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Jeff Bagwell

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Jeffrey Robert Bagwell

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[edit] Biographical Information

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

Bagwell grew up in Boston, MA idolizing Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski. Selected by the Boston Red Sox in the fourth round of the 1989 amateur draft, he was chosen as the AA Eastern League's MVP in 1990, his first full season of professional baseball. He led the league with 160 hits and 220 total bases. He also tied for the lead with Mike Twardoski with 24 doubles and finished second to Luis Mercedes (.334) with with a .333 batting average.

He seemed well on his way to following in Yaz's footsteps to Fenway. However, 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 30, 1990, he was traded by Boston 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. However, the Astros ultimately got the better of the deal.

Originally a third baseman, Bagwell was moved to first 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.

Bagwell made his big league debut for the Astros on Opening Day 1991. He hit .294 with 15 home runs and 82 RBIs 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 RBIs. 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 occured, 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 that year was Frank Thomas, who was also born on May 27, 1968.

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, however, as the Astros finally reached the World Series. He saw limited playing time in the postseason and made his last career appearance in Game Four, 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. He ended 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 sportwriter of the old school. As we've seen, James turned out to be right.

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.

His number 5 was retired by Houston in a ceremony on August 26, 2007. 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 has traditionally been a sign of eventual election to the Hall of Fame, although he will face tough competition in future years. In 2012, his vote total jumped to 56.0%, a significant gain that confirms 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.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 1990 MVP 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)


NL MVP
1993 1994 1995
Barry Bonds Jeff Bagwell Barry Larkin


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

[edit] Records Held

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

[edit] Related Sites

Greatest 21 Days

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