Thrice as Nice: Hall of Fame Votes in Three Greats

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On Jan. 18, the Baseball Hall of Fame, located in Cooperstown, New York, announced the latest inductees as part of the class of 2017. First baseman Jeff Bagwell, outfielder Tim Raines, and catcher Ivan Rodriguez are the three players who received 75 percent or more of the vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the voting body for the Hall.

Bagwell was the first baseman for the Houston Astros between 1991 and 2005. Over his 14-year career he hit 449 home runs, was a four-time All-Star, and won the title of the National League’s MVP in 1994 by a unanimously vote.

He led the MLB in runs scored three times, runs batted in, on-base percentage, doubles, and slugging percentage at various points in his career. His career wins above replacement (WAR) score of 79.6 ranks 36th among non-pitchers in MLB history. Many baseball historians consider Bagwell to be one of the best first basemen ever to play the game.

This was Bagwell’s seventh appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot, out of a maximum of 10 opportunities. He received 86.2 percent of the vote, the highest of anyone on this year’s ballot. Bagwell will become the second member of the Houston Astros to be inducted in the Hall. The other was Bagwell’s long-time teammate Craig Biggio, who was voted into the Hall in 2015.

Raines had a 23-year MLB career, most of it spent with the now-defunct Montreal Expos. He was known as one of the fastest players of his time, leading the National League in stolen bases four years in a row. His total of 808 stolen bases ranks fifth in baseball history.

Raines is the only member of this year’s class to have won multiple World Series, doing so with the New York Yankees in 1996 and 1998. He is also the only one of this year’s Hall of Famers to have played for the Orioles, having done so for four games in 2001, alongside son Tim Raines Jr.

This was Raines’ 10th and final year on the ballot, and he got 86 percent of the vote. He had been eligible for induction since 2008, but did not receive as much as 50 percent of the vote until 2013. Over time, his case began to build up momentum in baseball circles, and he finally received the honor this year.

Rodriguez, known as “Pudge” and “I-Rod,” was voted in with 79 percent of the vote, becoming just the second catcher ever to be inducted on their first try (the other being the legendary Johnny Bench). He holds the all-time record for most hits by a catcher, with 2,844 of them during his 21-year career. He was known as the one of the best defensive catchers of all time, evidenced by his thirteen Gold Glove awards.

Rodriguez was an All-Star 14 times, the 1999 American League MVP, and a world champion with the 2003 Florida Marlins. He spent most of his career with the Texas Rangers, and will go in to the Hall as a member of that franchise.

Bagwell, Raines, and Rodriguez will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Cooperstown on July 30. As usual, the event is expected to be well-attended, with fans coming from near and far to honor three of baseball’s all-time greats.
One interesting development in the 2017 Hall of Fame class was the significant increase in vote totals for outfielder Barry Bonds and pitcher Roger Clemens

Ordinarily, the two would have breezed into the Hall on the first ballot in 2012, but both have been kept out from the past five voting sessions so far, due to (so far unproven) allegations of steroid use by both players of them. This year, however, both men saw significant increases in their vote totals.

Clemens received 54.1% of the vote, up 8.9% from 2016, while Bonds got 53.8 percent%, a 9.5 percent % increase compared from to last year, while Clemens received 54.1 percent of the vote, up 8.9 percent from the same time.. This shows that Hall of Fame voters are possibly becoming less concerned about steroid use when it comes to voting.

Bonds and Clemens both have five more years left on the ballot, and; it will be interesting to see if the writers ever vote the pair in.