Three book trip to Cooperstown

By: Jack Dunn ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of | Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (above) are all members of the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voted in the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2017 last week, as first baseman Jeff Bagwell, leftfielder Tim Raines and catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez were all welcomed to Cooperstown. They will be officially inducted into the Hall on July 30.

Bagwell spent his entire 15-year career playing for the Houston Astros, batting .297 and hitting 449 home runs. His .948 OPS is 22nd all time. He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1991 and then won the MVP unanimously three years later. He also was a four-time All- Star who won three Silver Slugger Awards and one Gold Glove Award.

Bagwell was an important part of the Astros’ lineup, forming the third part of the “Killer B’s” along with Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman in the early 2000’s. During his time in Houston, the Astros placed first or second in the NL Central 11 times, with six playoff appearances and one World Series appearance. Bagwell was inducted in his seventh year on the ballot, receiving 86.2 percent of the vote.

Raines spent 23 years in the bigs, playing 13 seasons with the Montreal Expos as well as a variety of other teams. Raines batted .294 across his career and is fifth all-time in stolen bases with 808. He was a seven-time All-Star and led the league in stolen bases four times. Raines also won two World Series as a member of the New York Yankees. He was the National League batting champion in 1986 as well as the All-Star Game MVP in 1987. His No. 30 jersey was retired in Montreal following the end of his career. In Raines’ 10th and final year on the ballot, he received 86 percent of the vote.

Rodriguez played for six teams over 20 seasons but will go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Texas Rangers cap. He batted .296 across his career and won the 1999 American League MVP. Rodriguez was also a 14-time All- Star that and 13-time Gold Glove winner. He is widely considered one of the greatest defensive catchers in baseball history, leading all catchers in career putouts with 14,864. Rodriguez also caught more games than anyone, playing 2,427 games behind the dish.

He made two World Series appearances, winning in 2003 with the Marlins. Rodriguez just made the cut for the Hall by receiving 76 percent of the vote.

There were a number of candidates who just fell short of the 75 percent of the vote needed to get in. Former Padres closer Trevor Hoffman was just five votes short. Rightfielder Vladmir Guerrero also fell short, only receiving 71.6 percent of the vote.

There are also questions that still need to be answered regarding the Hall of Fame status of those suspected of using performance- enhancing drugs. Players such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are still on the ballot for a few more seasons, and both players saw a notable uptick in votes this year.