On his third attempt, former Astros catcher, second baseman, and (somewhat disastrous) center fielder Craig Biggio has gained entry into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. While several ex-Astros have also been voted in—notably fellow second basemen Nellie Fox and Joe Morgan and pitchers Nolan Ryan and another of this year’s inductees in Randy Johnson—none wore Astros gear to their induction ceremony or posed in same for their bust.
While Biggio’s career was Cooperstown-worthy by any sane definition—after all, aside from Pete Rose, no player with more than 3,000 hits has not made it in—he is making it in ahead of guys with stats that are much better than his own, including Barry Bonds and former teammates Roger Clemens (undoubtedly) and Jeff Bagwell (arguably). The taint of ‘roids never attached to the scrappy Biggio, who even in his later years in the League, with his tar-stained batting helmet and perpetually dirty, often oversized uniforms, always looked like the proverbial big kid out there on the diamond.
“Craig deserves it,” said Astros legend Jeff Bagwell, who fell short once again in his fifth year on the ballot. “It’s about time. I’m ready for July. I’m ready to be sitting there in Cooperstown sweating my butt off and listening to him. It’ll be really, really cool because Randy will be there too.”
Biggio’s election goes a short way toward righting the historical wrong that is the surfeit of Astros / Colt 45s in the Hall. Houston is not a major media market, and the franchise was born on the cusp of an era when pitchers were dominant. Worse still for Astros batting greats, relative to the rest of the league in its time, the Astrodome was one of the worst hitters’ parks in the history of Major League Baseball. While few Astros racked up stats worthy of the Hall by traditional, old-school measuring sticks—RBIs, HRs, and batting average—more advanced modern-day yardsticks such as Wins Above Replacement show that Houston mainstays such as Jimmy “the Toy Cannon” Wynn, Cesar Cedeño, and Jose “Cheo” Cruz were at the very least borderline candidates for enshrinement, and indeed rank ahead of plenty of guys who did make it in.