Will Jeff Bagwell Reach The Hall of Fame in 2011?

A bad shoulder stopped Jeff Bagwell at 449 HR through 2005.

I thought of five different ways to ask the question that needs to be asked about Jeff Bagwell’s chances for the Baseball Hall of Fame. All are important – and all will remain in play – even if we don’t get to them sufficiently in one column. I would also very much like to know what you guys think as comments upon this article and subject.

Here’s my fairly quick dance through the questions:

(1) Does Jeff Bagwell belong in the Hall of Fame? Based upon his hitting and slugging accomplishments, relative to others, plus his prowess in the field at first base,  he would get my vote, if I had one.

(2) Will Jeff Bagwell make it into the Hall of Fame on his first 2011 ballot listing as an eligible candidate? It’s hard to say. There are thirty-three candidates on that list and a couple of those names fell only a handful of votes short of the 75% support-level needed for election in 2010. Long-time candidate Bert Blyleven and second year man Roberto Alomar are expected by many, including yours truly, to have the best two shots of becoming the Class of 2011.

If no one fans the fires of “guilt by association” in the direction of Jeff Bagwell as a slugging member of the steroids era, Bagwell could make it into the Hall too on his first try as a third 2011 inductee choice above all the other candidates. I really don’t see any of the other candidates making it next year.

(3) How big is the steroids cloud over the Hall of Fame elections of this decade? From what I see, it’s pretty big for now and the foreseeable near years to come, whether it’s talked about or not. It’s already kept the late and reluctant steroid-use confessor Mark McGwire out of the Hall through 2010 when all of his HR-hitting accomplishments alone should have put him into the Hall on the first ballot; and, it isn’t likely that demonstrated steroids-use liar and first ballot candidate Rafael Palmiero is going to fare any better.

Jeff Bagwell has consistently denied any steroids use during his career, or ever, but he still happened to have bulked up his body during an era in which it turns out that many of his contemporaries were also doing so with considerable chemical assistance. Only yesterday I was talking with another writer from Boston who independently brought up that quiet suspicion about Baggy.

As one who trusts the word and character of Jeff Bagwell, I don’t believe, or want to believe, that he ever used steroids for purposes of healing or performance enhancement. He says he didn’t and I am willing to go with that statement as the truth.

The problem is – not everyone is gong to give Jeff Bagwell the benefit of trust in this matter and here’s why that’s important. A Hall of Fame candidate doesn’t have to admit to steroids use, or be caught lying about it, to  get hurt by the voters. All he has to do is to be splashed by the fall-out from that era. The 1990’s were also a decade in which a number of players started pushing iron in the gym for the main sake of becoming stronger hitters. It isn’t fair that those guys who accomplished that aim honestly should be lumped into the same cloud with the steroids abusers, but that’s the way life often goes. It isn’t always fair.

Please comment on Jeff Bagwell’s candidacy for the Baseball Hall of Fame – or any other issue raised by this column, or in your own mind, about the impact of the steroids era on Jeff’s chances.

The main question is: Do you think Jeff Bagwell belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

For a list of all the candidates and a little more detail about the voting, check out this link:



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4 Responses to “Will Jeff Bagwell Reach The Hall of Fame in 2011?”

  1. Bob Hulsey Says:

    Whispers aside, some voters talk about only approving those who were “the best at their position in their era” and will use home runs as a key measure. If you look at career home runs, Bagwell has 449 which is less than Thome (589), McGwire (583), Palmeiro (569), Thomas (521), McGriff (493) and Delgado (473), who were all first basemen with careers overlapping Bagwell’s. Jeff didn’t finish with a career batting average over .300 (.297) and had less RBIs than McGriff.

    McGriff, who had no whispers, got just 21.5% of the vote last year.

    There’s also, among some voters, the concept that a “first-ballot” player is one whose career just blew everyone else out of the water.

    75% is a tall threshold (ask Blyleven) so there are reasons to believe, other than PED whispers, that Bagwell may take awhile to get in. It helps, though, that talking heads like Gammons and Kirkjian say he’s a “no doubt” Hall-of-Famer and his relations with the press over the years has always been good. He’s also been a favorite of the SABR crowd that tend to overvalue players who draw a lot of walks, and Bagwell certainly did that.

    So, expecting a first-ballot nod may a tall order but it’s more likely than not he will get it eventually. His best chance may be in 2013 when his buddy Biggio gets on the ballot and may push his friend over the finish line.

  2. Mike McCroskey Says:

    I think he has Hall of Fame numbers. He could field, ran the bases intelligently, hit for power and had a consistently high OBP. It would seem only fitting if he did not get elected his first year of elgibility; but on his second so that he could enter with best buddy Biggio, who should be a shoo in first rounder. That would be deservedly great for each of them.

  3. Damon Leonetti Says:

    I believe that Jeff Bagwell belongs in and, will someday be voted into Baseball’s HOF. I agree with prior comments that he will most likely not make it this year. As an adult, he has been my favorite baseball player to watch play the game the right way in every aspect, including leader in the clubhouse and being respected by his peers and knowledgeable baseball fans. The LeBron James’ of the world don’t get it. Who are the most revered and beloved athletes? Stars like, Musial, Banks, Yogi, Ripken, Unitas, Starr, Magic J, Havlicek, etc., etc. Dedicated HOFs in their sport to their team and their community, who remained fixed in our memories. BAGS belongs in that company; as will BIGG.
    Damon Leonetti

  4. Tapps Says:

    I think Baggs should make it in. Whether he does is another question. The steroids issue is going to be a cloud as you said, and I’ve even seen writers who said they voted for Mattingly over Bagwell. Which is absurd. Just look at the numbers. You can see them here (http://firerickreilly.com/2010/12/20/jeff-bagwell-don-mattingly-and-the-hall-of-fame/) If Mattingly gets voted in over Bagwell, it would be an atrocity.

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