Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez and Tim Raines were elected by baseball writers into the Baseball Hall of Fame Wednesday. The pool of voters has shifted to younger, more analytically inclined as well as less concerned about steroids or performance-enhancing drugs.
That was evidenced with the election of Raines and Bagwell, with Raines on his last year of eligibility and the overlooking of drug suspicions that surrounded the career of Rodriguez.
Bagwell was a hard-hitting first baseman with the Houston Astros and received 86.2% of the votes. This was the seventh year he was on the HoF ballot.
Raines, a speedster who played left field for Montreal amongst a number of other teams, received 86% of the votes in his tenth and last year. To gain entrance to the Hall, a player needs to be on a minimum of 75% of the ballots cast.
Rodriguez was the second catcher, following Johnny Bench, to be chosen during just his first year of eligibility.
In July, the three will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
When contacted, Rodriguez said he could not sleep well the past few days and now that he has been elected, he said it will be tremendous to be alongside all the other tremendous players in the Hall of Fame.
The trio was close to being a quintet. Closer Trevor Hoffman received 74% of the vote and ended five votes short of being elected and Vladimir Guerrero the former slugging outfielder came up 15 votes short of being elected. The Hall of Fame has not had a five-player induction class since its first one back in 1936.
Even though not elected, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens both moved up in ballot percentage this year, which is the fifth of ten years their names will appear on the ballot.
Clemens and Bonds trajectories are upward and that historically has led to players eventually being elected to the Hall.
Raines is considered by most to be the second best leadoff hitter in baseball history after Rickey Henderson who is considered the best of all time.
Bagwell was overshadowed much of his career by other sluggers such as Frank Thomas and Mark McGwire. Those two were first basemen as well who hit more home runs in an era when the home run was the barometer for success.