Wednesday, April 9, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #119 CRAIG BIGGIO

POSITIONED FOR GREATNESS.


VERY UNDERRATED.



DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • The only player to become an All-Star at catcher and second base, Craig Biggio defined versatile and team-first. He established himself as a top-caliber backstop in his first full season in 1989 by winning the Silver Slugger, but the team wanted to preserve the speed that was such a big part of his game after averaging 22 steals in his first three seasons. The move occurred in '92, and he promptly made the NL All-Star team for the second consecutive year. In his 20-year career, he would be moved to center field, left and back to second, all the while continuing to hit, finishing with 3,060 knocks. Add 291 homers, 414 steals and a career slash line of .281/.363/.433 and you'd figure he would've made the Hall of Fame but hasn't after being eligible the past two years.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • In his final season in '07, Biggio reached the 3,000-hit club on June 28 with a single off the Rockies' Aaron Cook. He was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double, but the milestone was secured. It was the third of five hits in the extra-inning game, and he was the 27the player in the exclusive club and first Astro.

DEFINING SEASON

  • In '97, Biggio was fourth in the NL MVP voting, slashing .309/.415/.501, hitting 22 homers, driving in 81 and stealing 47 bases. He led the majors in runs scored with 146 and was hit 34 times, the third consecutive year leading in ouches.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Holds the modern-day record for being hit 285 times by pitches.
  2. Hit 50 lead-off homers, the most in the NL.
  3. The Astros' acquisition of Jeff Kent in '03 forced the move to center; midway through the next season, Biggio moved to left to accommodate the arrival of Carlos Beltran.
  4. On July 24, 2007, hours after announcing his intentions to retire after the season, Biggio hit a grand slam to break a 3-3 tie in the sixth inning, propelling the Astros past the Dodgers 7-4.
  5. In his first year on the Hall ballot in '13, Biggio garnered 68.2 percent of the vote, with 75 needed for election. In January, he fell two votes short. You would hope the third time's the charm.

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