January 6, 2013

Cooperstown 2013: Jeff Bagwell

JEFF BAGWELL
Third Yeard on Ballot (2012 - 56.0%)

PLAYING CAREER:
Houston Astros (1991-2005)

ACHIEVEMENTS:
Career batting average of .297. Houston Astros career leader in home runs (449), RBI (1529), walks (1401), runs created (1715). Scored 100 runs or more in eight of nine seasons (1996-2004) and knocked in 100 or more runs in seven of those seasons. 1994 National League MVP when he became the first National Leaguer since Willie Mays in 1955 to finish first or second in batting average, home runs, RBI and runs scored. 1991 National League Rookie of the Year and four-time All-Star (1994, 1996, 1997 and 1999). In 1997, he became the first full-time first baseman to steal 30 bases while hitting 30 home runs.

CASE FOR/AGAINST:
Jeff Bagwell deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Yes, I know he has only 2314 hits and 449 home runs in fifteen seasons, but, he is worthy. Jeff Bagwell is a four -time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, won the Most Valuable Player in 1994 and finished in the top ten five other times. He is 59th all-time in Wins Above Replacement Player (WAR), 36th all-time in WAR for Position Players and 47th all-time in Offensive WAR. His .408 On-Base Percentage is 41st all-time and his .540 career slugging percentage is 37th all-time. Those together put Bagwell in the Top 25 all-time in OPS. His offensive numbers are in the Top 100 all-time for runs scored, total bases, doubles, home runs, runs batted in, extra base hits, walks and runs created.

He was an offensive machine.

Bagwell is one of six first basemen with 200 steals since 1900. When compared to those already in the Hall of Fame, Bagwell has scored more runs than eleven that are already in. He has more doubles than thirteen, more home runs and runs batted in than ten and a better OPS than eleven already enshrined. Lastly, his career WAR is greater than thirteen players that already reside in Cooperstown. Defensively, he is tenth all-times in games played at first base and has a career fielding percentage of .993. He is second all-time in assists and in the Top 30 all-time in putouts.

While some may argue that the numbers above are not enough to get Bagwell the 75% required to be elected, those with a heart would surely elect Bagwell alongside his “Killer B” teammate Craig Biggio.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Russ Blatt is the Senior Baseball Contributor for 85% Sports. He has been a contributor for 85% Sports and Inside Pulse Sports since 2007. Besides a lifetime baseball fan, he worked for five years in the front office of minor league baseball organizations giving him a unique perspective on the game. His last baseball position was the assistant general manager of an independent baseball organization in California.


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