Astros’ All-Time Best Seasons: First Base

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1994: Jeff Bagwell

Jeff Bagwell was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 4th round of the 1989 draft. He was traded to the Astros for reliever Larry Anderson in oneofthemostlopsideddealsinMLB history. 1994 was a weird year in baseball. Jeff Bagwell won the NL MVP award even after having his hand broken by being hit by a pitch after only 110 games.

How was that possible? That was the year on the work stoppage by the player strike. The season ended on August 12, 1994, and baseball did not return until 232 days later. Bagwell had his hand broken on August 10th, 2 days before the strike.

The following quote is from Bobby Husley from the article Bagwell Breaks Two Team Records, Bombs Giants.

"“The 1994 season was Jeff Bagwell’s coming out party. Sure, the 1991 National League Rookie Of The Year had exceeded all expectations since the time he arrived from Boston in a deadline deal for reliever Larry Andersen but, in 1994, Bagwell went on a hot streak that has not been seen by a Houston player before or since. The only regret was that it ended two months too soon.”"

If Bagwell had not broken his hand or the strike didn’t cancel the season, had a chance to take the triple crown in 1994. The late Tony Gwyn finished with a 0.394 batting average that denied Bagwell the triple crown. Here is Bagwell’s 1994 stats.

His stats (from Baseball Reference):

  • .368 BA/.451 OBP/.750 SLG/ 1.201 OPS
  • 47 hits
  • 104 runs
  • 32 doubles
  • 39 HRs
  • 116 RBI
  • 65 walks
  • 8.2 WAR

Behind manager Terry Collins and Bagwell’s MVP season, the Astros finished in 0.5 game behind the Reds for second place in the NL Central. Other familiar names on the team were Craig Biggio, Ken Caminiti, Luis Gonzalez, Doug Drabek, Darryl Kile, Mike Hampton, and one of my favorites Shane Reynolds.

On a personal note, I remember this season very well because some company through the Houston Chronicle did a simulation of the rest of the 1994 season, like a strike never happened. Fans were able to follow along with what could have happened. I think the Expos beat the Astros to go to the 1994 simulated World Series. Bagwell did end up coming back from the broken hand in the simulation in time for playoffs.

Did You Know: Along with winning the MVP award in 1994, Bagwell received the only Gold Glove award of his career, a Silver Slugger award, and was selected to the 1994 All-Star game.

Next: 1997: Jeff Bagwell