I want to give Jeff Bagwell praise and thanks on his 37th birthday.
You know his story, I’m sure. He’s from Boston, a die hard Red Sox fan from birth who couldn’t believe his incredible good fortune when his beloved Sawks drafted him as a third baseman in the 4th round of the 89 draft.
Traded in the infamous Larry Anderson trade – and the Sawks DID need Anderson for their pennant drive and he DID do right by them – in 1990. We already had Ken Caminiti to play third, so Bagwell was switched to first. He made the jump from AA to the majors in 91, winning the NL ROY. And, as they say, the rest is history.
About his history -
How many great first basemen are 5 tool players? They usually one dimensional sluggers like McGwire – sometimes, like Palmeiro, they are also good glovemen, but Baggy is the total package. He has:
a lifetime .297 BA, a .408 OBP (#42 all time) 1400 walks (24th all time,) 202 steals (72 % success) and TWO 30 – 30 seasons, which NO other first baseman has done in the history of baseball, 449 HR (#28 all time,) 488 doubles (tied for #50 with Mel Ott and Harold Baines,) 2311 hits, 1525 RBIs (tied for #40 with Sam Crawford,) 1517 runs (#54 all time). He has a lifetime 150 OPS+ which is #30 on the all-time list – tied with Nap Lajoie, Honus Wagner and Mike Piazza. These stats, by the way, are from 14 years (plus a few weeks this year) and remember, he played for 9 years in the Dome, a notorious pitchers park…
He has a good reputation as a smart, heads up baserunner and a great defensive glove – remember that he was a third baseman who was moved to first ONLY because we already had Ken Caminiti at third – he had the bad luck to play at the same time as Mark Grace and JT Snow, so he only won 1 gold glove – his MVP year of 1994. He’s only been to 4 All-Star games (McGwire rooled in those days) unfortunately.
I know everyone is gonna look at all time lists, naturally, but he should be compared with the guys who played with him in the small-park steroid era – Frank Thomas, his “twin” – Happy Birthday Frank!!! (note that Frank didn’t have the glove or the SB although their HR, walks and OPS are similar), McGwire (did he or didn’t he) – lots more HR, no running, barely OK glove, Palmeiro (more HR – remember, he played for the Rangers in their homer haven) – good glove, not a runner – and Fred McGriff – anyone else? All 5 guys deserve to be in, that’s fer SHER (unless McGwire gets banned for Canseco’s accusations of roid use).
It’s absolutely ridiculous to say that now first basemen have to hit 500 HR to get in the Hall because both McGwire and Palmeiro did. How about we say first basemen have to hit 400 HR and have 200 steals AND a BA over .295 because Bagwell did?
Marc Normandin, a closet Stros fan who writes our Red Sox minor league blog as well as Beyond the Box Score, has written an entry in support of Bagwell for the Hall – WARNING – uses a LOT of Stat initials (just kidding – I’m happy that someone has advanced stat proof that Bagwell ROOLZ…..)
Now, when you look over Baggy’s 14 years of stats, you will notice that he suddenly started to decline in just about every stat except walks over the past 3 years. This is because he developed arthritis in his right shoulder, and although he’s had several surgeries – the last one 2 years ago, and he gets cortisone shots (yes they are steroids, but not the banned kind) every 6 weeks, the arthritis can’t be fixed by any known medical procedure or drug and it has continued to advance until the poor guy can hardly throw or swing a bat and he’s in constant pain.
He hasn’t been able to lift weights in several YEARS. He’s going to have an operation on June 3 to release the tight muscles around the joint to hopefully increase his mobility and decrease his pain – who knows if it will do any good – if it doesn’t, he’s really finished. I’ve read that he will have to have a shoulder replacement surgery after his career is over (like a hip replacement, only in the shoulder) but I guess that will only end all the pain and won’t be good enough to play with.
But 14 years is STILL good enough – in fact, a lot of the HOF players add up all their stats over a LOT more years and it should count in Baggy’s favor that he did so well over so few years. He’s been a lifetime Astro – faithful to the ol orange star and is a good “community” person – we just can’t hold his first marriage to that stripper-type chick against him (heck most of us ain’t exactly saintly and might could have had a relationship with a stripper-type chick sort of person in our closets, too) and most of us a LOT more saintly than a lot of the other guys already in the Hall…..
So Jeff, thank you for a great 14 years – seems I’ve been watching you all my life – glad that you will be the first Astro in Cooperstown. I hope that this operation helps you get back to the field, and if not, I STILL think you ROOL. Hope you have a long happy and healthy life, hope you stay with the Stros as a coach or manager (if you want to) and I hope you teach your little grrls to play baseball, or at least to love it as much as we love watching you.