Thursday, January 6, 2011
Hall of Fame Vote: What About Bagwell?
First off, congrats to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven and their election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It shouldn't have taken this long for either of them to get in. Blyleven is one of the most underrated pitchers of his generation and Alomar is one of the best five second baseman of all-time. Blyleven should have been in before his fourteenth, and second to last, year of eligibility. Alomar should have been a first ballot HOFer.
However, the Baseball Writers Association of America also really messed up. Jeff Bagwell, one of the best hitters of the 1990s, only received 41.7 percent of the vote, well short of the 75 percent needed for induction into Cooperstown. Many people must be thinking "Oh, well he played in the 90s. Look at him, he definitely juiced." The only problem is that Jeff Bagwell has never been linked to steroids, tested positive for steroids or anything of the sort. He got screwed out of more votes because of the baseball cultural that steroids has created. Everyone is paranoid that the best players of the 1990s and 2000s put up great numbers because they were roided up. We know who some of them were: Bonds, McGwire, Clemens, Giambi, Sheffield, etc. We also know there were a lot more that we don't know about. And yeah, if you look at the above picture of Bagwell it's obvious why some writers think he did steroids and subsequently left him off their ballots.
However, if someone hasn't tested positive for performance enhancers, or even been connected to them in any way, then why wouldn't you vote for him. Bagwell's stats speak for themselves. He has a career slash line of .297/.408/.540 (avg./obp./slg.). Just how good is that? Good enough that Bagwell is one of only 16 MLB players to finish a career with an on-base percentage better than .400 and a slugger percentage better than .500. How is that not Hall of Fame worthy? If that isn't enough, Bagwell hit 449 homers, drove in 1529 runs, hit 488 doubles, and stole over 200 bases as a first baseman.
I understand that there is going to be speculation that Bagwell did steroids. With everything that has happened with the steroid era, everyone is obviously going to be a bit skeptical. However, you shouldn't screw a guy who has never been linked to anything. Bagwell won the 1991 Rookie of the Year Award in the NL, won the 1994 MVP, was a four time all-star, won three Silver Sluggers, and won the 1994 Gold Glove Award. Unfortunately, the era he played in ended up hurting his HOF chances.
Also: check out this article from Sport's Illustrated's Joe Posnanski, The Willie Mays Hall of Fame.