyTailgater , devised a hypothetical Cooperstown for above-average players. Known simply as the Hall of Above Average, we don’t give a fuck if you gambled, did steroids, or was a jerk to the media. All we care about is your baseball merits.
To be given this prestigious honor, the inductee must have one of the following:
*ERA under 3.75
*150 stolen bases
*.260 batting average
Allow us now to introduce you to the members of the HoAA.
Dale Murphy (Braves, Phillies, Rockies 1976-93)
I had no clue how great a baseball player Murphy was growing up until I got him on a Topps 1992 card. Murphy. He played 15 seasons for the Braves, helping them to the 1982 NL West championship. Along with that, Murphy earned MVP honors in 1982 and 1983. Although he never brought the Braves a pennant to Georgia’s capital city, he remains one of the most popular players in Braves history.
Juan Gonzalez (Rangers, Tigers, Royals, Indians 1989-2005)
One of the most underrated sluggers of the 1990s, Gonzalez averaged 37 HRs in a seven-year period between 1991 and 1999, winning the American League MVP in 1996 and 1998. Along with that, Gonzalez helped the Rangers evolve into contenders as they won the AL West in 1996 and 1998.
Fred McGriff (Blue Jays, Padres, Braves, Cubs, Rays Dodgers 1986-2005)
Had McGriff hit 500 HRs, there’s no question he would have been in the Hall of Fame. Part of one of the best trades in Braves history, McGriff helped the team win NL pennants in 1995 and 1996 as well as the World Series in 1995. Along with that, McGriff hit 30 homers for five different teams.
Mark McGwire (Athletics, Cardinals 1987-2001)
While McGwire may never hear his name called in Cooperstown, he has a place here in the Hall of Above Average. One of the most feared sluggers in baseball history, McGwire hit 50 or more HRs four straight seasons from 1996 to 1999 and is the only player to ever hit his 500th HR in a Cardinal uniform.
Tony Oliva (Twins 1962-76)
For as long as I could remember, I always thought that Oliva, like Rod Carew, was in Cooperstown. Oliva, who played his entire career in the Twin Cities, was an eight time All Star that won batting titles in 1964, 65, and 1971.
Larry Walker (Expos, Rockies, Cardinals 1989-2005)
One of my favorite players as a kid, Walker was probably best known as a member of that 1994 Expos squad that could have won the World Series except for the lack of a postseason due to the players’ strike, as well as the part of the Blake Street Bombers in Denver. In 17 seasons, Walker won three batting crowns, an MVP, and a home run crown. He also played a role in the Cardinals’ 2004 and 2005 postseasons.
Bob Welch (Dodgers, Athletics 1978-94)
For 17 years, Welch excelled on the mound for a pair of California teams, helping the Dodgers to the 1981 World Series title and Oakland to the 1989 World Series title. Along with that Welch became the last pitcher to win 25 games, accomplishing that feat in 1990.
Jack Morris (Tigers, Blue Jays, Twins, Indians 1977-94)
One of the best pitchers of the 1980s, Morris won 254 games in his career. In 1991 during the World Series, Morris had one of the most dominant performances in postseason history, pitching 10 shutout innings, en route to the 1991 World Series MVP.
Mark Langston (Expos, Angels, Mariners, Indians, Padres 1984-99)
Highly underrated among the great arms in baseball during the 1980s and early ’90s, Langston is best known as the guy who was traded for Randy Johnson. In 15 seasons, Langston won seven Gold Gloves as well as appear in four All-Star games.
John Franco (Reds, Mets, Astros 1984-2005)
One of the best relievers of the 1990s, Franco amassed 424 saves in his career, most notably for the Mets, where he starred until 2004. While its obvious he won’t get to Cooperstown, he has a spot here in the Hall of Above Average.