Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Cooperstown case for Jeff Bagwell

Here’s the dilemma facing the BBWAA: Due to the imperfect knowledge we have of who did or didn’t do steroids, the voters will have to end up doing one of two things —either elect a guy who did steroids or keep out someone who never did them. Given our lack of concrete evidence, it’s hard to avoid one of those two options.

Bagwell is an interesting test case for the BBWAA. To date, the only other steroid candidates on the ballot are pretty open-shut cases. Mark McGwire’s congressional testimony created a widespread belief he was took them, and he’s since admitted it, and Rafael Palmeiro famously flunked a drug test.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 19, 2011 at 04:12 PM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, hall of fame

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 19, 2011 at 06:57 PM (#4019418)
To date, the only other steroid candidates on the ballot are pretty open-shut cases.


Not really. Would anybody really be surprised to find out that somebody already elected was a user?
   2. Endless Trash Posted: December 19, 2011 at 07:11 PM (#4019429)
Like Paul Molitor?
   3. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 19, 2011 at 07:11 PM (#4019430)
Most BBWAA members seem to think that steroids didn't exist before the 1990s.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: December 19, 2011 at 07:14 PM (#4019433)
Like Paul Molitor?


Not that it would surprise me in the slightest if Paul Molitor used steroids, but is there a specific reason you'd bring him up?
   5. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 19, 2011 at 07:27 PM (#4019442)
Would anybody really be surprised to find out that somebody already elected was a user?

No. But I was just thinking of people perceived as or wondered about as steroiders.
   6. BDC Posted: December 19, 2011 at 07:28 PM (#4019444)
Just in terms of overall career impact at face value, the most comparable player to Bagwell might be one unmentioned in TFA, Willie McCovey:

Player             PA OPS+   Age    G  HR  RBI   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG
Jeff Bagwell     9431  149 23
-37 2150 449 1529 1401 1558 .297 .408 .540
Willie McCovey   9686  147 21
-42 2588 521 1555 1345 1550 .270 .374 .515 


With a lot of caveats about era, park, speed, defense, and the like, obviously. McCovey's career had a different trajectory, but each of them had an MVP season when they were flat-out brilliant. They were roughly comparable players – McCovey hit more home runs, Bagwell a higher average and more doubles – and though Bagwell's peak is a bit less impressive, his defense and baserunning are a lot more impressive.

Which implies a pretty strong if-then argument, because McCovey gets no serious resistance to the idea that he's a HOFer.

As to the steroids issue, it's a kind of weird situation. Either there's evidence that people won't share (unlikely given how much sharing goes on these days), or people just don't want to vote for any homerun hitter, as if only homerun hitters would have been using PEDs.
   7. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 19, 2011 at 07:35 PM (#4019450)
This whole steroids thing is silly. There is nobody that surprises me as a potential PED user. In fact, you could argue that the use of steroids by some players had a positive impact on the statistics of those who did not use PEDs:

1) PED hitters wearing out bullpens, which helps everybody;
2) more runs scored and RBIs, because of PED hitters around you being on base, and driving you in;
3) PED pitchers able to pitch more and/or better innings, saving wear-and-tear on non-PED pitchers;
4) we know the batting averages and OBPs of players go up when there are runners on base, so when PED hitters get on base, it helps the non-PED hitters, too.

It is impossible to completely strip out the impact of PEDs on the game.If Johnny Damon gets to 3,000 hits, for example, and becomes a decent HOF candidate in the eyes of many, will those four years in Boston, where he gets a WS ring, scores lots of runs, get lots of hits, etc., be discounted because of the indirect help he received from Ortiz and Ramirez? He has certainly recevied some help from that dynamic...but how much? How can you know?

And guys like Clemens? Who cares if he took PEDs, in terms of his HOF-wrthiness? Like Bill James said about Rickey Henderson, if you split Clemens into two players, you'd have two HOF'ers. Nobody is claiming he took PEDs while with the Red Sox. When he left the Sox, his stats were:
192-111,3.06 ERA, ERA+ of 145, 382 GS, 100 CGs, 2,776 IP, 2,590 Ks

Let's say he started doing tons of PEDs the day he signed with Toronto. So what? You don't think he's a HOF? Move on, already!
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: December 19, 2011 at 07:48 PM (#4019469)
In fact, you could argue that the use of steroids by some players had a positive impact on the statistics of those who did not use PEDs:


Only in a counting sense (and even then, every positive stat for someone is a negative for someone else). But it's definitely not true in a rate (or comparative) statistic.*



* Assuming, of course, that PEDs EP.
   9. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 19, 2011 at 08:10 PM (#4019501)
Just in terms of overall career impact at face value, the most comparable player to Bagwell might be one unmentioned in TFA, Willie McCovey:

Actually, McCovey IS mentioned in TFA.

Prior to Bagwell, the battle for the best NL first baseman fell to either some 19th-century guys like Cap Anson and Roger Connor, or Johnny Mize or Willie McCovey. Credible cases could be made for all, but a reasonable case could be made for Bagwell over them.

The 19th-century guys played too far back in a much weaker overall league. Mize was a lot like Bagwell—power, average, walks—but had an even shorter career. Bagwell had fewer homers than McCovey, but more extra-base hits, more times on base and fewer outs. In his New Historical Abstract, Bill James ranks Bagwell the third-best first baseman ever, first among all NL ones.

Personally, I might take McCovey over him due to the difference in eras (McCovey played in the pitcher-happy 1960s), but if there’s a credible case that Bagwell is the best at his position in the history of his league, that’s an argument for induction. His best challenge to the title is the guy who emerged later on, Albert Pujols.
   10. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 19, 2011 at 08:39 PM (#4019525)
Let's say he started doing tons of PEDs the day he signed with Toronto. So what? You don't think he's a HOF? Move on, already!


It's not about whether any of these guys are worthy of the HOF, its about punishment.
   11. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 19, 2011 at 08:51 PM (#4019536)
In fact, you could argue that the use of steroids by some players had a positive impact on the statistics of those who did not use PEDs:


Perhaps this was meant as tongue-in-cheek, but if not, this strikes me as one of the more tortuous apologies I've ever encountered.

1) PED hitters wearing out bullpens, which helps everybody;


Unless you happen to be a relief pitcher.

2) more runs scored and RBIs, because of PED hitters around you being on base, and driving you in;


So it helps unless you are a starter or a relief pitcher. Except it doesn't really help, since you're not paid by the RBI or run, you're paid based on your performance relative to your peers.

3) PED pitchers able to pitch more and/or better innings, saving wear-and-tear on non-PED pitchers;


Managers should really catch on to this handy excuse: "Hey, I'm not benching you because you suck, I'm benching you to save you wear-and-tear, yeah, right! You should be thanking me!"

4) we know the batting averages and OBPs of players go up when there are runners on base, so when PED hitters get on base, it helps the non-PED hitters, too.


See #2.

So PEDs help everyone, as long as you aren't a starting pitcher, reliever, bench player or a hitter.
   12. BDC Posted: December 19, 2011 at 09:28 PM (#4019561)
Sorry I missed the McCovey refs, Chris. Damn you, CTRL+F! :)
   13. John DiFool2 Posted: December 19, 2011 at 11:55 PM (#4019654)
Prior to Bagwell, the battle for the best NL first baseman fell to either some 19th-century guys like Cap Anson and Roger Connor, or Johnny Mize or Willie McCovey. Credible cases could be made for all, but a reasonable case could be made for Bagwell over them.


That's pretty astonishing, on its face (that Bags could be the best NL 1B ever, a possibility I don't dispute). I've always considered him and teammate Biggio to be pretty even (WAR gives Bags a slight edge peak and career, probably on the diffs between their gloves), but wouldn't consider Biggio anywhere close to the best NL 2B ever.
   14. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 20, 2011 at 12:21 AM (#4019667)
I've always considered him and teammate Biggio to be pretty even (WAR gives Bags a slight edge peak and career, probably on the diffs between their gloves), but wouldn't consider Biggio anywhere close to the best NL 2B ever.

Well, yeah. Bagwell wouldn't be close to being the best NL 1B ever if Gehrig played in the NL. Hornsby and Morgan spent their entire careers in the NL.
   15. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 20, 2011 at 12:55 AM (#4019685)
That's pretty astonishing, on its face (that Bags could be the best NL 1B ever, a possibility I don't dispute). I've always considered him and teammate Biggio to be pretty even (WAR gives Bags a slight edge peak and career, probably on the diffs between their gloves), but wouldn't consider Biggio anywhere close to the best NL 2B ever.

It's interesting. Mize is still probably the best once you consider that he lost his age 30-32 seasons to WWII. And yet Mize was never voted in by the writers (despite being voted to start the All-Star game eight times) and had to wait for the VC to put him in the Hall of Fame.

Biggio is far from the best NL 2B ever but that's just because the crop is so good. He really isn't that far off from Bagwell in terms of career value.
   16. cardsfanboy Posted: December 20, 2011 at 01:15 AM (#4019699)
Well, yeah. Bagwell wouldn't be close to being the best NL 1B ever if Gehrig played in the NL. Hornsby and Morgan spent their entire careers in the NL.


and of course Pujols came along right when Bagwell career ended, even if he is arguably the best, it was a short lived tenure, is there any doubt that Pujols (even after leaving the NL) is the best firstbaseman in NL history?
   17. Walt Davis Posted: December 20, 2011 at 01:30 AM (#4019712)
That's pretty astonishing, on its face (that Bags could be the best NL 1B ever

Once upon a time, it was rare for a player to start his career at 1B unless he was already big and slow. The big and slow ones tended not to last too long.

Greatest AL 1B is Gehrig and then it's, what, Murray? Oh, OK, that Foxx guy was pretty good. Anyway, I'm not sure how well P-I does games at position but, 1900 or later, it finds only 18 guys with at least 2000 games at 1B. Bagwell is #2 in OPS+. Todd Helton has a case as the #3 NL 1B of all-time. 7 of the 18 started their careers 1985 or later (plus Hernandez and Murray). Between 1940 and 1969, no 1B began a career that lasted 2000 games there.

That's still not bad but you do get 16 SS with 2000+ games.
   18. Something Other Posted: December 20, 2011 at 01:36 AM (#4019722)
Huh. If Willie McCovey is arguably the best 1Bman in NL history--and I loved McCovey the player--that's a weak position.
   19. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 20, 2011 at 01:44 AM (#4019730)
Huh. If Willie McCovey is arguably the best 1Bman in NL history--and I loved McCovey the player--that's a weak position.

He's not, really, even before Bagwell. Johnny Mize's NL WAR is higher than McCovey's, and that's without giving any credit for his three years missed to WW2.
   20. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 20, 2011 at 02:13 AM (#4019757)
If Willie McCovey is arguably the best 1Bman in NL history--and I loved McCovey the player--that's a weak position.


With the obvious caveat that Willie McCovey can, in no way, be viewed as having had a "weak" career, it's true. As noted above, the best 1B in history were mostly ALers - Gehrig, Foxx, Greenberg, Murray, Killebrew (yeah, big drop from Foxx to those last three). I would describe Bagwell as the best NL first baseman of the 20th century. That avoids having to compare him to Anson, Brouthers, and Connor, and recognizes that Pujols has almost certainly passed him (even granting that he's probably played his last NL game).

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
aleskel
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 9-26-2018
(10 - 10:41am, Sep 26)
Last: JJ1986

Gonfalon CubsThe Final Push
(203 - 10:40am, Sep 26)
Last: Andere Richtingen

NewsblogOTP 2018 September 24: Baseball and the presidency
(994 - 10:39am, Sep 26)
Last: PepTech, the Legendary

NewsblogDetroit Tigers food services employee in custody after video showed him spitting on pizza
(44 - 10:33am, Sep 26)
Last: BDC

NewsblogCarlos Santana at third base in 2019? He’d be open to it | NBC Sports Philadelphia
(17 - 10:27am, Sep 26)
Last: Tom Nawrocki

NewsblogOT - 2018 NBA Thread (Pre-Season Edition)
(604 - 10:20am, Sep 26)
Last: SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY

NewsblogOT: Soccer Thread (2018-19 season begins!)
(854 - 10:17am, Sep 26)
Last: PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina

Hall of MeritGary Carter
(33 - 9:21am, Sep 26)
Last: Der-K: at 10% emotional investment

NewsblogBobby Evans’ days as the Giants’ GM appear to be numbered
(11 - 8:51am, Sep 26)
Last: asinwreck

NewsblogFive Tool Players | Articles | Bill James Online
(46 - 8:39am, Sep 26)
Last: Rally

NewsblogTaking Back the Ballparks - Dodgers voting thread
(17 - 8:31am, Sep 26)
Last: ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick

NewsblogMariners’ Felix Hernandez ‘so proud to be an American’ after becoming a U.S. citizen
(24 - 8:21am, Sep 26)
Last: Greg K

NewsblogTickets available as Marlins host Reds
(91 - 8:15am, Sep 26)
Last: PreservedFish

NewsblogNo more Jello Pudding Pops for OMNICHATTER, for Sept. 25, 2018
(79 - 8:14am, Sep 26)
Last: ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick

NewsblogMarlins Finish With Lowest Home Draw Since 2004 Expos
(14 - 11:40pm, Sep 25)
Last: Steve Parris, Je t'aime

Page rendered in 0.3073 seconds
46 querie(s) executed