For the first time as a Baseball Hall of Fame voter, I've convinced myself to check the box next to this former Astros slugger, and he joins those "other" folks I picked on my 2017 ballot: Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Ivan Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Lee Smith.
I voted for eight players overall. We're allowed to choose 10, but I don't see that many Hall of Famers on this year's ballot.
During the past couple of weeks, I've already told you I'm continuing my yearly tradition of voting for Tim Raines and Fred McGriff, both frequently ignored by many of my colleagues.
This is the 10th and final time on the Hall of Fame ballot for Raines, and here's one of the best reasons yet for his induction into Cooperstown alongside other basestealers/line-drive specialists such as Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock and Ty Cobb: Statistical analyst Ryan Spaeder determined Raines is the only player in Major League Baseball history with at least 100 triples, 150 home runs and 600 stolen bases.
As for McGriff, it's simple. If Tony "Doggie" Perez is in the Hall of Fame, then Crime Dog also belongs. Just compare their offensive numbers. I did the same regarding Bagwell and McGriff, and that pushed me over the edge toward helping Bagwell go from 71.6 percent of the Hall of Fame votes casted last year toward the required 75 percent for entry.
About Bagwell and McGriff: While McGriff finished with 493 career home runs, Bagwell had 449. Pretty close, and consider this: Bagwell ripped a bunch of his shots at the Astrodome, which strangled fly balls.
Then there was the RBI thing. Perez reached Cooperstown mostly for his clutch hitting, and that was exemplified by his 12 seasons with 90 or more RBIs. McGriff also had 12 seasons with 90 or more RBIs, and Bagwell finished with 10 such seasons. Pretty close again, and there's more. Not only did Bagwell have three other years that were close to 90 RBIs (87 in 1995, 88 in '93, 89 in 2004), but he joined McGriff with eight seasons of 100 or more RBIs. Perez had seven.
I won't even mention that Bagwell's lifetime batting average of .297 is higher than McGriff's (.284) and Perez's (.279). Plus, the average career WAR for a Baseball Hall of Fame first baseman is 65.9. Bagwell's is 79.6. That's better than that of Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Fox ... and, yes, Perez and McGriff.
So I've changed my mind on Bagwell, and that happens. In fact, all Hall of Fame voters have their own catalyst behind voting for somebody they've skipped over during the past, and when it comes to Baggy, this McGriff-Perez revelation was mine. Well, that and my slight shift of philosophy on players with any ties to performance-enhancing drugs.
There is that clause for Hall of Fame voters that says we must consider "integrity and "character," and in my mind, that includes PED users. The problem is, there are several categories involving baseball players and PEDs, and I began my transformation last year to keeping those in the rumor stages of PEDs as candidates for Cooperstown.
That's why I voted for Mike Piazza last year and Bagwell this year, and I'm hedging a little before I type this, but I'm putting Rodriguez in the same category with Piazza and Bagwell. I know Jose Canseco said he personally injected steroids into Pudge, but the greatest catcher of his time never failed a drug test. He also wasn't implicated beyond Canseco as a PED user. As it result, it's difficult for me to ignore a catcher with a .296 career batting average, 2,844 hits and 311 home runs. He also made 14 All-Star Games, won 13 Gold Glove Awards, was the 1999 American League MVP, and won a World Series with the Marlins and was the National League Championship Series MVP in 2003.
Guerrero's resume isn't close to that of Rodriguez, but he had the feel of a Baseball Hall of Famer. He intimidated pitchers by not wearing batting gloves while slamming all of those homers (449) and finishing with that high of a lifetime batting average (.318). There were eight Silver Slugger Awards to go with his nine All-Star Game trips and the 2004 AL MVP Award.
I struggled picking Guerrero, though. He spent years in the AL as a designated hitter, and I'm not huge on DHs going to Cooperstown. It's just that, when he began his career with the Expos, I saw him dominate foes enough at the plate and in the outfield via his powerful arm to give him a break.
Sheffield deserves a Hall of Fame plaque. Period. His 509 homers and career batting average of .292 say as much. Although he's another guy who had PED questions, they were insignificant compared to those of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, who haven't gotten my vote. At least not yet.
Then there are Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith who were as dominant as they come as relievers during their eras. They played a position that isn't the favorite of Baseball Hall of Fame voters. Of those who were primary relievers, only Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage are in Cooperstown. This is Smith's last year on the ballot.
He won't make it (34.1 percent).
Raines should (69.8 percent last year).
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.