I became a huge Jeff Bagwell fan as a kid in the summer on 1993 when on May 27th Bagwell finished the day hitting .391 on the season. I honestly knew little about him before his early march on towards .400. He would go 3 for his next 39, dropping his average to .333 on June 8th. Though, his chance at .400 was long forgotten, the impact he left on me as a fan was just starting.
In 1994, the year that cut deep into the heart of most people’s baseball soul, Bagwell hit an amazing .368/.451/.75 with an OPS+ of 213 and wOBA of .491 in 110 games. As most of us remember, that was the year cut short by the strike. Bagwell had 39 homeruns at that point in the season, giving him a shot at Roger Maris‘ then record of 61 homeruns in a season. We never got the chance to see if he could reach it. The season ended and Bagwell took home the MVP, Silver Slugger Award, Gold Glove Award, and a spot on the All-Star team.
Bagwell’s career exceeds Hall-of-Fame standards. Take a look at his numbers:
|rWAR||79.9||37th (position players)|
|WPA||58.9||16th (since 1950)|
|RE24||684.23||8th (since 1950)|
|Times on Base||3843||55th|
|Assists||1704||2nd (as 1B since 1950)|
|Total Zone Runs||31||29th (as 1B since 1950)|
If RBI and runs strike your fancy he was 46th (1529) and 63rd (1517) all-time.
Bagwell won the Rookie of the Year, MVP, was top-10 in MVP voting 5 other times (including a 2nd and 3rd), he won 3 Silver Sluggers, a Gold Glove, and was a 4-time All-Star.
Bagwell’s wWAR (a stat created by Adam Darowski and aims to identify the best candidates for the Hall of Fame not just by total value, but also by peak value, postseason value, and other adjustments) sits at a highly respactable 132.6.
Bagwell was a plus-plus hitter, plus defender, plus-plus runner (he had 202 career stolen bases and was often regarded by his peers as the best baserunner in the Majors), and a true team leader.
The sad reality of the situation is that Bagwell is finding it hard to get the recognition he deserves, not because he is overshadowed by greater players, but because BBWAA voters are assuming things about Bagwell that have never come to light.
A year ago guys like Dan Graziano and Jeff Pearlman have made it clear that they assume a player is guilty until proven innocent. And a year ago The Common Man took their ideology and placed it on the writers. This year Jeff Schultz has started the trend again and TCM was all over him.
I love it! If a writer assumes a player used PEDs then we should assume that writer plagarizes. I’m on board with TCM. While respected writers, Graziano, Pearlman, and Schultz were simply assuming that Bagwell is a PED user with no facts to back them up and we all know what happens when one likes to ass-u-me.
That backwards thinking by voters may end up ruining Bagwell’s chances all-together. In his first year on the ballot he received an unrespactable 41.7% of the vote. For shame!
This year, with a weak class that is headed by Bernie Williams and Javy Lopez, may be Bagwell’s best shot at induction beacause 2013 and 2014 bring a slew of candidates that will make it impossible for voters to narrow their votes to just 10.
From Bagwell’s stats, to his fame, to his batting stance, and team leadership, he left a lasting impression, not only on this boy, but on baseball all-together and he easily deserves his plaque in the Hall of Fame.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis, Hall of Fame Tagged: | 2012 Hall of Fame Ballot, Bernie Williams, Gold Glove Award, Hall of Fame, Houston Astros, Javy Lopez, Jeff Bagwell, MVP, Silver Slugger Award