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Is Biggio's Class Act HOF Worthy?
July 27, 2007
When reading about Craig Biggio's upcoming retirement, a story on ESPN.com mentioned that Biggio is the "only player in major league history with 600 doubles, 250 homers, 3,000 hits and 400 steals." Impossible, I thought. Sure those were solid numbers, but there's no way Craig Biggio is the only anything. Surely Willie Mays and Hank Aaron can top that, right? Not in steals. Barry Bonds? Currently 2 doubles and almost 100 hits short.
When guys like this retire, my first question to myself is whether the guy is HOF worthy. Somehow, with Biggio, I felt that he was, but I was sure some statistical analysis would make me decide otherwise. Instead, the stats seem to defend Biggio's status as a marginal Hall of Famer rather argue against it.
There will never be any confusion between Ted Williams and Craig Biggio, but when measured against his peers, Biggio's career holds up quite well. Simply, Craig Biggio was a quality catcher who became a Gold Glove second baseman, all the while racking up significant offensive numbers for a player at either position. Making the move to center field and then back again to second base to accommodate his team so late in his career doesn't hurt his cause either.
The only red flag for me is that Biggio seems to have stayed consistent in his offensive output (sans batting average) in the twilight of his career, but it also came at a time when Houston got a hitter-friendly ballpark to replace the Astrodome. Biggio has hit 12 more home runs at Minute Maid (to date) than he did at the Astrodome with over 1,000 less at bats. The Astrodome was hardly "home run friendly," however, so I guess it balances out, and credit has to be given for taking advantage of the new park; Biggio set career highs with 24 and 26 home runs in '04 and '05 respectively.
My requirements for a Hall of Famer are either absolute dominance for the better part of a decade or more (Pedro Martinez) or maintaining constant excellence at a position in relation to your peers over the course of a long career (Sandberg). Craig Biggio will never be viewed in history as dominant, but I believe his career is just on the plus side of long term excellence for second baseman, catcher, and occasional outfielder. Speaking of Sandberg, a recent inductee, Biggio played the same position and will finish his career with better cumulative numbers in virtually every category. With 4 less seasons played, Sandberg probably could have reached to same "lofty" numbers as Biggio but that's the point - Biggio was able to play for 20 seasons and still contribute, and that's why it's likely he will have a bust in Cooperstown sometime down the road.