Sunday, January 1, 2012
Jeff Bagwell -- Hall of Famer
Last year : received 41.7% of the vote
Bagwell should be a no-brainer. That he isn't is a part of what makes the Hall of Fame voting process such an absurd good time. For my money, he was the best player among those eligible for the vote; however, I would be very surprised if he is voted in this year. The only reason for not voting for Bagwell is the continued whispering about his potential steroid use. This of course, is not a good reason. This is a worn-out line, but the man never pissed dirty, denies using, and has never actually been accused of using. It is best we all just believe he was clean, and give the man his due. The time is fast approaching to move beyond steroids when judging the players of the Selig Era. The great players were great regardless and should not be denied their plaques, even if it does leave the taste of bile on one's tongue. Players have been seeking an edge since the game of baseball was created. We will all have to let go of our hatred soon enough.
So forgetting steroids, Bagwell was a great hitter. One of the most feared in all of baseball for nearly the entire length of his career. You can view his career numbers here. But some quick math for you: nine seasons with 30+ homeruns; seven times surpassed a .550 slugging percentage, perennially among the league leaders in on-base percentage. As a Cubs fan, Jeff Bagwell was the scourge of baseball. More than any other hitter in the league, I winced as he stepped in the batter's box. To augment his hitting, Bagwell played a great first base, stole bases, and was beloved both in the clubhouse and with the fanbase. If his shoulder hadn't of gone bad, Bagwell would have hit all those asinine benchmark numbers in which many voters and fans still place much of their faith: 500 homeruns, 500 doubles, 2500 hits. Bagwell was a force in every aspect of the game. One of the greatest hitters of his era. And his was a great hitters' era. Cooperstown, for sure. Though probably not yet.