February 5, 2017

Bagwell, Raines, and Pudge Headline 2017 MLB Hall of Fame Class

Matt Nadel ‘17


January might be the middle of the offseason for Major League Baseball, but for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, January is a very important month. It is at the beginning of each year when this group of journalists vote on who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July.
Headlining the class of 2017 will be first baseman Jeff Bagwell, the greatest power hitter the Houston Astros organization has ever seen and a former National League MVP in 1994. Tim Raines, a superb leadoff hitter while with the Montreal Expos in the 1980s was also elected to Cooperstown, with this being his 10th and final time on the ballot. Conversely, former superstar catcher Ivan Rodriguez was elected in his first year of eligibility. One of the best hitting catchers of the modern era, “Pudge,” as he was playfully nicknamed, is tied for ninth all time among catchers in batting average (.296) and is seventh on the all-time home runs list among catchers (311). He made the All Star Game 14 times and was even a 13-time Gold Glove Award winner behind the plate.
Recent articles have been published by sports news sources that more BBWAA voters are caring less about the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Many of these voters think this because the commissioner of baseball during the so-called “Steroids Era” of baseball, Bud Selig, was recently voted into the Hall of Fame, so it would be almost hypocritical to not elect the biggest steroid users into the Hall.
The two most popular steroid-users in terms of Hall of Fame votes were pitcher Roger Clemens and slugger Barry Bonds. Clemens is considered the best pitcher of the 1990s and 2000s and Bonds holds the record for most career home runs with 762. Although these two legends technically did cheat, their accomplishments did not go unnoticed on the voting ballots. For the first time in their five years of eligibility, the two superstars were included on a majority of ballots, with Clemens earning 54.1 percent of votes and Bonds with 53.8.
Closer Trevor Hoffman failed to reach the Hall this time, his second on the ballot, earning 74 percent of the vote. Hoffman is second on the all-time saves list with 601, trailing only former Yankee Mariano Rivera.
First-timer, Vladimir Guerrero, also narrowly missed the cut at 71.7 percent. Guerrero was a nine-time All Star throughout his 16 years in the league, batted .318 for his career, smacked 449 career homers out of the park and also drove in 1,496 RBIs.
Edgar Martinez, who had a .312 batting average for his career and had an award named after him – the best designated hitter is rewarded with the Edgar Martinez Award – made gains this cycle as the former Seattle Mariner earned 58.6 percent of votes.
Either way, the 2017 MLB Hall of Fame class will be packed with talent as will future classes, although some of that talent may really have been illegitimate. This year may even serve as a case study on how steroid users will fare during voting for future Hall of Fame classes.
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