Jeff Bagwell will have to wait till next year to receive that call that so very few have after their career has come to a close. Bagwell received 41.7% of the vote today, well short of the 75% needed to reach Cooperstown. There is no doubt that suspicion about the use of PED’s, and suspicion alone is what cost him from being inducted today.
There is absolutely no arguing his career accomplishments. Jeff Bagwell, for better than a decade, from 1991 to 2004 ranked among the top 5 in major league baseball in almost every major statistical category while playing most of his career in the Astrodome compiled 449 HR’s, 1,529 RBI, 2,314 hits, slugged .540 with an OPS of .948 in a 15 season career. Those numbers alone are staggering to look at and read, but I didn’t even mention he is the only first baseman ever to hit 400 home runs and steal 200 bases, and one of three first basemen (Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx are the others) to score 1,500 runs and drive in 1,500 without playing the role of DH for a significant amount of time.
I saw this stat in an article written by Jayson Stark, it stated that Jeff Bagwell ranks 37th all-time among position players with a WAR (wins above replacement) rating of 80. That interesting stat takes into account his offense, defense, base-running and the position he played an calculates how many wins he helped give his team. Bagwell is ahead of Pete Rose, Paul Molitor, Reggie Jackson and several other baseball greats in WAR. That should put to rest all the critics that want to say Bagwell never did anything to impact his team winning games. That is the most irresponsible statement anyone could ever make, especially if you actually watched the games. It won’t quiet many though.
I think one great thing came of today, and that’s the fact that Bagwell garnered 41.7% of the vote. Mark McGwire in his first year of eligibility received just over 20% of the vote, this year only 64 voters (11%) voted for McGwire. So you can make the argument that Bagwell has a hell of a lot better chance of getting in based on that, a guy in McGwire’s case that was directly linked to steroids and has now admitted it.
Bagwell has never been linked to steroids. Nothing has ever been published with his name on it that says Jeff Bagwell has been suspected of taking steroids. His name did not appear on the Mitchell Report, or any other kind of report. The Mitchell commission never even spoke to Bagwell, and how about the fact that Jose Canseco never even brought his name up.
Truth is, we’ll never know everyone that roided up, but voters are clearly saying through their actions right now, that they may not have been able to control who got in before that may have used PED’s, but they can control who gets in now, and as long as those who feel as strongly as I do about keeping cheaters out of the hall, they will.
Bagwell will get in one day. He didn’t today because voters are scared to put a guy in they suspect, based simply on the fact that he played at the height of the steroid era, and no one yet, that ever debuted in the 90’s has been elected to the HOF. One day, if nothing ever surfaces to convict Bagwell of PED use, he will get in, it will take some time, but he will get in. The fact he received 41.7% today says to me voters will wait and see what transpires in the coming year, just offering up more time so they can make sure he wasn’t a cheater.