Astros fans don’t need reasons why Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell should be in the Hall of Fame. Both men became fan favorites in Houston early on, and remained so throughout their lengthy careers – men who played every game of their Major League lives as members of the Astros. Unfortunately, doubters have reasons why they won’t vote for, or don’t think these two Astro heroes should be in Cooperstown.
Both men are widely considered all-time franchise favorites, yet neither has received enough votes to reach the minimum for enshrinement (Biggio missed by two votes last year). The 2015 induction year is Bagwell’s fifth year of eligibility, and Biggio’s third.
An Associated Press story in 2004 in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal called them, “the enduring core of the Houston Astros,” and, “the two are as identifiable with the franchise as indoor baseball and rainbow jerseys.”
George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel, wrote in March 2005, “… you cannot connect the dots in Houston baseball history without either of them,” and, “Through it all, Biggio and Bagwell have remained the face of the Astros. Just count the No. 5 (Bagwell) and No. 7 (Biggio) jerseys in the stands in Minute Maid Park in Houston.”
Biggio & Bagwell: the face of the Houston Astros.
Chip Baily of the Houston Chronicle, wrote of Biggio and Bagwell on Chron.com in July 2007, “The Astros just aren’t going to be the same without them,” and, “They will leave a legacy on the field and off in a way few others have.”
Astros fans have two basic reasons why Bigg and Bags deserve to have their faces on plaques in Cooperstown’s Gallery. Both men had exceptional career numbers, and both played their entire careers wowing Houston fans, virtually every time they took the field. However, as mentioned, detractors are happy to attempt to minimize the accomplishments and Hall of Fame qualifications of both.
The knock against Biggio is that he was simply a statistics compiler; a man who never had spectacular seasons.
Disbelievers are happy to mention that although Biggio had 3060 hits, divided by 20 years equals an average of 153 hits per year – realistically, a less than impressive number. Biggio batted .281 over his career, topping .300 only four times. His highest season home run total was 26, with 88 RBI his best. He only reached the 200 hit mark once with 210, then a team record, eclipsed in 2014 by Jose Altuve.
Bagwell’s numbers are incredible, if not spectacular, yet critics are happy to point out that he failed to achieve the so-called magic numbers. His 449 home runs, while impressive, fails to reach 500, a number often considered automatic for Hall voters. His hit total of 2314 is far short of the other magic number for hitters: 3000. Plus, he never reached the 200 hit mark in a season (183 was his best). Over a 15-year career, Bagwell averaged almost the same number of hits per season as Biggio – 154.
Doubters point to possible steroid use, although no evidence implicating Bagwell has ever been produced. Guilty by association seems to be a prevailing attitude among some Hall voters.
New York Daily News writers Nathaniel Vinton and Anthony McCarron wrote in January 2011:
“As far as I can tell, the only thing Bagwell is guilty of is playing in an era when his union fought against cleaning up the game.” – Tyler Kepner, NY Times
“Though Bagwell never failed a drug test and wasn’t named in the Mitchell Report, his candidacy may be affected – fairly or unfairly – simply because he played in the wrong age and got muscular, becoming a slugger after showing little power in the minors.”
Tyler Kepner wrote in the New York Times in 2011:
“As far as I can tell, the only thing Bagwell is guilty of is playing in an era when his union fought against cleaning up the game. The legacy of that shameful stance is that baseless suspicion may now keep some deserving players, like Bagwell, out of the Hall of Fame.”
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote in May 2014 of Bagwell: “… suspicion alone is not enough to justify a ‘no’ vote,” yet, “The point is, voters don’t need any actual evidence.”
ESPN’s Jeff Crasnick wrote in December 2010: “In the current climate, almost all sluggers from his era are considered guilty until proven innocent.”
So the naysayers continue their assault. The rest of us (including this writer) have no doubts whatsoever that Biggio and Bagwell’s credentials are more than enough for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Fans can only hope that believers will soon outweigh the detractors.
Craig Biggio was More than His Statistics for the Astros by David Hill
Jeff Bagwell has a Hall of Fame Resume – Let Him In by David Hill