BBHOF Profile: Jeff Bagwell

BAGWELLThe steroid era was a massive black eye on the long a storied history of Major League Baseball as one of the most exciting and darkest times in the league.

The ball was flying out of the park throughout the 1990s as the MLB was enjoying a surge of offence that brought with it a surge of popularity.

People were tuning in to see home run races and players attempting to break long held records that nobody thought could be broken.

It was one of the best times in the history of the league as they were seeing higher ratings than usual with the boost in home runs and offence.

The dirty secret of those high home run rates though was that a big percentage of those top home run hitters found their power using PEDs.

As the new home run era entered the 2000s news broke about the secret that everyone seemed to already know.

It was always suspected that some players were using steroids to get better and the rumours continued to build near the end of the era.

Then came the book Juiced from Jose Canseco where the former power hitter began laying out the extent of PED use in the MLB.baseball-sidebar

That book changed everything in the league as more people began wondering how much of it was true and the demand for an investigation began.

Eventually, that investigation produced the truth that a number of MLB players had been supplied steroids by clinics like BALCO.

Some have admitted to using these PEDs but others have spent most of their retired lives denying ever using anything to help them and fighting the perception of being a cheater.

There is no true proof for many of these players aside from reports that came from clinics about delivering things to certain places.

There are also statements from people who ran these businesses but for some, they aren’t trustworthy enough.

That has left the baseball world in a bit of a weird spot especially when it comes to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

For names like Clemens and Bonds, there has never been proof that they used steroids yet it is widely thought that they did use while they were playing.

In the Hall of Fame, that means that they are going to have to wait if they get in at all as their numbers are easily good enough but the thought that they did it illegally keeps them out.

That same attitude has made a lot of decisions tough for the voters as the rumours are hard to separate from the truth.

It is the main reason why Jeff Bagwell had to wait seven years to earn his spot in the Hall of Fame.

He was one of the best hitters in the game and he became one of the best pretty quickly earning the Rookie of the Year in 1991 and then the MVP in 1994.

1024x1024As he continued to put up numbers as a member of the Astros he was building an easy campaign for the Hall of Fame.

Then the steroid era blew up and anyone with big numbers and a big body was surrounded by rumours of steroid use.

Bagwell was a bigger guy that got bigger as he was playing and his numbers rose as he got bigger.

In any other era, he would have been a first ballot hall of famer but those numbers have a stain on them because of the era he played in and it caused voters to shy away.

Like many of the best hitters from the era, there is no proof that Bagwell ever used steroids and he has never admitted as such.

Yet the fact that he played in that era made him a representative of the steroid era that the league would prefer to forget.

Every year he got closer to being a hall of famer but those rumours remained and some wondered if he would ever make it in.

In 2017 he will finally get there as he is now a member of the Hall of Fame and becomes one of the first big hitters from that era to make the Hall of Fame.

It might open the door for others but Bagwell was usually guilty by association rather than actually being named in any of the reports.

He was never really connected as much as the others and for some, that is the reason he finally made it and it won’t have anything to do with the others in the same era.

As a part of the Hall of Fame there will always be that part of his legacy but getting that plaque will forever solidify him as one of the best.

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