Since it was so much fun last time, we thought we would do it again!
One thing that has not changed is the number. We will again debate twenty-four men who are on the ballot.
What has changed are the ones debating. Last year I had the pleasure of having DDT, the curator of DDT’s Pop Flies blog and D.K. of the Phillies Archivist blog. This year, Spheniscus, who has participated in past Rock and Roll discussions, will be joining me.
Chairman: Spheniscus, last year we started with Jeff Bagwell, who is on the ballot for the 6th time. I am going to start off with giving myself a pat on the back for my prognostication prowess as I predicted he would remain around the same percentage of votes as the year before, which wasn’t too far off as he marginally grew his percentage from 54.3 to 55.7%.
I view that 1.4% growth as huge in a year where the ballot was so colossally loaded as a major win. I am serious on that, as had he dropped by the same percent, it would show the “order” in which the voters see him. When this site started he held the “1C” slot (the ineligible Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson hold 1A and 1B respectively) and the only reason he dropped in ranking (he is #5 right now) was because of the heavyweights entering the ballot.
My first thought is that Bagwell is poised for a major jump and while he may not enter this year, he will be a lot closer to knocking on that door.
Spheniscus: Chairman, I agree with your analysis on this one. Looking at the nominees, this looks like a list that has somewhere between 13 and 15 Hall of Famers of whom they will elect two. Why that number? Because the same people who did no investigation when the steroids era took off now sit in judgment of the players who played in that era.
The dumbest part of their evaluation unfortunately strikes right at Bagwell and his candidacy. He just looks to the voters like he took steroids. He was very muscular as a player and he hit lots of homers. He must have been cheating, right?
Well… maybe. But there is exactly zero evidence against him. That hasn’t stopped voters from withholding their votes from him of course, but with the “other unproven steroid guy” Mike Piazza likely to get in this year, I think it will help clear the way for Bagwell to get in. So I also expect a jump, probably up to the 65-67% range. Particularly since there are only two real first ballot threats added this year. One of whom, Ken Griffey Jr., will be joining Piazza in this class.
Chairman: It’s true. Bagwell has an unfair stain on him, as I personally think he should already be inducted. He is only three points away from that career 3/4/5 (with a .297/.408/.540), is 21st all-time in OPS and is 38th all-time in WAR for position players. Honestly, I think he was more valuable than his teammate, Craig Biggio, who already got in, and it should have been Bagwell opening the door for Biggio, not the other way around.
There is no statistical argument against him. We know what has been holding him back, and it is suspicion, nothing more. He has done than enough to counter playing for low-profile Houston and playing a position that saw a lot of other power hitters with sexier names. What worries me is that if he doesn’t make a significant jump this year, he will be in serious trouble, because this really seems to be the year for it to happen.
Spheniscus: I didn’t realize a career 3/4/5 was a thing, but it is damn impressive.
I am not worried about Bagwell getting in. He will get damn close this year. Somewhere into the 60s. And once he is there he will be easy for the people on the fence to vote for him. With next year’s class adding three serious candidates in Vlad Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez, and Manny Ramirez, the last two of whom have serious PED issues attached, Bagwell will be inducted in 2017.
Chairman: I think he has a serious shot this year, but failing that, he won’t have to wait any longer than a year.
As for my fictional vote, this is a solid yes for me, as it has been from the very beginning.
Spheniscus: Clearly a solid yes for me as well. I think he ends up just short. But I hope to be pleasantly surprised. He will get in next year.