A player on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time and another who was on the ballot for the last time were elected to the Hall along with a player who spent his whole career with one team in the 2017 balloting by the BBWAA, verified by Ernst & Young and announced Wednesday by president Jeff Idelson on MLB Network.
First baseman Jeff Bagwell, whose entire 15-season career was spent with the Houston Astros, was the leading vote getter with 381 votes, one more than outfielder Tim Raines, who gained election in his 10th and final year of consideration. Ivan Rodriguez became only the second catcher in the history of the voting to be elected in his first year of eligibility. The other was Johnny Bench in 1989.
Bagwell, Raines and Rodriguez will be honored as part of the Hall’s Induction Weekend July 28-31 along with executives Bud Selig and John Schuerholz, who were elected in December by the Today’s Game Era Committee, as well as the late Bill King, the Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting, and Claire Smith, the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner for writing.
There were 442 ballots, including two blank ballots, submitted by qualified senior members of the BBWAA, writers with 10 or more consecutive years of service. Bagwell’s total accounted for 86.2 percent of the vote, and Raines’ 86 percent. Players need to appear on 75 percent of ballots cast to earn election to the Hall. The cutoff point this year was 332. Rodriguez received 336 for 76 percent.
Falling five votes short of election was relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman at 327 (74 percent). Hoffman, in his second year on the ballot, tied pitcher Bert Blyleven in 2010 in missing election by the sixth slimmest margin. Pie Traynor in 1947, Nellie Fox in 1985 and Craig Biggio in 2014 share the record of the slimmest margin with two votes apiece. Falling four votes shy were Billy Williams in 1986 and Jim Bunning in 1988. Traynor, Biggio, Williams and Blyleven were each elected the following year. Fox and Bunning were subsequently elected by veterans committees.
Outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, who with Rodriguez was among 19 first-year candidates, polled 317 votes (71.7). This year’s election marked only the third time as many as five players received more than 70 percent of the vote. The other years were 1936, the first election, and 1947. This is the ninth time the BBWAA has elected three players. Over the past four years, the BBWAA has elected 12 players, the most over such a stretch since 13 players were elected in the first four years of balloting from 1936-39.
Only one other first-year candidate received at least five percent of the vote to remain on the ballot, outfielder Manny Ramirez, with 105 (23.8). Other players named on more than half the ballots were designated hitter-third baseman Edgar Martinez (58.6), pitcher Roger Clemens (54.1), outfielder Barry Bonds (53.8) and pitcher Mike Mussina (51.8).
In addition, sufficient support to remain on the ballot was achieved by pitcher Curt Schilling (45.0), outfielder Larry Walker (21.9), first baseman Fred McGriff (21.7), second baseman Jeff Kent (16.7), outfielder Gary Sheffield (13.3), relief pitcher Billy Wagner (10.2) and outfielder Sammy Sosa (8.6). Lee Smith, one of three players grandfathered when the Hall changed eligibility from up to 15 years to up to 10, received 151 votes (34.2 percent) in his last year on the BBWAA ballot. Players may remain on the ballot for up to 10 years provided they receive five percent of the vote, which this year meant 23 votes.
Bagwell, 48, had eight seasons with at least 30 home runs, 100 runs scored and 100 RBI and is one of only 11 players in history with at least 440 home runs and 200 stolen bases. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1991 and NL Most Valuable Player in 1994. Bagwell, who was on the ballot for the seventh time, and 2015 electee Biggio played together on the Astros for 15 seasons. Among Hall of Famers who played on only one MLB team, Bagwell and Biggio are the fourth pair of teammates to play at least 15 years together. Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski hold the Hall of Fame’s record for most seasons (17) as teammates while playing for just one team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Carl Hubbell and Mel Ott played together for 16 seasons with the New York Giants (1928-43). Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle played together on the New York Yankees for 15 seasons (1953-67). Bagwell become the 50th Hall of Famer who played for only one team and the 22nd first baseman in the Hall.
Raines, 57, is the only player in big league history with at least 100 triples, 150 home runs and 600 stolen bases, the only player with four different seasons of at least 50 extra-base hits and 70 steals and the only player to total 70 or more stolen bases in six consecutive seasons (1981-86) with the Montreal Expos. He also played for the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, and the Marlins and was on two World Series championship teams with the Yankees in 1996 and ‘98. Among players with at least 400 stolen base attempts, Raines ranks first with an 84.7 percent success rate. Raines is the 22nd left fielder in the Hall and the fifth player to be elected in his final year on the ballot. The others were Red Ruffing in 1967, Joe Medwick in 1968, Ralph Kiner in 1975 and Jim Rice in 2009.
Rodriguez, now the youngest Hall of Famer at age 45, is the 52nd player elected in his first year of eligibility, a list that does not include Lou Gehrig, who was elected by acclamation by the BBWAA in 1939, or Clemente, who won in a special election in 1973, three months after his death. Rodriguez had an extraordinary combination of offense and defense for a player behind the plate in a 21-season career in which he earned 13 Gold Gloves, the most for a catcher and tied for second most among position players, and seven Silver Slugger Awards. He was the American League MVP in 2009 with the Texas Rangers. A member of 14 All-Star teams, “Pudge” appeared in the most games as a catcher (2,844) and among players who appeared in at least 50 percent of their career games as a catcher has the most hits (2,844) and doubles (572). He ranked first in his league in caught stealing percentage nine times, led all catchers in his league in assists five times and putouts twice and is the all-time leader in career putouts as a catcher with 14,864. Rodriguez won a World Series ring with the then-Florida Marlins in 2003 and was MVP of the National League Championship Series. He is the 18th catcher elected to the Hall.
The Hall of Fame now has 317 elected members, including 220 players, of which 124 have come through the BBWAA ballot. The average ballot in the 2017 election contained 8.17 names with 45.2 percent of the voters using all 10 slots.
Jeff Bagwell 381 (86.2), Tim Raines 380 (86.0), Ivan Rodriguez 336 (76.0), Trevor Hoffman 327 (74.0), Vladimir Guerrero 317 (71.7), Edgar Martinez 259 (58.6), Roger Clemens 239 (54.1), Barry Bonds 238 (53.8), Mike Mussina 229 (51.8), Curt Schilling 199 (45.0), Lee Smith 151 (34.2), Manny Ramirez 105 (23.8), Larry Walker 97 (21.9), Fred McGriff 96 (21.7), Jeff Kent 74 (16.7), Gary Sheffield 59 (13.3), Billy Wagner 45 (10.2), Sammy Sosa 38 (8.6), Jorge Posada 17 (3.8), Magglio Ordonez 3 (0.7), Edgar Renteria 2 (0.5), Jason Varitek 2 (0.5), Tim Wakefield 1 (0.2), Casey Blake 0, Pat Burrell 0, Orlando Cabrera 0, Mike Cameron 0, J.D. Drew 0, Carlos Guillen 0, Derrek Lee 0, Melvin Mora 0, Arthur Rhodes 0, Freddy Sanchez 0, Matt Stairs 0.