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In the Bag? Well...
2006-03-27 22:44
by Mike Carminati

With Jeff Bagwell's career apparently in jeopardy, I am left wondering how many teams have had two Hall of Famers retire on them. Last year's Astros could be the last team for two future Hall of Famers, Bagwell and Roger Clemens.

No team has ever had more than two Hall of Famers play their last game in their lineup. There have actually been 16 instances in which two HoF players have retired from the same team. The last time was 34 years ago when Maz and Clemente played their last games for the Pirates (and yes, I know, Clemente didn't "retire"—let it go). Here is the full list. Note that both St. Louis teams had two future HoFers up and quit on them in 1937:

Pittsburgh Pirates19722Bill MazeroskiRoberto Clemente
St. Louis Cardinals19632Red SchoendienstStan Musial
Cleveland Indians19552Hal NewhouserRalph Kiner
New York Giants19472Ernie LombardiMel Ott
Pittsburgh Pirates19472Billy HermanHank Greenberg
Brooklyn Dodgers19382Kiki CuylerWaite Hoyt
St. Louis Browns19372Jim BottomleyRogers Hornsby
St. Louis Cardinals19372Frankie FrischJesse Haines
New York Giants19362Bill TerryTravis Jackson
Boston Braves19352Babe RuthRabbit Maranville
Philadelphia Athletics19282Tris SpeakerTy Cobb
Chicago White Sox19252Chief BenderHarry Hooper
Chicago Cubs19162Joe TinkerMordecai Brown
Cleveland Naps19102Addie JossElmer Flick
Philadelphia Phillies19062Hugh DuffyKid Nichols
New York Giants19042Dan BrouthersJim O'Rourke

Oh, so you may have noticed that I skimmed over the part where I assumed Bagwell is a Hall of Famer (and don't embarrass yourself by arguing that Clemens may not be one). Yes, my basic assumption is that Bagwell is not only a Hall of Famer, he's a better than average for HoF first basemen.

Let's test that theory. I ran a query for all HoF first sackers and took their average for various stats (Note: Banks and Carew qualify since the played more games at first than any other position):

Lou Gehrig4898001188827214931995.340.447.6321.080 179
Eddie Murray43711336162732555041917.287.359.476.836 129
Jimmie Foxx4358134175126465341922.325.428.6091.038 163
Willie McCovey4088197122922115211555.270.374.515.889 148
Rod Carew384931514243053921015.328.393.429.822 131
Cap Anson3811027719963418972076.333.393.445.838 141
Harmon Killebrew3718147128320865731584.256.376.509.884143
Roger Connor3637794162024671381322.317.397.486.883154
Dan Brouthers3556711152322961061296.342.423.519.942170
Tony Perez3499778127227323791652.279.341.463.804122
Johnny Mize3386443111820113591337.312.397.562.959158
Ernie Banks3329421130525835121636.274.330.500.830122
Jake Beckley318952616002930861575.308.361.435.796125
Orlando Cepeda3107927113123513791365.297.350.499.849 133
George Sisler2928267128428121021175.340.379.468.847124
Bill Terry2786428112021931541078.341.393.506.899136
Hank Greenberg2675193105116283311276.313.412.6051.017158
Jim Bottomley2587471117723132191422.310.369.500.869125
Frank Chance2374297797127320596.296.394.394.787135
George Kelly193599381917781481020.297.342.452.794110
HoF avg3407933135124382871441.308.383.500.883140

(And yes, George Kelly is one of the worst Hall of Famers at there.) OK, Bagwell exceeds those numbers (i.e., the averages) in all stats but at-bats, hits, and batting average. Putting Bagwell in the Hall will improve the average stats for players at his position. If that's not a definition for a first-ballot Hall of Famer, I don't know what is (and I don't).

I'll even offer that there is plenty of talent at first that is not in the Hall. What if you took all first baseman with at least 300 Win Shares who are not in the Hall, would their averages for the various statistical categories be better than the averages for those in the Hall? Let's see:

Rafael Palmeiro39510472166330205691835.288.371.515.885132
Jeff Bagwell3887797151723144491529.297.408.540.948150
Frank Thomas3626956132721364481465.307.427.568.995161
Mark McGwire3436187116716265831414.263.394.588.982163
Dick Allen3426332109918483511119.292.378.534.912156
Fred McGriff3418757134924904931550.284.377.509.886134
Will Clark3317173118621762841205.303.384.497.880138
Norm Cash3156705104618203771103.271.374.488.862139
Keith Hernandez3117370112421821621071.296.384.436.821129
John Olerud3017592113922392551230.295.398.465.863129
HoF avg3437534126221853971352.310.375.487.863143

It's pretty close. If Olerud had had an extra trip to the DL in his career, the non-Hall group would trounce the Hall guys.

So what's the point? Bagwell is arguably the best first baseman not in the Hall even without a number of flashy Hall-worthy numbers (500 homers, 3000 hits, three major felonies, etc.). With Palmeiro and possibly McGwire facing steroid backlash, Bagwell's case looks even better. And who knows? Maybe somebody they will let that Dick/Richie Allen in at some point.

2006-03-27 23:30:20
1.   das411
Great analysis as always Mike, but I wonder if the Crime Dog will get more HoF consideration than Bagwell when the time comes. Assuming Bagwell's career is in fact over, not only did McGriff establish the new Lou Gehrig HR mark (ie most HRs short of 500) but he also has the perennial playoff appearances going for him, the novelty of 5 teams with 30+ HRs, and more of an overall association with the relatively "clean" 80s-early 90s period than Bagwell, not to mention generally playing in less than hitter-friendly ballparks.

Hmm, I wonder if in 100 years the names Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff, Todd Helton, etc will be as obscure as George Kelly, Jake Beckley, Roger Connor, and Dan Brouthers are today...

2006-03-28 05:08:35
2.   Baby Maddux
There might have been one other last year, and that's if Sosa and Palmeiro both end up getting in (which looks a lot less likely now than it once did, but enough people might choose to forget after 10-15 years or so).

You could also go have a chat with Biggio, see if you can get him to retire, and then you'd have your first 3-retirement team.

And I agree that Bagwell should be a HOF lock.

2006-03-28 15:45:45
3.   Kevin S
das411 wonders if Bagwell will be as obscure in 100 years as Dan Brouthers is today. Brouthers isn't obscure to true baseball geeks: I list Brouthers ahead of Banks as the 9th-best 1st baseman ever.

But Bagwell is even better. I rate him as 3rd-best 1st baseman, after Gehrig and Foxx. Bagwell was 3 times the best player in baseball: in 1999, 1996, and 1994. Even with 3 subpar yrs at the end, he finished with an EqA (according to BP) of .321, with 1660 EqR. Those are tremendous numbers. Defensively, he was above-average, with a Rate of 103. And almost 400 career WS. And 4 yrs with at least 30 WS.

If Bagwell is obscure 100 yrs from now, it will be because baseball itself is (God forbid) obscure.

2006-03-28 18:19:31
4.   das411
3 - But will Pujols, Helton, Thome, and perhaps even Giambi, Teixiera and Howard push Bagwell down that list by the time their careers are all over?

Even if you do give credit to Bagwell for being the best player in MLB 3 times, you can very seriously argue Pujols that Pujols has been up there in each of his 5 seasons already. The older 1Bs may not match Bagwell's all-around #s but Thome will almost certainly finish with more HRs and Helton with higher counting stats. While it remains to be seen what the younger generation will do, one wonders what sort of astronomical (no pun intended) statistics they will finish up with, not having to play half of their career in an Astrodome, Old Yankee Stadium (Gehrig) or (Pujols) Busch.

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