He has a batting stance that you could recognize from anywhere. He is one of those "what if" players, in which injury derailed his chances to do some great things. He is Jeff Bagwell.
Jeff Bagwell was one of the most prominent, feared slugging first basemen in the '90s. So the question I pose to you Bleacher Creatures is, is Jeff Bagwell a Hall of Famer?
In my opinion, he is. Maybe not on the first or second ballot, but eventually Bagwell should be inducted into the Hall. He was the best first baseman in the National League for a decade (sorry Crime Dog). Not to mention he's been presumably clean in the steroid era.
1. Let's look at the career numbers:
While he just missed the .300 batting average mark, his career 1,529 RBI, .408 on-base percentage, 1,401 walks, and 149 OPS+ are amongst the best (top-50) in MLB history.
2. Let's look at his 162-game averages:
So Bagwell is a guy who, in his fifteen seasons, had a 162 game average of 30+ HR and 100+ RBI. He hovered around .300 for the majority of his career and he clearly knew how to get on base.
3. Let's look at the intangibles:
Bagwell played with the Astros for his entire fifteen-year career. Bagwell, along with Biggio, was a team captain running the show. Bagwell made Biggio, Bell, Berkman, etc., better. The Killer Bee's were a great players in Houston, but we all know which "B" the opposing pitchers really feared, and that was Bagwell.
4. Let's look at his accolades:
Bagwell was the unanimous National League MVP in 1994, a season which could have been the best in MLB history had the strike not cut it short. He would also have five more top-10 finishes in his career, including being second and third.
Bagwell was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1991; the only bright spot on a Houston team that wasn't good at the time. He has won three Silver Slugger awards and even one Gold Glove, which means he knew how to play some defense. Bagwell was named to the National League All-Star team four times at first base.
Jeff Bagwell is a legend to the Houston Astros organization. He helped Houston become a playoff team in the late 1990s and early on in this decade. Compared to other first base sluggers in the National League in his era, who was better? You can't think of answer because there isn't one.
When the time comes, Jeff Bagwell deserves to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
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