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Monday, January 16, 2012

Voter Ignorance Creates Potential For Something "Killer" in 2013

*Before I start this I just want to congratulate Barry Larkin on his induction into Baseball's Hall of Fame. His election is definitely warranted and it is because of guys like him and Cal Ripken Jr. that have led to the resurgence of great power hitting and great fielding shortstops like Derek Jeter and Jose Reyes. Congratulations Barry!

Unfortunately the voters did not elect the best player to be featured on this year's ballot, Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell's case is unfortunate because he happened to play during baseball's infamous "steroid era." Although never linked to any form of cheating, he was a big muscular guy and is something that may haunt his chances at ever getting into the Hall. Known users such as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro haven't even garnered over 20% of the vote in the years they have been on the ballot. Luckily for Bagwell he earned a jump in votes this year and although it's painfully obvious that he is collateral damage from all of baseball's bad boys, he should eventually earn enshrinement. A leap from 56% to the necessary 75% may seem unlikely but if he does manage to earn enough votes there is the potential for him to be inducted with his former teammate Craig Biggio.

Bagwell's cumulative WAR begs for Hall of Fame consideration (Fangraphs)

Bagwell's numbers speak Hall of Fame volumes. A career .297/.408/.540 guy with 449 HRs, 1529 RBIs, not to mention winning the 1991 NL Rookie of the Year and 1994 NL Most Valuable Player. Most of Bagwell's prime production occurred in Houston's Astrodome, which was a notorious pitcher's park. For fans of sabremetrics, his career WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 79.9 is certainly higher than a majority of Cooperstown's elite.

Craig Biggio without a doubt in my mind should be a first ballot Hall of Famer, especially with the prospects of having to vote for the likes of steroid beasts Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in the backs of voter's minds. Biggio has always been one of those stand up guys and put up the numbers to easily garner election. As you can see above in the cumulative WAR graph, Biggio's career lines up nicely with Barry Larkin's. Another lifetime Houston Astro, Biggio has put up Hall worthy numbers including 3060 career hits, 1175 RBIs, and 414 SBs. His 668 doubles gives him the record for most all-time as a right-handed hitter. Biggio did all this primarily as a leadoff hitter, who started his career as a catcher and earned an all-star selection as such. He has moved to second base for which he played most of his career and even played several outfield positions when the Astros acquired the likes of Jeff Kent and later Carlos Beltran. Add the fact that he is a 7-time all-star, 4-time gold glove winner, and 5-time silver slugger, and Biggio would certainly have my vote.

These two will should be inducted next year

If the "Killer B's" happen to be elected next year it would mark the first time that teammates were elected to the Hall since Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were elected back in 1974. These two were the good guys during their respective careers and represented MLB and the city of Houston extremely well. The numbers that they both put up should alone earn them enshrinement into Baseball's hallowed hall and until anyone can prove that Bagwell ever came within an inch of a needle or any form of steroids, he should not be dragged into the torture chamber that current and future Hall of Fame candidates will be placed in.

Let's hope that the voters get it right in 2013, but if history serves as any indication, I won't be holding my breath on this one. Best of luck to Biggio and Bagwell, they certainly deserve it.

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