Biggio and Bagwell: Exemplars of Greatness

Doubleday Field Cooperstown, New York

Doubleday Field
Cooperstown, New York

The Hall of Fame Roads of Biggio and Bagwell

We could write about the greatness of these two guys all day long and never come close to covering all the ways they’ve both arrived so deservedly at their now completed destiny as the first two pure Astros members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The announced selection of January 18th that Jeff Bagwell will be joining his 15-year Houston Astros only teammate Craig Biggio in that highest place of honor for the best that ever played our game will now take place on July 30, 2017 in Cooperstown, when Bagwell is inducted along with two other greats, Tim Raines and Pudge Rodriguez.

As you well know, Craig Biggio has been there as a member since 2015, just waiting for the political air to clear that has delayed Jeff Bagwell from going in at the same time as his old, always bonded-with-him teammate. Biggio and Bagwell are as inseparable a baseball lore memory to Houston Astros fans as those two statues of them completing that play at first base on the Crawford Street ballpark exterior garden at the western property border side of Minute Maid Park.

When we inducted both men together into the Texas Baseball of Fame during my tenure as Board Chair and Executive Director back in 2004, I told them at the inductee speakers’ table from the podium that we humbly hoped they enjoyed the experience that night as something akin to a spring training exercise on their way to the “big hall” that awaited them both in Cooperstown one day. They each smiled appreciatively. Both men were in the latter days of their careers in 2004, but both would play key roles in leading the Astros to their only World Series appearance in 2005. Bagwell would have to retire after 2005 due to that painful unhealing right shoulder issue, but Biggio would continue through 2007, playing the season that allowed him to reach 3,000 hits on a single to right center that came close to being a signature double, had it not been for the out call. Biggio also would retire after 2007 with a career total of 3,060 hits.

Then came the reality that is the constantly shifting political arena of the BBWAA writers who wield the power to open or close the door on anyone – simply because they have the power to do so – or because they either suspect a candidate of doing something to make himself undeserving – and/or they fear that their vote of support for him may come back to haunt or embarrass them, the voters, later.

Nothing has come up since their retirements to implicate guys like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell in old or new steroid use since they each first reached the HOF ballot a few years ago. As a result, enough voters have been freed from their caution and now have voted for these two men on the basis of their actual MLB records. And, as examples of the point, Mike Piazza (HOF 2016) and Jeff Bagwell (HOF 2017) are both former players who are deserving of HOF membership by their career accomplishments.

It only took Craig Biggio three years to receive more than the 75% support vote he needed for HOF induction. Craig’s mild delay was due to both the bottleneck of deserving candidates ahead of him in the first two voting years – and to writers’ commonly applied humility-mode treatment to first or early year candidates. i.e., “you will get in when we say you get in.” Biggio finally vacated his pledge-like status and was elevated to the HOF fraternity in 2015.

As we’ve already said, Jeff Bagwell’s journey was a little rougher and longer. Jeff Bagwell had made the mistake of being a lights out home run hitter during a career in which his almost “Popeye-the-Sailor” sculpted body came along without any proof that he had not been one of the steroid-aided sluggers who did it the illegal way. His batting stance only enhanced the “Popeye” image.

popeyebaseball-1

Proving the negative is invariably dismissed by those whose distrust for complex political reasons is virtually second nature to the cut-throat media culture. Even with Bagwell never scoring positive on the drug tests administered to him during his playing days, the clouds of doubt lingered among the voters, as we described earlier.

Like Mike Piazza before him, Jeff Bagwell simply had to wait and keep his head cool from the kind of frustration that only time can heal by a change in 75% of the voters’ hearts, even if it’s one of those things that never heals for some candidates. Fortunately for Jeff Bagwell, that was not the case in his situation. His voting percentages for approval started rising over the past two years, and, in 2017,  his seventh year on the ballot, Jeff Bagwell racked up an 86.6% affirmative vote for selection into the HOF.

The Doubles of Biggio, The Home Runs of Bagwell

Today we are looking at only two separate career hitting stats in the careers of Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell for the sake of space and simplicity. Both men did so much more as hitters, runners, and defenders to have earned their places among the greatest in the game’s history, but these teo data items are handbills to big to ignore.

Craig Biggio is the 5th greatest doubles hitter of all time. – Jeff Bagwell is tied with Vladimir Guerrero for the 38th greatest home run hitter in baseball history. Their cases for greatness are not made by the numbers alone, but by the names on the list that accompany each of two former greats Houston Astros.

After you’ve had a chance to examine these two tables – and perhaps seen or found the names of men who either are also members of the HOF – or should be – you may want to us the list to examine these two excerpted charts from Baseball Almanac.com. The complete lists each include 1,000 names. There will see the names of still active players who still have a chance of moving higher on the lists before they retire.

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/himenu.shtml

Have fun!

Craig Biggio By Opie Otterstad

Craig Biggio
By
Opie Otterstad

Baseball Almanac Presents
The 10 All Time Leaders
Career DoublesCraig Biggio is # 5
Tris Speaker 792 1
Pete Rose 746 2
Stan Musial 725 3
Ty Cobb 724 4
Craig Biggio 668 5
George Brett 665 6
Nap Lajoie 657 7
Carl Yastrzemski 646 8
Honus Wagner 640 9
David Ortiz 632 10

 

Jeff Bagwell By Opie Otterstad

Jeff Bagwell
By
Opie Otterstad

Baseball Almanac Presents
The 38 All Time Leaders
Career Home RunsJeff Bagwell is # 38
Barry Bonds 762 1
Hank Aaron 755 2
Babe Ruth 714 3
Alex Rodriguez 696 4
Willie Mays 660 5
Ken Griffey, Jr. 630 6
Jim Thome 612 7
Sammy Sosa 609 8
Albert Pujols 591 9
Frank Robinson 586 10
Mark McGwire 583 11
Harmon Killebrew 573 12
Rafael Palmeiro 569 13
Reggie Jackson 563 14
Manny Ramirez 555 15
Mike Schmidt 548 16
David Ortiz 541 17
Mickey Mantle 536 18
Jimmie Foxx 534 19
Willie McCovey 521 20
Frank Thomas 521
Ted Williams 521
Ernie Banks 512 23
Eddie Mathews 512
Mel Ott 511 25
Gary Sheffield 509 26
Eddie Murray 504 27
Lou Gehrig 493 28
Fred McGriff 493
Stan Musial 475 30
Willie Stargell 475
Carlos Delgado 473 32
Chipper Jones 468 33
Dave Winfield 465 34
Jose Canseco 462 35
Adam Dunn 462
Carl Yastrzemski 452 37
Jeff Bagwell 449 38
Vladimir Guerrero 449

____________________

eagle-0range
Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

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