So much for it “being in the bag,” I guess. As some of my readers may know (although most of you may not), I am a lifelong Houston Astros fan. The first piece of sports memorabilia I ever had as a young child was a Colt .45’s jersey. Having been born and raised in Houston for 10 years also helps. I grew up watching baseball in the 8th wonder of the modern world and learned quickly to despise the Cardinals. More times than I can count I was fortunate enough to watch The Wizard himself perform on the Astroturf stage.
So what is the point of this rambling? As an avid Astros fan, I feel that Jeff Bagwell should have been elected into the Hall of Fame. As a matter of fact, I find it downright offensive to see that he only received 242, or 41.7% of the votes needed. How could the writers not give one of the original Killer B’s his comeuppance? I understand that some arguments will be made based on him playing in Houston, for a team that never seemed to find a way past the Braves. But let’s just take a look at the stats and see what they have to say.
As a rookie, in 1991, Bag Pipes ran away with the Rookie of the Year award after he hit .294 with 15 home runs and 82 RBI- not a bad start. He never seemed to decline either. In fact, Bags had nine seasons with at least 30 bombs, eight seasons with 100+ RBI, and nine seasons with over 100 runs scored.
Maybe you would rather hear about some speed. How about being the first ever full-time first baseman to have a season with 30 SB’s and 30 Hr’s. How about him having 202 SB’s in his career? Still not enough? Here’s one more; Jeff Bagwell is the only first baseman in the 400 HR/200 SB club.
How about the guy’s consistency? He has at least 10 seasons where he played in 155 games or more, and in four of those seasons he played in all 162.
Oh yeah, he also broke his hand in three different seasons.
Bag Pipes has a career OBP of .408 and a SLG% of .540, giving him a career OPS of .948. He only had two years where he had a WAR of less than 3.5 (and those were at the ages of 35 and 37).
As any analyst will tell you, you can find numbers to tell any story you want to on a player. Jeff Bagwell was a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, a four-time all-star, a Gold Glove winner, a four-time Silver Slugger award winner, and he holds countless records within the Astros organization. The numbers I can’t find are the ones that say Jeff Bagwell should not be in the Hall of Fame. Bill James even wrote that Bagwell was the fourth best first baseman of all time. Bags deserves to be in Cooperstown along with the likes of Cepeda, Foxx, and Gherig. His portfolio of success speaks for itself. Or at least I thought it did.