Stros buyout Bags’ contract

jeffbagwell.jpgThe Stros made official yesterday what had been expected for the past couple years — the club did not pick up the option year on injured slugger Jeff Bagwell’s contract. As noted earlier here, Bags is easily the best player in Stros franchise history and should be a shoo-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Although most folks know that Bagwell was an extraordinary player, relatively few people realize that he was one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball history over the course of his career.

As regular readers of this blog know, I believe that the statistic of runs created against average (“RCAA”) is the best measure of a baseball player’s hitting ability. RCAA is a Lee Sinins-developed statistic that focuses on the most important statistic in baseball for a hitter, which is creating runs to help the hitter’s team score more than the other team.

Whereas more commonly cited statistics such as batting average can be highly misleading regarding a hitter’s true effectiveness, RCAA is particularly insightful in evaluating hitters because it focuses on the two most important things in winning baseball games for a hitter — that is, creating runs and avoiding making outs.

RCAA computes the number of runs that a particular player creates for his team relative to the number of outs that he makes, and then compares that number of runs to the number (zero) that a hypothetical average hitter would create while using an equivalent number of outs. Inasmuch as the hypothetical average hitter’s RCAA is always zero, a player can have either an RCAA that is a positive number — which indicates he is an above average hitter — or an RCAA that is a negative number, which means that he is below-average hitter.

Moreover, RCAA is also a valuable tool in evaluating hitting ability because it allows for comparison between hitters from different eras.

Inasmuch as RCAA measures a player’s hitting ability against that of an average player in the player’s league for each particular season, a player’s career RCAA measures how that hitter compared to an average hitter during the hitter’s career.

Thus, comparing RCAA of hitters from two different eras allows us to compare how those hitters produced relative to an average hitter in their particular era, whereas comparisons of other hitting statistics — such as on-base average, slugging percentage, and batting average — are often skewed between players of hitter-friendly eras (such as the past 15 year or so) versus players of pitcher-friendly eras, such as the late 1960’s and early 70’s.

A review of Bags’ career using RCAA as a the measuring stick reflects his greatness. He has the 9th best career RCAA among National League hitters since 1900:

1 Barry Bonds 1591
2 Stan Musial 1204
3 Rogers Hornsby 1081
4 Hank Aaron 1039
5 Willie Mays 1008
6 Mel Ott 989
7 Honus Wagner 938
8 Albert Pujols 691
9 Jeff Bagwell 680
10 Joe Morgan 657

In addition to the foregoing, Bagwell holds the modern National League record for career RCAA by a 1B:

1 Jeff Bagwell 680
2 Johnny Mize 638
3 Willie McCovey 536
4 Todd Helton 521
5 Albert Pujols 485
6 Bill Terry 425
7 Stan Musial 399
8 Keith Hernandez 371
9 Dolph Camilli 353
10 Will Clark 331

Finally, as noted several times before, Bags is far and away the career-leader in RCAA among Stros players, so much so that Lance Berkman is the only player at this time who even has a remote chance of catching him:

1 Jeff Bagwell 680
2 Lance Berkman 485
3 Craig Biggio 314
4 Jose Cruz 277
5 Cesar Cedeno 249
6 Jimmy Wynn 240
7 Bob Watson 216
8 Joe Morgan 170
9 Moises Alou 128
10 Terry Puhl 114

In addition to his extraordinary hitting ability, Bags was an excellent baserunner and a superb defensive player until his shoulder injury restricted his ability to throw over the final three seasons of his career.

In short, Jeff Bagwell was the entire package, and it will be a long time before the Houston Astros organization and its followers will ever enjoy a player of comparable ability. Bagwell’s complete career statistics are here.

2 thoughts on “Stros buyout Bags’ contract

  1. Pingback: Bags opts for shoulder surgery | Houston's Clear Thinkers

  2. Pingback: My Jeff Bagwell Story | Houston's Clear Thinkers

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