An excellent fielder with a surprisingly powerful bat, Grich was one of the AL’s best all-around second basemen for over 15 seasons with the Orioles and Angels, earning All-Star recognition six times. The 6’2″ 180-lb Grich was big for a middle infielder, but as a converted minor league shortstop he had plenty of range in the field, and he generated considerable power with a strong-wristed righthanded batting stroke.
Grich was TSN Minor League Player of the Year at Rochester (International League) in 1971, hitting .336 with 32 HR and leading the league’s shortstops in fielding, and as a 23-year old rookie with the Orioles in 1972, he played shortstop for the AL in the All-Star Game, finishing the season at .278 with 12 HR. Grich moved to second base full-time in 1973 and promptly set a ML record for that position with a .995 fielding percentage, and from 1973-76 he reached double figures in home runs and stolen bases each year while hitting near .260.
Grich became a free agent after the 1976 season and signed with the Angels for 1977, only to spend most of the year on the DL. He then had a miserable year offensively in 1978, but rebounded in 1979 to hit .294 with career highs in HR (30) and RBI (101) as the Angels won the AL West. In the strike-shortened 1981 season, Grich was one of four AL players to tie for the league home run title with 22, and also led the league with a .543 slugging percentage while batting a career-high .304. In the field, Grich had lost some range, but was still sure-handed, and in 1985 he regained his ML fielding record (which had been broken by Rob Wilfong in 1980) with a .997 percentage, committing only two errors at second base all season.
Grich played in the ALCS five times, yet never reached the WS. He came closest in his final ML season (1986), when the Angels blew a 5-2 lead to the Red Sox in the ninth inning of Game Five, then lost Games Six and Seven as well. Grich is second behind Brian Downing on the Angels all-time home run list.