Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez voted into Baseball Hall of Fame
The votes have all been tallied, and three new baseball legends are headed to Cooperstown. Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez have all been voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame's class of 2017.
Raines received 86.0% of the vote to secure his spot in Cooperstown in his final year of eligibility on the ballot. The outfielder played 23 seasons, 13 with the Montreal Expos. He was an All Star in seven consecutive seasons for Montreal and led the league in stolen bases in four of those.
In his seventh year on the ballot, Bagwell earned 86.2% of the vote necessary for induction, upping his percentage from 71.6% last year and passing the 75% induction threshold. Bagwell was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1991 for the Astros and went on to win the NL MVP award three seasons later. The first baseman was a durable slugger who spent all 15 years of his career in Houston and was a four time All-Star selection.
Rodriguez earned 76.0% of the vote in his first year on the ballot. The catcher's illustrious career included 14 All-Star selections, 13 Gold Gloves, seven Silver Slugger awards and the 1999 AL MVP award over 21 years, the bulk of which were played for the Rangers and Tigers. He becomes just the second catcher elected to the Hall on his first try, joining Reds legend Johnny Bench (1989).
Just missing the cutoff was former Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, who got 74.0% of the vote, up from 67.3% last year, his first on the ballot. Hoffman secured 601 saves in his 18-year career, which is second only to future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera (652) and 123 more than third-place Lee Smith. Hoffman put together nine 40-save seasons, tied with Rivera for the most of all time. He will have to wait another year.
Former Expos and Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero captured 71.7% of votes in his first year of eligibility after ending his 16-year career in 2011. He played eight years for Montreal and six for Los Angeles, winning the AL MVP award in his first season in Anaheim. He was a nine-time All Star and an eight-time Silver Slugger, hitting .318 with a .553 slugging percentage and 449 home runs for his career.
Other big names missing out include Barry Bonds (53.8% of the vote) and Roger Clemens (54.1%), who have been linked to performance-enhancing use that has provoked many writers to leave them off. Fellow steroid-linked players Manny Ramirez (a first-time candidate), Gary Sheffield and Sammy Sosa finished with 23.8%, 13.3% and 8.6% of the vote, respectively. Bonds, Clemens, longtime Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez and former Orioles and Yankees ace Mike Mussina all took big jumps in the voting: Martinez gained 15.2% of the vote from last year's results in his eighth year on the ballot to go from 43.4 to 58.6; Clemens gained 8.8%; Bonds's share increased by 9.5%; and Mussina claimed an additional 8.8% of the vote as well, moving from 43.0 last year to 51.8 this year.
Among returning players on the ballot, the biggest drop in voting belonged to Curt Schilling. The three-time World Series champion saw his share of the vote fall 7.3% to 45.0 after a year in which he offended and angered many with his controversial comments on Muslims, transgender people, journalists and the presidential election.
Among the notable first-year candidates, longtime Yankees catcher Jorge Posada received just 3.8% of the vote, falling short of the Hall's 5% minimum to remain on future ballots. One of the best-hitting backstops in major league history, Posada was an integral part of the Yankees' "Core Four" and helped the franchise win four World Series titles from 1998 to 2009. Also falling off the ballot is Smith, the former all-time saves king. The ex-Cubs and Cardinals closer was in his 15th and final year as a candidate and received 34.2% of the vote.
All told, 23 of the 34 candidates received at least one vote, including knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (1), Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek (2), two-time World Series hero Edgar Renteria (2) and Tigers slugger Magglio Ordoñez (3). You can find full voting results on the Baseball Hall of Fame's website.
Induction weekend for the 2017 class will take place from July 28 to 31 in Cooperstown, N.Y., featuring speeches by all three new members. After that, eyes will turn to the 2018 election, which will feature first-year candidates Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones and Omar Vizquel along with the returning players from this year's ballot.