If him, then him, the Jeff Bagwell edition

I’ve questioned why Mike Mussina’s Hall of Fame vote totals have been so low in his first two years on the ballot. His career numbers tell us he is better than the average Hall of Fame pitcher yet he hasn’t cleared 25% of the vote yet.

Jeff Joyce, my radio partner at MLB Newtwork Radio, brought up a very interesting three man comparison when looking at hitters: Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell and Vladimir Guerrero.

Frank Thomas was a no doubt first ballot Hall of Famer and received 83.7% of the vote in his first year of eligibility. Vladimir Guerrero is widely regarded as a no doubt Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible for the class on 2017. Jeff Bagwell, curiously enough, is 0 for 5 so far with his best tally coming in 2013 when he registered 59.6% of Hall of Fame voter’€™s approval.

Let’s go to the numbers:

  G PA HR RBI AVG OBP SLG SB fWAR bWAR
Frank Thomas 2322 10075 521 1704 .301 .419 .555 32 72.4 73.7
Jeff Bagwell 2150 9431 449 1529 .297 .408 .540 202 80.2 79.6
Vladimir Guerrero 2147 9059 449 1496 .318 .379 .553 181 56.5 59.3

I discount the thought that you can’t compare players at different positions when it comes to the Hall of Fame. You absolutely can. Catchers to center fielders? No. Pitchers to anyone? Of course not. But 3B, 1B and corner OF are historically positions that demand power offense and you can without question compare players to each other from those positions. Defense is fair to bring into the conversation, Bagwell is the superior defender of the group. 

There are players that are and have been on the ballot that without question deserve to be under PED suspicion, and in my opinion should not be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Both Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza are not among that group and the notion that any Hall of Fame voter would withhold a vote for either of these guys based on PEDs is unjustified. 

New rules for Hall of Fame eligibility allow players to stay on the ballot for 10 years, changed from 15. That means voters have just five more years to get it right on Bagwell. It will be close and there is absolutely no legitimate reason why it should be.