Biggio has HOF credentials but will he get votes?

Biggio has HOF credentials but will he get votes?
January 8, 2013, 3:00 pm
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Biggio: HoF consideration 'very humbling'

It’s three letters, but they separate the great from the immortal. 

Those letters of course are HOF and in less than 24 hours Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and others will find out if those letters will be tacked on to the end of their names when the 2013 inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame are announced.

Craig Biggio is in his first year of eligibility, and in an ordinary year would be a shoe in for induction -- 3,060 hits, 668 doubles, 291 home runs, 1,175 RBIs and 1,844 runs scored in a career that spanned 20 seasons, all in a Houston uniform. But this is no ordinary year.

This year a wave of steroid-tainted players is eligible for the first time along with Biggio. Players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are on the ballot and there is no consensus on how hall of fame voters are reacting to it. Some are refusing to turn in a ballot, which affects none of the candidates, while some are boycotting any player from the steroid era, which affects them all because players must be named on at least 75 percent of all votes cast in order to be enshrined.

It is worth noting that Biggio has never been implicated in any steroid probe, but he can’t escape it. Performance enhancing drugs were so pervasive in Major League Baseball in the 1990’s and 2000’s, and both the league and players were so unwilling to address it that some voters can’t exempt anyone from the punishment.  

Which, of course, puts Biggio and every player from that era in the untenable position of defending themselves against something from which there is no defense. Without a concrete way to fight back or defend themselves, they sit and are judged by the sins of the many.

For Astros fans, this has been an excruciating process. Biggio and Bagwell were the face of the franchise, and while the pair were unable to deliver a World Series Championship to Houston, Astros fans knew that they were watching something special, Hall of Fame worthy.

Bagwell appeared on the ballot for the first time in December of 2010, and like Biggio had no evidence against him as someone who used PEDs, other than the anecdotal (he had large muscles and hit lots of home runs). Bagwell earned less than 50 percent of the vote. While his number climbed to the mid 50s in last year’s vote, there is a feeling that it will take a few more years for Bagwell to get past the shadow of steroids and earn his enshrinement.

It was supposed to be different with Biggio. While injuries prevented Bagwell from reaching any of the magic numbers, most notably 500 home runs (Bagwell finished his career with 449), Biggio stayed healthy and did everything the right way. He reached what was supposed to be the automatic milestone of 3,000 hits but finds that the finish line to enshrinement moved since his retirement.

There seems little doubt that he will eventually cross that line. The evidence supporting him should outweigh any lingering doubt about those players from the steroid era that haven’t been tied to a positive test.

But it also means that Astros fans will have to wait at least one more year for confirmation of what they knew watching Biggio play for two decades, he is a Hall of Famer.