Certain statistical accomplishments are considered to be virtual guarantees of being enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Once a player has managed 3000 hits, 500 home runs or 300 wins, enshrinement was merely a formality. Of course, with the Steroid Era, and players such as Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens on the ballot, that guarantee no longer applies.
Perhaps that is why Craig Biggio has yet to be inducted. He certainly reached one of the theoretical prerequisites, with 3060 hits in his career. However, as Biggio only had one season with more than 200 hits, when he had 210 in 1998, he is viewed more as a compiler of statistics as opposed to a true great. This may be why, in his second year on the ballot, Biggio fell two votes short last year.
Looking at just his hit total, and the marks he produced each season, does not give the true value of Craig Biggio. Yes, those 3060 hits are impressive, but he also produced a .281/.363/.433 career batting line with 291 home runs and 414 stolen bases. Would Biggio’s candidacy be viewed differently if he managed nine more home runs? The voters certainly appear to love their round numbers.
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When looking at Biggio’s contributions, it is also worth remembering where he played. Initially a catcher, Biggio made an All-Star Game in 1991 and won a Silver Slugger award as a backstop. Transitioning to second base in 1992, Biggio then made six more All-Star Games, won four Gold Glove awards and four more Silver Slugger awards. After that, in 2003 at the age of 37, Biggio moved to the outfield for two seasons before heading back to second base. That defensive versatility gave Biggio more value to the Astros than the statistics can quantify.
Yet, that desire to quantify Craig Biggio’s career in a easily digestible manner may be what has worked against him. Biggio, for his entire 20 year career, was far more than what he provided at the plate or on the basepaths. Along with Jeff Bagwell, he was the heart of the team, one of the fan favorites and a reason to tune in every night to watch the Astros games. The fact that he played at a Hall of Fame level just furthers how special Biggio truly was.
At some point, perhaps as soon as the next couple of weeks, Craig Biggio will receive that telephone call congratulating him on making the Hall of Fame. When he does, it will be two years longer than it should have taken.