It starts with a combination of reaching base and hitting for power. Bagwell hit .300 or better six times in his career, drew 100 walks seven seasons in a row and finished with 449 home runs and 1,529 RBIs.
Bagwell and Craig Biggio -- a 2015 HOF inductee -- remain the faces of the Astros. Bagwell is the Astros' all-time leader in home runs and RBIs. He ranks second to Biggio in games, runs scored, hits, total bases and doubles. His 202 stolen bases rank sixth. Combine the entire package and Bagwell is the franchise leader in wins above replacement at 79.6.
Bagwell’s WAR ranks fourth among those in the modern era (since 1900) whose primary position was first base. He trails Lou Gehrig, Albert Pujols and Jimmie Foxx.
Did you know?
Bagwell and Bonds are the only players in MLB history with multiple seasons of 40 home runs and 30 stolen bases.
Bagwell and Hall of Famer Thomas share a birthday (May 27, 1968). Thomas has the edge over Bagwell in batting average, OPS and home runs, but Bagwell’s career was slightly better in WAR (79.6 to 73.7).
Hall of Fame moments
Aug. 30, 1990 -- Traded from Red Sox to Astros
In 1990, Bagwell was just a name, a prospect with Double-A New Britain, Connecticut, who hit .333 with four home runs in 481 at-bats. With New Britain’s parent club, the Red Sox, in need of a reliever for a pennant push, they worked out a deal with the Astros to trade Bagwell for Larry Andersen.
Andersen fulfilled his end of the obligation, allowing three runs in 22 innings of relief, but he took the loss in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series in a sweep by the Athletics. He left the Red Sox as a free agent and signed with the Padres. Bagwell was an unknown commodity, but not for long.
April 15, 1991 -- First home run
Bagwell’s career began with a slump. He had two hits in his first 21 at-bats, but his fortunes turned in the ninth inning of a tie game against the Braves, when he hit a go-ahead two-run home run against Atlanta reliever Kent Mercker. That was the first of 449 career homers for Bagwell, who went on to win National League Rookie of the Year that season.
After Curt Schilling closed the game out in the bottom of the ninth, Bagwell told reporters, “When you’re a kid and when you’re in the minors, you daydream about your first home run. This one couldn’t have been any better in a dream.”
He also said: “My mom is a big home run fan. She doesn't care if I get 190 hits -- she wants to see home runs. I keep telling her I'm not going to make a living hitting home runs. I'm a line-drive guy. I'll make my living hitting doubles."
November 1994 -- Named NL MVP
Bagwell had the misfortune of being the best position player in baseball in one of the shortest seasons of baseball. He won NL MVP honors after hitting .368 with a 1.201 OPS, 39 home runs and 116 RBIs in 110 games in a season shortened by a work stoppage.
The highlight game for Bagwell came on June 24, 1994, when he hit three home runs in a game (against the Dodgers) for the first time in his career. He did so twice more, both in 1999.
1997 season -- Back to the postseason
Bagwell made the playoffs for the first time in 1997, the Astros’ first appearance since they lost to the Mets in 1986. He finished that year with a career-high 135 RBIs, including four game-winning extra-inning hits. The Astros got swept in the NL Division Series by the Braves. Houston lost in the NLDS four times in a five-year span.
2005 season -- Finally, World Series-bound
After so many near misses, the Astros finally made it to the World Series in 2005. Bagwell played a minor role, as a shoulder injury limited him to 39 games in his final season. He did have one very big hit, a walk-off pinch-hit single against Dana Eveland in the ninth inning in a win over the Brewers on Sept. 16 (for which he got a standing ovation after the game).
"At least I can say I did something to help this club win when we get to the postseason,” he told reporters afterward. That kept the Astros one-half game ahead of the Phillies in the wild-card race.
Bagwell got one hit in the World Series, a single as part of a two-run ninth-inning rally in Game 2, though the White Sox won the game and swept the series.