Friday, January 7, 2011

Jeff Bagwell belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Ok, so if some writers are to be believed, Jeff Bagwell must have done steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. The reasons they give are:

1: he has muscles.
2: he never had power in the minor leagues
3: he's made some statements about not caring if other guys were doing PED's.

There's no proof that he was ever involved with steroids. The guy was a workout machine, and built his body through lifting. Heck, if he was doing steroids he probably wouldn't have had to retire from his shoulder problems. As for not caring about other players? So what? He's got his own career to worry about, and I'm sure he knew that he was naturally just as strong, or stronger than anyone doing PED's.

Let's look at the whole "no power in the minors".

It's true he didn't hit a lot of home runs in the minors. He was drafted in June 1989, and played some games in the rookie league and A ball that year. He hit for a high average, not much power. (14 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs in 229 at bats). As a team, Winter Haven (where Bags spent most of his time) hit 69 home runs in 139 games.

Moving onto 1990. Playing in AA for New Britain, Bags hit .333 with 34 doubles, 7 triples and 4 home runs in 481 at bats. Again, seemingly not much power. Except for those 34 doubles.
I wonder. Is it possible that the was playing in a pitcher's park?

New Britain played 139 games that season. The entire team hit 31 home runs. They went 72-67, so it's not as if they were a bad team. Eric Wedge lead the team with 5 home runs.

A tiny amount of research find the information that the team played in a park called Beehive Field. An article from the Boston Globe in 1994 states the following:

"New Britain's Beehive Field is where long balls and some sluggers' careers go to die"

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- Just a night earlier, New Britain Red Sox slugger Jose Malave had boomed a three-run homer against the Portland Sea Dogs, so all was no longer clear. Perhaps Death Valley really did harbor some life.
And when Malave said Beehive Field "is a great place to hit," and not really the Grand Canyon, perhaps the myth was dead. Some 2,062 fans could say they saw a homer at Beehive Field, when for so long it had been thought that more eyes had seen the Loch Ness Monster than such a feat in New Britain, Conn.
"You know," said Gerry Berthiaume, the BritSox general manager, "the Red Sox never let Mike Greenwell and Phil Plantier play here....

So clearly the suggestion is that Beehive Field was a pitcher's park.

I think Jeff Bagwell was developing his power before he hit the majors, he just wasn't in the right place to show it. Fortunately for the Houston Astros, they saw it.

And as far as the muscles go, looking at this card, I'd say Mr. Bagwell was already looking pretty buff back in 1990.

So, I guess the point I'm trying to make here is this. You can't just look at someone, or just look at their stats without understanding the context. So for all the lazy baseball writers out there who assume that Bagwell did steroids, give your heads a shake. If every player who was fit and had muscles was left out of the hall of fame, no one will ever get in.


  1. I agree that Jeff Bagwell is a Hall of Famer. I'm willing to listen to anyone who wants to argue that he's not because he didn't hit 500 home runs in a home run era.

    Anybody who refuses to vote for him solely because of their own suspicion that he might have used steroids should give up their voting privileges.

  2. No doubt. Same goes for the 2 guys who voted for BJ Surhoff, and the 5 that turned in a blank ballot.

    Bagwell would have easily made 500+ home runs if he'd stayed healthy, and if anything the fact that he didn't stay healthy should work towards proving that he didn't do PED's.