PHOENIX The long (and longer) waits for Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines are finally over. Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez had no such stress.First baseman Bagwell, outfielder Raines and catcher Rodriguez were named Wednesday to the MLB Hall of Fame in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America, continuing the Hall’s recent trend toward inclusion and immediate recognition.Bagwell received 86.2 percent of the vote (381 ballots) in his seventh year on the ballot, one more vote than Raines, who was in his 10th and final year on the ballot. Rodriguez joined Johnny Bench as the only catchers elected in their first year of eligibility.The 2017 Hall class was nearly the largest since the initial class of 1936, when five players were inducted. Closer Trevor Hoffman finished five votes short of the 332 necessary, and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero was 15 votes shy.Raines received 86 percent of the votes, a jump from 69.8 percent last year and the largest increase among the repeat candidates.”I was pretty happy about what happened last year,” Raines told the MLB Network after the announcement.”I was within striking distance. This is kind of the first year I lost sleep, you know it is your last year. I’m a happy young man. I don’t even think of what happened the last nine years. I kind of got what I was looking for.”Steroid era stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens gained in the voting, passing 50 percent for the first time, but still fell far short of enshrinement. Bonds is the career home run leader; Clemens ranks ninth in victories.Bonds received 53.8 percent of the votes this year, his sixth on the ballot, up from 44.3 percent. Clemens, also in this sixth year, improved to 54.1 percent from 45.2.The biggest loser was right-hander Curt Schilling, who fell from 52.3 percent to 45.0 percent. Some voters were critical of his political stance during the last election cycle and said they would not vote for him, citing the “character” standard in determining a player’s candidacy.Bagwell, known as one of the savviest trading-deadline acquisitions when Houston traded for him in 1990, spent 15 years with the Astros and had eight seasons with at least 30 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 runs. He had two seasons of 40 homers and 30 stolen bases and is one of 11 players with 440 homers and 200 stolen bases. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1991 and the NL MVP in 1994. Bagwell is the 50th Hall of Fame to play for only one team.Raines, known for his speed, is the only player in major league history with 100 triples, 150 home runs and 600 stolen bases. He is the only player with four seasons of 50 extra-base hits and 70 stolen bases, and he also is the only player with 70 or more stolen bases in six consecutive seasons (1981-86) with the Montreal Expos. Among players with at least 400 stolen base attempts, Raines success rate of 84.7 percent ranks first.Rodriguez is the 52nd player elected in his first year of eligibility, a list that does not include Lou Gehrig, who was elected by acclamation by the BBWAA in 1939, or Roberto Clemente, who won in a special election in 1973, three months after his death. Rodriguez won 13 Gold Gloves, the most for a catcher and tied for second most among position players, and seven Silver Slugger Awards. He was the American League MVP with Texas in 2009 and was a 14-time All-Star. He has 2,844 hits and 572 doubles, the most of any player who spent at least 50 percent of his games as a catcher.Twelve players, including eight first-year candidates, have been voted into the Hall in the last four years, the most in any four-year span. This year was the third time as many as five players have received at least 70 percent of the vote, also in 1936 and 1947.Hoffman, whose 601 saves are second in major league history, improved from 67.3 percent to 74 percent, but finished just short in his bid to become the sixth electee who was primarily a closer. As much as what Hoffman did is also what he did not do. His 76 failed save convertors would be the fewest among Hall of Fame closers and his save percentage is third-best in baseball history among long-time closers.Closer Lee Smith, who had 478 saves, received 34.2 percent of the votes in his 15th and final year on the ballot. The other closer on the ballot, Billy Wagner, received 10.2 percent of the vote.Designated hitter Edgar Martinez continued his climb forward by receiving 58.6 percent of the votes in his eighth year on the ballot. He had 27 percent in 2014 and 43.4 last year.Right-hander Mike Mussina had 51.8 percent of the vote in his fourth year on the ballot, while outfielder Manny Ramirez received 23.8 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot.Reuters/The Sports Xchange contributed to this report.
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