The Baseball Writer’s Association has selected Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines for the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2017.
Pudge Rodriguez leads the class as a first ballot HOFer even though he barely got in with 76% of the vote. PR deserves the honor. For about a decade, Red’s view was that if he was building a team, Pudge would be the first player taken. He is the greatest catcher ever by any metric. In his 21 seasons, PR hit 311 home runs, drove in 1332 runs, scored 1354 runs, had 2844 hits and sported a .296 batting average. Throw in 14 appearances in the All Star game, 13 Golden Gloves, the 1999 MVP award and the fact that he played the most difficult and demanding position in all of sport and you have to wonder – who didn’t vote for this guy?
Tim Raines, who has long been touted by the sabermetrics crowd received 86% of the vote in his 10th and final year of eligibility. Raines’ stat line is not as impressive as PR’s, but Red will defer to the experts on TR. He never hit 20 home runs in a season and only once topped 70 RBI’s. His 808 stolen bases are impressive, but Red thinks that Raines owes his new HOF status to a vigorous internet campaign.
Red will not make any friends here, but he really doesn’t think Jeff Bagwell is among the 220 or so greatest baseball players of all time. Okay he has a better stat line than either PR or TR, but his greatest years were almost certainly tainted. Never thought of as a great fielder, he played a relatively easy position and never earned a Golden Glove or Silver Slugger award. He does have 4 All Star appearances and the MVP award from the strike shortened 1994 season in his favor. But having watched a lot of JB over the years, Red has a hard time seeing him in Cooperstown – but there he will be.