Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Baseball Hall of Fame
USA TODAY Sports
A former unanimous MVP, an elite leadoff hitter and one of the game’s most complete catchers were elected Wednesday into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Iconic Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell, base-stealer extraordinaire Tim Raines and 13-time Gold Glove winner Ivan “Pudge’’ Rodriguez earned baseball’s most coveted distinction when they were named on more than 75% of the ballots cast by eligible members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Raines (86%) was on his 10th and final year of eligibility, while Bagwell (86.2%) made it on his seventh attempt and Rodriguez (76%) on his first one, earning 336 of 442 votes – four more than necessary. Closer Trevor Hoffman fell five votes short. Vladimir Guerrero was named on 317 ballots (71.1%), 15 votes shy of induction in his first year.
And the Hall of Fame continues to slowly open its doors to players linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
Bagwell overcame years of crowded ballots and an electorate wary of power hitters who played through the heart of the so-called steroid era. While Bagwell was never linked to steroid use, he did acknowledge using androstenedione, a substance now banned by Major League Baseball.
Both Rodriguez and Bagwell were suspected of using PEDs because of the dramatic physical transformations they underwent during their careers, but no conclusive evidence has been found of their involvement with such substances.
Rodriguez received the rare honor of first-ballot election after setting the record for most games played behind the plate, winning the 1999 AL MVP and compiling a .296 career batting average with 311 home runs.
He and Bagwell’s strong showings on the ballot and the surge in support for the steroid-tainted Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens – both of whom surged from the mid-40% range to 53.8% and 54.1%, respectively – provide the latest indications that the current Hall of Fame electorate has become more amenable to voting for suspected PED users with Hall-worthy credentials.
Former catcher Mike Piazza,…