Well, after what seems like months and months of debate, the Hall of Fame class has finally been decided. This year, the sport will be inducting Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez into the museum in Cooperstown. Based on Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame Ballot Tracker — an invaluable resource for Hall of Fame fans — Bagwell and Raines were long assumed to be inducted. The others were right on the cusp, providing some actual suspense for this year’s announcement.
Bagwell has the closest association with the Red Sox, and is one of the best “What If?” scenarios in the team’s history. In case you’ve blocked it out of your memory, the first baseman was drafted by Boston in 1989 but was traded the summer before making his major-league debut. In return, the Red Sox got 15 relief appearances from Larry Anderson. To be fair, he was good in his limited time here. Obviously, this is still a hard pill to swallow despite some other lopsided trades that have gone in their favor (Varitek and Lowe say hello). Despite some hard feelings some in Boston may have about him, Bagwell certainly deserved this induction. He was one of the most feared hitters of the 1990’s and early 2000’s, and any steroid connection was purely speculative and quite frankly dumb.
Raines, meanwhile, was one of the most interesting names on the ballot. He’s been steadily moving up his vote total every year, but this was his final chance. The former Expo had some strong supporters in his corner, most notably and vocally being Jonah Keri. Raines mainly suffered from playing in the same era as Ricky Henderson, as he’d have been the best leadoff hitter of his generation at any other moment in time. He got on base at a phenomenal rate and stole at least 70 bases six years in a row. It’s nice to see the voters finally got him in this year.
Among the first-year players on the ballot, Rodriguez was the one with the best chance to get in. He was always seen as one of the best catchers of his generation, not only in terms of hitting but also his ability to control a pitching staff and his general defense. Although his late-30’s hurt some of his career rate stats, his peak with Texas in the late-90’s and early-00’s was Hall of Fame worthy. Of course, he’ll always be something of an enemy to Red Sox fans for stealing Pedro’s 1999 MVP. Regardless of his undeserving award (I’ll never stop being bitter about this), his induction was deserved.
Now, there’s all the Red Sox players who didn’t make the cut. Most notably, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Manny Ramirez all failed to reach the 75 percent vote threshold. They received 54 percent, 45 percent, and 24 percent, respectively. Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek and J.D. Drew all fell off the ballot after receiving less than five percent of the votes. Varitek got two votes, Wakefield got one, and Drew was shut out.
Looking ahead to next year, it’s not as loaded with former Red Sox. Johnny Damon will be the most notable former Red Sox to make his debut, but he’s not likely to make to make the cut. Other former Boston greats include Jamie Moyer, Jeff Suppan and Scott Podsednik. Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Andruw Jones, and Omar Vizquel are the first ballot players with the best chance of being elected next year.