Is Craig Biggio A Great Player?
The "Hall Of Fame" is supposed to consist of "great" players, not "good" players. So was Craig Biggio a "great player," during his tenure as a Major League baseball player?
I remember the 1990′s quite well. Griffey, Bonds, and Frank Thomas were the three best position players over the course of the decade. They were guys that wowed you at the plate. Guys that struck fear into the opposing pitcher whenever they set foot into the batter’s box. Frank Thomas especially, as he might be the largest human being to ever set foot on this Earth. These guys were intimidating without ever leaving the front of my baseball cards. Craig Biggio was not one of these type of players though. But just because he wasn’t as flashy or as dominant as the three best players in the game at the time, does not exclude him from being a "Hall of Fame" candidate. It doesn’t matter how you go about your game, as long as you are getting the right results. In this case the results have to be "Hall" worthy.
Okay, so he is less of a candidate than the three, as these were clearly the three best. I mean think about this, over Thomas’ career he has had 3,000 fewer plate appearences than Craig Biggio, but "created" 200 more runs than that of Biggio. This is remarkable. Frank Thomas was abolutely dominant in the 90′s. So dominant that Biggio’s defense could not make up the difference in offensive production.
We have to take into account defense too. And this isn’t a blog comparing Craig Biggio to the players above necessarily, but really a blog trying to find out if Biggio was truly great. His defense is considered above average, and in his prime even better than that, as he won four consecutive "Gold Gloves." These awards can sometimes be awarded to undeserving candidates, but I have to listen to what the so called "experts" are saying to some degree. He also played three seasons as a catcher in the beginning of his career, and played two seasons in the outfield. We can say that those few years his value was lessened because of his move to the outfield. But we can also look at him as being the ultimate team player, doing what management asked him to do. Now I don’t know why exactly he made the transition to the outfield, but two years out there shouldn’t really hurt his chances.
Here is another topic: He is an "intangibles" guy. Carried himself like a leader and played the game the way that every manager wants their ballplayers to play. If he played in NY he would be glorified and praised relentlessly, by the media and fans. How much do intangibles matter? I don’t know, and no one else does either, so everyone will judge that particular topic differently.
His postseason statistics were miserable, as much as he helped his team during the regular season, he hurt them come postseason time. His postseason OBP over fourty games was a very costly .297, his slugging was at .323. That gives him an OPS during the playoffs of .620! That is way below what "great" players should be doing when the games matter the most.
But a poor performance in the postseason does not offset the fact that he was good over a very long career. He obviously, reached 3000 hits yesterday, and not one player who has reached that milestone has been left out of the "Hall of Fame." But if you play long enough and are a good player, than some of baseball’s milestone’s may be attained. Let us look at his "162 game average" over his career. 17 HR, 67 RBI, 24 SB, and .282/.365/.435, which gives him a career OPS of .800. Biggio’s "Adjusted OPS" is 55th among active players at "113." Jeff Kent’s is well above that at "125." I know, I know, Biggio was a second baseman, but his season averages were not that impressive compared to the other great players of his time and are inferior to that of even Jeff Kent’s, another second baseman, who will be a questionable "Hall" candidate himself.
To be honest, I am kind of torn on Biggio. With all this said, I don’t think he is a first ballot hall of famer at all. I believe that if a player is hall worthy, then they should be voted in right when the voters get the chance, typically. Thomas, Bonds, and Griffey are all first ballot in my mind, if we take PED’s out of the equation. I will let voters use their own discretion on that unfortunate subject. But since most players don’t make it on the first ballot, then I don’t believe Biggio should be in on the first ballot. He is one of the better second baseman of all time. And I also think very high of intangibles. So it is a tough decision, so I will not give a definite answer, for there are five more years, at least, to debate this.