A closer look at Bagwell HOF candidacy

Jeff Bagwell is one of those players who probably should be in the Hall of Fame, but his case is certainly one that will be heavily debated. Bagwell was one a handful of new players on the ballot for election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will now have to wait until Jan. 5 to find out if his name is called.

Bagwell probably would have been a slam-dunk to make the Hall of Fame had he reached 500 home runs. He fell just 51 shy of that mark when a degenerative shoulder ended his career early, but his numbers across the board appear Hall of Fame worthy. Sure, there will be those who will hold it against him that he played in era when many sluggers were under the suspicion of performance-enhancing drugs, but Bagwell has been clean of any allegations. There’s no reason to believe he didn’t do everything the right way.

Those same voters who are inclined to take into account such intangibles should remember Bagwell played most of his career in the cavernous Astrodome, which surely took several home runs away from him. And if you look beyond the gaudy numbers, the voters should remember Bagwell was a terrific defensive player and base runner. 

During Bagwell’s 15 seasons, the Astros had their most successful run in franchise history, qualifying for the postseason six times while finishing at .500 or above 13 times. The Astros had the third-best winning percentage (.531) in the NL from 1991-2005.

In 1994, Bagwell became just the third player in history to win the NL Most Valuable Player Award by a unanimous vote after hitting .368 with 39 home runs, 116 RBIs, a .750 slugging percentage, .451 on-base percentage and a career-high 1.201 OPS.

Bagwell was a four-time All-Star, earned three Silver Slugger Awards, a Rawlings Gold Glove Award and remains as the only first baseman in NL history to reach the 30-30 club in home runs and stolen bases in a season, which he did twice in his career.

Here are more Bagwell stats, courtesy of the Astros: 

HOW BAGWELL MEASURES UP ALL-TIME

  • .948 career OPS ranks 22nd in Major League history and 10th among right-handed hitters. Four of the nine right-handed hitters ranked ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame, while four others are not yet eligible for induction.
  • .408 career on-base percentage ranks 15th all-time among right-handed hitters and ninth all-time among first basemen (3rd among RH first basemen).
  • is one of just 12 players in baseball history to hit at least 400 home runs while compiling a .408-or-higher onbase percentage.
  • is the only first baseman in NL history to reach the 30-30 club in home runs and stolen bases, and the only first baseman in ML history to reach this milestone twice in a career.
  • is the just the eighth player in ML history to win both the Rookie of the Year (1991) and Most Valuable Player (1994) awards.
  • is the only first baseman in ML history and one of 12 players all-time to reach 400 home runs and 200 stolen bases.
  • is one of five players in history to collect 30 home runs, 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored in six consecutive seasons (1996-2001). Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols are the others.
  • is the only player in history to record 30 home runs, 100 RBIs, 100 runs scored and 100 walks in six consecutive seasons (1996-2001).
  • .297 career average ranks 18th all-time among players with 400 home runs, and 10th all-time among righthanded hitters with 400 home runs.

AMONG HIS PEERS (1991-2005)

  • 1,529 RBIs ranked second in the Majors and first among right-handed hitters.
  • 1,517 runs scored ranked third in the Majors.
  • ranked third in the Majors in hits (2,314), walks (1,401) and extra-base hits (969).
  • ranked fifth in the Majors in home runs (449) and games played (2,150).
  • reached 100 RBI eight times, 100 runs scored nine times, 30 home runs eight times, 100 walks seven times, 1.000 OPS four times, .300 batting average six times.
  • finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting five times.

SOLID DECADE

  • from 1994-2003, led all first basemen in hits, runs, walks, extra-base hits, doubles and stolen bases, ranked second in games and RBIs and third in home runs.

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