On Wednesday night, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez received the call letting them know they would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, class of 2017.
A player gets 10 years of eligibility on the ballot before being removed and needs at least 75 percent of the votes to get inducted.
Bagwell received 86.2 percent of the votes in his seventh year of eligibility, Raines received 86 percent on his final year on the ballot and Rodriguez received 76 percent, on the ballot for the first time and became just the second catcher ever (Johnny Bench) to become a first ballot Hall of Famer.
In 15 seasons, Bagwell had a slash line of .297/.408/.540 to go with 2,314 hits (449 home runs), 1,517 runs and 1,401 walks. He was the 1991 Rookie of the Year, 1994 NL MVP, a four-time All-Star and a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner to go with one Gold Glove. He spent his entire career with the Houston Astros and his No. 5 was retired by the team.
Raines, finally got the call to the Hall in his final year of eligibility. This was a long time coming, but well deserved. He had a slash line of .294/.385/.425, 2,605 hits, 1,571 runs scored, 1,330 walks, 980 RBIs and 808 stolen bases. His career spanned 23 years, with the bulk of it playing for the then Montreal Expos, where he holds numerous career and single-season records. He won three World Series, two as a player with the Yankees and one as the Chicago White Sox first base coach. He was a seven-time All-Star and won the 1986 NL batting title.
Rodriguez is one of the best catchers of the Modern Era. In his 21 years of service, Pudge was a force to be reckon with both as a catcher and as a batter. He has a career slash line of .296/.334/.464 with 2,884 hits, 1,332 RBIs and 1,354 runs scored. He won 13 Gold Gloves with his laser-like arm throwing base runners out and was a seven-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He was a 14-time All-Star. He also won the 1999 AL MVP Award and helped lead the Marlins to the 2003 World Series championship by being named the NLCS MVP. His career lasted 21 seasons, which is highly impressive for someone who played the primary position of catcher.
In his second year on the ballot, Trevor Hoffman fell just five votes shy, finishing with 74 percent of the vote. Vladimir Guerrero, who was on the ballot for the first time, also just missed getting the call, finishing with 71.7 percent of the votes, 15 votes shy of the mark. Surely, those two will be in the Hall next year or at the very least, two years from now.
Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds both saw nearly 10 percent increases in their voting percentage. Clemens jumped up 8.9 percent to 54.1 percent while Bonds jumped 9.5 percent to 53.8 percent, both in their fifth year of eligibility. This is significant due to their connection to PED use. This could signal that voters are being more lenient to those who used PEDs. For the record, some voters in the past have been adamant not to vote for anyone who is linked to PED use, but the thing is, nobody will ever know who was or was not using PEDs. The increase from the mid-40s to the mid-50s is a good sign for both Clemens and Bonds.
Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina also finished with more than 50 percent of the vote. Martinez saw a double-digit increase in percent for the second year in a row, and could be voted in on his 10th and final year of eligibility, just like Raines did. Mussina still has six years to go, so it should be just a matter of time before he gets the call.
This was the first time since 1947 that nine players received at least 50 percent of the vote.
In 2018, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome lead the way for potential candidates. Jones should be a first ballot Hall of Famer, no questions asked, while Thome might have to wait a couple of years due to him being a power hitting first baseman/designated hitter in the “steroid era,” even though he was never linked to PEDs.
The three new members will be enshrined in Cooperstown forever on July 30th.