Going to Bat for Bags

The Case for Jeff Bagwell to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

Jeff Bagwell v. Barry Bonds

Last year, Jeff Bagwell finished 15 votes shy of Hall of Fame election, becoming just the 17th player in history to reach 70+% of the vote and not get in. The silver lining? All but one of the previous 16 were elected the very next year – often overwhelmingly.

Of those 16 players, perhaps the best corollary to Bagwell – and the reason everyone should be optimistic – is Goose Gossage. Like Bagwell, Gossage initially hung around the 40% marker for the first few years he was on the ballot. And in the year following his ascent to 70% (71.2% in 2007, his 8th year of eligibility), no sure-fire Hall of Famers joined Gossage on the ballot (Tim Raines, interestingly enough, was the highest first-year vote getter in 2008). As a result, Gossage and Jim Rice were the only two players to receive at least 70% of the vote, with Gossage securing 85.8%.

It’s very conceivable Bagwell will follow a similar track, right down to Raines playing a prominent role.

But for every Goose Gossage, there’s a Jim Bunning. Poor, unlucky Jim Bunning. In 1988, the former pitcher fell just four votes shy of election on his 12th ballot*. Poised to finally breakthrough the next year, Bunning actually lost 34 votes. Some bums named Bench and Yastrzemski, not to mention Perry and Jenkins, joined the ballot, and as a result, Bunning’s case moved to an area just behind the backburner and never recovered. He lost another 26 votes in 1990 and, despite a surge in 1991, his last year of eligibility, Bunning failed to be voted into the Hall of Fame**.

* In those days, players had 15 years of eligibility, which was changed two years ago when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America reduced the number of eligible years to 10.

** Bunning was eventually voted in by the Veteran’s Committee in 1996

Depending on your mental state, you either laser-focused on the Gossage section of this article and feel better, or, if you’re like most doom-and-gloom Houston sports fans, conditioned by years and years of frustrating disappointments, the Bunning story probably read like a Stephen King novel and you’re now cursing us and wondering why we’d be so cruel to even bring Bunning up. How dare you, Bags4HoF! How dare you!

Relax; we have a plan that we think can help Bagwell secure those final 15 votes.

Performance enhancing drugs has, of course, been a storm cloud hanging over Bagwell’s career for years. Despite not a shred of credible, corroborated information, it has continued to dog him into retirement and throughout his Hall of Fame candidacy. Many writers – writers who, we like to point out, a) were present during Bagwell’s career; b) are not doctors or scientists – have made it their mission to retroactively speak up for all the times they didn’t throughout the 90s. The fallout has been underwhelming support for otherwise sure-fire Hall of Famers like Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

With last year’s voter purge and Piazza election, though, that hardline PED stance is starting to fall by the way side. Even PED-witch hunters like Jon Heyman are coming around.

Last year, for the first time, Heyman threw his hands in the air like he just didn’t care and voted for Bonds and Clemens. But for some inexplicable reason, he left Bagwell (and Piazza) off his ballot (while voting for the statistically inferior Fred McGriff, btw).

He wasn’t alone: 25*** other voters selected Bonds but not Bagwell and that provides us a potential path to victory for Bagwell

Bonds is, strictly by the numbers, an infinitely better candidate than Bagwell. But he’s also certifiably dirtier than Bagwell, in relation to PEDs. So if we have 258 voters willing to cast a vote for Bonds – but not Bagwell – that’s 25 voters who, free of PED innuendo, could be convinced to vote for Bagwell based strictly on the merits of his candidacy.

How can you help? At the end of this article, we’ve listed the Twitter and/or email information for as many of the 25 writers as we could find** who checked Bonds’ name – but not Bagwell’s – last year. Your assignment is to tweet at or email them. A lot. Like, hourly. And if you can fit it, please be sure to include us on the tweets (@Basg4HoF)

*** There was actually 28 writers but three of them – Frank Clines, @TonyMassarotti and @NYPost_Willis – have already released their ballots. Good news/bad news: Bagwell gained a vote with Willis; failed to convince Cline and Massarotti.

And to help you, we’ve prepared several tweets/ an email that make the case for Bagwell. Copy and, for the love of all that’s holy, USE THEM. Repetition is our friend – the writers need to see the same numbers and comparisons again and again for it to have an impact.

Before you do anything, though, please, please remember:

  • the goal is to engage, not enrage
  • facts trump opinion
  • be respectful; most writers are pretty good about responding
  • cursing is not your friend
  • neither is anger

OK; enough chit-chatting; let’s get to tweetin’! Here are the writers and below that are an endless stream of tweets to send their way.

REMEMBER to place a “.” Before their Twitter handles to ensure it shows up in their feed. And if you need/want to send an email, we wrote one of those, too.

Dave Borges
Shi Davidi
Chris DeLuca
Bob Hertzel
Jon Heyman
Bruce Jenkins
George A. King
Danny Knobler
Jeff Miller
Carrie Muskat
Mark Newman
Rob Parker
Mike Puma
Anthony Rieber
Claire Smith
Steve Wine
Jim Alexander
Steve Henson
Tom Keegan
David Maril

Could not find contact information for:
John Black
Bob Dolgan
Mike Downey
Richard Rupprecht
Bill Windler

And here are the suggested tweets:
.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks 22nd all-time with a .948 OPS, ahead of HoFers T. Cobb and W. Mays. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks 28th all-time with 1,401 BBs, ahead of HoFers R. Jackson and McCovey. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks 29th all-time in OB% (.408), ahead of HoFer Rickey Henderson. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks 31st all-time with an OPS+ of 149, ahead of HoFers M. Schmidt, W. Stargell & W. McCovey. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks 33rd all-time in SLG% (.540), ahead of HoFers Snider and F. Robinson. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks 35th all-time with a 79.6 WAR (position players), ahead of HoFers B. Robinson and J. DiMaggio. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks 39th all-time with 449 career HRs, ahead of HoFers Dawson and Ripken. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks 39th all-time in runs created (1,788), ahead of HoFers R. Jackson and M. Schmidt. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks 46th all-time with 74.0 offensive WAR, ahead of HoFers J. DiMaggio and D. Winfield. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks 46th all-time with 969 XBHs, ahead of HoFers T. Perez and R. Yount. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks 47th all-time with 1,517 Rs, ahead of HoFers R. Alomar & F. Thomas. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks 48th all-time with 1,529 RsBI, ahead of HoFers M. Mantle and J. Rice. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Bagwell & Bonds 2 of only 6 with 1500 Rs & RsBI + 1400 BBs + 200 SBs. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Bagwell & Bonds 2 of only 13 with 1500 Rs & RsBI + 200 SBs. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Bagwell & Bonds 2 of only 14 with 400 HRs + 200 SBs. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Between ’94-’03, Jeff Bagwell ranked top 8 in 8 of 10 offensive categories. Only Barry Bonds had more (9). @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Between ’94-’03, Jeff Bagwell ranked 1st in Rs (1,160), ahead of Barry Bonds. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Between ’94-’03, Jeff Bagwell ranked 2nd in BBs (1,066), behind only Barry Bonds. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Between ’94-’03, Jeff Bagwell ranked 3rd in WAR (60.8), behind only Bonds & ARod. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Between ’94-’03, Jeff Bagwell ranked 3rd in RsBI (1,155), 92 more than Barry Bonds. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Between ’94-’03, Jeff Bagwell ranked 5th with 366 HRs. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Between ’94-’03, Jeff Bagwell ranked 6th in OPS+ (156). @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Between ’94-’03, Jeff Bagwell ranked 7th in OPS (.994). @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell would rank 3rd in WAR among current HoF 1B, ahead of Mize, Murray, McCovey, Killebrew, Greenberg, Sisler. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell would rank 5th in OPS+ among current HoF 1B, ahead of McCovey, Killebrew, Murray, Sisler. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell ranks top 50 all-time in 9 offensive categories (OPS, BB, SLG%, WAR, HR, OB%, RC, XBH, RsBI). @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell is only full-time 1B to post multiple 30/30 seasons (‘97: 43 HRs/31 SBs; ‘99: 42/30) @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell had nine seasons with 30+ HRs. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell had eight seasons with 100+ RsBI. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell had nine seasons with 100+ Rs scored. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell drew at least 100 BBs for seven straight seasons. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) From ’96-‘01, Jeff Bagwell reached at least 30 HR, 100 RBI, and 100 R all 6 seasons, 1 of only 6 players to ever do so. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) In ‘94, Jeff Bagwell became the first NL player to finish 1st or 2nd in BA, HRs, RsBI, and Rs since Willie Mays (‘55). @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell’s .750 slugging percentage in ‘94 ranks as the 11th best single-season mark in MLB history. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) Jeff Bagwell’s .750 slugging percentage in ‘94 is the highest in NL since Hornsby (’25). @Bags4HoF

.@(name) In ‘00, Jeff Bagwell became 5th player to post 45HR, 100RsBI, 150R season, joining Ruth, DiMaggio, Foxx & Gehrig. @Bags4HoF

.@(name) In ‘00, Jeff Bagwell became 5th player to record 300 HR, 1,000 RBI and 1,000 R in 1st 10 seasons. @Bags4HoF

.@(name)Jeff Bagwell, Aaron, DiMaggio, Robinson & Williams R only players to go 300 HRs, 1,000 RsBI and 1,000 Rs in their first 10 seasons. @Bags4HoF

EMAIL:
SUBJECT: If Bonds, Why Not Bagwell?

Last year, you voted for Barry Bonds for the Baseball Hall of Fame; deservedly so. And by doing so, you’ve indicated that whatever residual effect the steroid era had on baseball during the 90s has never or is no longer influencing your voting. Terrific!

So why is Jeff Bagwell not on you ballot? Did you know that among current Hall of Fame first baseman, Bagwell would rank 3rd in WAR (ahead of Mize, Murray, McCovey, Killebrew, Greenberg and Sisler) and 5th in OPS (ahead of McCovey, Killebrew, Murray and Sisler)? Altogether, Bagwell ranks top 50 all-time in nine offensive categories (OPS, BB, SLG%, WAR, HR, OB%, RC, XBH, RsBI).

And during his peak (1994-2003, which coincides with Bonds’ peak), Bagwell ranked top 10 in eight of 10 offensive categories. Only Bonds had more top 10 finishes among all Major League baseball players during that era (9). In fact, Bagwell actually scored and drove in more runs than Bonds over that 10-year stretch.

Bagwell and Bonds are two of only six players all-time with at least 1,500 runs, 1,500 RsBI, 1,400 walks and 200 stolen bases. The duo is also two of only 13 with at least 1,500 runs, 1,500 RsBI and 200 stolen bases. And just two of 14 with at least 400 home runs and 200 stolen bases.

If you’d like to read up on Bagwell’s incredible – and obviously underrated – career, we invite you to visit bags4hof.com. Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

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HALL OF FAME VOTING

2017: 82.6% – BINGO!
2016: 71.6%
2015: 55.7%
2014: 54.3%
2013: 59.6%
2012: 56.0%
2011: 41.7%

BY THE NUMBERS

AVG .297
HR 449
RBI 1,529
R 1,517
H 2,314
SB 202
OB% .408
SLG .540
OPS .948
OPS+ 149
WAR 79.6

AWARDS

N.L. Rookie of the Year (1991)
N.L. Most Valuable Player (1994)
N.L. Silver Slugger Award (1994, 1997, 1999)
N.L. Gold Glove (1994)
N.L. All-Star (1994, 1996, 1997, 1999)

ALL-TIME RANKINGS

21st | .948 OPS
26th | .408 OB%
28th | 149 OPS+
28th | 1,401 BB
32nd | .540 SLG%
35th | 79.6 WAR
39th | 449 HRs
46th | 969 XBHs
47th | 1,517 R
48th | 1,529 RBI

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

(Tweet until your fingers bleed)

“There is nothing about (#JeffBagwell)’s performance that isn’t worthy of the Hall of Fame.” – Buster Olney | @Buster_ESPN

“There is little doubt that (#JeffBagwell) is deserving… unless you’re somehow unimpressed by his .408 on-base percentage and .540 slugging mark, not to mention his baserunning, defense at first base and leadership of the @astros during his 15-year career.” – Ken Rosenthal | @Ken_Rosenthal

“#JeffBagwell belongs in the HoF. Not on the 10th time on the ballot — he belongs on the podium in Cooperstown this summer.” – Peter Gammons | @pgammo

“#JeffBagwell is in that conversation as far as the best first basemen ever … there’s no way around that.” – Tim Kurkjian | @Kurkjian_ESPN

“(C)riminally undersupported… #JeffBagwell was, in a nutshell, one of the four greatest first basemen of the live-ball era.” – Jayson Stark | @jaysonst

“Does (#JeffBagwell’s) overall body of work warrant a plaque in the Hall of Fame? The answer to that question is yes.” – Jerry Cransick | @jcrasnick

“(L)et me say this as clearly as I possible can say it: #JeffBagwell, IMO, is one of the greatest hitters in baseball history.” – Joe Posnanski | @JPosnanski

“I didn’t vote for (#JeffBagwell) last year but thought later that it was a mistake. Career percentages of .408 (on-base) and .540 (slugging) put him in elite class.” – Tim Cowlishaw | @TimCowlishaw

“#JeffBagwell, by any statistical measure, ranks among the most productive first basemen in major league history.” – Andrew Baggarly | @CSNBaggs

“The pride of the University of Hartford was durable, consistent and productive. (#JeffBagwell) hit for power, showed great patience, played an excellent first base and even stole 202 bases. His WAR is seventh among first basemen all time…. he’s an automatic choice.” – Peter Abraham | @PeteAbe

“There is no evidence. There is no proof. There is just suspicion. I will vote for… #JeffBagwell. Rumours shouldn’t dictate who gets a vote and who doesn’t.” – Steve Simmons | @simmonssteve

“The blackballing of… #JeffBagwell is nothing short of shameful. Thumbs up from Senator McCarthy’s ghost.” – Bob Klapisch | @BobKlap

“(#JeffBagwell) was durable, accomplished in the field, and hit for power.” – Sean McAdam | @Sean_McAdam

“#JeffBagwell should not be denied his bid to Cooperstown merely because he developed video-game arms.” – Ian O’Connor | @Ian_OConnor

“I was a little slow to come around on (#JeffBagwell), but a reader’s persistence worked; I’m now a firm believer he’s a Hall of Famer and underappreciated in his day.” – Susan Slusser | @susanslusser

“#JeffBagwell belongs in the Hall of Fame. How can anyone argue otherwise?” – Richard Justice | @richardjustice

“I’ll be proud to cast my Hall of Fame vote for #JeffBagwell.” – Jose de Jesus Ortiz | @OrtizKicks

“He’s one of the top all-time offensive first basemen, with a ridiculous 149 OPS-plus (meaning he was 49 percent better than the average National League hitter of his time).” – Ken Davidoff | @KenDavidoff

“(A)fter listening to and reading compelling commentary from highly respected baseball writers, I decided to… cast a vote for (#JeffBagwell) this time around.” – Tom Haudricourt | @Haudricourt

“I see nothing but blind accusations. Nothing but gossip in the rumor mill. So, I am now giving #JeffBagwell the vote I feel his career record deserves.” – Geoff Baker | @GeoffBakerTIMES

“(#JeffBagwell)’s incredibly well-rounded game makes him a blatantly worthy HoFer… and his exclusion from the HoF will remain a black mark against voters until they put him in.” – Jonah Keri | @jonahkeri

“His career WAR ranks 7th, his peak WAR ranks 5th and his overall JAWS ranks 6th. To mix sporting metaphors, that’s a slam dunk; #JeffBagwell unequivocally belongs in the Hall of Fame.” – Jay Jaffe | @jay_jaffe

“#JeffBagwell (is) one of the six or eight greatest first basemen who’s ever played this game.” – Rob Neyer | @robneyer

“(#JeffBagwell is) the perfect ballplayer: power, speed, on-base ability, terrific baserunner, durable, excellent defender.” – Dave Schoenfield | @dschoenfield

“Let’s hope the idiocy of not voting for #JeffBagwell based on evidence-free associations between him and PEDs ends this year.” – Joe Sheehan | @joe_sheehan

“Jeff Bagwell was one of the five to ten best first basemen ever.” – Emma Span | @emmaspan

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