Catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell were voted onto the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, and as odd as it seems, that may not be the biggest news of the day.
That’s right. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens — two players closely identified with baseball’s steroids era and widely ostracized as a result– are are an upward track to get into the Hall. They’re won’t get there next year, in all likelihood, but they each have five years left on the ballot. Two years ago, each polled at about 36%, and last year, Bonds polled at just over 44% and Clemens, 45%. As we get further away from the stain of steroids, it looks like these players are going to get in. (It’s going to be fascinating to see how Alex Rodriguez does when he’s eligible for the ballot in five years).
Two other greats — relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman and outfielder Vlad Guerrero — fell just short of the 75% threshold of getting in.
BAGWELL played 14 years with the Houston Astros, and his career would have been even more impressive if it wasn’t cut short (he retired at 37) due to injuries. He was the rare first baseman who hit for average and power and could run well, too. He hit for power and average. slugging 449 home runs with a career .297 average and 2,314 hits. He had eight seasons with 100 or more RBIs, nine seasons with 30 or more homeruns, and even stole 202 bases during his career. He was this year’s top vote getter with 86% of the vote.
RAINES, one of the greatest leadoff hitters and stolen base threats ever, played for six teams across a 23-year career that began in 1979. He spent the first 13 seasons with the Montreal Expos, and when he finally hung up his spikes at age 42, he had .385 on-base percentage, 808 stolen bases (fifth all-time) and 2,605 hits. The seven-time all-star went six-straight seasons in which he stole 70 or more bases. This was his 10th and final year on the ballot, and he made it with 86 percent of the vote.
RODRIGUEZ was the premier defensive catcher of his generation, with quick footwork, a rocket for an arm, and impeccable technique behind the plate. Not only that, he could hit. Rodriguez played for six teams during his 21-year career, but played his first 12 years with the Texas Rangers, and that’s where he established himself. “Pudge” — a combact 5’9, 205 pounds during his playing days — went to 14 total all-star games, including 10 in a row; won a record 13 Golden Glove awards; one MVP (1999); and he lead the league in throwing out runners nine times. He has more hits than any other player who was primarily a catcher (2,844) and joins Johnny Bench as the only catchers to be elected their first time on the ballot.
Here’s the full vote: