Why Craig Biggio Made the Hall of Fame

Craig Biggio was elected to MLB's Hall of Fame today. Let's look back at his career and see why he made it.

Craig Biggio was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame after receiving 82.7% of the votes (75% is required for inclusion). This was Biggio’s third time on the ballot after missing the required vote total by onlytwo votes last year. Looking back on his career totals, it’s surprising it took three years for Biggio to make the Hall.

After we delve into the numbers, I think you’ll agree.

Biggio finished his career with a 65.1 Wins Above Replacement (fWAR), according to FanGraphs. This total is better than that of fellow Hall-of-Famers Andre Dawson (64.4), Willie McCovey (64.4), Dave Winfield (63.8), and Harmon Killebrew (60.3), all of whom also played in more seasons than Biggio. Not bad company to be in. There are only nine second basemen with a higher career fWAR than Biggio, too, and only one of them played after 1986, making Biggio the greatest second baseman of this generation.

Moving beyond just fWAR and into some of Biggio’s numbers in specific categories, they are equally impressive, especially when considering they were generated while primarily playing second base, a position not known for its offensive prowess. Biggio’s career line is .280/.363/.433 with 291 home runs, 1,844 runs scored, 1,175 runs batted in, and 414 stolen bases. He also had 3,060 hits, 668 of them coming as doubles, which is fifth-most of all-time. If you prefer advanced statistics, Biggio’s numbers are also well above-average: a career .352 weighted on base average (wOBA) and a 115 runs created plus (wRC+).

The comparison between Biggio and Derek Jeter has been in the news recently, and seeing how similar they are, this comparison is warranted.

Craig Biggio.281.363.43318441160414291115.352
Derek Jeter.310.377.44019231082358260119.360

Both players played 20 seasons for their respective teams, furthering adding to the similarities. Jeter is considered a lock to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, yet Biggio had to wait two years before entering the Hall. Looking at their numbers, Biggio should not have had to wait. Although he does not have the same legacy as Jeter -- largely because of postseason play, which likely affects voter decisions, and the Yankee aura -- judging on numbers alone and not rings, the two players are incredibly similar despite playing different positions.

However, Biggio was not just a good hitter for a second baseman. During the nineties he was one of baseball’s best hitters.

The 1993 season was Biggio’s fifth full season in the big leagues and began a stretch in which he dominated at the plate. His average fWAR over these seasons was 5.8, with a high of 9.3 coming during the 1997 season. This streak, along with 13 other productive seasons, allowed Biggio to enter rare company.

Biggio is also the only player in MLB history with at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases, and 250 home runs. Quite an impressive feat. He was also well-received during his playing days, as he racked up seven All-Star game appearances, five Silver Slugger awards, and four Gold Gloves, if you care about those things.

Biggio was a unique player in that he had the ability to hit for power, while still getting on base at a high clip, and was an adept base stealer. Entering the big leagues as a catcher, he was also athletic enough to make the switch to the outfield before eventually being converted into a full-time second baseman. With second basemen like Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Chase Utley Utley showing us that offensive talent can be produced from this position, it’s hard to say that there won’t be (or hasn’t already been) another Craig Biggio.

Nonetheless, Biggio’s considerable achievements should not be overlooked, and his being enshrined in the Hall of Fame guarantees they will not be.