Count Doug Drabek among those who feel former Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell deserves a spot in Cooperstown.
Drabek, the 1990 National League Cy Young winner, played four seasons alongside Bagwell in Houston (1993-96), and doesn’t see a reason he shouldn’t get baseball’s highest honor.
“I’m voting for him if I had a vote,” Drabek said on Monday as he was inducted into the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame.
“He had a lot of different aspects to his game that made him the kind of player he was. I don’t think people realize what a good runner he was, what a good first baseman he was, and obviously the hitting. Clubhouse-wise, there again he was one guy that the younger kids looked up to and would go to.”
Bagwell missed induction by 15 votes a year ago, but is expected to reach the 75 percent threshold by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America this time around.
Bagwell ranked as one of the top first basemen of his generation. He hit .297 with 449 home runs over his 15-year career that included the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1991 and MVP honors in 1994.
Advanced metrics boost Bagwell’s case as well, as his 79.2 career WAR (wins above replacement) is better than Hall of Fame first basemen such as Johnny Mize, Frank Thomas and Willie McCovey.
“He deserves it,” Drabek said. “I’m hoping that his time comes.”
For Drabek, getting into the SWC Hall of Fame is a highlight in its own right. He pitched three seasons at the University of Houston, and holds the school record for most wins (27). His 12-win season in 1983 is the second-best in school history, and he also owns one of the school’s three no-hitters.
“I was surprised when I got the call that I was nominated and it’s a great honor cause I’ve got to admit I miss having the Southwest Conference around,” said Drabek, who grew up in Victoria.
“You grew up with it and then you actually play in it and stuff, it was fun because everything was Texas except for Arkansas. But it’s a great honor just to have my name with some of the athletes who went through that old conference.”