After about six weeks of discussion, evaluation and arguing, we found out Wednesday that three players will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez.
Those players will be enshrined this coming summer, with induction weekend scheduled for July 28-31. The actual ceremony will take place on the 31st, and will be aired at 1:30 p.m. ET on MLB Network, as well as steamed on the Hall of Fame's website.
Bagwell received 86.2 percent of the vote in his seventh year on the ballot. Having previously dealt with steroid allegations and the like, it took Bagwell longer than anticipated to crack Cooperstown. From 2012 through 2015, he finished with between 53 and 60 percent of the vote. Last year, Bagwell broke through to reach a new height of 72 percent, and this year he more than cleared the 75 percent required for entry into the Hall of Fame.
For years a sabermetrics cause celebre, Raines received 86 percent of the vote in his 10th and final year on the ballot. Raines's vote percentage began at 24.3 percent way back in 2008, and dipped to 22.3 6 percent in 2009. Since then, however, he'd made gains nearly every year: topping the 50 percent mark in 2013, then the 60 percent mark in 2016. He displaces Bert Blyleven as the candidate who owes the most to the internet.
Rodriguez received 76 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot. Rodriguez didn't come close to either of last year's inductees -- Ken Griffey Jr., who received more than 99 percent of the vote in his first year, and Mike Piazza, who checked in at 83 percent -- but that doesn't matter. Pudge is a Hall of Famer all the same.
Ballots Cast: 442
Needed for Election: 332
Bagwell, 49 come May, was one of the best hitters of his era. Over 15 seasons, he batted .297/.408/.540 while averaging 30 home runs a season. During his career, he made four All-Star Games, won the Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, and Gold Glove Awards once each, and took home multiple Silver Slugger Awards. Bagwell's 149 OPS+ during his career was the 10th highest among batters with more than 1,000 plate appearances -- roughly equal to Edgar Martinez, and just behind both Frank Thomas and Manny Ramirez.
Raines, 57, has had his statistical accomplishments laid out time and again. Here they are again: he notched 2,605 hits over parts of 23 big-league seasons, all the while recording a .294/.385/.425 slash line and more than 800 stolen bases. Raines made seven All-Star Games during his career, won the 1986 National League batting title, and took home a Silver Slugger Award. He led his respective league in runs scored or stolen bases a combined six times.
Rodriguez, now 45, was the most well-regarded defensive catcher of his era -- an evaluation supported by his career 46 percent caught-stealing rate, as well as his 13 Gold Glove Awards. Rodriguez was no slouch at the plate, either. He finished his 21-year career with more than 300 home runs and a .296/.334/.464 slash line -- good for a 106 OPS+. Rodriguez also won a Most Valuable Player Award, numerous Silver Slugger Awards, and took part in 14 All-Star Games.
Let's hit on some important points beyond the inductees:
- Trevor Hoffman was the next closest to enshrinement. He finished with 74 percent of the vote. There were 442 ballots cast, meaning he was five votes away from induction. Hoffman figures to be a part of next year's class, likely alongside Vladimir Guerrero.
- Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens continue to be shut out from the Hall of Fame despite being two of the best ever at their respective positions. The reasoning is obvious: each has connections to performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds's 53.8 voting percentage represents the third consecutive year he's seen his rate increase -- and the first time he's topped 50 percent. Clemens has enjoyed a similar climb -- from percentages in the 30s to 45.2 percent last year, and now up to 54.1 percent. Both are likely to reach 75 percent in time, and perhaps as soon as next year, provided voters continue to show more willingness to elect potential steroid users.
- Curt Schilling is the other controversial figure here. He earned 45 percent of the vote -- or seven percentage points less than he earned last year. Schilling is certain to blame the dip on his political opinions.
Players have to earn at least 75 percent of the vote in order to achieve enshrinement. The other noteworthy percentage is five percent -- as in, players must be checked on at least five percent of the ballots in order to remain on the ballot the ensuing season. As a result, 16 players will be removed for failure to meet that threshold. Additionally, Lee Smith will be removed from the ballot, having failed to ensure entrance after 15 tries. Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff are the players who will be on their final ballots next season.