It's about time.
That's my first thought when it comes to Jeff Bagwell getting inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. With an utter litany of inferior players having already been enshrined in the Hall for decades before him, Bagwell had to wait until his seventh chance before finally crossing the 75 percent threshold in the BBWAA vote. He flew past with 86.2 percent of the vote this time, leaving me wondering how in the blue hell he only got 41.7 percent his first time.
Sure, there are people convinced Bagwell used steroids with zero evidence. Attempting to pick and choose who used and who didn't in an era that was the wild west is a favorite pastime of many fans and media alike. Some reporters who apparently weren't good enough to get actual evidence would simply accuse Bagwell and not vote for him. One I can recall specifically said he was withholding a vote until Bagwell took a lie detector test for him. Imagine the self-importance of a reporter to demand a player to do so in order to gain one vote for the Hall of Fame.
Still others for some godforsaken reason didn't think Bagwell had the numbers. Lunacy. He won Rookie of the Year and an MVP. He was three times in the top three of MVP voting. He ranks 38th in career WAR among position players, 40th in on-base percentage (.408), 34th in slugging percentage (.540), 22nd in OPS, 38th in OPS+, 40th in home runs, 28th in walks and is one of 33 players in history to top 1,500 in both runs and RBI.
More than anything, though, Bagwell fits the Hall of "Fame" along with Craig Biggio as being the heart and soul of the "Killer Bees" Astros, who made the playoffs six times in nine years, taking the NL pennant in 2005 (when, sadly, Bagwell could barely play due to his shoulder issues).
The numbers are there, but in Hall discussions some people like to talk about the immeasurable "it" factor. OK, so let's do it.
Think about the best teams in baseball from 1997-2005. Obviously the Yankees and Braves are there and surely some think about the Red Sox, Cardinals and Barry Bonds' Giants. The Astros won 800 games in that nine-year stretch, good for sixth in the majors. That's not a small time period, either, and the heart and soul of those Astros teams were Biggio and Bagwell.
I don't think it's too much to ask for the "Fame" and "it factor" people to realize that Astros nucleus deserves its two Hall of Famers. Anyone who closely followed baseball during those days knew the Biggio and Bagwell Astros were tough as nails.
The numbers people don't need to be convinced. Using Jay Jaffe's JAWS system, Bagwell ranks as a well-above-average first baseman, sitting sixth all-time behind Lou Gehrig, Albert Pujols, Jimmie Foxx, Cap Anson and Roger Connor. He's ahead of names like Frank Thomas, Miguel Cabrera, Jim Thome, Willie McCovey, Eddie Murray, Hank Greenberg, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Perez and Orlando Cepeda.
Likely the only people unsatisfied on Bagwell getting in the Hall are those who are desperately uninformed or believe they know exactly who used and who didn't use "steroids" in an era that didn't have teeth in its rules or a testing system in place.
You know what? Who cares about those people anymore? Screw 'em. They lost. Bagwell won. He's in, alongside Biggio, right where he belongs.