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So, what are Jeff Bagwell’s chances for the future?

Jan 5, 2011, 4:06 PM EDT


You can look at Jeff Bagwell’s measly 41.7% vote total in a couple of ways. On the one hand, it’s a big insult for a guy who was one of the best first basemen ever and you can assume he’s getting jobbed.

Another way to look at is with some optimism of eventual induction. That’s what Chris Jaffe does over at The Hardball Times:

I’m sure many are sad to see Bagwell score so lowly in this election, but it’s a good start. Aside from players currently on the ballot, only one scored higher than 31 percent the first time and hasn’t since been elected (Steve Garvey, who – like Bagwell – got 42 percent his first time). Actually, Bagwell even edges Garvey: 41.7 to 41.6 percent.

I’d like to be as optimistic, but my sense is that the guys who started out down in the 40% range and eventually made it did so because people gave their cases short shrift at first and eventually educated themselves or were convinced.  With Bagwell, however, we’re dealing with a situation in which people are — I believe anyway — taking a moral stand against him.

It’s way easier to change someone’s mind when they’re non-committal to begin with. But it’s really, really hard to change someone’s mind when they believe something with conviction.

I think Bagwell’s total stays in the same 40% range next year. At best.  It may, like McGwire’s, actually go down.

  1. lampdwellr - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    I actually disagree with this. McGwire’s went down because he clearly used steroids and this was a bad year for guys who did that. I feel like voters will sort of realize over the course of a year that no steroid evidence is different from obvious steroid evidence, no matter what kind of idiots some of them look like now.

  2. davidw7 - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    Bagwell is definitely being a victim of playing in a certain era. It’s a shame for him, but I actually see his % increasing next year. I think he’ll land in the early 50% next year. He had a real low debut percentage considering the type of career he had, but I’m hoping that he’ll get a boost next year…or maybe I’m the one being too optimistic lol

  3. stevejeltzjehricurl - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    I think Bagwell will see an uptick in votes, but not a significant one. I doubt he will decline, because I think the moral crusaders are already locked in, and they aren’t going to see anyone added to their ranks, unless someone comes up with proof Bagwell used (or an admission from Bagwell). Others will vote for him after taking a second look, and some of those folks who never vote for anyone on the first ballot will add him. My guess is that he slowly ticks upward to around 50%, then gets a boost when Craig Biggio (in his 2013 induction speech) calls out the writers as a bunch of losers. Which he should totally do.

  4. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    I wonder aloud how many steroid users are already in the football HOF….

    • schlom - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:54 PM

      All of them?

  5. dlf9 - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    I think that there is a large contingent of BBWAA members who don’t pen columns anymore and who have only a vague connection with the current game. For them, Bagwell simply doesn’t jump off the page. Fewer than 500 homers, BA under .300, his MVP was in the ’94 strike season so it wasn’t memorable, no World Series crown and only one pennant — in a season when he was clearly done. Setting aside the PED issue, Bagwell needs folks to understand the value of walks and park effects. I suspect his total will climb. See, for example, Eddie Mathews, the best 3B ever at the time of his retirement, who took 5 years on the ballot. The question is what proportion of the no votes are folks like Ed Price who infer PED use and what percentage are those who need a little reminding that not all value is in batting average.

  6. natedawg321 - Jan 5, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    I think that the number of voters for whom the title “first-ballot Hall of Famer” means a ton to is severely underestimated. It definitely comprised a huge percentage of Alomar’s increase. We’ll have to wait til next year to find out the extent to which anti-PED voters are expressing their displeasure at Bagwell.

    Especially with the new group comprising zero certain or likely HoFs, it should be a fairly clean demonstration.

    I’m pretty sure that Larkin either gets in or extremely close and Bagwell experiences a sizeable jump. The real question will be the percentage of Jack Morris voters who won’t vote for Tim Raines because he’ll clearly be perceived as the “sabremetric” candidate of choice now that Blyleven is in.

    • Kevin S. - Jan 5, 2011 at 5:40 PM

      Alomar wasn’t just punished by the “no first-balloters,” he was punished by the “no first ballot for spitting on John Hirschbeck” crowd.

  7. Glenn - Jan 5, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    Look, Bagwell is an admitted andro user and anyone who followed his career from the beginning or has personal knowledge of his early years, grew up with him, etc., knows the truth. Not sure whose on the higher horse here.

    I was at a small venue concert a few years back and the opening act was not so great. They had an obligatory song where you were supposed to clap along and my wife and I did not. The people behind us were just indignant about our lack of enthusiasm and began to clap right behind our heads. We ignored it as best we could. If some people don’t want to “clap” for Jeff Bagwell, let’s not start clapping behind their heads like we’re on some superior mission.

    • tadthebad - Jan 5, 2011 at 6:11 PM

      “…knows the truth.” Utterly absurd, unless you have some information the rest of us aren’t privy to. Rationale such as that deserves some behind the ear clapping.

    • stevejeltzjehricurl - Jan 5, 2011 at 6:23 PM

      Glenn, what exactly is the truth here? If the truth is that he used andro when it was not banned by the game, it wasn’t cheating at that time. Are we deciding that using something that was perfectly legal in the game reflects badly on his character? So much so that it overcomes all of his accomplishments and any other testimonials for his character?

      If the theory is that he cheated by using banned PEDs (and putting aside the idea that perhaps that still shouldn’t be the basis for excluding someone), then something more than vague supposition or allegations should be the basis for reaching that conclusion. What you’re saying here is worse than Pearlman, who at least cites to Bagwell’s minor league stats and tries to use his growth in build as a rationale for concluding that he took steroids. All you’re insinuating is that there are unknown people who “know” the truth. If that’s the basis for reaching a conclusion on the fact that someone took PEDs, you’re free to offer that as your opinion, but I’ll feel free to clap behind your head because it strikes me as insipid.

      And if we’re going to just post unsubstantiated rumors, I’m sure in the age of the Internet that someone can start a rumor that potential Hall of Famer “X” also used PEDs, molested collies, and re-broadcast games with only the implied oral consent of MLB.

      • jkcalhoun - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:36 PM

        Will the behind-the-head clap join the golf clap as an Internet meme? These questions and more to be answered in a future episode.

    • jhu1997 - Jan 6, 2011 at 2:41 AM

      I hate getting into these, but my term paper for one of my exercise science classes was on androstenedione, and this sort of thing drives me crazy. Andro does not confer ANY ergogenic benefit. It just doesn’t exist. It is a precursor to both testosterone and estradiol, which is why it was tried, but your body does a great job of maintaining a hormone balance, and you’re just not going to get a useful load of testosterone from it. It does tend to confer some of the side effects of steroid use.

      Ballplayers wear silly metal necklaces to improve their performance. Andro works just about as well. It wasn’t illegal when Bagwell was using it, and it didn’t help.

  8. dondbaseball - Jan 5, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    Craig, contact Rich Lederer and have him start his campaign for Bags as he now has the time since “Uncle Charlie” Blyleven has been elected.

  9. clydeserra - Jan 5, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    Rock is the real tragedy here.

  10. paperlions - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    During his one year in the minors, Albert Pujols hit 7 HR; the next year he hit 37 in the majors. That’s enough for me, must have started roiding as soon as he got the invite to spring training.

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