For the fourth consecutive year, the BBWAA elected at least two players to join the Baseball Hall of Fame. This year’s ceremony will feature a bruising slugger, the best catcher of the 1990s, and a name long awaiting immortality. The BBWAA selected first baseman Jeff Bagwell, catcher Ivan Rodriguez, and outfielder Tim Raines, who will join commissioner emeritus Bud Selig and Atlanta Braves vice chairman John Schuerholz in the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2017. Selig and Schuerholz were elected by the 16-man Today’s Game Era committee, which focuses on players and contributers from 1988 on.
Bagwell, Raines, Rodriguez Join 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Class
This class features double-digit All-Star selections, a World Series champion, a Rookie of the Year and MVP winner, and one of the the game’s favorite players.
Jeff Bagwell was truly one of a kind. In 15 MLB seasons, all with the Houston Astros, Bagwell slugged 449 career homers, posted a .297 career batting average, was a four-time All-Star, and won the 1994 NL MVP award. Bagwell is known for being a slugger in an era when power reigned, but that isn’t the entire story.
Bagwell had multiple seasons with 40 homers and 30 stolen bases. The only other player to achieve that feat was Barry Bonds. He reached base safely more times than Roberto Clemente, Ichiro Suzuki, and Lou Brock. His 89.6 career WAR is second-highest by a first baseman since World War II.
With that being said, all one needs to do is ask Houston fans who Jeff Bagwell is. He’s an Astro. Bagwell played in arguably the greatest era of Astros baseball. He, along with Hall of Fame teammate Craig Biggio, defined baseball in Houston for 15 seasons. They accumulated the most playoff appearances for the franchise and a National League pennant in 2004. Fans can still grieve over the sluggers of the 1990’s getting into Cooperstown with many stones left unturned about their past. However, Jeff Bagwell was more than his powerful presence in the batter’s box. He was a leader for a franchise that will cherish him forever. His golden plaque should solidify his impact.
He’s arguably the greatest all-around catcher to ever play the game. Most fans know him as Pudge
Rodriguez played 21 seasons in the majors with six different teams. He collected most of his stats with the Texas Rangers, and won a World Championship with the then-Florida Marlins in 2003. Pudge was a 14-time All-Star, 13-time Gold Glove winner, seven-time Silver Slugger, and the 1999 AL MVP.
The numbers really tell the story for Rodriguez, behind the plate and in the batter’s box. He has 500 more hits than any other catcher in the history of baseball. He caught nearly 46 percent of base-stealers in his career, a stat astounding enough for election on its own. In his prime, Pudge was the best catcher in baseball, and his prime rivals the few other catchers whose company he will join this July.
He was tough as nails, enjoyable to watch, clutch, and dynamic: in short, he’s a legend. Now, he’ll be immortalized as such.
It took longer than most people had hoped, but now the wait is over. The Rock is in the Hall of Fame.
Raines played four decades in the majors with six different teams. He was a three-time World Series champion, seven-time All-Star, finished in the top-12 in the MVP voting five times, and won the 1986 AL batting title with a .334 average. Raines had blistering speed, amassing 808 stolen bases, good for fifth all-time. From 1981-1984, he led all of baseball in steals, and for six consecutive seasons he stole at least 70 bases. No one else in baseball had more than three.
It’s surprising how long it took Raines to be inducted, considering his numbers. His speed and ability to reach extra bases is only rivaled by Hall of Fame players. He reached base more times than Tony Gwynn. He had more seasons with a .300+ batting average and 70+ steals than Rickey Henderson and Ty Cobb, and only Henderson, Cobb, Lou Brock, and Honus Wagner accrued over 700 career extra base hits and steals.
Finally, instead of bickering about whether his 20-plus seasons made him worthy of induction, baseball fans can relax comfortably knowing that Tim “Rock” Raines is a Hall of Famer.