Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez have been elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, per an announcement from the Baseball Writers Association of America (full balloting available at that link). Both Raines and Bagwell had to wait for their enshrinement among baseball’s all-time elite, as Raines was on his 10th (and final) ballot this year, while Bagwell was on his seventh. Rodriguez, meanwhile, will receive the call to Cooperstown as a first-ballot Hall of Famer — just the second catcher to ever receive that honor (joining the great Johnny Bench).
Raines, now 57, spent the majority of his career with the Expos, suiting up for Montreal in 13 of the 23 seasons during which he played a Major League game. One of baseball’s greatest leadoff hitters during his peak, the former fifth-round pick played in 2502 Major League games and tallied 10,359 plate appearances while batting .294/.385/.425 with 170 home runs, 808 stolen bases, 1571 runs scored and 980 runs batted in. Not only did Raines rack up stolen bases in bunches during his career — including four straight league-leading seasons of 71+ steals in 1981-84 — he was also extremely efficient in doing so, as evidenced by a career 84.6 percent success rate. The seven-time All-Star spent the bulk of his career playing left field, though he did have cameos in center field and at second base over the life of his illustrious career. Baseball-Reference pegs that career at 68.4 wins above replacement, while Fangraphs credits him for 66.4 WAR.
Now 48 years of age, Bagwell spent his entire 15-year career in an Astros uniform and is widely regarded as one of the greatest Astros of all time (if not the greatest). In 2150 games and 9431 plate appearances, Bagwell batted .297/.408/.540 with 449 home runs, 202 stolen bases, 1529 RBIs and 1517 runs scored. Bagwell was a near-unanimous (one vote shy) National League Rookie of the Year in 1991 when he batted .294/.387/.437 as a 23-year-old, and he was the unanimous NL MVP in a strike-shortened 1994 season that saw him hit .368/.451/.750 with 39 homers and a league-leading 116 RBIs. Bagwell earned four All-Star nods, a Gold Glove at first base and three Silver Sluggers in his brilliant career. In addition to his ’94 MVP win, he finished as second to future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones in 1999 and third behind MVP Larry Walker (who many believe should be in Cooperstown) and runner-up Mike Piazza (another Hall of Famer) in 1997. Baseball-Reference credits Bagwell with 79.6 WAR in his career, while Fangraphs is ever so slightly more bullish at 80.2 WAR.
Rodriguez, 45, spent parts of 20 seasons in the Major Leagues and finished his career as one of the most decorated catchers of all-time. A 14-time All-Star, “Pudge” also won the American League MVP Award in 1999 and was the recipient of an incredible 13 Gold Glove Awards, to say nothing of seven Silver Slugger Awards. In 10,270 career trips to the plate, Rodriguez batted .296/.334/.464 with 311 home runs, 1332 runs batted in and 1354 runs scored. He also prevented an incredible 46 percent of stolen base attempts against him in his career (661 of 1447), leading the league in caught-stealing percentage on nine occasions (including a ridiculous 60 percent mark in 2001).
Falling painfully shy of the 75 percent of votes needed to be immortalized in Cooperstown was Padres legend Trevor Hoffman, who fell just five votes and one percent short of joining this trio. Hoffman’s near-election came in just his second time on the ballot, which suggests that he’ll likely be bestowed with this honor in the years to come. Vladimir Guerrero, too, falls just shy at 71.7 percent in his first year on the ballot, though it seems exceptionally likely that he’ll eventually join Hoffman in the Hall.
Edgar Martinez (58.6 percent), Roger Clemens (54.1 percent), Barry Bonds (53.8 percent) and Mike Mussina (51.8 percent) round out the players to receive more than 50 percent of the vote from the BBWAA. Meanwhile, legendary closer Lee Smith will fall well shy (34.2 percent) of election in what was his 15th and final time on the Hall of Fame ballot.