For former Montreal Expos star Tim Raines, it was his final year on the Hall of Fame ballot, and the Baseball Writers Association of America took notice by, at last, electing him to the Cooperstown shrine.
Raines received 86 percent of the vote. He had several outstanding seasons in his 20s, declined a bit, then played until he was 42, posting some decent years in his early 30s with the White Sox. His 808 stolen bases rank fifth all-time (and are likely to remain so for a very long time, as the active leader, Ichiro Suzuki, trails him by 300),.
Also selected were former Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell and catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who played most of his career with the Rangers, but went to the World Series with the Marlins and Tigers.
Bagwell, who was born on the same day (May 27, 1968) as Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, had a career progression much like Thomas’, until it was cut short by back injuries at age 37. He hit 449 home runs, even with the bulk of his career played in the hitter-unfriendly Astrodome. He got 86.2 percent of the vote.
Rodriguez might be the best defensive catcher of all time. He posted 28.7 defensive bWAR, best of any catcher in major-league history. But I-Rod could also hit, with a lifetime .296 BA, .334 OBP, 572 doubles (26th all-time) and 331 home runs. Rodriguez received 76 percent of the vote.
Hoffman was in his second year on the ballot and missed by five votes (received 327 votes, or 74 percent, so he’s likely to get in soon, if not next year. The same is true for Guerrero, who was in his first year on the ballot and received 71.7 percent.
Former Cubs closer Lee Smith received 34.2 percent of the vote in his final year on the ballot. I would have voted for him; he was baseball’s premier closer until Hoffman and Mariano Rivera came around and his save total still ranks third all-time. I suspect he’ll be selected to the Hall some years from now by a Veterans Committee.
Former Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa received 8.6 percent of the vote, up slightly from 7.0 percent last year. Sammy has five years left on the writers’ ballot. Jay Jaffe wrote this long article a few weeks ago arguing that Sammy deserves to have his career looked at again. He’s not a no-brainer Hall of Famer despite the home runs, but Jaffe says his career as a whole could merit consideration.
All of the balloting is on the BBWAA.org front page.
The Internet Baseball Writers Association, of which I am a member, also had its own Hall of Fame election, with the results announced today. Guerrero and Rodriguez were elected. Raines and Bagwell (along with Edgar Martinez) had been honored by the IBWAA in previous elections, which is why they weren’t on this year’s list. Mike Mussina came up one vote short of induction. I revealed my own IBWAA ballot in this article last month.
The Hall of Fame induction will take place Sunday, July 30 in Cooperstown.