Jeff Bagwell

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Jeffrey Robert Bagwell

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2017

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Biographical Information[edit]

"Congratulations, Jeff, on your number being retired. I begged the Red Sox not to trade you when you were in the minors with us. Boston's loss was Houston's gain. See you in Cooperstown." - Carl Yastrzemski, 2007


Hall of Fame first baseman Jeff Bagwell played fifteen seasons with the Houston Astros and, along with Craig Biggio, was the face of the club for many years.

Bagwell was born and grew up in Boston idolizing Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski. Selected by the Boston Red Sox in the fourth round of the 1989 amateur draft, he was named the Double A Eastern League's MVP in 1990, his first full season of professional baseball. He led the league with 160 hits and 220 total bases, tying for the lead with Mike Twardoski with 24 doubles and finishing second to Luis Mercedes (.334) with a .333 batting average. He seemed well on his way to following in Yaz's footsteps to Fenway Park. But a little over a year after signing with the BoSox, Bagwell became part of one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history. On August 30th, he was traded to the Houston Astros for journeyman relief pitcher Larry Andersen. Andersen had a 1.23 ERA for the Sox that season, helping the team to a division title, then left as a free agent. The Astros ultimately got the better of the deal.

Originally a third baseman, Bagwell was moved to first base by Astros manager Art Howe because Ken Caminiti was the team's regular at third. Caminiti went on to become one of Bagwell's closest friends. Jeff made his big league debut for on Opening Day 1991. He hit .294 with 15 home runs and 82 RBI that season and was named the National League Rookie of the Year. Three years later, in 1994, he had his best season, when he hit .368 with 39 homers and 116 RBI. He only played in 110 games as his year was cut short because of a season-ending wrist injury right before the start of the 1994 players strike; had the strike not occurred, he would likely not have been in consideration for the MVP Award, but as things stood, he had not missed any significant playing time yet and was voted the award. Coincidentally, his American League MVP counterpart was Frank Thomas, who was also born on May 27, 1968. They are the only two Hall of Famers to be born on the same day. In 1999, Bagwell became one of only two players who have ever had a season with 30 stolen bases, 120 walks, and 140 runs scored; Lenny Dykstra did it in 1993.

Later in his career, Bagwell was slowed by a shoulder injury. While his batting average dropped, he did not miss significant playing time because of the ailment until 2005, when he was out most of the season. He returned when the Astros finally reached the World Series. He saw limited playing time in the postseason and made his last career appearance in Game 4, grounding out as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. Because of his recurring injury, Bagwell missed the entire 2006 season and retired at the end of the year. On the same day that Bagwell formally retired, the Astros settled a lawsuit with an insurance company over a claim that the Astros were due over $15 million for disability connected with Bagwell's shoulder. He wrapped his career as the Astros all-time home run leader.

Bagwell is famous as the test case for the Bill James style of baseball analysis. When Bagwell came up, James predicted he would be a star. That prediction (and more importantly, the basis on which it was made) was hotly contested by an established sportswriter of the old school. As we have seen, James turned out to be right.

His number 5 was retired by Houston in a ceremony on August 26, 2007, and he was in the inaugural class for the Houston Astros Hall of Fame in 2019. At the All-Star break in 2010, he was named the Astros' hitting coach, replacing Sean Berry. Houston had some of the worst hitting statistics in the majors at the time. He was the top vote getter among newcomers on the ballot in the 2011 Hall of Fame Election, getting 41.7% of the vote and finishing 6th. Such a strong start is traditionally a sign of eventual election, although he faced tough competition in future years. In 2012, his vote total jumped to 56.0%, a significant gain that confirmed his strength as a candidate for election. He continued to move up in 2013, to 59.6% but dropped to 54.3% in 2014, along with others who had received between 50 and 65% in previous elections, the result of a particularly strong ballot. There was another strong ballot in 2015, which saw him finish in 6th place, at 55.7%. He moved up significantly in 2016, receiving 71.6% of the vote, less than 4% away from the required total, making his future election almost certain. Indeed, in the next round of voting, in 2017, he was elected with 86.2% of the vote, joining Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez in that year's class of players elected by the BBWAA.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 1990 Player of the Year Eastern League New Britain Red Sox
  • 1991 NL Rookie of the Year Award
  • 1991 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • 4-time NL All-Star (1994, 1996, 1997 & 1999)
  • NL MVP (1994)
  • NL Gold Glove Winner (1994)
  • 3-time NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1994, 1997 & 1999)
  • NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1994)
  • NL OPS Leader (1994)
  • 3-time NL Runs Scored Leader (1994, 1999 & 2000)
  • NL Total Bases Leader (1994)
  • NL Doubles Leader (1996)
  • NL RBI Leader (1994)
  • NL Bases on Balls Leader (1999)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 12 (1993-2004)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 9 (1994 & 1996-2003)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1997, 1999 & 2000)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 8 (1994, 1996-2001 & 2003)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 9 (1994, 1996-2001, 2003 & 2004)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 2017

1993 1994 1995
Barry Bonds Jeff Bagwell Barry Larkin

NL Rookie of the Year
1990 1991 1992
David Justice Jeff Bagwell Eric Karros

Records Held[edit]

  • Tied MLB record by hitting four doubles in a game, June 14, 1996

Further Reading[edit]

  • Associated Press: "Longtime Astros slugger Bagwell elected to Hall of Fame", USA Today Sports, January 18, 2017. [1]
  • "Jeff Bagwell: Houston's Humble First Baseman Has Muscled his Way to the Top", Sport, Volume 86, Number 5, May 1995, pp. 18-.
  • Jim Bianchine: "Jeff Bagwell: Another Good One Red Sox Let Get Away", Baseball Digest, Volume 53, Number 5, May 1994, pp. 36-.
  • Steve Campbell: "'B' All, End Hall?: Jeff Bagwell Knows He Did Things the Right Way in a Cooperstown-Worthy Career, But if the Hall Doesn't Call the Former Killer B? 'I'm Ggood,' He Says", Houston Chronicle, July 27, 2009, pp. 1-. [2]
  • Al Carter: "Power Stroke, Subtle Touch: Jeff Bagwell May Be Headed to the Hall of Fame, Even Without the Fame", The Dallas Morning News, August 27, 2003, pp. 1C-.
  • Karl Cicitto, Bill Nowlin and Leonard Levin: Jeff Bagwell in Connecticut: A Consistent lad in the land of steady habits, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2019. ISBN 978-1-943816-97-2
  • Robert Cohen: "Jeff Bagwell / Craig Biggio", in The 50 Most Dynamic Duos in Sports History: Baseball, Basketball, Football, and Hockey, Scarecrow Press, Lanham, MD, 2012, pp. 98-100. ISBN 978-0810885561 [3]
  • Alyson Footer: "Stance and deliver: Bagwell defied logic in box: New Hall of Famer recalls evolution of exaggerated squat",, January 19, 2017. [4]
  • Stephen Goff: "Jeff Bagwell Offers Hall of Fame Explanation on Steroid Rumors", Houston Examiner, December 30, 2010. [5]
  • Stephen Goff: "Suspicion to Blame in Jeff Bagwell Falling Short on Hall of Fame Ballot", Houston Examiner, January 5, 2011. [6]
  • Simon Gonzalez: "Turning Some Heads: In Giving the Astros a Steadying Force on Offense, First Baseman Jeff Bagwell Is Putting up Numbers That Are Hard to Ignore", Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 1, 1994, pp. 12-.
  • Burt Graeff: "Odd Batting Stance Doesn't Inhibit Astros' Jeff Bagwell", Baseball Digest, Volume 56, Number 10, October 1997, pp. 56-.
  • Neil Hohlfeld: "'I'm a Regular Person': Baseball Still a Fun Game for Jeff Bagwell", Houston Chronicle, March 1, 1992, pp. 1-.
  • Todd Jones: "Houston's Heart and Soul: Longtime Teammates Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell Elevate the Astros with Their Gutsy Play and Can-Do Attitude", The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH, October 8, 1999, pp. 07E-.
  • Matt Kelly: "Bagwell's '94 MVP season part of HOF-worthy career: Hall of Fame candidate set dizzying pace in strike-shortened campaign",, December 30, 2016. [7]
  • Matt Kelly: "Breaking down Bagwell's Hall of Fame case: Four-time All-Star narrowly missed election in '16",, January 11, 2017. [8]
  • Sarah Langs: "Why May 27, 1968, is THE best birth date in baseball history",, May 27, 2023. [9]
  • Josh Lewin: "Jeff Bagwell", in You Never Forget Your First: Ballplayers Recall Their Big League Debuts, Potomac Books Inc., Washington, DC, 2005, pp. 4-5. ISBN 978-1574889611 [10]
  • John McCullough, ed.: "Jeff Bagwell", in My Greatest Day in Baseball, 1946-1997: Baseball's Legends Recount Their Epic Moments, Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, TX, 1998. ISBN 978-0878339891
  • Brian McTaggart: "Bagwell's near miss bodes well for Class of '17",, January 7, 2016. [11]
  • Brian McTaggart: "It's in the Bag! Astros slugger earns Hall call: Bagwell gets 86.2 percent of vote, joins Biggio as lone Houston players in Cooperstown",, January 18, 2017. [12]
  • Leigh Montville: "Trade Deficit: Jeff Bagwell Has Proved that by Trading him to the Astros, the Red Sox Made Another Ruthian Blunder", Sports Illustrated, Volume 79, Number 4, July 26, 1993, pp. 44-48. [13]
  • Rob Neyer: "Greg Maddux & Jeff Bagwell", in Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends: The Truth, the Lies, and Everything Else, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2008, pp. 14-15. ISBN 978-0743284905 [14]
  • Gary Peterson: "Jeff Bagwell: A Consistent 'Hitting Machine' for Astros", Baseball Digest, Volume 55, Number 10, October 1996, pp. 44-.
  • Steve Rushin: "Beege and Bags Forever", Sports Illustrated, Volume 98, Number 23, June 9, 2003, pp. 15-. [15]
  • Clifford Thompson, ed.: "Bagwell, Jeff", in Current Biography Yearbook, H.W. Wilson, New York, NY, 2000, pp. 25-27. ISBN 978-0824210045
  • Tom Verducci: "One Of A Kind: A Self-Made Slugger with a Screwy Stance, Houston's Uniquely Gifted Jeff Bagwell Is Mr. Indispensable", Sports Illustrated, Volume 91, Number 3, July 19, 1999, pp. 56-61. [16]
  • Ed Werder: "Painful Rise to Power: Jeff Bagwell Has Earned Slugger Status, Now if He Could Just Go the Distance", The Dallas Morning News, June 29, 1996, pp. 1B-.

Related Sites[edit]