The 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class has been unveiled, with Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez getting the call to Cooperstown.
Bagwell led the way with 86.2 percent, Raines came in next at an even 86 percent and Ivan Rodriguez squeaked in with 76 percent of the vote on his first ballot. Rodriguez joins Johnny Bench as the only catchers ever to be first ballot Hall of Famers.
Going in, the two sure things were Bagwell and Raines based on how the 2016 voting went, so no surprise there. Trevor Hoffman came as close as you can come without getting the nod with 74 percent of the vote, which means he’s an essential lock for the class of 2018, as is Vladimir Guerrero, who notched 71.7 percent.
The Ivan Rodriguez case is intriguing since his name was mentioned as someone who may have used performance-enhancing drugs, much like Mike Piazza before him. Any player that had alleged ties to PEDs hadn’t previously gotten in on the first ballot, which is refreshing to see for the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who came in at 53 and 54 percent respectively, each rising nine percentage points from 2016. Assuming this trend continues, it can be reasonably assumed that Clemens and Bonds will one day get enshrined.
Players that received bad news were Curt Schilling and Manny Ramirez. Schilling’s percentage dropped from 52 percent to 45 from last year to this year, and Manny Ramirez debuted on the ballot with just 23.8 percent of the vote. Schilling and Manny, like Bonds and Clemens, have clear-cut Hall of Fame resumes, but it’s not looking particularity good for either of them.
The saddest case of the day goes to former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who’s 3.8 percent of the vote fell short of the necessary five percent to garner a second year on the ballot.
My take: To me, I wouldn’t have voted for either Tim Raines or Jeff Bagwell for Cooperstown. The stat that probably did it for Raines was the fact he’s the only player since Ty Cobb to accumulate 500 stolen bases, 400 doubles, 100 triples, 100 home runs and 1200 walks in a career. Pretty impressive, but when I think Hall of Fame, I don’t think Raines and if you ask me if I’d rather have Vlad or Raines on my team, I’d take Vlad 100/100 times.
Ivan Rodriguez is one of the greatest catchers ever and absolutely deserved to be in. Vlad and Hoffman should have both unquestionably gotten in, but at least we know they’ll have their moment next year. Bonds, Clemens, Schilling and Manny are all Hall of Famers in my mind, but there still appears to be inconsistencies about which players get the benefit of the doubt with PED use which is sad to see.