Is Craig Biggio a Hall of Famer?

The answer may seem obvious to the casual fan- yes. Biggio is in the 3000 hit club, has over 400 stolen bases, and 668 career doubles. Not to mention his Silver Slugger hardware and ASG appearances. But to the SABR fan, it may be closer than it appears. While he has a career 70.1 WAR, a good mark, his WAR/700 is just 3.9- not exactly HOF standards. Moreover, a total WAR of 70.1 is impressive, but he compiled that over a twenty year career consisting of 2850 games.

To solve the case, I dug deeper. In the 1990’s the dood was awesome. He posted a 3+ WAR every season and according to Rally, a 3+ WAR season is an excellent. So Biggio posted ten straight excellent seasons in the 1990’s. Amazing. Within the decade, he composed three MVP worthy seasons of 6+ WAR in 1995, 1997, and 1998. But in the new millennium he fell off a cliff. He posted just one season above a 3+ WAR. While his last eight seasons count when making a decision, how much should we punish him for a steep decline? In his prime he had ten excellent seasons, which is more than most players can say for themselves.

I say you cannot punish him for falling off the face of the earth. He played at a Hall of Fame level for an entire decade. Not even some HOF’ers can say that. Rod Carew- a fellow second baseman who also played another position in his career- has a WAE (Wins Above Excellent) of 30.2 or 37.6% of his total WAR. Biggio’s is 22.5 or 32.1% of his total. I bet that’s closer than you would have imagined.

Biggio’s career line is .281/.363/.433/.355wOBA/120wRC+. Not too shabby for a second baseman, catcher, and center fielder. In his ten year peak though, his OBP stayed in the .378 to .411 range. His wOBA ranged from .347 to .410. His wRC+ ranged from 122 to 156. In fact, he topped a 150 wRC+ three times as a second baseman. Again, not too shabby.

Biggio was a fantastic player before he got old, and that is why he should be in the Hall of Fame. I have two graphs comparing him to Roberto Alomar, a fellow second baseman who I and many others consider a HOF’er. Why Alomar? Simply because they both broke into the majors in 1988 and considering the length of Biggio’s career, I need a comparison player who also had a long career.

The first graph their career WAR in order by season. The second graph is a graph of their single season WAR from best to worst.

Biggio is right on par with Alomar in terms of WAR as the graphs show. Alomar might have been slightly better, but only slightly. During the 1990’s, Biggio was arguably the best second baseman in baseball and in the top tier of players in the entire game. You simply cannot punish him for staying in the game too long. By doing so, he hurt his rate numbers such as OBP, SLG, and wOBA. But when he was going full force, he was playing at a HOF level.

In the end though, whether you think he will be a weak HOF’er or not, it is quite clear the BBWAA will vote him in. And they should.

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