Bagwell vs the Crime Dog
(Jeff Bagwell officially retired today and I thought I would re-post spomething I wrote last March)
With Jeff Bagwell all but retired - the big question now becomes "is Jeff Bagwell a Hall of Fame Player?" After careful consideration - I have to say no (but no with a qualifier).
If Fred McGriff doesn't get into the Hall of Fame - then I don't think Jeff Bagwell should either.
McGriff played the tail end of his career during the "chicks dig the long ball" steroids era but nobody has ever even hinted that he was anything other than a true gentleman who did things the right way, the natural way, the Tom Emanski way. Bagwell played most of his career during the inflated statistics period of steroids abuse (I won't say "use" because steroids have been around since the 70's). Everyone agrees that Bagwell was and is a perfect gentleman but it has to be noted that steroid use was rumored about Bagwell to the point that Bagwell's mom had to weigh in on the matter. I don't think that Bagwell was a steroids user but you have to wonder how a player who couldn't hit home runs in the minor leagues ends up in the top 50 all-time in MLB history for dingers. It has become too tough to give any player the benefit of the doubt anymore once steroid rumors begin to circulate.
That means you just have to look at the numbers (taken from Baseball-Reference.com):
- McGriff has more career HR, RBI and total bases.
- Bagwell has an MVP Award but McGriff has a World Series Ring. Both finished top 10 in MVP voting 6 times and both won 3 Silver Slugger awards at first base.
- McGriff was a post season monster with 10 HR in 10 series and a post season batting average of .303 and an OPS of .917. Bagwell had 2 HR in 9 post season series and hit an anemic .226 with a .675 OPS.
Bagwell has the fact that he played his entire career for one team going for him. He's the Astros all-time leader in HR and RBI (and also total bases but Craig Biggio should pass him this season). McGriff played for several teams during his career but was highly valued by everyone he played for. Simply put McGriff was wanted. Should McGriff be punished because teams trying to win wanted him on their rosters?
If you are going to buy the "but he played his entire career for one team" argument - what about Jim Rice? He was even more feared a player than Bagwell ever was. What about Dwight Evans (I refuse to acknowledge those final 270 at bats for Baltimore)? Evans was a more complete player than Bagwell and he's not in.
I would like to see Jim Rice and Andre Dawson get in the Hall of Fame before Bagwell (and I also think McGriff belongs before Bagwell too).
Sorry but that's just how I see it.
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