The crowd fell silent. In the front row, potential Hall of Fame inductees anxiously waited for the results to be announced. After what felt like an eternity, the ballots were counted, and the announcement was made. Outfielder Jeff Bagwell (86.2 percent of votes), outfielder Tim Raines (86 percent of votes), and catcher Ivan Rodriguez (76 percent of votes) were elected into the baseball’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday, January 18, after clearing the threshold of 75 percent needed for induction.
They have all impacted baseball in profound ways, and they now join the ranks of the hall with baseball greats such as Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, and Cy Young. In order to even qualify for voting, a player must have played at least ten years in the league and must have waited at least five years after he retired. Then, every member of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America can vote for up to 10 players every year.
Jeff Bagwell, along with Hall of Fame second baseman Craig Biggio and perennial all-star first baseman Lance Berkman, formed the dangerous “Killer B’s” of the Houston Astros that left opposing pitchers and fans alike in awe during the late ’90s and early ’00s. They led the Astros on eight playoff runs, including a World Series appearance in 2005, and were hailed hometown heros in Houston.
Looking at career stats, he is an absolute monster, compiling 449 home runs, a .297 career average, and an on-base-percentage (OBP) at .406. He was a four time all-star, and won the National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 1994. On top of that, only two players had multiple seasons with 40 home runs and 30 stolen bases (1997 and 1999)—he was one of them (Barry Bonds was the other). These stats speak for themselves and make it clear that he is a worthy inductee.
After ten years on the ballot, Tim Raines finally got his turn. Although he does not have the best power numbers (170 career home runs), the left fielder was an easy choice even while lacking the conventional stats. His prowess as a leadoff hitter for the Montreal Expos, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees over a 23-year career made him one of the most consistent faces in baseball from 1979-’99.
Over his 23-year career, Raines had 1,330 walks and a career OBP of .385. He consistently got on base, where he flew, compiling 808 stolen bases, which put him at fifth all time. He also has the highest successful stolen base percentage of players with more than 500 steals (84.7 percent). This combination of getting on base and stealing bases at will helped him become one of the best leadoff hitters of all time. With his on-base abilities and his three World Series rings, seven all-star appearances, and a 1986 National League batting title, Raines is a Hall-worthy player.
For Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, it was only a matter of time. While it is slightly surprising he made it in on his first year on the ballot, it goes to show how much of an impact he had on the game of baseball, and he is a well-deserved addition to the Hall in terms of both his offense and defense aptitude. The catcher made the all-star team in two-thirds of his career (14 appearances in 21 seasons).
On offense, Pudge compiled 2,844 hits, 500 more than any other catcher in the Hall, a .294 average, and is the only catcher to ever have 300 home runs and 500 doubles. As a defender, Rodriguez was a 13-time gold glove winner (best defensive catcher in the league) and his career caught stealing percentage is 45.6. During Rodriguez’s MVP winning season (1999), runners would be too afraid to even risk stealing bases on him in fear of getting thrown out.
Not only does “Pudge” have impressive stats, but also he, along with Hall member Nolan Ryan, was the face of the franchise in the ‘90s. He turned the Rangers’ reputation around and helped them win their division for the first time in franchise history in 1994. Five years later, after winning the MVP in 1999, he led the Rangers to a 95-67 record and a hard fought American League Division Series loss to the Yankees.
Notable Snubs (Who Will Soon Get In)
- Trevor Hoffman (74 percent of votes)
- Hoffman fell short of his Hall of Fame plaque this year by just five votes. He has the second-most saves all time at 601 and was a model of consistency throughout his 18-year career. He averaged 39 saves a season and is one of two players with 500, let alone 600, saves (Mariano Rivera has the record for most saves all-time at 652). He will get in at some point, even if this year wasn’t it. Only a handful of players get nominated on their first or second time around, so Hoffman is still almost a guarantee.
- Vladimir Guerrero (71.7 percent of votes)
- Not only does Guerrero have a .318 batting average, 449 home runs, and 1496 runs batted in, but he also was the 2004 MVP and has made nine all-star appearances. He had stellar defense and has a cannon for an arm. “Vlad” hit for an average over .290 for 15 of his 16 seasons in the league and was one of the most feared hitters in the game during the late 1990s and 2000s. Though there were many candidates deserving of votes and he was a first-timer on the ballot, he deserved to be inducted.
- Barry Bonds (53.8 percent) and Roger Clemens (54.1 percent)
- These two elite players who admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) will eventually make it. Their numbers have been climbing every year, and at some point they will meet the threshold. PEDs have no place in Major League Baseball today, but back in Bonds’s and Clemens’s era, when the rules were more lenient, players were not penalized for such actions. Since Bonds and Clemens were two of the greatest players of their era, they deserve to be honored among the other greats.