The day has finally arrived for Tim Raines. After 10 years on the ballot, the Expos basestealer extraordinaire and two-time World Series champion with the Yankees has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame with 86% of the vote. It’s extremely gratifying that he made it this year too, as 2017 was his final year of eligibility under the Hall of Fame’s new rules. Even with all the advanced stats that like Raines, it always puzzled me that a man with 808 career stolen bases struggled to attain this honor. No more!
Raines isn’t alone either. Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson also announced that he would be joined by two Texas favorites: Astros icon Jeff Bagwell and Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Bagwell smashed 449 homers while also playing top-level defense and quietly swiping 202 bases in his career, a remarkable total for a modern first baseman. It took Bagwell seven years on the ballot to reach the Hall (he was the top vote-getter at 86.2%), but it only took Pudge one. A dangerous hitter and perhaps the best receiver of all-time, Rodriguez was a pretty easy choice, though he just barely cracked the 75 percent threshold (76%).
The only factors that seemed to dog Bagwell and Rodriguez’s Hall of Fame consideration were suspect PED allegations. Unlike some other candidates, there has never been explicit evidence that they used PEDs during their career, so the hearsay was ridiculous in the same way that it was when Mike Piazza was kept out of the Hall of Fame (prior to 2016).
The ball is clearly rolling among the BBWAA electorate toward rightfully accepting that PEDs were just a part of baseball history, as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens fared far better than ever before, notching 53.8% and 54.1% of the vote, respectively. The legends have five more years on the ballot; their time might just come yet.
Condolences go out to Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman, who both fell just shy of induction. A strong first-year candidate like Rodriguez, Guerrero garnered 71.7% and is in a terrific position to enter Cooperstown in 2018. The same goes for Hoffman, who rose from a 67.3% debut in 2016 to 74% this year, a mere few votes below. Chipper Jones and Jim Thome seem like locks for next year, but perhaps they will make room for Guerrero and Hoffman, too.
Mike Mussina and Jorge Posada’s results should be of particular interest to Yankees fans, too. Moose continued his gradual ascent up the BBWAA percentage ranks in his fourth year on the ballot—he has gone from 20.3% in his 2014 debut to 24.6% in 2015, a big jump to 43% last year, and now again up to 51.8% in 2017. I outlined his chance for a slow increase to induction a few years back, and he seems to be smoothly following that path. As I said then: Godspeed, Moose.
Posada is a fan favorite, but like Bernie Williams, his Hall of Fame case just isn’t as strong as his competitors here. Unlike Bernie, he couldn’t clear the five percent threshold for staying on the ballot even once; Posada received just 17 votes, 3.8% overall. His only chance for future induction likely lies with a generous Veterans Committee.*
*Note: The Veterans Committee has been anything but generous the past couple decades, having last inducted a living player in 2001. Womp.
Some more quick thoughts:
- Edgar Martinez draws closer and closer to induction with a leap to 58.6%. He was an absolute monster at the plate and should really enter Cooperstown before David Ortiz. He has two years left. Fingers crossed.
- Lee Smith has at last fallen off the ballot. I’m not a proponent of that many relievers being in the Hall of Fame, so his continued presence was odd.
- Yes, what’s happened to Curt Schilling’s vote total is kind of crap. No, I do not feel the least bit sorry for him.
- Billy Wagner was every bit the closer that Hoffman was, so since the latter’s induction seems inevitable, I wish Wagner would do better.
- Copy/paste the above comment, but with “Larry Walker,” “right fielder,” and “Guerrero,” except even more so because Walker was an absolutely amazing player.
- In his first opportunity on the ballot, Manny Ramirez garnered just 23.8% of the vote. Since he was also suspended under the modern PED policy, that should give fans an idea of how Alex Rodriguez might fare in 2022. Maybe the electorate will be even more accepting by then.
- I love Gary Sheffield.
What did you think of the results?