Bill Madlock: Is He One of the 50 Best Not in the Hall?

Of the eleven players who won four or more batting titles, only Bill Madlock isn’t in the Hall of Fame. (The other ten are listed at the end of my column; try to name them before looking. Note: some spoilers in the text.)

Does this mean that Mad Dog Madlock has been unjustly ignored? Or is the former third baseman who played for multiple teams (Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers) just not qualified for baseball’s highest honor?

In anticipation of Baseball Past and Present’s pending announcement of the 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame, my questions are timely and appropriate.  A reminder that all ballots must be submitted to Graham Womack (e-mail address here)by 9:00 PM PST December 1st.

Madlock, who won his titles in 1976 and 1977 for the Chicago Cubs and in 1981 and 1983 for the Buccos, ended his career with an impressive .305 average. And Madlock stacks up well, at least as a hitter, against others from his era excluding of course Mike Schmidt. The Phillies’ star had it all over Madlock in fielding (10 Gold Gloves) and power numbers (548 HRs and 1,595 RBIs) but not average (.267)

Interesting footnotes to Madlock’s batting crowns abound. His record of four batting titles as a third baseman stood until 1988 when Wade Boggseclipsed it. And since 1970, only Tony Gwynn has won more National League batting titles (eight). Madlock is also one of only three right-handed hitters to have won multiple National League batting titles since 1960. Roberto Clemente also won four and Tommy Davis captured back-to-back titles in 1962 and 1963.

Madlock won one of his titles by the narrowest margin. In 1976, on the season’s last day against the Montreal Expos, Madlock went 4 for 4 (all singles) to raising his average from .333 to .339. At the beginning of the day, Madlock was in second place behind the Cincinnati Reds’ Ken Griffey (.338) Sr. Hoping to win the batting championship by default, Griffey rode the pine for the final game. But when word reached Griffey that Madlock was on a tear, he entered the game—but too late. Griffey’s 0-2 (two strike outs) put him at .336.

To answer the questions I posed earlier about Madlock’s Hall worthiness, I’ll simply say that I didn’t include him. And in 1993, Madlock’s first and only year on the Cooperstown ballot, he received only 4.5 percent of the total votes cast.

Here’s an alphabetical list of the ten other four-time batting champs: Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Roberto Clemente, Ty Cobb, Tony Gwynn, Harry Heilmann, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Honus Wagner and Ted Williams.

37 Replies to “Bill Madlock: Is He One of the 50 Best Not in the Hall?”

  1. Unfortunately, he was a consistently bad defender, and not enough of an offensive force to make up for his defensive shortcomings. HOVG, no doubt, but not HOF.

      1. Absolutely! How do you win 4 batting titles and have a lifetime .305 average and have someone say that you aren’t an offensive force?

    1. What an ignorant comment! A comment like that shows that you are definitely the racist in the room. Do us all a favor and exclude yourself from any further comments ever.

      1. How is he racist for making a legitimate point, are you telling race is never a factor in these things? If anything I think its racist to always dismiss race

  2. In a high pressure situation Madlock would be my choice before Bonds.
    As a Pirate Madlock always performed under pressure. Put him in the Hall.

  3. He belongs in the HOF. Ridiculous that Bill is not. It doesn’t seem to phase him; he is always a first- class guy at the Cubs convention. Very nice to everybody.

    If he played for the Yankees, Red Sox, or stayed with the Cubs ( William Wrigley let Lou Brock and Bruce Sutter go), he would be in the Hall!!!

  4. Four batting titles, I think that says enough. A leader in the clubhouse, and you will never hear him talk about his play but in my opinion there is absolutely no reason that he is not in the hall.

  5. I think is problem with ump over calls has kept him out. Their Bad.

    He has coached my grandsons and granddaughters at the batting cages here is Las Vegas. He is a super person with a great talent and certainly deserves to be in the HOF……BEFORE HE DIES !!!!!!!!!

    1. Thanks for adding that personal experience. It is great to hear that superstar athlete is also a superstar as a person.

    2. Bill Madlock was @ Best a decent ballplayer. What everyone seems to forget is that there are 2 sides to Madlock, the Ball player and The Reg guy. As a Ball player as previously stated he was A decent plsyer, but like Other Chicago ppl in reg day jobs Mr Madlock has A Severe Gambling problem. My Friend is an Attorney Im not sure when it happened but He passed Bad Checks to Several LV Casinos they bounced worse than a shaq free throw ! Put in jail bailed his way( imnnot sure how). But its his Off the field Attitude that will keep him OUT of bb HOF forever. Hes got a mean streak to him self as well.

      1. Off the field has NOTHING to do with baseball credentials. That is why HOFers are given preference to attitude and personality when elected. Ask Pete Rose a perfect comparison to the scenario I am casting. So what if Bill had some issues, so did Ty Cobb the mean ass SOB intentionally tried to hurt players when sliding. Babe Ruth was a lush when off the field and Mickey & Mays tilted a few too many drinks in front of people in the public also….

  6. Bill madlock , al oliver , dwight evans , fred mcgriff , etc .. if your allowing Baines , Morris in you’ve just opened a flood gate to the Hall ..

  7. I always admired Madlock as a hitter and competitor. He was a hardworking but mediocre fielder and he lacked big-time power. He was “mean” on the basepaths and as someone mentioned, he fought with umpires. Another “knock” on him was that he played for the glory of batting titles (like Cobb didn’t?) and sometimes his injuries would flare up at opportune times (like against supertough righthanded pitchers). I noticed a little bit of stuff like that but not as much as others seem to believe. My view is that if you needed a single or double in a clutch situation from the mid-70s through mid-80s and you had to send a righthanded hitter to the plate, you couldn’t do better than Bill Madlock.

  8. .305 batting average is usually enough for HOF. But look closer, “only” 2,008 hits. He played a long time, but lots of seasons he was not in a lot of games, never played in all 162 games for a full season it appears. What a fantastic hitter he was though and maybe if he had another 2k-3k at bats with that .305 he’d be in by now?

  9. Madlock’s detractors say he wasn’t great defensively, didn’t have enough at-bats, and his 28.4 WAR (wins against replacement) was too low. Well, Veterans Committee, what about Orlando Cepeda, who’s in the Hall of Fame despite being a liability on the field defensively, and a 34.5 WAR? If he had another 2,000 at-bats, you don’t think his career batting average would be better than Ron Santo’s .277? Madlock’s not whining about not being in the Hall. He’s comfortable in retirement teaching kids how to bat a ball in Las Vegas. Regarding the WAR stat, juxtapose it with his performance against Hall of Fame pitchers in his era. Madlock hit the 1975 All-Star game winner off Goose Gossage … who’s in the Hall of Fame! Going into the game he was the league’s top hitter, batting .353. Comfortably ahead of .345 Joe Morgan … who’s in the Hall of Fame! Four batting titles trump any comparative deficiencies you will find. The arguments to exclude are not weighty enough to tip the scales against Bill’s induction.

  10. Bill Madlock and Dave Parker of the Pittsburgh Pirates (We Are Family) both deserve to be HOF base on what they did on the field , what an injustice for these players who gave so much to the game.

  11. Baseball writers should never have been given the power of induction. I attended college and was in same fraternity with two current ballot holders, one who is somewhat popular. Shared classes with them. They both will not vote for Bonds or Clemons ever because they consider them PED cheaters. Funny thing is, the three of us cheated all the time in college and and took everything illegal that was placed under our noses. Hypocrites.

  12. 4 batting titles. I don’t care if he only played 4 seasons with a blindfold on at 3rd base. Mr. Madlock deserves to be in the HOF.

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