Jeff Bagwell

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Jeffrey Robert Bagwell, born May 27, 1968, is an American Major League Baseball player and long-time first baseman for the Houston Astros. He happens to have been born on the same day as the Chicago White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas, and the two star players have had very similar careers.

A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Bagwell graduated from Xavier High School, a private Catholic school located in Middletown, Connecticut, then went to the University of Hartford, also in Connecticut. [1]

Drafted in 1989 by the Boston Red Sox, the next year he was traded to the Houston Astros for aging relief pitcher Larry Andersen. That trade is often regarded as one of the most one-sided of all time. Andersen registered no decisions in 15 relief appearances before leaving the Red Sox for free agency, while Bagwell has become one of the most respected players in Astros history. Bagwell has been with Houston ever since and, along with teammate Craig Biggio, has been virtually synonymous with the Astros in the 1990s and into the 2000s.

Bagwell hits and throws right-handed. Developed as a third baseman, he was shifted to first base during 1991 spring training as the Astros already had an established third baseman in Ken Caminiti. Bagwell made his Major League debut that opening day and was named the 1991 National League Rookie of the Year.

Bagwell's peak year may have been 1994 when he was unanimously named National League Most Valuable Player after batting .368 with 39 home runs, 116 runs batted in and 104 runs scored in the strike-shortened season. His .750 slugging percentage that year was the 11th best mark in Major League history.

In eight different seasons between 1994 and 2003, Bagwell hit at least 30 home runs, scored at least 100 runs and drove in at least 100 runs, accomplishing this trifecta every year between 1996 and 2001. He also had seven straight seasons (1996 to 2002) in which he drew 100 or more walks.

Bagwell, in his prime, was also a great fielder, winning a Gold Glove award. He also had good speed, stealing more than 20 bases in three different seasons.

Bagwell is also known for his unusual wide open batting stance, in which he appears to be sitting on an invisible bench, then steps back with his front foot when making bat contact with the ball.

During the 2005 season, Bagwell was the seventh highest-paid player at $18 million per annum. However, shortly after the season began, a persistent arthritic condition in his shoulder sidelined him for three-quarters of the season. Unable to throw, he was reactivated in September 2005 as a pinch hitter and played a small but symbolically important role in the Astros' successful drive to capture the National League pennant. Bagwell was the Astros' designated hitter in the first two games of the World Series (played under American League rules) and a pinch hitter in the other games.

Summary of Baseball Career Statistics

As of the end of the 2005 regular season, Bagwell's career batting average is .297 in over 9,000 plate appearances and he has 488 doubles, 449 homers, 1,401 walks, 202 stolen bases, 1,517 runs scored, 1,529 runs batted in and a slugging percentage of .540.

Including the 2005 World Series, Bagwell has played in nine playoff series, banging out 24 hits including two home runs, driving in 13 runs, and compiling a .226 batting average.

See also

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