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After Being Unfairly Forced to Wait, Craig Biggio Finally Gets Earned HOF Nod

Joel Reuter

The 2015 MLB Hall of Fame class has officially been announced, as it will be a four-player class of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio earning enshrinement in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown this year.

The three pitchers are each first-ballot selections and deservedly so, as they were among the greatest to ever toe the rubber. But for Biggio, it took three tries to finally gain induction.

To be blunt, the fact that Biggio did not breeze in on his first ballot is nothing short of ridiculous.

So let's dive into the numbers and show just how deserving a Hall of Famer Craig Biggio really was, looking at his candidacy from a few different angles.

For some people, a Hall of Famer is someone who compiles impressive overall numbers throughout the course of a lengthy and productive career. Biggio certainly did that.

Do you know how many members of the 3,000 hit club were not first-ballot Hall of Fame inductees?

Excluding the three players not enshrined (Pete Rose, Rafael Palmeiro, Derek Jeter) and guys who were part of the inaugural ballot, only Paul Waner was forced to wait for his ticket to be punched.

The 500-home run club is understandably not the same accomplishment it once was, but 3,000 hits still speaks volumes to a player's productivity and longevity, and it's a feat accomplished by just 28 players in the history of the game.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

That accomplishment alone is enough to make him a first-ballot selection in my book, but if that's not enough for you, let's go further.

As a leadoff hitter for most of his career, Biggio was counted on first and foremost to get on base, and he did that a ton.

Between his 3,060 hits, his plus eye at the plate and his uncanny ability for getting hit by pitches, Biggio was on base an impressive 4,505 times in his career, good for the 18th on the all-time list.

Those frequent trips on the base paths, coupled with 414 career stolen bases, helped him score 1,844 runs, good for 15th all time.

However, he was far from just a table-setter, as he also cranked out the sixth-most doubles all time with 668 to go along with 291 home runs and 1,175 RBI.

Roberto Alomar was the other elite 2B of the 1990s. George Nikitin/Associated Press

To put it simply, he was a well-balanced offensive threat who could hurt you in a number of ways, and he compiled some impressive career numbers to prove it.

While lofty career numbers are nice, others are more interested in where he stacked up among his contemporaries.

Was this player one of the greats of his generation and an elite talent at his respective position?

The biggest contenders for the title of top second baseman during the era in which Biggio played are Roberto Alomar, Jeff Kent and to a lesser extend Ryne Sandberg.

Let's take a look at how those four guys stack up from an offensive standpoint.

Biggio vs. Alomar vs. Kent vs. Sandberg
Stat Biggio Alomar Kent Sandberg
G 2,850 2,379 2,298 2,164
BA .281 .300 .290 .285
OBP .363 .371 .356 .344
OPS+ 112 116 123 114
H 3,060 2,724 2,461 2,386
2B 668 504 560 403
HR 291 210 377 282
TB 4,711 4,018 4,246 3,787
RBI 1,175 1,134 1,518 1,061
R 1,844 1,508 1,320 1,318
SB 414 474 94 344
WAR 65.1 66.8 55.2 67.5

Most would give Alomar the nod for top second baseman of that era, thanks to his elite mix of offensive production and defensive ability, but there is something to be said for the defensive transformation Biggio underwent during his career.

A catcher for his first four seasons in the league, Biggio shifted to second base in 1992 and by 1994 he was a Gold Glove winner, kicking off a streak of four consecutive Gold Glove wins.

He then moved to center field as a 37-year-old in 2003 to make way for the aforementioned Kent, and while defensive metrics don't paint him as a plus defender there, it's an impressive transition nonetheless.

To be honest if I'm building my All-1990s team, Alomar probably gets the nod at second base, but it would be an incredibly tough decision to make, and it's because Biggio was one of the best that era had to offer.

You could make the argument that Biggio did not deserve to be a first-ballot guy since it took Alomar two tries to earn induction.

However, Alomar's spike in vote total from 73.7 percent to 90.0 percent shows a first-ballot talent who was being punished by the voters for some indiscretions during the course of his career, so that argument doesn't hold much weight.

At the end of the day, Craig Biggio is officially in Cooperstown where he belongs, as there is little question he is one of the greatest and most productive second basemen the game has ever seen.

It's a shame he was forced to wait three years to gain baseball's highest honor, but let's take this chance to reflect on just how impressive his career was, as opposed to focusing on just how broken the Hall of Fame voting system is.

Now let's hope the voters get it right next year and his longtime teammate Jeff Bagwell joins him in Cooperstown.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.


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