|Born: January 15, 1949|
|June 29, 1970, for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 2, 1986, for the California Angels|
|Runs batted in||864|
|Career highlights and awards|
Robert Anthony Grich (born January 15, 1949) is an American former professional baseball second baseman who played for the Baltimore Orioles (1970–1976) and California Angels (1977–1986) of Major League Baseball. He currently works in the Angels' front office.
Grich attended Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, and graduated in 1967. He was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round (19th overall) of that year's amateur draft. Grich made his major league debut with Baltimore midway through the 1970 season. That October, the Orioles defeated the Cincinnati Reds to win the World Series.
From 1969 through 1974, the Orioles featured a loaded roster that resulted in five AL East Division titles in six seasons. Grich's emergence was blocked by incumbent second baseman Davey Johnson, but the Orioles thought highly of Grich and traded Johnson to the Braves following the 1972 season, when the Orioles finished third in the division.
In 1973, Grich set an all-time major league fielding record with a .995 fielding percentage, and twelve seasons later in 1985, he broke the record again (.997). He won four consecutive Gold Glove Awards and made the American League All-Star squad six times. He was an excellent fielder, with good range, soft hands, and a good arm, and he was steady turning the double play.
Grich became a free agent following the 1976 season and signed a multi-year contract with the California Angels. The Angels originally planned to move Grich to shortstop as they had Jerry Remy at second. However, Grich suffered a herniated disk in his back trying to move an air-conditioning unit during the 1977 season and played in only 52 games . The Angels traded Remy to the Boston Red Sox for Don Aase and moved Grich back to second for the 1978 season.
Grich batted .294 in 1979, adding 30 homers and 101 RBI. In the strike-shortened 1981 season, Grich tied the lead in home runs (22, along with Tony Armas, Dwight Evans, and Eddie Murray), led in slugging average (.543), and hit a career-high .304.
While with the Orioles, Grich appeared in the World Series in 1970 and 1971 and played in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) in 1973 and 1974, when Baltimore lost to Oakland. The Angels made their first three postseason appearances during Grich's tenure, but fell in the ALCS each time; losing to the Orioles in 1979 and to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982. Grich came closest in his final MLB season (1986), when the Angels led the ALCS 3-1 and needed just one more win to advance to the World Series. They blew a 5-2 lead to the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of Game 5, then lost the next two and were eliminated. Grich hit a home run in Game 5 that deflected off center fielder Dave Henderson's glove, putting the Angels on top 3-2. But with the Red Sox down to their final strike, Henderson hit a home run to put Boston ahead. In the post-game interviews following Game 7, Grich announced his retirement.
Over 17 seasons, Grich batted .266, with 224 home runs, 864 RBI, 1033 runs, 1,833 hits, and a .371 on-base percentage in 2008 games. When commenting on his baseball career, he stated: "I was short on talent so I had to be long on intensity."
- 6-time All-Star (1972, 1974, 1976, 1979–80, 1982)
- 4-time Gold Glove (1973–76)
- Twice Top 10 MVP (1974, 1979)
- Led league in slugging average (1981)
- Led league in home runs (1981)
- First second baseman to lead AL in home runs since Nap Lajoie (1901) and in either league since Rogers Hornsby (1929).
- Hit three consecutive home runs in a game (1974)
- Set an AL 2B record with 484 putouts in a season (1974)
- The first player elected to the Angels' Hall of Fame (1996)
Hall of Fame candidacy
Grich became eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992. In the BBWAA election, he received eleven votes, or 2.6% of the vote, below the 5% threshold needed to stay on the ballot. He was therefore removed from future BBWAA ballots.
Using sabermetric statistics there is a compelling case for Grich to be in the Hall of Fame. As of 2017, Grich has the highest Jaffe Wins Above Replacement Score (JAWS) of any eligible position player not in the Hall of Fame. He also has the highest career WAR of any second baseman not in the Hall of Fame, and there are more than 10 Hall of Fame second basemen with a lower JAWS. The JAWS statistic is particularly compelling given that it incorporates both career and peak year statistics.
- Jaffe, Jay (January 2, 2017). "JAWS and the Hall of Fame: All-Overlooked team". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
- "Second Base JAWS Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference