CINCINNATI -- Does Jeff Bagwell’s election to the Hall of Fame mean that Joey Votto could join him one day?
Votto’s Sabermetric numbers are better than Bagwell’s. Bagwell’s slash line in .297/.408/.540. Votto’s is .313/.425/.536. Bagwell’s OPS+ is 149. Votto’s OPS+ is 157. OPS+ is on-base percentage plus slugging percentage adjusted to a player’s ballpark.
Those numbers mean a lot to younger voters.
Bagwell won an MVP and made four All-Star Games. Votto has won an MVP and has made four All-Star Games.
Those things mean a lot to all voters.
Bagwell is also much better than Votto is in the counting numbers, which mean a lot to the older voters. Bagwell finished with 449 homer runs and 1,529 RBI. Votto enters the 2017 season with 221 homers and 730 RBI. He’s unlikely to get near Bagwell on those counts.
Another factor in the comparison: Bagwell (220 steals) was better base-runner and fielder.
But Bagwell’s top years were in the steroid era. In 2000, Bagwell drove in 130 runs. He finished eighth in the majors in the category. In 2001, he drove in 132 and finished eighth again. One player has driven in the 130 or more each the last two years.
Bagwell was never under the suspicion of using steroids like some of his contemporaries, but there were whispers.
Bagwell’s election -- he got in with 86.2 percent of the vote in his seventh year on the ballot -- shows a softening of the stance by voters on PEDs. That includes me. I voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in addition to Bagwell. Bagwell’s follow electee, Pudge Rodriguez, was rumored to be a PED guy as well.
Votto’s played the bulk of his career with stringent drug testing.
Still, Votto is going to have to put up good numbers for six or seven more years to be a strong candidate. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is 47.3. Bagwell’s is 79.6.
The Red under consideration next will be Scott Rolen, who is eligible in ’18. Rolen’s offensive numbers -- .281/.364/.490 with 316 home runs and 1,287 RBI -- stack up in the middle of the Hall of Fame third baseman pack. He also has eight Gold Gloves and made six All-Star teams. His WAR (70.0) is higher than Tim Raines'.
Rolen also endeared himself to all who covered him in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Toronto and Cincinnati. My guess is he gets in down the line.
As for Votto, I think if he stays healthy, he'll get in too -- way, way down the line.