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.

23 thoughts on “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. 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.

  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 !!!!!!!!!

  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.

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