Bagwell: 'I won't relax' until HOF results are in

Anxious slugger appears likely to gain induction in seventh year on ballot

January 17th, 2017

HOUSTON -- He was the entire package. Jeff Bagwell hit for average and power. He was an excellent defensive player who might have even been a better baserunner, though he certainly didn't have tremendous speed. He was a terrific teammate and respected by everyone in the game.

Bagwell, who starred at first base for the Astros from 1991-2005, is the kind of player often enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and the slugger will find out Wednesday afternoon if he'll join long-time teammate Craig Biggio in getting enshrined in Cooperstown later this summer.

The results of the 73rd BBWAA Hall of Fame election will be revealed Wednesday at 5 p.m. CT live on MLB Network, and simulcast live on beginning at 2 p.m.

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"I won't relax," Bagwell said last month. "I'm not a slam dunk like [Ken Griffey] Junior was. You never know what can happen. Unfortunately, I had to watch Craig not get in for a couple of years, and I was shocked by that. You just never know in that situation what people are going to vote for."

Bagwell, in his seventh year on the ballot, has appeared on 88.5 percent of the 219 ballots that have been made public and compiled by Ryan Thibodaux through his Twitter account, @NotMrTibbs. That's roughly 52 percent of the ballots that expected to be submitted by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Players need 75 percent to gain induction.

"A little bit, but I understand it," Bagwell said when asked if he was surprised it has taken him so long to get enough votes. "I understand how people like to throw stuff out there and all that kind of [stuff]. That's fine. I can't control that kind of stuff. The only thing I can control is what I did on the field. If it's good enough, it's good enough. If it's not, it's not. And that's just the way I look at it."

Last year, Bagwell saw his name appear on 315 of the 440 ballots (71.6 percent), a jump from 55.7 percent in '15, which was the fifth straight year he was between 50-60 percent after receiving 41.7 percent his first year on the ballot in '11.

As far as the numbers go, Bagwell is among the best first basemen ever to play the game. He hit .297 in his 15-year career (all in Houston), with 2,314 hits, 449 homers, 1,529 RBIs, 1,517 runs scored and a .408 on-base percentage. He was the 1991 National League Rookie the Year, 1994 NL Most Valuable Player, and his 79.6 WAR ranks sixth among first basemen all time, according to Baseball-Reference.

Bagwell, who retired following the 2005 season because of a degenerative shoulder condition, last appeared in an Astros uniform during the '05 World Series, the crowning achievement in a career in which he helped the Astros reach the postseason six times. The early end to his career kept him from hitting 500 home runs, which almost certainly would have punched his ticket to the Hall.

"I don't know what I'm going to feel like," he said. "I really don't. This whole process right now, last year I didn't expect to get in and then all of a sudden everybody was going crazy like I might get in. I was like, 'What?' But this year, obviously everybody is hoping for this year, and this is probably my best opportunity. I'm excited for it. This year if I don't get in, I'll probably be a little disappointed, but before that, more than anything else, I want to hear yes or no. That's the bottom line. Get it over with."