Craig Biggio is a well-deserving Hall of Famer and the first Astro to be enshrined, but it's odd that he may not even be the best player eligible for Cooperstown on his Astros teams.
Fifty-three years into a lifespan that’s included—to various degrees of infuriation—one decade of infantile ineptitude, two more of talent and teases, another of almost-excellence and a most recent of putridity, the Houston Astros have their first Hall-of-Famer.
The Astros' rebuilding effort hinges heavily on the development of Jonathan Singleton and George Springer.
Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Andrew Pentis spent the past four years covering baseball in some manner for MLB.com: as an associate reporter with the Giants in 2009 (a year before they won the World Series) and the D-backs in 2010 (a year before they were any good again) then becoming an editorial producer on the prospects beat in 2011. He is now a free agent living in New York. Search for him on Twitter @AndrewPentis, or drop him a line at email@example.com.
Writers didn't want to induct anybody into the Hall of Fame this year, a decision with no small consequences.
The writers struck out looking. They were lobbed a fat pitch over the heart of the plate and they failed to even take a swing at it. Defenders will note, correctly, that it isn’t the ninth inning. But it was the last at-bat of the eighth, and they face an exceedingly difficult challenge in coming back to win this thing.
The biggest takeaway is that there is a sizable contingent of voters who will refuse to vote for any player, no matter how qualified, if there’s the barest taint of steroids on him, up to and including “playing the majority of his career after 1993.” Many will cast this as a referendum on Bonds and Clemens, two of the sports’ greatest stars who ended up in legal hot water over the use of performance-enhancing drugs. But a litany of deserving players, including Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza, and others, have been punished too, with little more than hearsay to incriminate them. This was a well stocked ballot, filled with newcomers with impressive resumes and a handful of players (like Raines and Trammell) who have been sadly overlooked. It’s easy for even a seasoned analyst to find himself having to trim his list to meet the 10-player limit established by the voting process.
A look at contemporary accounts for a man Bill James called "the best player in major league baseball."
With the Hall of Fame announcement scheduled for this week, now is a good time to look back at the early careers of some of this year's most talked-about nominees.(And with the early exit polls looking as they do, it might be nice to remember just how great some of these players were.) This post was originally written (mostly) in 2009.
Biggio's first appearance in any of the annual preview guides comes in the Minor Leagues section of the 1988 Street & Smith's. It is a rather underwhelming first mention and the (likely) typo in his first name is fitting for the most underrated star of his time:
Some players get hit by pitches so often that it must be a skill. But is it a good skill to have?
You don’t read much about the hit by pitch, except tangentially, and then only when some pitcher gets in trouble for throwing at some hitter. For the most part, the HBP just isn’t that interesting; it doesn’t happen often, and when it does, it doesn’t mean all that much. The run-value result of an HBP is basically indistinguishable from that of a walk, and it happens about a tenth as often. HBPs can be exciting or aggravating or scary when they happen while you’re watching a game, but after the fact, if no one got hurt or suspended, they’re hard to care about.
Some guys are really, really good at getting hit, though, and I’ve always thought they were pretty interesting. Carlos Quentin is the overall leader among players to have compiled at least 2000 plate appearances since 1961 (I put the cutoff, somewhat arbitrarily, at the onset of the 162-game schedule; here’sthetop 200)—he’s been hit by pitches in 4.1 percent of his career plate appearances, better than the career walk rates of Yuniesky Betancourt, Miguel Olivo and Bengie Molina. All those plunkings do add up; if Quentin’s 4.1 percent HBP rate were reduced to the 2012 NL average of 0.76 percent, he’d have 21 career HBP instead of 112, and his career .349 OBP would drop all the way to .326.
Joe looks at how the Astros have managed Craig Biggio's pursuit of 3,000 hits.
Last night, the Astros started Chris Burke at second base, batting him sixth and using Mark Loretta as their leadoff man in their 6-1 loss to the Brewers. It is likely that Burke or Loretta will play second base in Wednesday's game as well. Phil Garner hasn't had a sudden change of heart about the best alignment of his available talent; no, he's sitting Craig Biggio in two of these three games to prevent Biggio from notching his 3,000th career hit on the road.