Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the fourth round of the 1989 draft, Jeff Bagwell was traded to the Astros on Aug. 30, 1990, for relief pitcher Larry Andersen. The Red Sox were looking for a relief pitcher to help their playoff push and the Astros were looking for another prospect to bolster their young, rebuilding team.
Without playing a single game in the Astros farm system, Bagwell made his MLB debut with the Astros in 1991 and made a quick impression on the league. Bagwell became the first and only Astros players to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1991 after hitting .294 with 15 home runs and 82 RBIs. Bagwell never looked back and continued his assault on the National League for the next 14 seasons.
The strike-shortened season of 1994 was a breakout year for Bagwell. In only 110 games, Bagwell hit .368 with a franchise record 39 home runs and 116 RBIs. On August 5th, Bagwell broke Jimmy Wynn's 27 year old franchise record of 37 home runs in a season, a record he would go on to break twice more in his career. For his stellar season, Bagwell was named the 1994 National League MVP garnering all 28 first-place votes.
Jeff Bagwell anchored the Astros lineup and struck fear in opposing pitchers for more than a decade. He is one of only six players in MLB history to compile 30 home runs, 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored in six consecutive seasons (1996-2001). He would have completed the task seven years in a row if not for only knocking in 96 runs in 2002. Bagwell not only had power but also had great speed. Bagwell became the first 30-30 player in Astros history in 1997 and performed the feat again in 1999, becoming the only first baseman in National League history to perform the feat once and the only first baseman in MLB history to perform the feat twice.
Bagwell helped lead the Astros to four NL Central Championships from 1997-2001 and was an instrumental part of the 2004 team that reached the NLCS. Bagwell and teammate Craig Biggio finally reached the World Series in 2005, losing in four games to the White Sox.
After being limited due to a degenerative shoulder issue during the 2005 season, Bagwell would not play again after the 2005 World Series. Bagwell made four All-Star teams, won three Silver Slugger Awards and one Gold Glove. He is the only first baseman in history to have at least 400 home runs and 200 stolen bases in a career. In 2000, Bagwell became the first player in National League history and only the fifth in major league history to post a 45-homer, 100-RBI, 150-run season joining Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmy Foxx and Lou Gehrig. That same season he also joined Hank Aaron, DiMaggio, Frank Robinson and Ted Williams as the only five players to ever have recorded 300 home runs, 1,000 RBI and 1,000 runs in their first 10 years of Major League Baseball. Jeff Bagwell was eligible for Hall of Fame induction in 2011 and 2012 and received 41.7% and 56.0% of the vote in those years, respectively (75% required for induction).