Tim Raines, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, and Jeff Bagwell have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and will be enshrined in Cooperstown this summer.
Bagwell, a slugging first basemen who spent the entirety of his career with the Houston Astros, led the way with 86.2% of the vote. It was a long road for Bagwell, who spent seven years on the ballot before finally gaining election.
It was not his numbers on the field that likely held Bagwell back—his 79.6 career bWAR, 449 home runs, and .948 career OPS more than warranted election — but the same specter of steroid suspicion that delayed Mike Piazza’s induction. Bagwell was, however, unquestionably worthy of enshrinement, as argued rather forcefully here.
Tim Raines took even longer than Bagwell to gain induction. In his first year on the ballot, Raines received only 24.3% of the vote, and actually dropped off a little in his second year of eligibility. As the years went on, however, voters began to recognize that Raines had both longevity — he played until age 42 — and an impressive peak. He was elected with 86% of this year’s vote.
In Raines’ best seasons in Montreal, he was a perennial MVP candidate who defined the Expos. From his age 23 season in 1983 through 1987, Raines produced a very impressive 32.1 bWAR. His 808 career stolen bases are good for fifth all-time behind only Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock, Billy Hamilton, and Ty Cobb. While many younger fans remember Raines best from his later years with the Yankees, when he won two World Series, older fans remember a speedy, terror who consistently got on base and was the best base-runner of his generation not named Rickey.
Ivan Rodriguez, or “Pudge” to many fans, was a slugging catcher best known for his tenure with the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez was a force both at the plate and behind it. A 13-time Gold Glove winner, a 7-time Silver Slugger, and the 1999 AL MVP, Rodriguez was certain to get elected to the Hall at some point and managed to squeak in during his first year of eligibility with 76% of the vote.
Rodriguez posted an emotional video on his Twitter, showing him holding back tears when he received news of his election. Rodriguez, like Bagwell, may have lost some votes due to steroid suspicions — Jose Canseco once claimed to have personally injected him — though Rodriguez never tested positive during his career.
The results of this year’s election, coupled with the fact that Barry Bonds got 53.8% of the vote, and Roger Clemens received an even-higher 51.4%, seem to indicate that many voters are now willing to accept candidates who were once shunned due to steroids.
The other big movers this year were Trevor Hoffman, who received 74% of the vote, and will likely make the Hall as early as next year, Edgar Martinez, whose share of the votes rose to 58.6%, and Curt Schilling, who actually lost votes, and fell to only 45% from 52.3% last year, likely due to his off-color comments about journalists.
Vladimir Guerrero made an extremely strong debut, with 71.7% of the vote, and will likely be inducted at some point in the next few years. Billy Wagner, who spent several seasons with the Mets, but would likely go in as an Astro, received 10.2% of the vote.
A number of other players, including Jorge Posada and Magglio Ordonez, received less than 5% of the vote and will fall off the ballot. Lee Smith, who was in his final year of eligibility, will also not be on next year’s ballot. A rundown of the complete voting results can be found here.
This year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place in Cooperstown, NY on July 30, 2017.