In that opinion, La Russa has support from a number of circles. As for the reason he believes those guys have been kept out (and in Clark’s case, the reason he ran out of years on the BBWAA ballot), La Russa has a theory that will garner less support.
As Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes, La Russa blames some “exaggerated” “new metrics” for keeping Bagwell and Clark out.
‘Houston, in our division, Bagwell, Biggio and [Lance Berkman], they had good surrounding characters the couple of years you had [Carlos] Beltran and [Jeff] Kent,’ La Russa said. ‘So I saw Bagwell as a huge influence, not just on the field but off. One of the best players of our generation.’
La Russa said he doesn’t understand the criteria members of the BBWAA use to vote for the Hall of Fame.
‘Otherwise, Jack Morris would be in the Hall of Fame,’ La Russa said. ‘The new metrics have a real important place, just don’t exaggerate them, and I think they get exaggerated at times. Like with Jack Morris, and maybe Bagwell.’
In Bagwell’s case, this represents a fundamental misunderstanding of his candidacy, not to mention metrics. Bagwell is getting dinged for being beefy, essentially, as he gets lumped in with the steroid era by association. That has nothing to do with advanced metrics; if it was about metrics, Bagwell would be a Hall of Famer without questions (as Bill Baer of HardballTalk notes).
La Russa is correct that Bagwell belongs in the Hall of Fame; he’s just wrong about the reason he’s not in yet. As for Clark? Yea…can’t really help him there.