MLB Hall of Fame: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez Elected

The MLB Hall of Fame announced their Class of 2017 tonight. Holdovers Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines will be joined by first time ballot inductee Ivan Rodriguez.

For baseball fans, few moments are as exciting as the announcement as to which players will be joining the MLB Hall of Fame. It is one of the most hotly debated topics as to who deserves to be in and who should not be, where the player’s careers are put under the microscope. Many appear on the ballot on over the years, but very few actually get that final call to be immortalized in Cooperstown. Today, that call came in for three players: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez.

Bagwell had spent seven years on the ballot before getting that call. A four time All Star, Bagwell also won the 1991 Rookie of the Year award and was named the 1994 National League MVP. A rare first baseman with speed, Bagwell had a career .297/.408/.540 batting line, hitting 449 home runs and stealing 202 bases. However, PED allegations dogged Bagwell after his career, leading to a slow start, when he received 41.7% of the vote in 2011. This year, Bagwell had the highest total of votes this year, being named on 86.2% of the ballots.

With 86.0 % of the vote, Bagwell was joined by legendary speedster Tim Raines, who earned induction during his final year on the ballot, was perhaps the second greatest leadoff hitter in the history of the game. Raines had a career .294/.385/.425 batting line, stealing 808 bases and scoring 1571 runs. He also had the highest success rate of any player with 400 or more stolen base attempts, cementing his place as one of the greatest leadoff hitters in the game. Yet, he was overshadowed due to playing in the same era as Rickey Henderson.

Joining both players in Cooperstown will be Ivan Rodriguez. Joining Johnny Bench as the only catchers ever inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame on their first try, Rodriguez was perhaps the greatest defensive catcher in the history of the game. He was a 14 time All Star, won 13 Gold Glove awards and won the 1999 American League MVP Award. Yet, he was more than just a glove, with a career .296/.334/.464 batting line, hitting 311 home runs and stealing 127 bases.

Two other players came agonizing close to joining that trio. Trevor Hoffman finished with 74% of the vote, missing induction by a mere five ballots. Meanwhile, Vladimir Guerrero earned 71.7% of the vote, making it likely that both players will find themselves inducted into the Hall next year.

There were other notable results to come from the ballot. Both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens finally earned over 50% of the vote, showing a softening stance towards alleged PED usage. Edgar Martinez saw the greatest jump in support, moving from 43.4% of the vote in 2016 to 58.6% this year. Meanwhile, Curt Schilling lost a great deal of support, losing close to 7% of the vote. After he edged over the 50% mark in 2016, one has to wonder if his tweets and recent commentary will keep him out during his ten years on the writer’s ballot.

Then we came to Jorge Posada. While the vast majority of the players who were on the ballot for a single year were not a surprise, Posada earned just 3.8% of the vote. While it seemed unlikely that he would ever earn induction, his presence on the latest Yankees dynasty and four World Series rings were expected to keep him on beyond this one year. Instead, he will spend the same amount of time on the ballot as Casey Blake and Arthur Rhodes, hoping that the Veteran’s Committee eventually considers his case.

The MLB Hall of Fame has grown by three more members tonight. Congratulations are in order for Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez, who have joined baseball’s immortals.

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