January 04, 2013

Will 3rd time be #Cooperstown charm for Jeff #Bagwell?

Long-time Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell, having hit the 56 percent mark last year, is surely hoping BBWAA writers show him some love and vote him into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Sabermetrically, he's got some good numbers — 149 OPS+, WAR of 76.7 and a strong WAA of 52.0.

On the flip side, he has a couple of things working against him.

First is the grayish-black cloud of steroids. I personally don't think he ever used anything. That's reinforced by his career clearly heading on the downward slope after age 32.

There's also the counting stats issue. Less than 2,500 hits and "only" 449 HRs from the first base position.

Some might even argue he's just a National League version of Edgar Martinez.

Rather, I'd say just the opposite. With more than 1,500 runs and RBIs, he's got good counting stats there. And yes, Enron Field/Minute Maid Park is a hitters' park, but still, his surrounding lineup at best was no better than what Gar had at the Mariners' peak.

So, no roiding. Most years, a decent but not fantastic supporting cast.

Now, what will the BBWAA think of him this year, with Barry Bonds and other more clearly alleged roiders on the ballot? Will more voters think Bags was clean, or will the clouds darken further? That's a toughie.

My threefold test is, in some way, shape or form — should a player be in the Hall, should he be in now, and will he get in, and this year?

Bags should be in, and should already be in, I think. He will eventually get in, but I'm not sure about this year.

It would be nice if it were this year; it would be cool to see him and Craig Biggio enter together; I know Astros fans would like that. (And, as a Cards' fan, I'm sorry to see you change leagues!)

As I near wrapping up my most comprehensive set of posts ever on Hall of Fame candidates, a few notes.

First, please vote in the poll!

Second, I am a "small Hall" guy. That means working to block undeserving pitchers like Jack Morris or also keeping out great people but just-short batters like Dale Murphy.

Third, contra Morris and Murphy fans who point to, say, Early Wynn or Jim Rice, respectively, 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.

If Bags doesn't get in this year, it could be a wait. Not only the logjam of roiders, but the Big Hurt, Frank Thomas, becomes eligible next year, and Bags will have to take a seat behind him.

And, click the  "MLB Hall of Fame" tag for more on other candidates on this year's ballot and my thoughts.

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