First, you may ask why I call Houston Astros great Craig Biggio a "message" man?
The Astros' long-term second baseman (and sometime outfielder and career-starting catcher) is as squeaky clean as Dale Murphy, including on the steroid-using issue, and with better stats on the sabermetric side and much better on the counting side.
First, the counting stats.
Any regular baseball fan knows about his 3,060 hits. Add in his career 668 doubles, fifth-best all time. Toss in a career 291 HRs, arguably pretty decent production from largely a second baseman.
Add in a few Gold Gloves in his career.
Now, top it with the fact that he's never been rumored to be a roider.
On the predictions side, I say he gets in this year.
Older baseball writers still like those counting stats, and the ones that want to send a message to Bonds, Clemens and others have their perfect "vehicle."
So, I've answered "yes" to two of my three rhetorical questions about Hall candidates — 1. He will get in and 2. Not just "eventually" but this year.
But, I have three such questions, and the third is — should he be in there?
And, counting stats aside, sabermetrics has a bit more caution.
Let's look at my basic go-to stat on position players, first: OPS+.
Biggio has a surprisingly low 112. My cutoff for HOFers is 110. Of course, he was compiling his OPS+ in the height of the steroid era, so maybe he deserves a bit of slack.
Behind this? His OPS was only .796. And, while he walked a decent amount, he struck out a lot for a guy with medium to medium-high power, but not huge power.
Second is Wins Above Average, where he's only at 29.1.
I'm still developing a bit of "feel" for WAA and what a HOF cutoff should be. But my tentative answer is 30, and Biggio falls just short. Related to that, his WAR of 62.1, while good, is not outstanding.
Again, maybe we cut him a bit of slack over roiding competition, but how much?
He does rank a solid +50 on runs by positional scarcity.
So, I would say he should be in there. As for "this year" vs. "eventually," I will say that he probably, pretty solidly, should be in there this year. And, I'm in general a "small Hall" guy, not like the "fluffers" named Jim Caple, David Schoenfield, etc. at ESPN, and a few others. (ESPN is far and away the most egregious, though.)
That said, how Biggio does will probably be a baseline for Jeff Kent and his chances, as the two are fairly similar.
Now, a little background to my Hall of Fame blogging —
I am a "small Hall" guy. In fact, I think there's plenty of people we should vote back OUT of Cooperstown. Here's some pitchers, and some batters, looking just at the modern baseball era, who need the boot.
Oh, and while you're here, please vote in my poll.
And, click the "MLB Hall of Fame" tag for more on other candidates on this year's ballot and my thoughts.