January 9, 2013
Cooperstown 2013: Craig Biggio
First Year on Ballot
Houston Astros (1988-2007)
Career batting average of .281 with 3060 hits, 668 doubles, 291 home runs, 1844 runs and 414 stolen bases. Ranks fifth all-time in doubles and 21st all-time in hits. Became just the ninth player in the 3000 hit club to get all his hits with the same team. Holds the modern record for most times hit by a pitch in a career with 285. Seven-time National League All-Star (1991-1992 and 1994-1998). Four-time Gold Glove winner (1994-1997). Five-Time Silver Slugger winner (1989, 1994-1995 and 1997-1998). Member of the Houston Astros Hall of Fame. Number 7 retired by team.
If you’re looking for a great statistical analysis of why Craig Biggio deserves to be a first ballot Hall of Famer (casually referred to as the Hall within the Hall), you won’t find that here. I’ll give you enough of that to make my case but Craig Biggio is about much more than numbers – he personifies greatness and what it means to be a team player.
He’s everything that is right about baseball.
If you believe in magic numbers, he’s got the 3,000 hits. If it’s hardware you’re after, he’s got multiple Silver Sluggers (at two different positions) and multiple Gold Gloves. If you place a high degree of emphasis on intangibles, Biggio is certainly your guy. As mentioned, he played multiple positions at a high level – unselfishly, for the betterment of the team – and he made the All-Time Astros Team over at For Baseball Junkies at catcher despite playing the majority of his 20-year career in Houston at second base. Why? Because, well, it’s Craig Biggio, and it’s what he would have done to make the team better.
Biggio put his body in harm’s way more than any other player in baseball history and ranks first in modern baseball history for being hit by a pitch. If you look at Baseball Reference similarity scores, he is “most-likened” to Robin Yount, Derek Jeter and Joe Morgan…three first ballot Hall of Famers. Biggio ranks top 25 all-time in hits, doubles, runs scored, games played, plate appearances, at bats and 33rd in total bases.
In terms of player value, he ranks 88th in WAR and 44th in Offensive WAR. But, like I said, Biggio’s greatness is centered not on numbers but on his versatility and his selfishness. If he had played his entire career at second base, he would have likely challenged Joe Morgan for the title of GOAT but Biggio played catcher and outfield in his early days to accommodate the team’s needs.
In the history of baseball, there hasn’t been anyone like Craig Biggio and there will likely never be anyone like him again. In the middle of this high profile, highly controversial class of 2013, there’s one guy that stands out as worthy and exempt from skepticism and criticism – Craig Biggio.
He belongs in Cooperstown – that much we know – but unlike the others, he doesn’t deserve to wait.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Chuck Porter can be found writing about baseball over at For Baseball Junkies. Feel free to check out the site’s Facebook page as well. If you’re so inclined…go nuts and follow Chuck on Twitter!